The current special education population is primarily made up of high functioning students (average IQ) diagnosed with learning, language or autistic disorders. These children can spend up to fifteen years receiving services in school like speech therapy, RSP, inclusion, mental health counseling, social skills and/or occupational therapy. In spite of this, national statistics show these children drop out or graduate from high school with poor academic scores, unremediated reading disorders, are unable to copete in or let alone finish college and are more likely to end up incarcerated. They were “served” in the public education system but not with adequate services.
Either the frequency was too low to make a difference and or the quality of the services was not adequate. We already know that teaching colleges do not adequately prepare teachers to remediate reading disorders.
Consider this: if we used Arrowsmith to remediate this same population of children. These children would be removed from the regular curriculum for the school day and work on strengthening their neurocognitive weakness. They would strengthen their learning disabilities until they no longer existed. They could then be given some remedial tutoring to catch up to their peers and then they would be done with special education. Depending on the weakness, they could miss from one to five years of regular school. The school day could also be set up that they complete Arrowsmith for four hours and get classes like English and Math.
While the very thought of losing classroom time could be alarming to parents and educators alike, one has to seriously consider: what the student is currently getting out of the regular classroom. Is the child at grade level or struggling? Most children are struggling and/or day dreaming because they cannot hold on to the material presented to them. For example, my oldest child basically went from kindergarten through third grade in a regular classroom receiving standard pullout services like speech, occupational therapy, and resource. Yet at the end of third grade, he barely broke into the two digit percentile scores on the standardized testing. He basically wasted four years of his life learning nothing. Yet, in fourth grade, he was supposed to start reading to learn vs. learning to read.
How much was he going to learn if he still couldn't read?
How much math would he learn if his memory was too weak to hold on to a single math fact even though he had been “taught them” so many times?
For all those years I had been told he was doing so well, working so hard and achieving his goals at IEPs. Obviously he was not doing that “well”!!
Now imagine that he had started Arrowsmith at age five, in kindergarten through second or third grade for four hours per day with language arts and math or even spent the whole day in Arrowsmith. By the time he entered fourth grade he would be ready to read to learn, remember his math facts, have number sense and stay at grade level along with his peers. He would be able to succeed in college and find a decent career. He would very likely not need any more services except some possible 504 accommodations.
Suppose we could offer Arrowsmith for all those “one in five” students who suffer from some sort of learning or language disorder? Not only could our children have a much brighter future, our society could save money on prisons, welfare, crime, schools and social services.
The outlook would not only be brighter for our children, it would be a great boon to our educators both special and general.
Coming next: Why Arrowsmith would be a boon to special and general education alike.