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Students with Exceptional Learning Needs

The primary purpose of the position paper is to generate support for an issue germane to the education of students with exceptional learning needs (ELNs). The position paper is based on researched/collected data (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, and/or evaluative [statistical, dates, significant events, interviews, etc.]) and informed by course lectures, readings, and activities. The position paper should be submitted at the end of the semester.

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Candidates must (a) select issues directly associated with students with ELNs that have clear divisions of opinion and (b) take a position within selected issues that is of personal and/or professional interest. Candidates must clearly define and limit the parameters of their positions within their position papers. In other words, candidates must write in a manner that fully captures the main concepts/ideas of their issues, resulting in position papers that would be considered concise and cogent. Candidates’ position papers should include the following criteria[1] (see rubric for additional information on each criterion):

* Statement of personal/professional position (CEC Standard 1: 1CC1S1)

* Introductory discussion on the history and current context of the issue (CEC Standard 1: ICC1K8 and ICC1K9)

* Background information for the selected issue (CEC Standard 1: ICC1K4, ICC1K6, and IGC1K1)

* Interview of two special educators and/or experts (CEC Standard 7: ICC7S3)

* Discussions on characteristics of students with ELNs and their academic needs (CEC Standard 1: IGC1K4 and CEC Standard 2: IGC2K4)

* Working with students with ELNs and their families  (CEC Standard 1: IGC1K5 and IGC1K8, and ICC5K4)

* Candidate’s course of actions and possible solutions pertaining to the ethical responsibilities of special educators (i.e., self-evaluation; CEC Standard 9: ICC9K3, IGC9K1, and ICC9S7)

The double-spaced, seven- to ten-page position paper must adhere to the guidelines of the sixth edition of the American Psychological Association’s[2] publication manual and include a reference list with at least ten references. Your argumentative essay outline or basic content format of the position paper should include the following:

Introduction
First paragraph. Begin your first paragraph with data that catches the reader’s attention. Include a couple of sentences that lead into a clearly identified issue before you state your position. Close your first paragraph with your thesis statement.

Remaining paragraphs. The remaining paragraphs of the introduction provide the reader of your position paper additional insight into the issue and the main concepts/ideas you plan to expand on in the body of the research paper. Include at least four references in the introduction.

Body of Paper
Background information. Provide the reader background information that would support a discussion on the issue (i.e., information you could refer to as you develop each side of the selected issue). Each paragraph of background information should present one detailed main concept/idea. Include at least two references in the background information.

Present/explain your position. Restate the personal/professional position you stated in the first paragraph of the introduction and present information that would help the reader understand your position. Presented information should be in logical order and should only include information that is supported by evidence. Evidence for your position can be in the form of direct quotes from special educators/experts, statistical data, and significant dates/events. Each paragraph of your position section should present one detailed main concept/idea. Provide a summary paragraph that rephrases what was expressed in previous paragraphs before moving on to the counter-argument. Include at least 2 references that specifically support your position.

Present the counter-argument. Pick an argument points that someone against your position would most likely express. Present the counter-argument in logical order, present it clearly, and provide the evidence and reasoning behind the counter-argument. Evidence for the counter-argument can be in the form of direct quotes from special educators/experts, statistical data, and significant dates/events. Close the counter-argument section by presenting a resolution by explaining why the counter-argument does not/may not have merit and reaffirm your position on the issue; this is an opportunity for you to describe why your position is better.

Each paragraph of the counter-argument section should present one detailed main concept/idea. Provide a summary paragraph after closing the counter-argument section that rephrases what was expressed in previous paragraphs before moving on to the conclusion. Include at least two references that specifically support the counter-argument.

Conclusion
First paragraph. Restate the thesis statement, your position, and summarize the main points of the position paper.

Second paragraph. Provide suggested course of actions and possible solutions

Criteria Target (3 points) Acceptable (2 points) Unacceptable (1 point) Score
Statement of personal and/or professional position

CEC Standard 1

  • ICC1S1
The candidate demonstrated a personal philosophy of special education that positively affects the educational outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs by selecting (a) an issue that has clear divisions of opinion and (b) a position that is of personal and/or professional interest. The candidate demonstrated a developing personal philosophy of special education that would most likely positively affect the educational outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs by selecting (a) an issue that has clear divisions of opinion and (b) a position that does not demonstrate personal and/or professional interest…OR…by selecting (c) an issue that does not have clear divisions of opinion but offered (d) a position that is of personal and/or professional interest. The candidate demonstrated an underdeveloped personal philosophy of special education that would not positively affect the educational outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs. The selected (a) issue that may not have clear divisions of opinion and the (b) position may not be of personal and/or professional interest.  
Introductory discussion on the history and current context of the issue

CEC Standard 1

  • ICC1K8
  • ICC1K9
The candidate presented a complete historical analysis of the issue and summarized the points of view of stakeholders, including the contributions of culturally diverse groups, where applicable. The candidate’s introductory discussion included targeted commentary on the current context of the issue, which illustrated the significance of at least three presented factors in shaping schools/school culture and/or the individuals who study and work in them (candidate included at least four references in the introduction). The candidate presented a limited historical analysis of the issue and may not have summarized the points of view of stakeholders, including the contributions of culturally diverse groups, where applicable. The candidate’s introductory discussion included targeted/general commentary on the current context of the issue and illustrated the significance of one to two presented factors in shaping schools/school culture and/or the individuals who study and work in them (candidate included two to three references in the introduction). The candidate presented an underdeveloped historical analysis of the issue and may not have summarized the points of view of stakeholders, including the contributions of culturally diverse groups, where applicable. The candidate’s introductory discussion did not include commentary on the current context of the issue or included general/unclear commentary on the current context of the issue, and did not illustrate any factors or illustrated one to two misaligned factors that would not shape schools/school culture and/or the individuals who study and work in them (candidate included one reference or misaligned references in the introduction).  
Background information for the selected issue

CEC Standard 1

  • ICC1K4
  • ICC1K6
  • IGC1K1
  • IGC1K8
The candidate presented background information that included all five areas of the underlined following: (a) the definition and issues related to the exceptional learning need in question (i.e., the disability category you are writing about), (b) the rights and responsibilities of students with exceptional learning needs, parents, educators, and other professionals. The candidate’s background information included targeted commentary on the all four areas of the underlined following: (a) issues related to assessment, eligibility, and placement within a continuum of services; and (b) least restrictive environment (LRE; candidate included at least four references in background information). The candidate presented background information that included two to four areas of the underlined following: (a) the definition and issues related to the exceptional learning need in question (i.e., the disability category you are writing about), (b) the rights and responsibilities of students with exceptional learning needs, parents, educators, and other professionals. The candidate’s background information included targeted/general commentary on the two to three areas/or misaligned areas of the underlined following: (a) issues related to assessment, eligibility, and placement within a continuum of services; and (b) least restrictive environment (LRE; candidate included two to three references in background information). The candidate presented background information that included one or none of the areas of the underlined following: (a) the definition and issues related to the exceptional learning need in question (i.e., the disability category you are writing about), (b) the rights and responsibilities of students with exceptional learning needs, parents, educators, and other professionals. The candidate’s background information included general/unclear commentary on the one of the areas/or misaligned areas of the underlined following: (a) issues related to assessment, eligibility, and placement within a continuum of services; and (b) least restrictive environment (LRE; candidate included one reference or misaligned references in background information).  
Interview of two special educators and/or experts

CEC Standard 7

  • ICC7S3
The candidate interviewed two special educators/experts who represent both sides of the issue (one representing his/her position and one representing the counter-argument) to help determine the attitudes and behaviors of educators and other professionals that influence the behaviors of students with exceptional learning needs (candidate included at least two direct quotes from each special educator/expert).  The candidate interviewed two special educators/experts who may not represent both sides of the issue to help determine the attitudes and behaviors of educators and other professionals that influence the behaviors of students with exceptional learning needs (candidate included at least one direct quote from each special educator/expert or one or more direct quotes from one special educator/expert). The candidate interviewed one special educator/expert who represented one side of the issue to help determine the attitudes and behaviors of educators and other professionals that influence the behaviors of students with exceptional learning needs (candidate included no direct quotes or one direct quote from the special educator/expert).  
Discussions on characteristics of students with exceptional learning needs and their academic needs

CEC Standard 1

  • IGC1K4

CEC Standard 2

  • IGC2K4
The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument included targeted commentary on at least three psychological and/or social-emotional characteristics of students with exceptional learning needs. The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument also included targeted commentary on addressing the academic needs of students with exceptional learning needs via the two following underlined areas: (a) legal/judicial and/or policy systems and (b) educational systems. The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument included targeted/general commentary on one to two psychological and/or social-emotional characteristics of students with exceptional learning needs. The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument also included targeted/general commentary on addressing the academic needs of students with exceptional learning needs via one to two of the following underlined areas: (a) legal/judicial and/or policy systems and (b) educational systems. The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument included general/unclear commentary on one/or misaligned psychological and/or social-emotional characteristics of students with exceptional learning needs. The candidate’s discussion on his/her position and the counter-argument also included general/unclear commentary on addressing the academic needs of students with exceptional learning needs via none or one of the following underlined areas: (a) legal/judicial and/or policy systems and (b) educational systems.  
Working with students with exceptional learning needs and their families

CEC Standard 1

  • IGC1K5

CEC Standard 5

  • ICC5K4

CEC Standard 9

  • IGC9K1
The candidate provided three examples on how he/she would (a) involve the students with exceptional needs and/or their families in setting instructional goals and monitoring progress, and (b) explain the continuum of placement services available to students with exceptional learning needs (two examples for a and one example for b or vice-versa). The candidate provided two examples on how he/she would (a) involve the students with exceptional needs and/or their families in setting instructional goals and monitoring progress, and (b) explain the continuum of placement services available to students with exceptional learning needs (either one example for a and b, two examples for a only, or two examples for b only). The candidate provided one example on how he/she would (a) involve the students with exceptional needs and/or their families in setting instructional goals and monitoring progress, and (b) explain the continuum of placement services available to students with exceptional learning needs (either an example for a or b).  
Candidate’s course of actions and possible solutions pertaining to the ethical responsibilities of special educators (self-evaluation)

CEC Standard 9

  • ICC9K3
  • ICC9S7
The candidate outlined at least three of his/her pedagogical/classroom management skill limits and offered at least three current or lifelong professional development opportunities that would enhance his/her pedagogical/classroom management knowledge and skills to improve the educational/social outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs.

The candidate outlined two of his/her pedagogical/classroom management skill limits and offered two current or lifelong professional development opportunities that would enhance his/her pedagogical/classroom management knowledge and skills to improve the educational/social outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs.  The candidate outlined none or one of his/her pedagogical/classroom management skill limits and offered no or one current or lifelong professional development opportunities that would enhance his/her pedagogical/classroom management knowledge and skills to improve the educational/social outcomes of students with exceptional learning needs.   

[1] Note. Your thesis statement must be pre-approved by the course instructor before writing the position paper.
[2] American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th
ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

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