demic difficulties. According to Kauffman (1993), more than two-thirds of students with ED/BD fall below their grade level. Reading is one of the areas in which they demonstrate significant difficulties (Coleman and Vaughn, 2000; Mastropieri et al., 1985). Despite needs for effective reading instruction, there are very few intervention studies in reading for students with BD/ED (Coleman and Vaughn, 2000).
Current classroom practice deviates far too extensively from the knowledge of best practice to enhance outcomes for students with disabilities, and the quality of teacher preparation for both special and general education teachers with respect to instructing youngsters with disabilities is seriously inadequate. While there are indeed educators for whom this is not true— they are the exceptions.
To what extent is knowledge about effective instructional practices actually part of district and school recommendations and actually implemented in classrooms? The answer “it depends on the school or teacher” is both apparent and true, but less than useful in addressing the issue of adequacy of implementation of educational and behavioral practices for students with disabilities.
There is general consensus that considerably more is known about effective instruction than is implemented (Carnine, 2000; Chall, 2000). There is a range of explanations for why this is the case and what should be done about it, but little disagreement that research-based practices are not broadly implemented. And students who have the most to lose by not being provided with the most effective practices are students with disabilities and minority students.
Prior to the IDEA requirement for access to the general education curriculum, observational studies of students with LD in general education settings revealed that many students were not provided access to the general education curriculum and that meaningful participation often did not occur. For example, in a year-long study that was conducted in 60 general education classrooms during social studies and science classes in which a student with LD was present during the lesson: (a) instruction for students with disabilities was not differentiated; (b) students with disabilities were provided little instruction or support that allowed them to have meaningful access to the general education curriculum, despite significant gaps in reading and study skills; (c) students with disabilities demonstrated significantly low levels of interaction, including not asking for or receiving instructional assistance; and (d) students with disabilities did not respond to questions from the teacher (McIntosh et al., 1993).