Secondary Education

 

Down Syndrome Indiana affirms the right for every child with Down syndrome to receive a free and appropriate public education. This right is foundational and in no way should be diminished or limited by outdated biases and stereotypes of individuals with Down syndrome. Further, the availability of educational opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome must not be viewed as an unfunded federal mandate, but rather as a protected right; the same as afforded all other students.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana recognizes that the Down syndrome community enjoys a diverse spectrum of abilities and talents and values the multiple means in which these are expressed. No single measure exists which defines the abilities and ranges of capabilities for individuals with Down syndrome. Educational opportunities must exist across the entire continuum of potential. No single educational setting should be deemed as the preferred and each student shall be afforded the opportunity to reach their full potential when given the supports and related services that are matched to their individual needs. Regardless of educational placement all students with Down syndrome shall be given the opportunity for meaningful participation as valued participants to achieve the best possible educational outcome.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana opposes all practices that result in the use of inclusive educational settings that do not provide for the full range of supports and services in the general education classroom. Down Syndrome Indiana supports our teachers and resists any practices to use inclusion as a cost model that limits supports and related services. We endorse research based practices that assist both the students and the classroom teacher in experiencing success. These include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Team teaching in collaboration with the special education teacher(s) and other support professionals.
  • The use of special education para-professionals to provide individual and group assistance in the classroom.
  • Scheduled time for collaboration between teachers, related service providers, technology resource specialists and other professionals.
  • Reduced class sizes and appropriate funding
  • Scheduled time for curriculum planning and the differentiation of instruction.
  • Planned use of adaptive and assistive technology with support from a technology resource specialist.
  • Full adoption of the principals and practices of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
  • Programs and processes that encourage the engaged participation of parents and caregivers in the education of their child.
  • Targeted continuing education opportunities for teaching professionals and support staff.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana supports including students with Down syndrome in the school accountability assessment system. We support a change in public policy that permits a wider range of accommodations and modifications that align with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Down Syndrome Indiana discourages any practices that use data from the school accountability system as an individual assessment of the student and the teachers. The data should be used solely for the purpose of providing an aggregate measure of the capability and maturity of the special education processes in a school and/or a school corporation. Additionally, the aggregate data should be used to identify the “best in class” school performance that will used for establishing best practices and procedures that can be broadly applied to lower performing schools.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana encourages public policy that welcomes the full participation of parents and caregivers. Down Syndrome Indiana recognizes many factors that currently limit this:

 

  • Socio-economics
  • Educational background of the parents.
  • Lack of awareness of special education law.
  • Primary language spoken in the home.
  • Etc.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana resists the presence of a 2-tier educational system in which parents and caregivers who have the time, resources and background to serve as strong advocates for their child receive a greater level of supports and related services than those who do not. We encourage processes and methods that welcome each child and fully utilizes the professional staff within each school to design and deploy meaningful programming for all students in alignment with the full vision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

 

Down Syndrome Indiana recognizes that the special education laws, rules and processes are very complex and create a large and labor intensive amount of documentation. Down Syndrome Indiana supports the simplification of the administrative processes related to special education, but not at the expense of educational quality, accountability and outcome. In Indiana,  P.L. 221 and the NCLB accountability assessments indicate a wide variation in school performance for in the special education subgroup. Simplifications of the special education laws, rules and processes should be reserved for the highest performing schools in Indiana. For schools that perennially underperfom, strong oversight and associated reporting must remain in place. This is not to penalize low performing schools, but is intended to provide incentives and administrative oversight to assist the schools in greatest need of improvement.