The IDEA Amendments Act of 1997 emphasizes the importance of ensuring that students with special needs can access the general curriculum, meeting education standards applicable to every child (O’Connor, 2010). In order to meet these challenges, therefore, general education teachers across the US have had to acquire new strategies and skills. These changes signify a period of transformation for general education teachers, informing a re-evaluation of service delivery required to support special needs students in the general education environment.
One challenge that general education teachers face is to meet and maintain high standards of education for every student, also ensuring that all the unique instructional requirements of each child are met. These expectations, however, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The educational standards can be used as impetus and motivation for focused instructional planning in the general education environment for special needs students, leading to improved achievement (O’Connor, 2010). Lewis and Doorlag (2013), for example, report that general education teachers believe that standards-based reform increases learning opportunities for students who have special needs, while also noting that special education teachers contend that standards improve the characterizations of student requirements. Prior to the changes set in place by IDEAA 1997, there was a huge gap in expectations between general and special education students, who had their own room, teachers, routines, curriculum, and community. These students, majority of whom had learning disabilities, underperformed academically. At national level, most of the students with special needs were placed in self-contained classes, isolated from the general education environment, and labeled as behaviorally challenged, sending the message that they could not meet the expectations of the general ...
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