The question of whether or not students assessed as requiring special education need to be transferred out of the general education classroom is the focal point of this observational report.
For determination of whether or not students identified as requiring special education need to be transferred out of the general education classroom setting into a special education one, I observed special education students in both settings. The period of observation lasted two classroom sessions for each of the general and special education classrooms. In the general education, fifth grade classroom there were four special education students in a class of 23 students. In the special education classroom, there were 12 students, supposedly 7th grade level but functioning at 6th grade level. The students, as in all sixteen special education pupils observed, came from different racial backgrounds. The English Language Learners (ELL), numbering seven, were Asian, Hispanic and Arabic. The disabled students, in direct comparison, tended to be Caucasian, as was the majority of the school student body.
Testing the hypothesis that special needs students can functi...
Throughout each of the classes I observed, one math and the other social science, the teacher regularly paused to make sure that the four mentioned students were able to follow the lesson and the ensuing discussions. While nit making it obvious, she often repeated herself for greater clarity for the benefit of these four students, especially the language learners.
The general classroom environment was quite disciplined and calm. Needless to say, and as Carter and Hughes (2006) point out, the nature of the classroom environment directly impinges upon the capacities of EII and disabled students to absorb and assimilate information. The classroom environment observed facilitated assimilation of information because it was both calm and disciplined.
While the classroom environment was close to optimal, the special needs students were isolated within it. They did not participate in classroom discussions and hardly spoke a word throughout the two class sessions observed. Indeed, in a very real way, they did not appear to be part of the class. This observation immediately recalls Carter and Hughes' (2006) admonition that if disabled and other special needs students were to remain in a general education classroom, they should be included in it. They should not be singled out for special attention, as would attract the class' interest towards them and should not be made to sit together and separate from the rest of the class. Indeed, they should be integrated in the class and with other students (Carter and Hughes, 2006). Personal observations established the validity of this advice since, the students observed did seem separate from the remainder and did not interact