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Policy framework of the Learning Disabilities in Math

The first chapter provides an overview of the state of the art of the regulatory and policy framework with reference to the Learning Disabilities in Math.

Policy Framework of the Learning Disabilities in Math

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3. Constitutional principles and legislation for students with learning disabilities: The Portuguese Framework

It is clearly expressed in the Portuguese legislation that education for all based on the protection of individual rights, through the full participation and co-operation among all actors involved in the educational process, is mandatory.

An important milestone was the creation, in 1946, of the first special classes in primary schools, initially for learners with physical or intellectual disabilities. Later, learners with learning difficulties and mild disabilities were included in the group and the first courses to train specialized teachers started in the 60s. The replacement of dictatorship with democracy, in 1974, allowed the growth of parents’ associations’, supported by specialists and teaching staff; it was important in developing socio-educational activities and organising and creating schools for students with disabilities.

In the early 1970s, the Ministry of Education began discussing legislation specifically addressed to educational structures for students with disabilities and students with learning difficulties and specific departments for special and vocational education were created within the structure of the Ministry. Among other tasks and duties, the Ministry decided to give its support to the above-mentioned schools and to assume responsibility for providing specialised teacher training for those working with learners with disabilities.

In spite of these somehow precocious concerns, special education teams were only recognised in 1988 with the publication of the Joint Order No. 36/SEAM/SERE/88, that aimed to develop integrated teaching for children with disabilities and adolescents with sight, hearing or physical impairments and, later, for those with intellectual disabilities. Although Portuguese legislation currently makes it mandatory to the adapt teaching methods and methods of evaluation (according to the characteristics of the student with SEM - sight and hearing limitations, intellectual limitations, mental illnesses, neuro-musculoskeletal and movement-related limitations and voice and speech limitations), the procedure to be adopted for students with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia is not determined.

The Education Act - Law No. 46/86, 14 October - recognizes special education as a specific subclass of education that facilitates the socio-educational integration of individuals with SEN.

Law No. 319/91, 23 August, called for regular schools to take greater responsibility in the problems of students with general disabilities or with learning difficulties and recognised the parents’ role in their children’s educational path.

Law No. 20/2006, 31 January, defines the procedures regarding the teacher placement application system, creating a special education recruitment group for the first time.

Law No. 3/2008, 7 January, defines the specialised support provided in state, private and co-operative educational institutions to guarantee the creation of the conditions to adjust the educational process to the special needs of students with limitations. It states that the school must respond to the diversity of characteristics and needs of all learners and promote their educational success. It also advocates significant changes in the common curriculum for students in need, which may mean: the prioritisation of certain areas or contents over others; the elimination of certain goals and contents; the introduction of complementary content and goals regarding very specific aspects (i.e. non-verbal communication, the use of support technology in communication, mobility, accessibility).

Law No. 201-C/2015, 10 July, reinforces that the definition of goals, strategies and evaluation should always be directed towards allowing the maximum use of the capabilities of the students and their expectations, interests and preferences.
All articles from the Portuguese legislation cited above can be consulted (in Portuguese) in [11].

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The SMiLD project (2018-1­IT02­KA201­048274) is funded by the European Commission through the Italian National Agency for the Erasmus+ Programme. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.