My Child is Being Recommended for Special Education. What are the different types of special education classrooms? What Does This Mean? Our Education writer is here to help.
Let’s picture this scenario for a moment, shall we?
Your child’s teacher just spoke to you about academic and social concerns she has for your child. She’s also talking about CSE and educational testing. You’re confused and worried that something might be wrong with your child.
Well, you’re not alone. Many parents will be in this situation at some point in their child’s school career, but what does “Special Education” really mean?
Many of us have our own notions of special education classes based on our own childhoods. We remember special education classes with very small groups of children with developmental disabilities. We also remember that these classes were often segregated from the general education population.
But, this has changed. Now, “special education” covers a wide range of services that a school district can provide for a child. Such services can include everything from an extra pull-out for reading to programs for the gifted. Below is a description of the different types of special education classrooms and services that you’ll hear about and what they look like in schools today.
Different Types of Special Education Classrooms
1.) Pull Out/ Push In Services.
The least restrictive service that schools can provide to a struggling child is a pull-out or push in service. AIS (Academic Intervention Service) reading or math, speech, physical therapy, and resource room all fall into this category. Many schools will try one of these services first to see if a little extra help is all the child needs to catch up.
With these services, a service provider from the school or an outside agency will either pull the child out of class for a short session or push into the class to assist the classroom teacher. These pull-outs or push-ins usually occur two to five days per week for about forty minutes at a time.
2.) The Inclusion (or Integrated) Classroom
If a child is not showing success with the pull-out or push in service, the district might recommend an integrated classroom. This is a general education classroom with two teachers and sometimes an aid or a teaching assistant. Districts vary in how this model is set up. But, the class usually contains a small number of students identified as needing special services and the remaining students being general education students.
Both teachers are there to service the entire class. Although in some models, the special education teacher may pull out the students with special needs for private instruction for a portion of the day. This model allows students with special needs to participate in a general education classroom while receiving individualized instruction to meet their needs.
3.) The Self-Contained Classroom
The self-contained classroom is the next step in special education services. These classrooms are usually made up of 4-12 students with one special education teacher and a few aids or teaching assistants.
In a self-contained classroom, the instruction is individualized to the specific needs of each student. Each student’s goals are worked on every day along with the grade level curriculum. Many schools integrate students in a self-contained classroom with the general population for specials like gym, art, and lunch. They may also work with a cooperating general education class for special projects or trips.
Some self-contained classrooms have students working towards a general high school diploma while others may be more geared towards life skills. This depends on the specific disabilities of the students in each classroom.
Now That You Know A Little More About The Different Types of Special Education Classrooms, What Happens Next?
Schools must identify and place students with disabilities as early as possible to ensure the greatest level of success for each child. Recommendations for special education services may begin as early as pre-school and kindergarten. It can be very difficult and painful for a parent to hear that her child might need special services. But, try to remember that children who receive services early on are more likely to be successful later in life.
As a teacher, I often see students lingering in general education for years before they receive the services they need. It is much more difficult for children to begin services in middle school when they are now more aware of why they are being placed in special education. I have also seen many children come out of different types of special education classrooms all together in middle school and high school thanks to early intervention.
Whatever level of service your child may need, remember that you should always feel free to ask questions about your child’s placement. Your school psychologist or classroom teacher should be able to help you understand how your district provides services. Decisions should always be based on providing whichever services will allow your child to achieve the greatest level of success.
Want to read more educational posts like this one on the Different Types of Special Education Classrooms?
- My Child Needs Extra Help In School. Now What?
- Help Your Child Find Healthy School Friendships.
- Helping Children With ADHD Reach Their Potential.
- 4 Basic Life Skills Kids Lack Today.