Special education services make use of an extraordinary array of instructional methods and settings that make it possible for all students to learn. Special educators plan and evaluate instruction in an individualized manner to accommodate each child's unique strengths and weaknesses. In planning instruction, teachers often use methods known as ecological assessments to consider environmental factors that influence learning, such as school, home, and community environments. Many students with disabilities receive instruction in traditional subjects, such as reading, writing, language, and math. To evaluate a student's progress, teachers often rely on a method known as curriculum based assessment, which monitors progress within the student's own curriculum rather than against the educational programs for other students.
Specific fields of special education address the needs of students with specific disabilities. These disabilities include (1) behavior disorders, (2) learning disorders, (3) mental retardation, (4) physical disabilities, (5) vision impairments, and (6) hearing problems. Special education also includes the field of education for gifted students.