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Restructuring Special Education Services

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Dena Weick

on 3 August 2015

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Transcript of Restructuring Special Education Services

Restructuring Special Education Services
by Dena Weick

These two models have been the practice in this middle school for the last ten years. Throughout the years, special education teachers and general ed teachers have felt as though this model has not been effective for a certain population of students. Each year there have been a few select students that have not made effective progress in either of these full inclusive settings. The primary reason that the resource room teachers have given for the lack of effectiveness has been due to the pace of instruction being too quick since these students often do not have the foundational skills needed to fully grasp the complex concepts being taught in the general education classroom. The learning center teachers have often complained that their students need additional supports as well during their core subject instruction and supporting four subjects during their academic support classes is too challenging a task due to their lack of common planning time with general ed teachers. As a result, resource room and learning center students often arrive for their academic support instruction overwhelmed with their workload and require substantial re-teaching in their core subjects, particularly ELA and math. In addition, Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) results have indicated that special education students are not demonstrating growth rates that the teachers, school, and district would have hoped for.

The proposed plan is to restructure the special education programs using the existing staff. Those students who have been identified as not making effective progress in the co-taught resource room model will receive pull-out ELA and/or math instruction in a small group setting lead by a special education teacher. Using a language based approach, the speech-language pathologist will co-teach ELA classes at least one day per week in all four grade levels. Higher functioning special education students who do not require substantially separate ELA and math classes, will receive co-taught instruction for math and ELA, while the highest functioning population will continue to receive support services within the existing ¬academic support classes. In addition to reorganizing the programming, one of the other primary goals will be to provide more co-planning time with special educators and general education teachers.
This multi-stage plan will require weekly meetings throughout the course of the school year in order to be ready to see it through to its finality, which would occur the following year.

Each special education liaison will be asked to collect the following information in a spread sheet format that I will provide for them:
• Current Reading levels (Fountas & Pinnell)
• Most recent Math and ELA District Determined Measures (DDMs) Results
• Current grade level equivalency in math
• MCAS Scores and Student Growth Rates
• Most recent results from reevaluation testing (IQ, Achievement, etc)
• Identified disabilities

Due to the magnitude of this restructuring process, there may be some potential challenges along the way. One of the possible challenges may be to get parents/guardians to agree to new placements for their children. However, when given the evidence to support the team’s recommendations and reassurance that their children will be receiving the most appropriate instruction, their concerns may be subsided. Another challenge will the paperwork that the special education liaisons will be required to complete. Many IEP amendments will need to be written prior to the beginning of the following school year to be sure IEPs are in compliance with student services.

Congratulations to me! I was just appointed to be the middle school special education chairperson in the very school that I have been the speech-language pathologist in for the last five years. This school offers full inclusion for all resource rooms and learning center classes. The model has been such that the students with the most academic needs are fully included in general education classrooms for all subjects. Math and English Language Arts (ELA) instruction is provided in a co-taught model with a general education teacher and a special education teacher. Instructional aide support is offered during science and social studies classes. These students also receive study skills support within their resource room three to four days per week to review and reteach whatever concepts students require further clarification. Special education students that require a less restrictive setting receive “learning center” support. They are fully included in all four core subjects without the presence of a special education teacher or aide. These students attend academic support in the learning center anywhere from two to four days per week for re-teaching or review in any or all of the four core classes.

Once all necessary data is completed, the special education teachers will meet to develop criterion to determine which students will benefit from pull-out level of instruction, co-taught instruction, and academic support only. Students falling three or more grade levels below their current grade, who have not demonstrated adequate student growth on MCAS, will be recommended to attend pull-out ELA and/or math instruction. Students who are within one-to-two grades below their current grade will be recommended for co-taught instruction, and students currently on grade level will attend academic support only.

Once the criteria is set and students are divided into the appropriate placement, each grade level teacher will meet to review the groupings of students. Each special education teacher will be asked to complete a survey to explain their strengths and teaching preferences for the new models of instruction. Their input will be used to match up teaching strengths with the newly developed teaching assignments. The math and ELA coordinators will be involved in gathering and providing appropriate curriculum to the pull-out resource room teachers based on the students current grade levels. The assistant principal who handles the scheduling will be involved in developing schedules for the student and teachers allowing co-planning times for the teachers participating in co-teaching. Instructional aides schedules will also be reviewed allowing them to offer support during co-teaching as well as continued support during science and social studies instruction, primarily for the resource room students, as well as those receiving co-taught math and ELA.
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