Cognitive Skills in Special Education

What You Should Know about Cognitive Skills Development in Special Education

Many, but not all, students in special education have weaknesses in one or more underlying cognitive skills that involve the brain’s learning processes. Specific learning disabilities, one category of students who qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), are defined as deficits in underlying psychological processes involved in learning. Such deficits may affect visual working memory, verbal working memory, processing speed, short-term memory and other cognitive processes. Intellectual disability also directly impairs the brain’s learning capacity. And still other identified disabilities may include under-developed cognitive processes.

In this article published on edCircuit, Betsy Hill and Roger Stark explain that tradtiional approaches to supports for students in special ed help students work around weaker cognitive skills.  Over the last decade, educators have started to apply techniques and tools designed to build up weaker skills, resulting in students who not only make progress, but rapidly narrow the achievement gap.

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