Assuring Indiana’s Special Education Students Graduate on Time
Sixteen percent of Indiana’s students are in special education programs, according to a 2012 statistic from Pew Center on the States.
In 2015, Indiana proposed to change state graduation requirements to reflect more rigorous standards. The proposed standards involve a higher number of credits and different elective requirements to graduate. Because special education students are expected to meet the same graduation requirements as traditional students, the concern is that these new rules could prevent them from graduating, or keep them in high school longer than necessary.
In order to pass additional math and science requirements, special needs students may have to take remedial courses that don’t count as high school credits. Other students must take courses several times to grasp the concepts and earn passing grades. If students aren’t able to complete the requirements, they might have to apply for a certificate of completion rather than a diploma, which lowers the likelihood of job opportunities.
Special education teachers in Indiana have also expressed concern that children can only be officially diagnosed with developmental delays from birth to age five. Older students with developmental delays aren’t eligible for special education services, though the services may help them keep up with their peers.
Teachers with Master’s Degrees in Special Education Spearhead Interventions
The Covered Bridge Special Education District serves the Rockville, South Vermillion, Southwest Parke, and Vigo County school corporations, which have a total combined enrollment of about 5,000 special education students, incorporating similar educational methods in all schools throughout the district.
In 2004, special education programs throughout Indiana began using the Response to Intervention (RTI) method. Through the RTI method, educators use interventions with children who are struggling with a concept to help them understand the lesson. The effectiveness of the intervention is then judged by test scores to measure whether progress is being made. The teacher continues using different interventions until they discover what works best for the individual student.
Other organizations partner with public schools to allow parents the chance to be more involved in their children’s education and seek out additional support, such as tutoring. For example, the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative partners with nine school districts throughout Northwest Indiana to expand and supplement special education services.
Indiana is also home to nine dedicated special education schools that serve a variety of special needs students, from emotionally disturbed children, children with behavioral issues, and children with language learning differences to more traditional diagnoses such as autism:
- Basher Alternative School—Goshen
- Fortune Academy—Indianapolis
- Holy Cross School—Terre Haute
- James E Davis School—Lebanon
- Midwest Academy of Indiana—Carmel
- Pinnacle School—Bloomington
- Shults-Lewis School—Valparaiso
- Worthmore Academy—Indianapolis