Special Education Referral Process

Interview of A Teacher

I interviewed one of the best teachers in our school who is currently in IB(International Baccalaureate) department, it is kind of an elite program in our school, they are provided with the best resources we have in school and parents would complain if their kids don’t go into this program. So in this sense, the IB program is a special education system we have in our school for high achievers.

First I asked her about the definition of special education. She mentioned students at a lower scale and on the high ends (high and low achievers) in a class, she thought the both ends would need special education. This is different from what I thought because I was mainly thinking about the students who need special help in the school as special education.

Then I asked about how do you identify a student for special education? She mentioned students having difficulty with academic responsibilities, or students with emotional and behavioral issues which can not be handled through normal classroom management skills. Also, she mentioned students who are over-achievers, they always finish work early and they can be bored in the classroom and cause troubles. (I think ADHD is the case)

In addition, I asked about what are the signs of a struggling student? She mentioned homework assignment missing, which is also an academic problem; students who lack time management skills, self-organizing skills and also social skills who fails to cooperate and collaborate with his/her classmates.

At last, I asked about are there alternate methods of instruction tried out before referring the student for special education? If yes, what are they? Her answer was definitely yes, no teachers should just stick to one method of instruction and expect all students to adapt to this particular method. It is also a practice of our own differentiated and diversified instructions. So teachers must reflect themselves first before referring to special education, have we tried different methods to accommodate student learning with different styles.

In conclusion, her interview focuses on two things, high and low-performance students with special education needs and teachers should do more before we refer a kid to special education service.

Interview of A Counselor

My school does not have a special education system set up for all the kids, but we do have a counseling department, and in that department, we have 6 colleagues who specialize in psychology counseling, this is the closest part I can find for special education referral process. I first tried to find the group leader whom I know, but he went with all 10th-grade students for an elite course called “Cycling around Taiwan”. So I just went into the psychology counseling office to try some luck, luckily the ladies in the counseling room agreed for an interview.

First question: How do you define special education?

Gifted or disabled, they need extra help with their learning. This part is the same as the teacher I interviewed earlier. So it is not only disabled students who need special education.

Second question: How is a student identified for special education referral?

She mentioned two general categories of special education, which are physical and mental disabilities, but in each category, there are more detailed classifications of each type. This part I think she was trying to tell me the 14 categories of special education which we did in activity 3 of this unit.

Third question:  Who takes responsibility for the progress of the child before and after the referral?

She mentioned the person who is referring the student should take responsibility, and also the previous school should write a file about the student who is going to the next school or college, finally she mentioned parents being the main body of responsibility.  I think she did not quite get the question, or she also has no idea what it’s like for a complete special education system set up in a school for the referral. However I agree with the last part she mentioned, the main part will still be the parents, I also see in the discussion forum someone posted about a special education TA paid by the parents who will just be there all the time for the special kids in a regular classroom.

Fourth question: What is the school administration’s directive for special education?

She mentioned the process when students are getting enrolled into the school, they will be required to fill out a form with questions about physical and mental health history. She also admitted if the parents and students tried to hide the truth, we would not know the information. So we do pre-evaluation before the students get into the school, can they adapt the life here, can we provide them with the suitable education they need? But after that, I think they can’t do too much to help those who hide the truth to get into the school. This can be a very serious problem for a private school which need to consider the profit of the school.

Fifth question: What provisions are made for students identified for special education?

She mentioned a friendly environment for physically disabled students, every building has an elevator, this is expensive to build and maintain. We have the counseling center and professional counselor for students to go to for their emotional and behavioral issues, so students can have successful future. This part I think the counseling office is more like doctor’s office with psychiatrists, they would help students solve their emotional issues, so they can get back to the original class, there is no long-term special education plan for students.

Sixth question: What is the level of parent involvement in referral process and special education?

She said for the scale of 10 she would give a 5 for parent involvement in my school, so I guess my school does not involve the parents too much regarding students special education issues. The parents will come to school but usually, they will be in denial for what’s going on about their kid. They will keep hiding the truth probably like how they did to get their kid into the school in the first place. So cooperation with parents will be difficult for teachers in China.

So in conclusion, my school will do some pre-evaluation for students to see if they can fit into our school, but we don’t have a complete special education system set up for the referral. To be honest, this is the first time I talk to a psychology counselor in my school for about 2 years. So teachers in my school don’t have this mindset for special education referral process, we will talk to each other and our coordinators about problem students. So hopefully my effort in the school can make it a better place for cooperation between teachers and counselors for special kids.


Educational Websites

  1. EFA: When I opened the link, it says Global Education Monitoring Report(GEMR), and I downloaded GEM Gender Review which contains a lot of information: I found out that 63% of 758 million illiterate adults are women, and the percentage remained almost the same since 2000; I also found out women in many countries, including Italy and Japan(Which I found unexpected) do at least twice as much unpaid work as men; In addition, I found it interesting that South Korea, with the country’s leader being female(maybe resigning soon), has a relatively low percentage of women on executive board and legislative bodies[1] (“Gender Review,” n.d.).
  2. CERI: All the websites are new information for me to learn about what they do and who they are. The Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) does extensive research work that covers learning at all ages, from birth to old age. It goes beyond the formal education system. While having a particular concern with emerging trends and issues, CERI reflects on the futures of schools and universities. CERI often has a longer timeframe than most work, typically aiming to set an agenda for the future, with a goal to ensure that the work is thoroughly integrated with empirical analysis and innovation awareness. Specific emphasis is put on accumulating statistical evidence to the value of its research work[2](OECD, n.d.).
  3. OECD: one data caught my attention, it is about primary and lower-secondary teacher’s salary. I found out that most developed countries have high salaries for teachers, but Mexico and Turkey have a higher salary than U.S. and Japan are unexpected[3] (“Education resources – teachers’ salaries – OECD data,” 2016).
  4. UNICEF: UNICEF helps governments, communities and parents gain the capacities and skills they need to fulfill their obligations for children. These obligations include ensuring the right of all children to free, compulsory quality education, even during a humanitarian crisis, in the recovery period after a crisis, or in fragile or unstable situations. We focus on gender equality and work towards eliminating disparities of all kinds[4](Pirozzi, 2016).
  5. UNESCO: UNESCO has two global priorities: 1) Africa. 2) Gender Equality. Which I found very reasonable and necessary. The second priority was also addressed by the GEM Gender Review on the EFA website.
  6. AAIE: This is the first time I have heard of this organization, and their website is for some reason loading really slow. They define themselves as a global community connects diverse people, resources, and ideas, they help international educators lead with vision, wisdom, and integrity
  7. CCSS: Common Core State Standards is something I am familiar with, because the school I am working in now adopts CCSS. Originally I think there is no common core for science which is the subject I am currently teaching. However after I looked at all the general standards being stated on the website, I think they also apply in the subject of science. The standards are[5](“Common core state standards initiative,” 2016):
  • Research and evidence based
  • Clear, understandable, and consistent
  • Aligned with college and career expectations
  • Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  • Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society
  1. CCSSO: The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) is a consortium of state education agencies and national educational organizations dedicated to the reform of the preparation, licensing, and on-going professional development of teachers. Created in 1987, InTASC’s primary constituency is state education agencies responsible for teacher licensing, program approval, and professional development. Its work is guided by one basic premise: An effective teacher must be able to integrate content knowledge with the specific strengths and needs of students to assure that all students learn and perform at high levels[6] (“The interstate teacher assessment and support consortium (InTASC),” 2016). So it seems that InTASC has a lot to do with teacher licensing.
  2. AFT: In the American Federation of Teachers website, I also found an article about Girls and Young Women’s Education which provide me with more detailed data: worldwide, approximately 520 million women are illiterate, an estimated 63 million girls and young women between the ages of 6 and 15 are out of school, and enrollment of girls and young women in school decreases as they progress through the education system; for example, 75 percent of girls and young women enter primary school in Sub-Saharan Africa but only 8 percent finish secondary school[7](“GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN’S EDUCATION,” 2016).
  1. NEA: I found one article in National Education Association website related to the subject I am currently teaching-Biology. The author thinks that it is a widespread misconception that American kids have low performance in science. A common misperception about American students is that they are in an academic free-fall when compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world, especially in the study of science[8](Walker, 2013). The article also mentioned STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as a whole subject. It’s no real mystery why most people overstate our students’ weakness. It’s hard to avoid the constant red alerts coming from the media and the Department of Education about this country’s slipping standards and falling behind in STEM-related subjects[8](Walker, 2013). Which is so true my department is pushing NGSS(Next Generation Science Standards), and it always emphasizes on engineering incorporated within science.

[1] Gender Review. (2016). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002460/246045e.pdf

[2] OECD. EDUCERI – OECD centre for educational research and innovation (CERI). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/

[3] Education resources – teachers’ salaries – OECD data. (2016). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from OECD, https://data.oecd.org/eduresource/teachers-salaries.htm

[4] Pirozzi. (2016, November 17). UNICEF priorities. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from UNICEF, https://www.unicef.org/education/bege_61625.html

[5] Common core state standards initiative. (2016). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/

[6] The interstate teacher assessment and support consortium (InTASC). (2016). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/Interstate_Teacher_Assessment_Consortium_%28InTASC%29.html

[7] GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN’S EDUCATION. (2016). Retrieved December 3, 2016, from http://www.aft.org/resolution/girls-and-young-womens-education

[8] Walker, T. (2013, June 3). Survey: U.S. Students better at science than public realizes. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from Education Policy, http://neatoday.org/2013/06/03/survey-u-s-students-better-at-science-than-public-realizes-2/


Bilingual and Intercultural Education

The reason why I chose this topic is because I am from an intercultural family, My wife is from America who speaks only English, I am a Chinese and we live and work in China, we have two sons who are naturally bilingual and intercultural, and they are currently receiving intercultural Education from my own school. My wife and I both work in a bilingual school near Shanghai, the majority of our students are native Chinese speakers,  but English is the only official language in school, most of the classes we have and standards we adopt are western culture based such as IB, AP courses, and common core state standards or NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). So intercultural for me is everywhere from life to work.

I believe bilingual and intercultural education is really important because understanding each other is the very first step in seeking common ground in spite of differences and solving conflicts. As the Director-General of UNESCO mentioned in her article, Individuals become interculturally competent through learning and life experience for successful living in the modern complexity of our heterogeneous world and consequently they become prepared to appreciate diversity as well as to manage conflicts in accordance with the values of pluralism and mutual understanding.[1]

Ranging from different background couples in one family to different races and religions in one world, it is vital to teach them harmony and peaceful coexistence. In 2012, UNICEF and the government of the Netherlands began an ambitious and unprecedented journey to change the way education was delivered to children and young people in countries at risk of, experiencing, or recovering from violent conflict.[2] Although my school is not facing these problems, we also have issues between students from mainland China and students from Taiwan, Sometimes there are fierce arguments on the sensitive issue of whether Taiwan is an independent country.

Modern societies are made up of a growing number of diverse stakeholders who collaborate through formal and informal channels. The rapid advancement and reach of information and communication technologies have enabled them to play a much more immediate role in decision-making while at the same time the delivery of public services has become more decentralized.[3] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development talked about governing education in a complex world in which I also found a correlation with intercultural education.

In conclusion, I believe intercultural education can decrease the parochial nationalisms in young people, thus promoting world peace and harmonious global society as a whole.

[1] Bokova, I. (2012, May 31). Learning to live together. Retrieved December 2, 2016, from http://en.unesco.org/themes/learning-live-together

[2] Affolter, F. W. (2016, June 27). Building peace through education | global partnership for education Retrieved from http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/building-peace-through-education

[3] Governing education in a complex world. (2016, September 23). Retrieved December 2, 2016, from OECD, http://oecdinsights.org/2016/09/23/governing-education-in-a-complex-world/