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Special Education Issues & Trends

The special education field experiences continuous updates and modifications. National Louis University has compiled a short list of the top issues and trends.

Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards, a set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA), was established by state educational authorities. The authorities collectively outlined learning objectives regarding what a student should know and be able to execute at the end of each grade. The standards were created to level the playing field in education and ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career and life.

The impact of Common Core standards on special education has been an issue in the academic world for several years. This is due to an emphasis on generating individualized education programs (IEPs) to incorporate Common Core standards and assessments. There is also a stronger focus on measuring and monitoring IEPs under Common Core standards.

Many professionals in special education argue that assigning students with disabilities the equivalent academic standards as students without disabilities is unrealistic based on their abilities. Moreover, some parents of disabled students prefer their children to focus on life skills over academic skills, because they feel life skills will be more valuable in the long run. Other concerns of professionals and parents of disabled students include the ability to accurately measure the performance of disabled students. It is common for special education students to learn at a slower pace when compared to their peers. Thus, if all students were measured on material comprehension, disabled children would be at a disadvantage because there is a possibility that they were not taught the material.

Assistive Technology

Students with a variety of disabilities use assistive technology in learning and life. Examples of assistive technology include computers that respond to a student’s eye movement and voice, tablets, e-readers and other gadgets. Utilizing these forms of technology can enhance create more learning opportunities. It can also generate an equalizer in a classroom with students of various disabilities. As advancements in assistive technology occur, special education will continue to transform the growth and development of students. Assistive technology can also help special education professionals personalize lesson plans based on students' needs and skills. As assistive technology continues to advance, there will be a greater need to train special education professionals in order to facilitate personalized learning into classroom instruction.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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