PECT Study Guide

Special Education PreK–8
Sample Selected-Response Questions

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Module 1

Objective 0001
Understand the historical, philosophical, and legal foundations of special education and the professional and ethical roles of the special education teacher.

1. Which of the following programs was significantly enhanced by the reauthorization of the IDEA in 2004?

  1. federal grant programs to provide funding for the development of bias-free cognitive assessment tools
  2. homebound education programs for teenage students who are pregnant or have children
  3. after-school enrichment programs for school districts with a special education population of 10 percent or more
  4. accountability measures for educational programs serving students with disabilities
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of major federal legislation relevant to the field of special education. The IDEA of 2004 enhances accountability in a number of ways for programs serving students with disabilities. For example, IDEA '04 requires that students' progress toward their performance goals be reported yearly instead of every two years (as was required by IDEA 1997). In addition, IDEA '04 aligns its requirements with provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB); for example, IDEA '04 requires that students with disabilities participate in the academic assessments mandated for each state under NCLB.

Objective 0002
Understand how to communicate and collaborate with all team members, including students with disabilities and their families/caregivers, to help students achieve desired learning outcomes.

2. A new special education teacher in an elementary school will be teaching students from diverse cultural backgrounds. One of the teacher's goals is to form productive, collaborative relationships with students' families. The teacher can begin to achieve this goal most effectively by:

  1. recognizing that culture can be an influencing factor in how a family views a student's disability.
  2. conveying the message that all families are expected to be actively involved in their children's education.
  3. assuring families that the teacher is fully prepared to provide instruction for students with disabilities.
  4. understanding that all families, regardless of culture, have the same goals for their children.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the candidate to apply knowledge of culturally responsive strategies that promote effective communication and collaboration with students' families/caregivers. To form productive, collaborative relationships with the families of all students, special education teachers must recognize that families may differ in the attitudes, values, beliefs, and expectations they hold regarding their children's disabilities. Culture is one factor that may influence such attitudes. Cultural background may, for example, affect families' beliefs about the causes of their children's disabilities, attitudes toward special education programs, and expectations for their children's adult lives.

Objective 0003
Understand typical and atypical human growth and development and the characteristics and needs of students with disabilities.

3. When compared to most 9- to 15-month-old children, a 20-month-old child who has just begun walking would most likely be considered to have a:

  1. learning disability.
  2. developmental delay.
  3. disintegrative disorder.
  4. cognitive deficit.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of characteristics of the disability categories. When used in reference to infants and young children, the term developmental delay indicates a failure to achieve given milestones (e.g., sitting up alone, saying their first word, pulling themselves up to a standing position) by the average age at which such milestones are achieved. Since young children typically begin walking at around 12 months of age, a child who has just begun walking by the age of 20 months would most likely be considered to have a developmental delay.

Objective 0004
Understand factors affecting the learning, development, and daily living of students with disabilities.

4. Parents/guardians who provide children with disabilities affection and consistent praise and attention for desired behaviors are most likely to have a direct influence on their children's ability to develop:

  1. a healthy self-concept.
  2. advanced psychomotor or artistic skills.
  3. a sense of empathy for others.
  4. academic giftedness in one or more subject areas.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of the roles families/caregivers play in supporting students' development and learning. The attitudes of the adults around them play a key role in children's socioemotional development. For children with disabilities, receiving positive reinforcement for their efforts and successes can be especially important. Ongoing affection, coupled with consistent positive reinforcement and attention for desired behaviors, helps children with disabilities build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy—critical components of a healthy self-concept.

Objective 0005
Understand types and characteristics of assessments used with students with disabilities; strategies and procedures for selecting, designing, and administering assessments to students with disabilities; and strategies and procedures for interpreting and communicating assessment results.

5. A special education teacher provides reading instruction to a small group of second-grade students. Each student has IEP goals related to increasing sight-word vocabulary and fluency. Which of the following assessment procedures should the teacher use to monitor the students' progress toward these goals?

  1. administering an informal reading inventory to each student on a monthly basis
  2. developing individual portfolios in which each student can collect a list of mastered sight words each week
  3. conducting an error analysis of each student's oral reading on a monthly basis
  4. entering data on a graph every week indicating each student's reading accuracy and speed
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of how to design and implement data collection systems and tools to monitor students' progress. In the scenario described, a special education teacher wishes to monitor students' growth in sight-word recognition and reading fluency. Automatic, accurate recognition of sight words promotes fluency because the reader is not interrupted by having to puzzle out common words that do not follow standard phonetic rules. Graphing the students' weekly performance in sight-word recognition and fluency will provide a visual representation of each student's progress in these areas. This visual representation will help the teacher monitor each student's progress and thus facilitate planning differentiated instruction for each student.

Objective 0006
Understand strategies and procedures for developing, implementing, and monitoring individualized learning and behavior plans for students with disabilities and research-based strategies for planning specially designed curricula and instruction.

6. Which of the following statements accurately describes a guideline for universal screening for students in Pennsylvania schools?

  1. Students are screened using state-approved standardized assessment instruments.
  2. Permission from parents/guardians is required before students may be screened.
  3. All students are screened three to five times throughout the school year.
  4. Screening procedures and criteria must be individualized to address varied student needs.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of screening processes. Universal screening of all students is a key feature of Pennsylvania's Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) approach. This approach provides for all students to be assessed early and often to allow the identification of students who are at risk for not meeting grade-level academic and behavioral standards and benchmarks. Pennsylvania guidelines specify that universal screening of students be conducted three to five times per school year.

Module 2

Objective 0007
Understand strategies and procedures for planning, managing, and modifying learning environments for students with disabilities, including strategies for providing positive behavioral interventions and supports.

1. During the upcoming school year, a third-grade general education class will include a student with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair for mobility. The special education teacher and the third-grade teacher are meeting to discuss ways to promote the student's independence in the classroom. Which of the following strategies would likely be the most effective way to achieve this goal?

  1. allowing the student to choose a different classmate each week to serve as a peer helper for her during classroom activities
  2. setting up the classroom so that there is ample room for the student to move about and placing commonly used school supplies in areas that are accessible to her
  3. ensuring that the student's desk is in the front corner of the classroom near the teacher's desk so that she can easily request assistance
  4. advocating for the student to have a paraeducator at the beginning of the school year whose assistance is reduced on a monthly basis
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the candidate to apply knowledge of strategies for fostering positive and inclusive learning environments that address students' demonstrated and assessed needs. In the scenario, a special education and general education teacher are discussing how to foster the independent functioning of a third-grade student who uses a wheelchair. Two key strategies for meeting this objective would be to ensure that 1) the student is able to move about the classroom freely, and 2) the student is able to reach needed materials and supplies from her wheelchair. A classroom arrangement that includes wide aisles and shelves of an appropriate height and depth would be critical for promoting this student's independent functioning.

Objective 0008
Understand strategies for fostering receptive and expressive communication skills and social skills in students with disabilities.

2. A special education teacher works in a preschool class. One of the students in the class has a mild intellectual disability and delayed expressive and receptive language skills. Recently, the student's SLT has started teaching him some basic sign language signs to supplement his verbal language. The SLT has also taught the special education teacher these signs. Which of the following strategies would likely be most effective for the teacher to use in further enhancing the student's communication skills?

  1. incorporating the signs the student uses into lessons and activities so that his classmates can learn to use them as well
  2. providing the SLT with a list of topics students will be learning throughout the year so that the student can learn signs that correspond with each topic
  3. posting pictures in the classroom of how to make the letters of the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet for the student to refer to
  4. asking the SLT to teach the student to combine the single signs he already knows into two- and three-sign phrases
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the candidate to apply knowledge of research-validated instructional strategies and techniques for fostering the communication development of students with disabilities. By incorporating the student's sign language signs into classroom lessons and activities, the teacher will expand the options available to the student for interacting with his classmates. Having an additional, shared communicative mode will broaden and enrich the student's opportunities to engage with his peers in authentic expressive and receptive communication.

Objective 0009
Understand strategies for teaching independent and functional living skills and promoting successful transitions for students with disabilities.

3. A five-year-old child has fine-motor delays that interfere with her ability to perform various age-appropriate self-help tasks (e.g., buttoning her coat, fastening her shoes). She will soon be entering a first-grade class in which most of her classmates will have acquired these skills. The child's current teachers could best promote her ability to perform such tasks successfully in her new environment by:

  1. prompting her to choose play activities that require the use of targeted skills (e.g., dressing dolls in clothing that snaps or zips).
  2. incorporating practice in relevant skills into routine daily activities (e.g., preparing to go outdoors for recess).
  3. having her start each day by spending 10 to 15 minutes doing isolated skill-building exercises (e.g., squeezing a small rubber ball).
  4. asking classmates to demonstrate specific skills during center activities (e.g., unscrewing a lid from a jar of paint).
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based methods for providing instruction in functional living skills to students with disabilities. Because young children find play intrinsically interesting and enjoyable, they tend to persist at play activities even when those activities require a certain amount of effort. By prompting the child to choose play activities that incorporate self-help skills such as zipping and buttoning, the teacher is applying knowledge of how young children learn to address the child's fine-motor delays.

Objective 0010
Understand the foundations of reading instruction for students with disabilities.

4. A fourth-grade student with ADHD is a struggling reader. The student has recently begun expressing discouragement about his reading progress, and his classroom teacher and special education teacher want to help him stay motivated and positive about reading. Which of the following strategies would likely be especially helpful for this purpose?

  1. assigning the student to a permanent reading group that consists of classmates who read at approximately the same level that he does
  2. setting up for the student a classroom library shelf of easy reading books borrowed from an early childhood class
  3. making arrangements for the student to read aloud once a week to small groups of students in the school's kindergarten classes
  4. providing the student instruction using age-appropriate texts at his instructional reading level and involving him in documenting his progress
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate knowledge of intervention approaches in literacy for students with specific disabilities and/or needs. Fourth grade is often a critical year for struggling readers. By this age, students are generally expected to have attained a level of reading proficiency that allows them to move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." Fourth graders who are still struggling to learn to read may lose their motivation to acquire this vital skill. Students in this situation must be given plenty of experience with books that they both can read and want to read. The student described in the scenario must therefore receive reading instruction based on books that combine a carefully controlled readability level with age-appropriate narratives that are well-written and compelling. Involving the student in documenting his own progress will further motivate him by providing visible evidence of his increasing proficiency.

Objective 0011
Understand literacy instruction for students with disabilities.

5. A special education teacher is working on vocabulary development with two third-grade students with mild intellectual disabilities. The teacher has taught the students several new words. Which of the following strategies is likely to be most effective in helping the students incorporate these new words into their active vocabularies?

  1. posting the words on a word wall and leading the students in reading the words aloud regularly
  2. having the students complete simple word puzzles, such as word searches, which contain the words
  3. involving the students in activities that provide opportunities for them to see, hear, and use the words in meaningful contexts
  4. having the students create flashcards of the words and then practice reading their flashcards together
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the candidate to demonstrate conceptual knowledge of strategies for developing word consciousness and of challenges students with specific disabilities face in developing vocabulary. Students with intellectual disabilities have been shown to need a considerable amount of repeated instruction and practice to acquire new concepts and skills. The students described in the scenario will therefore need to hear, use, and see the new words repeatedly, in contexts where the words' meanings are strongly reinforced, to be able eventually to incorporate the words into their active vocabularies.

Objective 0012
Understand strategies for planning, delivering, and monitoring specially designed instruction (SDI) to promote content-area learning in students with disabilities.

6. A general education teacher and a special education teacher co-teach a fifth-grade class that includes several students with specific learning disabilities. During each instructional unit in social studies, the teachers write a short skit about a historical event and students rehearse and perform the skit using simple props. The primary benefit of this activity for the students with learning disabilities is that it will:

  1. develop their interpersonal communication skills.
  2. improve their ability to think critically and solve problems cooperatively.
  3. promote their understanding of content through multisensory experiences.
  4. enhance their ability to compare and contrast.
Answer and Rationale
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the candidate to apply knowledge of how to apply the principles of universal design to content-area instruction. Students with learning disabilities show improved comprehension and retention of information when they are taught using multisensory instructional techniques. By incorporating skits into the social studies units, the teachers in the scenario are applying universal design principles by ensuring that students (both with and without learning disabilities) are routinely engaged with content through multiple sensory pathways (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).