Does special education improve academic outcomes for students with disabilities? There is surprisingly little evidence to guide policy and answer this question. This paper provides an answer for the largest disability group, students with learning disabilities. The researchers used data from the New York City schools to track the academic performance of more than 44,000 students with learning disabilities over seven years. Test scores for students with learning disabilities improve after they are classified into special education, and the gains are greatest for students who entered special education before they reached middle school. Overall, students who began special education services in grades 4 and 5 "were more likely to be placed, and remain, in less restrictive service settings" than students who began later, the researchers found. The findings suggest that support services that help students remain in the general education classrooms may be particularly effective for students with learning disabilities.
The Effects of Special Education on the Academic Performance of Students with Learning Disabilities
Schwartz, Amy Ellen, Bryant Gregory Hopkins, Leanna Stiefel. (2019). The Effects of Special Education on the Academic Performance of Students with Learning Disabilities. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-86). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: http://www.edworkingpapers.com/ai19-86
Structured Literacy and Typical Literacy Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities
Swerling, Louise Spear. Structured Literacy and Typical Literacy Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities (January 23, 2018). Teaching Exceptional Children: Volume: 51 issue: 3, page(s): 201-211. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040059917750160
A key feature of structured literacy (SL) includes, “explicit, systematic, and sequential teaching of literacy at multiple levels — phonemes, letter–sound relationships, syllable patterns, morphemes, vocabulary, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and text structure. SL is especially well suited to students with dyslexia because it directly addresses their core weaknesses in phonological skills, decoding, and spelling. If implemented in Tier 1 instruction and tiered interventions, SL practices may also prevent or ameliorate a wide range of other reading difficulties.
Adapted Shared Storybook Reading
This study investigated the use of an adapted shared reading protocol with three children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in home settings. In addition, this study was to investigate whether individual components of the intervention package contributed to its overall effectiveness. Finally, the extent to which the participating children generalized their ability to engage in adapted shared reading with the researcher to shared reading with their parents was explored. The results of the investigation indicate that the children with ASD demonstrated improvements in engagement in shared reading and these improvements generalized to shared reading with the children’s parents.
The role of part-time special education supporting students with reading and spelling difficulties from grade 1 to grade 2 in Finland
Leena K. Holopainen et al, The role of part-time special education supporting students with reading and spelling difficulties from grade 1 to grade 2 in Finland (April 25, 2017). European Journal of Special Needs Education (2017). DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2017.1312798
The reading skills of children with reading and spelling difficulties (RSD) lag far behind the age level in the first two school years, despite special education received from special education teachers. Furthermore, the spelling skills of children who in addition to RSD had other learning difficulties also lagged behind their peers in the first two school years. Small group education and a moderate amount of part-time special education (approximately 38 hours per year) predicted faster skill development, whereas individual and a large amount of special education (more than 48 hours per year) were related to slower skill development and broader difficulties.
Increasing Comprehension of Expository Science Text for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder
This study evaluated the effects of a text structure intervention package on the ability of students with autism to comprehend traditional science texts. Three high school students with high-functioning autism and their teacher participated in this study. The intervention package included instruction in types of text structures using a text structure organization sheet before reading, and completing an analysis and summary sheet during and after reading. Results indicated that the instruction was highly effective during intervention and maintenance phase for all three participants. The first-year special education teacher was able to implement the intervention with fidelity. All participants agreed that the intervention was helpful for reading science texts. Future research and implications for classroom intervention is discussed.
Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice
Burr, E., Haas, E., and Ferriere, K. (July 2015). Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities: Key issues in the literature and state practice, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory at WestEd.
This review of research and policy literature — aimed at district and state policymakers — distills several key elements of processes that can help identify and support English learner students with learning disabilities. It also describes current guidelines and protocols used by the 20 states with the largest populations of English learner students. The report informs education leaders who are setting up processes to determine which English learner students may need placement in special education programs as opposed to other assistance. The report acknowledges that the research base in this area is thin.
Evaluation of Response to Intervention Practices for Elementary School Reading
Balu, R., Zhu, P., Doolittle, F., Schiller, E., Jenkins, J., and Gersten, R. (November 2015) Evaluation of Response to Intervention Practices for Elementary School Reading, Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a framework for collecting and using data to match students to interventions of varying intensity. This study examines the implementation of RtI in Grade 1–3 reading in 13 states during the 2011–12 school year, focusing on 146 schools that were experienced with RtI. Full implementation of the RtI framework in Grade 1–3 reading was reported by 86 percent of the experienced schools. Fifty-five percent of these schools focused reading intervention services on Grade 1 students reading below grade level, while 45 percent of the schools also provided reading intervention services for Grade 1 students reading at or above grade level. Students who scored just below school-determined benchmarks on fall screening tests, and who were assigned to interventions for struggling readers, had lower spring reading scores in Grade 1 than students just above the threshold for intervention. In Grades 2 and 3, there were no statistically significant impacts of interventions for struggling readers on the spring reading scores of students just below the threshold for intervention.
Writing Instruction for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Historically, learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have not had access to the general education curriculum. Current legislation mandates that all children, including children with ASD, have access to and make progress in the general education curriculum. This article contains a review of the literature on writing instruction for children with ASD. Investigation yielded 15 studies with 29 participants with ASD ages 4 to 21 years. Based on the studies reviewed, we concluded that students with ASD benefit from explicit writing instruction, but more research is needed to establish an evidence-based set of practices to guide educators in the development of effective writing programs for this population of students. Strategies that are particularly promising and suggestions for future research are given.
Evidence-Based Reading Instruction for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Kelly J. Whalon, Stephanie Al Otaiba, Monica E. Delano. Evidence-Based Reading Instruction for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Vol 24, Issue 1, pp. 3-16, December 22, 2008.
Legislation mandates that all children, including children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), be taught to read in ways that are consistent with reading research and target the five components of evidence-based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies. This review synthesized the literature on reading instruction for children with ASD that encompassed one or more of the five components of reading. The review included 11 studies with 61 participants ages 4 to 17 years. Results indicated that children with ASD can benefit from reading instruction consistent with reading research. Research in this area is still preliminary, and more research is needed to guide practice. Possible directions for future research are provided.
The Communication Journey of a Fully Included Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
Diehl, Sylvia F.; Ford, Carolyn S.; and Federico, Jeanne. The Communication Journey of a Fully Included Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Topics in Language Disorders: October/December 2005, Volume 25, Issue 4, p 375–387.
This article follows José, a child with autism spectrum disorder, through his communication journey from age 3 to age 11. His journey illustrates many of the characteristics and challenges of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as they become a part of the literate community in the general education classroom. Collaborative, family-based teaming strategies that supported José's language and literacy learning from kindergarten through fourth grade are described. The article credits early, intensive intervention based on the family's concerns and goals for meaningful outcomes and communicative competence across learning contexts and communicative partners. Speech-language pathologists' roles as advocates for all students to have access to the social and literate community are also highlighted.
The SLP's Role in Collaborative Assessment and Intervention for Children with ASD
National trends indicate an increasing number of children identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The diagnostic criteria for autistic disorder include deficits in social interaction and communication. The communication support required by children with ASD is varied and complex, requiring collaboration from many disciplines. This article focuses on the speech language pathologist's (SLP) role as a member of a collaborative team in identifying patterns of strengths and challenges in communication in children with autism and in providing social, behavioral, and communication supports. It presents two case studies of boys (ages 10-12) with autism.
Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders
The authors reviewed studies on teaching reading comprehension to students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with a focus on text (academic reading) comprehension and sight word (functional) comprehension. Eleven of 754 studies met the inclusion criteria: participants with ASD, published in English in a peer-reviewed journal, and use of an experimental design. Participants, setting, academic or functional reading comprehension, and instructional methods across studies were summarized and examined. Instructional methods employed were compared to those identified by the National Reading Panel as effective for students without disabilities. Suggestions for future research and practice are discussed.