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Understanding special education laws through a master’s degree

Tuesday, June 09, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Special education teachers are not only tasked with teaching, but also working with students who come with their own individual needs. A master’s degree in special education tackles special education laws that affect the classroom.

Legal considerations in a special education setting

Special education laws are designed to ensure that special needs students have the same access as those without disabilities. Disability legislation has driven research to find better ways for schools to deliver education. All students have the right to an appropriate, free education that meets their specific needs in the least restrictive environment possible.

What is an IEP?

Individualized education plans (IEP) are contracts that the school district must follow with regard to a specific child’s needs. IEPs are deliberate programs that outline students’ learning plans. An IEP is a guarantee to a student and his or her family that educational concepts promised by law are met. These plans are legally binding and if schools fail to follow an IEP, the parents can cite the school for being out of compliance.

A master’s degree prepares teachers for the legal responsibilities of special education

Legal foundations for special education is part of the curriculum for a master’s degree in special education program. This type of course is intended to help educators understand basic special education laws. Students in special education classes have individualized learning programs that are created through intervention, testing and assessments. Teachers and administrators meet with family to create a plan for each student. All are done with the goal of creating a plan where the student can learn and thrive, which under the law is a right afforded to all students.

Types of courses that prepare teachers for special needs laws

Another part of the master’s degree in special education program focuses on research methodologies and best practices for a variety of disabilities. Some classes in a M.Ed. in Special Education program may even focus on a specific learning disability. Other courses may be designed specifically for meeting with parents and agencies to ensure that a child is being afforded a proper education under the law.

Individualized learning is key to special needs education

Essentially, the master’s program as a whole prepares educators for creating and implementing IEPs. Each class in a master’s program can be aimed at creating the best individualized education plan possible for each student. A master’s degree in special education helps prepare teachers for special education laws and how to give each child the individual attention he or she needs and deserves.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online M.Ed. in Special Education program.


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