Class within a class harmful to IEP students?

There is debate about the benefit ( or lack ) of an IEP student with learning difficulties participating in a class-within-a-class (CWC) setting versus participating in a resource class.  Parents need to be aware of the dynamic of CWC.

Some argue that some students with learning difficulties, especially deficits in functional memory and/or processing speed, are expected to benefit from being in a CWC setting.  Perhaps they can, but to what extent does the benefit actually “benefit” the student?  What are the benefits?

Perhaps some benefits for the student  are:

  1. he gets to sit with non-disabled
  2. he has some expose to grade-level curricula
  3. on occasion gets support from the second teacher in the class

perhaps some benefits for the public school district are:

  1. Less costly because fewer staff/man hours for that student
  2. paperwork indicates student is in “least restrictive environment” (keeps up number for state reporting)
  3. student expected to learn content to prepare student for state standardized test

Perhaps some disadvantages for the student are:

  1. Student frustration since content moves quickly; seemingly more so for students with learning struggles
  2. stress of homework demands above/beyond those of non-disabled student
  3. unable to process all the information in class, thus increasing homework burden and lessens family/free time
  4. stresses on family to assist with homework, costs for tutor
  5. Stressors build to point of wanting to avoid school resulting in need for professional counseling
  6. Misses opportunity for skill building that he would have acquired in a self-contained setting
  7. Stigma of not fitting in either setting
  8. School might indicate they will drop the paraprofessional the student had prior to CWC

Perhaps some disadvantages for the public school are:

  1. Allowing students to fail in CWC then having to have an IEP meeting to explain to the parent that the student needs to be moved
  2. Teacher frustration since teachers see when students are struggling unnecessarily
  3. Students who become so frustrated that they cause behavior problems in the class thus disrupting other students
  4. Political wranglings among staff triggering a “regular-ed versus Special-ed” culture

Parents need to carefully consider if CWC is the setting that is appropriate for their child.  High schools are known to do this since the expectations for the student are lowered when the student will “graduate” soon.

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Child Advocates Help in IEP meetings

Media reports indicate proposed cuts to school budgets across the country.   Budget cuts may affect the employment of para-educators (also known as paraprofessionals). Often a paraprofessional is assigned to a student (or group of students) who have special needs.

Students who meet eligibility requirements get special services through a document called an IEP.   The IEP is where the services of a paraprofessional are determined and resulting in the mandate for the service(s).
In order to eliminate the paraprofessional that is mandated through a student IEP, the IEP would have to be adjusted.   The parent must be fully informed when this occurs.   There must either be an “IEP meeting” or an “amendment” to the IEP must be made. In either case, parent involvement is required. This is where the parent can indicate that a paraprofessional continues to be required in order that the student receive “educational benefit”.

The process can be confusing and parents can be easily misled. A child advocate can help here; they can prepare communications for you upon request and also attend those IEP meetings. Some may also prepare an IEP amendment upon your request so that you may submit it to the school.

The has child advocates who assist parents in Kansas and Missouri and others over the phone/internet.  Google voice phone # 816 865-6262.