Special Education 651

EDSP 651: Students with Diverse Learning Needs and the Special Education Process

Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permission of Graduate Coordinator

Credit Hours: (3)

This is the first course for all students in the Special Education Master's Degree program and is also taken as an elective by graduate students in professions working with children and youth.  This course provides an overview of the historical, social and cultural foundations that frame our response to disability and diversity today, and the philosophies, principles, theories, laws and policies that have shaped educational practice for students with disabilities.  An introduction to diverse learning needs (including ADHD and giftedness) and the categories of eligibility for services, the general characteristics and needs of infants, children and youth with exceptionalities and their families, and the current trends and issues in service delivery and special education professional practice will be included.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course as described above includes the following topics:

-    Historical, social and cultural foundations of disability and special education, and major contributors and organizations in the disability field.

-    Legal basis of special education

-    The Special Education process, including early childhood special education and school-based special education for K-12

-    The needs of families with children with diverse learning needs, and strategies and requirements for involvement and support

-    An overview of each of the specific exceptionalities/disabilities/disorders:  attention deficit disorder, autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional and behavioral disorders, giftedness, hearing impairments, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech/language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment and blindness, and developmental delay.

-    Issues in identification procedures and definition for students from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds disabilities.

-    Analysis of current issues and trends in the field of disability

-    Continuum of placement options and services including model programs for children and youth with disabilities and their families, birth to 21


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Tools of learning include lecture, case studies, discussion, documentaries and training DVDs, readings in textbook, journals and web, small group application activities, and completion of semester-long portfolio project.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Goals, objectives, and assignments in this lass address NCATE Standards 1b Pedagogical Content Knowledge and 1g Professional Dispositions.

Objectives below also include the following standards:

-    Council for Exceptional Children [CEC]Common Core standards in Standard #1: Foundations (CC1) for all Entry-level Special Education Teachers

-    Council for Exceptional Children [CEC]Common Core standards in Standard #2: Development and Characteristics of Learners (CC2)

-    Council for Exceptional Children [CEC]Common Core standards in Standard #9: Professional and Ethical Practice (CC9)

-    Virginia Department of Education Teacher [VDOE] Licensure standards

    -    Special Education: General Education Curriculum and Special Education: Adapted Curriculum requirements in Foundations.  Characteristics, Legal and medical aspects for Special Education (VGC/VAC1a and VGC/VAC1b)

    -    Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment, and Early Childhood Special Education requirements in Nature and Characteristics (VHI/VVI/VEC1) and Foundations (VHI/VVI/VEC2)

    -    Professional Studies requirements in Human Growth and Development [VPS1] for PreK-12, special education, and secondary education and Early/primary PreK-3 education, elementary education, PreK-6, and middle education.

Having successfully completed this course, the student will:

1.    Understand the historical, social and cultural foundations that frame our response to disability and diversity today, and the philosophies, principles, theories, laws and policies which have shaped educational practice for students with disabilities (CC1K8, CC1K9) (VGC/AC1a1) (VHI/VVI/VEC1c)

2.    Identify personal and cultural attitudes, beliefs, values and biases about disability and difference, develop new personal understandings of ability and disability, develop and demonstrate sensitivity for the culture, language, religion, gender, disability, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation of individuals, and reflect on how past and present understandings will impact their professional performance and growth. (CC9K) (CC9S11) (CC9S6)

3.    Understand the models, theories, and philosophies that form the basis for special education practice, and gain an understanding of and appreciation for the supports and services that enable communities, and to be academically and socially successful in early childhood and general education settings. (CC1K1) (CC2K5) (GC1K8) (VHI/VVI/VEC1b)

4.    Understand the impact of family values, language and customs, and individual differences and diversity-economic, social, racial, ethnic, religion, physical ability, and intellectual ability- on development and social and academic success in school and community; and identify the dynamics and issues that arise from the interaction of these factors with developmental disabilities and developmental issues such as attention deficit disorders, substance abuse, child abuse, and family disruptions (CC1K5, CC1K8, CC1K10) (CC2K3) (VPS1) (VGC/AC1a3) (VHI/VVI/VEC1d)

5.    identify the needs of families of children with disabilities and describe the scope of desired and required involvement of family members of students with disabilities, and the cultural, social and language barriers and facilitators to involvement and support.  CC1K7, CC1K5

6.    Understand and apply the legal and regulatory requirements, and expectations associated with identification, education, evaluation and due process of students with disabilities, including (CC1K6) (VGC/ACB1, B2, B3) (VHI/VVI/VEC2 a-e)

        a.    Legislative and judicial mandates related to education and special education including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the No Child Left Behind Act.

        b.    Current regulations governing special education

                i.    Definitions of student with a disability and the IDEA disability categories, and the evaluation/reevaluation process for eligibility for services. (CC2K6)

                ii.    What encompasses special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services, and the IEP

                iii.    Behavior and disciplinary practices, policies, and procedures, and alternative placements/programs in schools.  (CC1K2)

                iv.    Examine laws, policies, and ethical principals regarding behavior management planning and implementation and demonstrate an understanding of accepted standards of professional behavior. (CC1K2) (VDOE A1a7)

                v.    "Rights and responsibilities" of parents, students, teachers, and schools as they relate to individuals with disabilities and disability issues. (CC1K4)

7.    Understand the characteristics, learning, medical, and support needs of birth-grade 12 students with exceptional learning needs including attention deficit disorder, autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech/language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment and blindness, and developmental delay.  (CC2K2) (VPS1) (VGC/AC 1a6) (VHI/VVI/VEC1a) (VDOE A1a4)

8.    Complete a learning module on child abuse recognition, reporting and prevention, and identify issues and strategies unique to working with students with disabilities. (VGC/AC1a7)

9.    Identify and access information on exceptionalities, and services, networks, publications and organizations for individuals with disabilities.  (CC9K1) (CC9K2) (CC9S10)

10.    Acquire introductory knowledge of CEC Code of Ethics and accepted standards of professional behavior.  (CC9S1) (VGC/AC1a7)

11.    Use verbal, nonverbal, and written language effectively.  (CC9S8)


Assessment Measures

-    Application assignments related to legal aspects or current trends

-    Class participation in discussions and small group activities

-    Disability study project

-    Completion of on-line child abuse certificate training

-    Key NCATE Performance Assessment: "Images of Disability" Portfolio Project submitted in digital format


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

January 1998 reviewed Marilyn Graham

November 2003 reviewed Debora Bays

September 2008 revised Elizabeth Altieri