Essay Sample on Reforms in Special Education

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721 words
George Washington University
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A lot of reformations have taken place in the special education in the last century allowing individuals with individual needs to acquire education. At the beginning of the century, special education was less developed, and learners who were unable to learn at an equivalent rate as their peers were disadvantaged and remain marginalized (Tomlinson, 2012, p. 6). Several reforms have however taken place leading to increasing in the number of high school graduates with special needs. Parents, legislators, educators and other stakeholders in the society have participated in different ways to ensure reforms have been done in the education system to accommodate the children with special needs. The changes that have been effected over the period have brought about several reforms in the special education as discussed below.

A significant step in the changes in special education was observed in the year 1975 in the US when schools started to get federal funds to for special needs. The funds enable public schools to create an enabling environment for children who were handicapped by training teachers and also having classrooms that would assist the children to have a favorable learning environment. Later, in 1975, special education was made free at all district public schools (Esteves, & Rao, 2008, p. 2). Each learner with special needs was required to have a specific personal attention that ensured they were able to learn despite their unique individual need (Mazurek, & Winzer, 2000, p. 6). The states were supposed to make sure that the special needs students got non-discriminating testing and placement in the process of learning.

A significant step in reforming the special education was done in 1990 when children with autism were included under special needs individuals (Duncan, & Posny, 2010, p. 6). Initially, the law recognized persons with physical disabilities. The inclusion of people with autism and other brain challenges such s injuries was brought about was done through a court order and acted a vital turn around point for special education as it broadened the number of individuals getting an education and fair treatment. Though the amendment was done in 1990 increased the number of beneficiaries of the program, there was a lack of sufficient ways of measuring the success of the program. Few students graduated because the lack of means of testing the students with special abilities. An amendment was made in 1997; the reform was vital in ensuring special education developed and was successful to individual students who had unique characteristics. It mandated an annual assessment where learners would be assessed annually and if progress was not identified, the plan they were undergoing to be changed to accommodate their individual needs.

In 2004, reform was made that addressed the training and skills of teachers offering special education. They were required to have unique skills that would enable them to meet the needs of individual student factor that was previously not addressed (Duncan, & Posny, 2010). The enactment was vital in the development of the special education because it ensured quality learning was offered. It also required the institutions and other stakeholders to ensure that the learners were exposed to alternative models that would help in identifying other special needs. The Instructions provided were always supposed to match and individual student and have a high-quality instrument that would enable the learner to learn as other normal children at the same age. The reform minimized the sending of children to special education schools and schools have now been able to retain and help learners learn in the same environment with other average students.

Special education in the last decade has got many had many reforms that have positively transformed it. The current changes have been trying to make it efficient and reduce the critics that have been received on earlier reforms. For example, the sending of children with special need have been criticized for long, and current changes have been reduced the trend. In the current changes, the skills of the teachers have been aligned to deal with the meeting of individual learners as required by the special needs education.


Esteves, K., & Rao, S. (2008) (1st ed., pp. 1-3). The Evolution of Special Education: The Principal. Retrieved from

Mazurek, K., & Winzer, M. (2000). Special education in the 21st century (1st ed.). Washington, D.C: Gallaudet Univ. Pr.

Tomlinson, S. (2012). A Sociology of Special Education (RLE Edu M) (1st ed.). Routledge.

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