K-22 Special Education

What is Special Education?

Special education refers to the education of students with disabilities that addresses the students’ individual differences and needs. These services are provided by the public school system and are free of charge. Services are provided in self-contained classrooms, resource rooms, regular classrooms, in hospitals, at home, and institutions. Special Education School: About 2% of all Special Education is provided in a segregated special school campus.

Students who are attending these schools have the following:

  • Severe intellectual disabilities: Students whose disabilities are severe, their education is focused on basic living skills and sensory therapy.
  • Severe Behavior Disabilities: Although the majority of these students do not have intellectual disabilities, their social behaviors are interfering with their academic activities and hurting themselves or others.
  • Visual impairment and Hearing impairment: To meet their unique needs in education, many of them attend special schools or residential institutes.
  • Learning disabilities: Without intellectual disabilities, they might have specific learning disabilities with visual/auditory perception disorder. There are special education schools for those with specific learning disabilities.
  • Special Classes: Special education classes are placed in a general education setting. Students have individualized degrees of mainstreaming opportunities.
  • Self-contained Special Day Class (SDC): Students with similar disabilities will be placed in a class and the majority of their learning will take place in a segregated classroom. They might have integration opportunities during breaks and lunch hours.
  • Partial Inclusion/Mainstreaming: According to the decision of the IEP team, students will take some classes in a general classroom with other non-disabled peers.
  • Resource Room: Students who are placed in a general education classroom will be pulled out to the resource room to take intense reading or math classes from special education teachers.
  • Full Inclusion: Unlike special education with mainstreaming options above, full inclusion means that a child with disabilities will be placed in a general education classroom fulltime. When a child has severe intellectual and behavior disabilities, school might provide a one-on-one teaching assistant as support. However, support from the one-on-one shouldn’t be considered as quality special education. Full inclusion should be ensured by co-teaching between the general education teacher and the special education teacher for 2-3 times a week, and include the needed related services in a general education settings. Moreover, all activities in general education should be something that encourages interaction among children with and without disabilities and a child with disabilities and teachers.


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