In regards to the self-contained classroom, they want to know if it is the best placement for their child. So let’s break that down.
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Public schools have a diverse and unusual role in a child’s education. They are in charge of teaching the basic concepts of learning and letting children know how to behave in a social setting.
Of course, these are just a couple of the duties a school has to undertake. However, when you throw special education into the mix, things can get stressful for a traditional school system.
Over the last few decades, the general school system’s infrastructure for special education has slowly been crumbling. Schools are rushing to keep up with an increasingly diverse student population. And it has been struggling ever since.
More and more children are becoming school age in this time of exploding populations. As this happens, schools can’t keep up with the incoming flow of children. This means redefining how special education services will fit into the new structure.
What is Special Education?
“Special education” refers to the public school’s obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities. Most children receive these services in the student’s zone school. But some children receive their special education services in specialized programs at special schools.
However, the way schools provide special education is different from school to school. Some schools have still not caught up with the concept of special education.
At these schools, everyone is included in the general school population and given the same opportunities across the board, regardless of limitations. But supportive services are provided to help with individual accommodations.
Other schools rely on partial inclusion of children with special needs to serve this school sector best. This gives the special needs child a small part of the day with other children while doing certain activities or subjects.
And then, there are self-contained classrooms.
What is a Self-Contained Classroom?
One concept in public learning environments is called the self-contained classroom. On average, regular classrooms have anywhere from 20 to 30 students. That gives children a good part of each school day with a group of their peers.
For children with special needs, this can become overwhelming and possibly cause them to fall behind in their learning and work. The self-contained classroom focuses on the idea of smaller groups, a more close-knit environment, and one-on-one attention. This can help children with special needs feel safe while fostering creativity and learning.
How Many Students Are In a Self-Contained Classroom?
These groups typically consist of 5 to 10 students and are run by a special education teacher and paraeducator, who takes instruction from the primary teacher. But not all school districts have a paraeducator in the classroom.
What Type of Students Are In Self-Contained Classrooms?
They can cater to a specific group of children with the same disability or learning needs or a mixed group with unique abilities.
This alternative classroom setting provides support and structure for children whose educational needs are not met by general education. This can be an excellent choice for schools with a special education program.
When Were Self-Contained Classrooms Established?
While the concept of a smaller classroom environment has been around for decades, it wasn’t until the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into legislation in 2002 that self-contained classrooms rapidly grew in popularity.
The law states that schools need to be held accountable for more issues than they had been previously. And they should provide a standardized education to all school-age children.
Schools that might have had a lax special education program were left scrambling to update their school’s infrastructure so it could accommodate more children with special needs while providing a higher quality of education.
In addition to the increased accountability, schools have to provide standardized testing for all school-age children to help rank and rate the school’s performance.
Suppose a school participates in the full inclusion method for children with special needs. In that case, their overall test scores will be lower simply because all grades, regardless of learning disabilities, counted towards an overall rating.
Primarily for this reason alone, more schools started to use the self-contained classroom method of teaching to separate special education test scores from those of the general population.
Disadvantages of Being In a Self-Contained Classroom
In the past, children who had special needs spent the entire school day in a separate setting from their peers. This helped add to the stigma that there’s something “wrong” with students who have special needs.
Students who are severely disabled or extremely disruptive might still spend their day isolated in their own classroom setting. But now, many schools try to combine the self-contained classroom with regular class interactions. This helps to balance the inherent work and social ratio.
Unfortunately, this might not always be possible for children who are limited in their scope of disability. Still, supervised interactions during the day can do wonders for a child’s sense of self.
It’s essential to let these children know that there is nothing wrong with them. They simply learn at a different pace from the others. And this makes them unique.
Everyone should emphasize a child’s talents, not their shortcomings. This is why self-contained classrooms offer a welcome respite from the jungle that can be elementary, middle, or high school.
How to Decide What is Best for Your Child?
Deciding whether a child should be in a self-contained classroom should be driven by what the student needs to progress on their academic goals.
The team should look at a few things such as:
- IEP goals
- Supplemental aids and services
- Special education service hours
- Whether you can successfully implement the IEP in the general education setting
For example, a student with a lot of supplemental aids and services which require a lot of one-to-one attention from the teacher might not be able to be implemented in the general education setting.
There can be a difference of opinion from parent to school about which services the child with special needs should participate in. Hence, it’s essential to keep an open and honest channel of communication between you and the teacher regarding your child’s best interests.
IEP services can be successful in a self-contained classroom. However, whether this educational setting is suitable for a student depends on their individual needs.
The IEP team should discuss a student’s access to students without disabilities if they consider a self-contained placement for a student. The correct placement for one student might not be suitable for another. All should take placement decisions seriously and consider the IEP.
Additional Resources for Your Child
Special Education Resource offers customizable lesson plans, one-on-one tutoring, and educators with years of special education experience. We want to see your child succeed on their path to better education, so feel free to browse our site, read other articles to gain insight, and please let us know if we can help you with a subject that might not be listed.