In looking at both IDEA and NCLB we have to look at each individually to begin to compare them. Are they both for just special education students or do they encompass all students? We will first look at IDEA, then NCLB, and how they both impact the students as well as the teachers.
IDEA is seeking to uphold the rights of each student with disabilities to be able to get the education promised to them by their government. It is ensuring all students with special needs to be able to be a part of the general classroom. In the field of education it has come to the sad fact that everything has to be spelled out. I believe that a lot of it has to do with politics. It comes down to the fear of a “normal” teacher feeling ill-prepared to take on a child with special needs in their general education classroom. They have every right to be afraid.
The No Child Left Behind Act is giving schools an ultimatum to get their acts together. It is giving parents and students the right to withdrawal from any school that is failing to meet normal standards. It is a chance for students to get the “better” education they deserve.
NCLB and IDEA are in a way fighting for the same ideals. They both are pushing for students to be able to attain higher levels of learning by bettering the environment they have to learn in. They are both stepping stones to improved learning for all students. “These two historic laws are now working together to ensure that high standards are set for all students with disabilities, and that every child receives a quality education (No Child Left Behind, 2006).”
An important aspect of NCLB and IDEA combined is how the teacher plays a role in the process. It is detrimental to all students that teachers in school are highly qualified to be teaching in their classrooms. Students can have a hard time learning from a teacher who isn’t quite up to par. When taking a look at what makes a teacher “highly-qualified” as required by NCLB and IDEA several factors should be examined. Some of those factors include: the testing requirements of upcoming teachers, pre-service programs, special and/or general education teaching standards (including teacher certification and program approval standards), collaborative teaching, and professional development in-services (Muller & Burdette, 2007).
“NCLB created for the first time a national expectation regarding the qualifications of teachers in public schools. The law mandated that local education agencies ensure all teachers providing instruction in core academic subjects in Title I schools be “highly qualified.” To be highly qualified, teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree, have full certification or licensure and demonstrate competence in the core academic subject(s) they teach. IDEA also has specific requirements for special education teachers to be “highly qualified” in the core academic subject(s) in which they provide direct instruction that mirror NCLB requirements. According to IDEA, all special education teachers must be highly qualified, have full certification in special education and demonstrate competence in the core academic subject(s) they teach. Under both laws, participation in an alternative route to certification equates to full certification for this purpose (Muller & Burdette, 2007).”
The hard part about really cracking down on today’s teachers is that it could possibly have a negative impact on the field of teaching general or special education. At the same time I can understand why it is necessary to crack down on teachers. I believe that in some instances teachers have became “lazy” in their teaching. Perhaps they have lost sight of the fact that they are there to impact and educate the minds of potential leaders. In my experience as a student I have come across a few of those and you can really see the difference in their teaching styles. Those teachers tend to not do well motivating their students and aren’t able to produce normal/average results. It is not just the special education teacher program that needs to be reevaluated, but it is also those general education teaching programs that also need some work to help produce more qualified teachers and that is what NCLB is targeting.
Successful teachers have to be able to reach each and every one of their students. A way that they can accomplish this is through strategy instruction which equips the students with the tools to promote strategic planning and independent learning. “When strategy instruction is implemented as a coordinated, school-wide system, student outcomes can be even greater, leading to transfer of knowledge, skills, and strategies to other academic and social settings (Luke, 2006).” You can’t have successful students if you don’t have a motivated teacher in the front of the classroom. “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth (Luke, 2006).”
I fully support what both pieces of legislation are trying to do. I know that in my journey through the education process of being a teacher I don’t remember one class that even mentioned having an “abnormal” child in my classroom. I do understand that every teacher will have behavioral problems to deal with and those students who are constantly falling behind, but I haven’t been trained in how to deal with those students (diagnosed or not). It wasn’t until I decided myself to take a special education class that I realized that the importance of being fully prepared hit me. Every upcoming teacher should prepare for the possibility of have a student with any type of disability in their classroom and IDEA should encompass not only special education teachers, but also those who are teaching in the general education classrooms.
As an up and coming teacher I realize the importance of being prepared 110%. Being a teacher is not the best paying job in the industry, but it can be the most rewarding. It is important for me and all of those students who are studying to be teachers to make sure that they are doing this for the kids not the three months of summer vacation and that they are willing to go the extra mile to fully prepare themselves for the day to day challenges that a classroom can bring.
Students are falling through the cracks and not getting the help that they need to succeed and that is the premise behind NCLB and IDEA. They are not just for the special education students, but also for the Title 1 students and those who aren’t quite up to average standards. I was one of those students who fell through the cracks, but luckily through determination I have been able to recognize and be able to work on the disabilities I have struggled with all my life throughout my career in education.
“Our children are only children once. If we fail to educate them today, they will fail to succeed tomorrow.” —Judy Heumann (U.S. Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 1993-2001)
- Luke, S. D. (2006). The Power of Strategy Instruction. Evidence for Education , 1 (1) . NICHCY.
- Muller, E., & Burdette, P. (2007, April). Highly Qualified Teachers and Special Education: Several State Approaches. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from In Forum Brief Policies Analysis: www.projectforum.org
- No Child Left Behind. (2006, August 3). No Child Left Behind. Retrieved January 25, 2009, from Raising the Achievement of Students with Disabilies: New Ideas for IDEA: www.ed.gov
- Vaughn, S., Bos, C., & Schumm, J. (2007). Teaching Exceptional, Diverse, and At-Risk Students in the General Education Classroom (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.