High school can be a tough experience for anyone, so I can only imagine what it’s like to be a student with a disability. For many years, students with disabilities were held to the notion that they were not capable of much and it was very unlikely for them to graduate. Recent media has showed how that view is starting to change.
In a recent article by US News (http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2014/04/28/high-school-graduation-rates-reach-record) seventy-seven percent of student with disabilities in Kansas graduate, compared to the about twenty percent national average. Kansas officials say this is because they integrate students with disabilities in general education courses. The idea is, the higher expectations you hold disabled students to, the better that will do. This is supported by a new worldwide program called Teach For All which trains teachers and coaches on how to teach children with “learning differences.” In an article by Education Week (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/10/03teachforall.h34.html), Rachel Brody, the managing director of Teach For America’s Special Education and Ability Initiative says, “We came to the decision to focus very heavily on high expectations. For every single kid we work with, we’re going to focus on the high expectations for them.” Underestimating a student with disabilities can keep them from reaching their full potential.
Many times, I’ll watch the news and see a feature story of how a disabled student was able to overcome their disability or has done something great. These are great examples of how you never know what someone is capable of doing. One thing I notice in all of the success stories I see of students with disabilities, is a strong support system. It’s amazing what people can accomplish with the motivation of other people. Parents, teachers, coaches and anyone else that focuses on disabled student’s strengths and motivate them to use those strengths to get over their weaknesses can make such a difference in that person’s quality of life. An article in NEA Today (http://neatoday.org/2013/03/28/students-with-physical-challenges-speak-out/) featured a physically disabled boy named Curtis who says his math teacher sophomore year pushed him to get into mainstream classes, and because of this motivation; he was able to do so. He says that children with disabilities need to be pushed and motivated just as much as any other student. Motivation is what helps push us to do things to the best of our ability. Granted, we already had the skills somewhere deep down inside, but we may have never known without the encouragement from others.