In defense of “IEP kids”

This is a post where I say things to a colleague that I couldn’t say in the moment when it would have really mattered..

Can we please not refer to students with disabilities as IEP kids? It is not right to speak as if they were one homogenous group. This is especially true when blanket statements like “IEP kids can’t read” are applied. Many students receiving IEP services have print disabilities, yes, and it is an especially high proportion out of the students with disabilities in our high school. But many does not mean all. Some of our students with disabilities read quite well. Some of our students with print disabilities read better than their non-disabled peers.

Whether or not you realize it, the tacit statement you are making is that you do not want students with learning disabilities in your English class. You’d have them educated separately. But you’re operating on a common myth about learning disabilities; that they can be cured. Learning disabilities are never outgrown and can never just go away. We are talking about people who will struggle with basic skills their entire life. We can continue to build on those skills and narrow the gap between them and their peers, but not at the expense having an opportunity to do grade-level work with their non-disabled peers. This is the entire purpose of IEP accommodations; to ensure that students with disabilities are educated in the least restrictive environment. Those IEP accommodations are not just nice suggestions either, they are legal requirements that I will hold you accountable for.

The difficulties with reading in our school are not even confined to students with disabilities. Our entire 7th grade struggles with reading. The number of students in our elementary Educational Support System who need additional reading instruction is staggering. What you are witnessing is the effect of trying to run a school without a curriculum, without systematic reading instruction, and with very few means of assessing whether its students are meeting grade-level standards. Do not make students with disabilities your scapegoat. The real problem is our dereliction of duty.

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3 Comments

  1. A good reminder for all of us who form time to time suffer from Teacher Deficit Disorder. 🙂

    Reply
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