Stuck in failure: comparing special education needs assessment policies and practices in Sweden and Germany

Thomas Barow, Daniel Östlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The definition for special education needs (SEN) and the policies for its assessment varies widely between countries. This paper aims to investigate similarities and differences through a Swedish-German comparative approach. Based on the distinction between categorical and relational perspectives as expressions of specific thought styles, 58 SEN assessment reports from both countries were qualitatively analysed. The results demonstrate the maintenance of the categorical perspective in terms of focusing on the pupil’s ‘failure’. This result is even more notable in the German examples than the Swedish cases. Exceptionally and in both countries, a relational perspective emerges, taking teaching and the social environment into account. In conclusion, we suggest a flexible SEN approach with a stronger emphasis on the relation between the individual and the learning environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages9
JournalNordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogy (50301)

Keywords

  • Categorical perspective
  • SEN assessment
  • inclusive education
  • intelligence test
  • relational perspective

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