Special Education: The Foundation for Understanding Disabilities - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1656 Words
Date:  2023-04-09


Special education refers to the activity of educating students in such a way that it addresses their personal needs and differences. This practice consists of the individually systematic planning and monitored arrangement of teaching mechanisms, adapted materials, and equipment as well as accessible settings (Burbules, 2018). The various events that have driven the progressive and gradual evolution of special needs education act as a background of understanding the basic foundation of the discipline and its ever-changing nature.

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History of Special Education

The historical philosophy of segregating students having disabilities drawn from the public schools can be dated back in history to 1893 when the Supreme Court of Massachusetts upheld the banning of a particular student solely as a result of poor academic performance (Burbules, 2018). Approximately thirty years later, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin denied a student education with the problem of cerebral palsy due to nauseating and depressing effect upon the school children and teachers. These are some of the historical examples of worldwide accepted beliefs that such students with disabilities were isolated from the rest of the students in public school education and society.

In late 1975, about half of the approximately eight million school-going children with disabilities in the United States were being fully excluded or inappropriately educated in public school education. To correct this situation, President Gerald Ford, on November 29, 1975, signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act which is currently referred to as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Shriner, & Yell, 2005). What was seen previously as a privilege is a legal right now and the basic needs of the initial law remain the foundation of special education today? Regarding the laws enacted then, all children with disabilities are required to have an appropriate and free public education, be served in a non-restrictive environment, and an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Today, most recent legislation such as the IDEA 2004 and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has fundamentally influenced the quality of special education practices in schools at the government level (Shriner, & Yell, 2005). For instance, NCLB addresses the accountability for the achievements of students by requiring them to increase participation in nationwide assessments by students with disabilities. Also, the legislation calls for highly trained and qualified teachers, together with those teaching special education.

During the last two decades or so, the number of special needs students being educated in public school education has increased progressively. Research shows that approximately ninety-five percent of disable students are being schooled in local schools, while about seventy-five percent get a combination of pull-out resources and full inclusion services (Burbules, 2018). Increasingly, the professional literature review shows how teachers in a special education setting my use varied instructions to discourse variance in general classroom without necessarily the need for such specialized instructions from a teacher of special education.

Code of Ethics Reflection

Professional special practitioners are primarily guided by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) professional code of ethics, professional policies, and practice standards in such a way that it respects the various needs and characteristics of persons with exceptionalities as well as their families. These principles have a set of implications in professional practices (Pulliam & Van Patten, 2006). In essence, they are committed to advancing and upholding such principles which include;

Professional teachers should maintain challenging expectations of the individuals with disabilities to come up with the highest learning possible results as well as the potential quality of life in such a way that it respects their culture, background, dignity, and language (Smith, 2004). In this case, the implication of this principle to professional practices is as a result of the fact that students with exceptionalities will get an opportunity of being trained in a general classroom like the rest of the students in a special education setting.

Also, professional educators in a school setting ensure the maintenance of a high level of professional integrity and competence with the practice of professional judgment aimed at benefiting students with exceptionalities together with their families (Elliot, 1991). This will promote inclusive and meaningful participation of students with disabilities in their societies and school setting environment, thus, impacting a positive implication to the general perspective of the CEC code of conduct for special professional practitioners.

In respect to the CEC code of ethics, professional practices reflect and develop relationships with peer educators based on mutual perspective and involved individuals and families actively with exceptional characteristics in making the educational decision (Hardman, & Nagle, 2004). With the use of research, professional knowledge, evidence, and instructional data to inform professional practice, CEC collegially implicates a sense of working with others who are specifically providing such services to students with disabilities.

Moreover, supporting and protecting the psychological and physical safety of persons with exceptionalities is crucial to the CEC code of ethics. Professional special educators understand and know about the use of competency framework and core knowledge as a mechanism to address professional practice to think about the professional and development requirements of individuals with exceptionalities (Shriner, & Yell, 2005). Within the frameworks and policies of CEC, practicing professional ethics, upholding laws and regulations, standards, as well as policies that enhance professional practice is a very key element to special needs education.

Furthermore, the CEC Code of ethics advocates for professional resources and conditions that will enhance and improve the learning results of students with exceptional characteristics. In this case, its implications are felt by the professional educators of special needs education because they are open to an ever-changing field based on current research and development of professional practices (Hardman, & Nagle, 2004). Likewise, professional codes of ethics engage in the improvement of professional practices through the pro-active participation of educators in professional organizations and other networks. Professional educators integrate, and researches new source of information on current advances and issues in child behavior, relationship, and development focused on professional practice. Also, the CEC Code of ethics enhances the participatory approach in the dissemination and growth of professional knowledge and expertise of professional educators.

Professional Growth Plan

Over the past years, a professional growth plan for life-long has been a critical concern in the strategic planning of a school setting. School management invests in their staff and teachers to have skills, abilities, and knowledge to create a conducive learning environment (Pulliam, & Van Patten, 2006). For instance, evaluating teachers is purposely to help teachers improve their performance as well as to grow professionally. As a result, school management may obtain useful information from the evaluations to come up with programs for professional educators to build on their strengths and other areas needing improvement.

To enhance professional educators' commitment to life-long learning, educational professionals and other leaders should know what motivates students to learn. For instance, a research study examining motivational impacts for people's life-long learning showed that there is a strong correlation between individual motivational and life-long learning dynamics such as benefits, intentions, and expectations (Elliot, 1991). Various social, professional, and personal motivational factors encourage adults to be part of life-long learning practices such as growth, recognition, and achievement. Research shows that adults are ready to learn if there is readily available and relevant information necessary to help them adapt to real-life challenges and to perform effectively. Internal factors that motivates the learning process to improve self-esteem and increased job satisfaction are stronger than the external effects. Research findings examining the implications of various types of motivation on the life-long learning process indicate that the learning motivation of the adults can be increased if connected to institutional and structural conditions. For example, if the conditions of a particular educational institution are conducive for adult participation in training and learning practices, the staffs are likely to engage themselves in more elaborate and meaningful learning practices and experiences in their entire lives.

The critical aim of the professional growth plan and the concept of life-long learning is the essence of improving the achievement of the student through self-efficacy, enhanced performance of a teacher, and capacity. It is very significant for educational professionals and other leaders to foster the climate environment for a continuous and consistent professional development through motivating educators to be part and parcel of a meaningful professional network and development opportunities to improve instructional practices (Smith, 2004). Also, it is critical to mobilize resources and remove impediments for professional educators in terms of available materials, access to information, allotted time, mentors, and other incentives necessary to facilitate and motivate teachers for their quality and professional learning. Through empowering professional educators to engage themselves in research studies to meet the daily needs of their students, they automatically fulfill their most and humanistic objectives of education, the progress of mankind, and commitment to excellence.


In a nutshell, placing current issues and trends in the historical perspective, professional educators can appreciate the extent to which the discipline of special education has come over the past years and enhance further development (Elliot, 1991). With the enactment of crucial special education regulations about 30 years ago, educators and parents have celebrated because many students with disabilities have been granted the opportunity to education. Today, many students with exceptional characteristics have access to and meaningful education that allows learning at all levels of state and produces measurable results.


Burbules, N. C. (2018). Philosophy of education. In International handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 1417-1427). Springer, Cham.

Elliot, J. (1991). Action research for educational change. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Hardman, M. L., & Nagle, K. (2004). Public policy. In A. McCray Sorrells, H. Rieth, & P. T. Sindelar (Eds.), Critical issues in special education (pp. 277-291). Boston: Pearson Education.

Pulliam, J. D., & Van Patten, J. J. (2006). History of education in America (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Shriner, J. G., & Yell, M. L. (2005). IDEA 2004. Paper presented at the Teacher Educators for Children with Behavior Disorders Annual Conference, Tempe, Arizona.

Smith, J. D. (2004). The historical contexts of special education. In A. McCray Sorrells, H. Rieth, & P. T. Sindelar (Eds.), Critical issues in special education (pp. 1-14). Boston: Pearson Education.

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Special Education: The Foundation for Understanding Disabilities - Research Paper. (2023, Apr 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/special-education-the-foundation-for-understanding-disabilities-research-paper

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