|Advocate for Your Child||Assistive Technology
What is Special Education?
Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children who have disabilities. This is done at no cost to the parents. Special education can include special instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals or institutions, or in other settings
Over 5 million children ages 6 through 21 receive special education and related services each year in the United States. Each of these children receives instruction that is specially designed:
- to meet the child's unique needs (that result from having a disability); and
- to help the child learn the information and skills that other children are learning.
This definition of special education comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 105-17.
Another definition of Special education (a different perspective):
Special Education is defined as educational programs and assignments including, special classes and programs or services designed to develop the educational potential of children with disabilities.
General education is the door to learning through which all students are expected to enter; it should be the goal of every school district to make the general education environment the appropriate placement for all students.
Special education should not be a separate program, but rather should be one aspect of a continuum of supportive services and programs that are provided to ensure that the general education environment is a responsive environment. This philosophy is commonly referred to as "inclusion."
Working together, general and special educators can provide professional support to each other to address student learning. Schools can provide a rich curriculum; instructional practices and varied programs of services geared to individual needs; including opportunities for strong family involvement and awareness of the educational services in the school. In this way special education becomes one of the many supportive programs that is available within the general education environment.