Special education teachers also provide instruction in resource and self-contained classrooms within the public schools. In a resource room model, students with disabilities leave the general education class for a designated time period to visit the resource room and receive specialized instruction in areas such as language, reading, and math. For example, Kathi is a sixth-grader who has been classified as having learning disabilities. Kathi is functioning intellectually within the average ability range, but she has reading, spelling, and written language skills on an upper third-grade level. The multidisciplinary team recommended that Kathi receive specialized instruction in reading, written communication, and spelling with a special education teacher 1.5 hours per day in her school’s resource room. This means that Kathi would be receiving services on Level 4 of the continuum of services model.

Originally called the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act (PL 94-142), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provided that all the children between the ages 3 and 21, regardless of disability, are entitled to a free, appropriate public education.

Most of her school day would be in the least-restrictive environment of her general education class with Mrs. Gomez. Mrs. Gomez will be responsible for Kathi’s instruction for the entire time that she is in the general education class. This might even include making some adaptations in instructional procedures and assignments to accommodate Kathi’s special learning needs in the general education sixth-grade classroom. For example, during content area classes, Mrs. Gomez will need to provide adapted reading and study materials appropriate to Kathi’s skill levels. During her 1.5 hours in the resource room, Kathi will receive instruction with Mr. Halleran, the special education teacher in the same school. This resource room arrangement represents the least-restrictive environment to meet Kathi’s special needs in reading, written communication, and mathematics, while maintaining her placement in her general education class for the majority of the school day.

The resource model is often referred to as a “pull-out” model, indicating that students with disabilities are pulled out of the general education class for special education instruction. In a self-contained model of instruction (Level 5 of the continuum of services model), students with disabilities receive all or most of their classroom instruction from special education teachers. Even in these models, however, students with disabilities usually have opportunities to interact with their non-disabled peers during such activities as art, music, physical education, recess, lunch, and assemblies.

Special educators working in resource rooms often provide individualized or small-group instruction for some students with disabilities.