At the annual convention of the Council for Exceptional Children last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on special educators to take responsibility for the success of their students.
Duncan said that all children should leave school ready for college and/or career. “High expectations must be the norm, not the exception.”
What do you think? Please take our poll.
The article about Secretary Duncan’s speech is available on Disability Scoop: Education Secretary Looks To Teachers To Raise Bar For Students With Disabilities
Several people commented on the article. All but one disagreed with Duncan’s statements about the need to prepare children with disabilities for further education and employment. I agree with him.
Low expectations lead to poor outcomes in special education. Schools need to prepare children with disabilities for further education, employment, and independent living. (Purpose of IDEA at 20 U.S.C. 1400(d))
The Power of High Expectations
Decades of research shows that children live up to their teachers’ expectations. Low expectations lead to low academic achievement and poor behavior. When teachers have high expectations, student achievement and behavior soar.
In a recent study, 86 percent of teachers agreed that setting high expectations for students has a major impact on student achievement. Yet only 36 percent of teachers agreed that all their students have the ability to succeed academically. (Source: MetLife Survey of the American Teacher)
IDEA Impeded by Low Expectations
IDEA is the federal law that governs special education for children with disabilities. In the Findings section of the law, Congress described obstacles to implementation of the law:
“implementation … has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities.” 20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(4)
Congress found that “over 30 years of research and experience” demonstrated that special education would be more effective by:
“… having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in regular classrooms, to the maximum extent possible … to meet the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and be prepared to lead productive and independent lives to the maximum extent possible.” (20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(5); page 46, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)
Do you think special education be more effective if teachers had higher expectations for children with disabilities? Should schools prepare children to lead productive and independent lives to the maximum extent possible?
How can we convey high expectations to our children when their teachers (and some parents) don’t believe that low expectations are a problem?