“Vision for Inclusive Practices” Inclusion “Inclusion incorporates all children as active, fully participating members of the school community; that views diversity as the norm; and that maintains a high quality education for each student by assuring meaningful curriculum, effective teaching, and necessary supports.” History of Inclusion “Big Picture” • In the beginning, we were serving more students in separate schools (i.e. Springer ILC and DAP). • Then, we had students in cluster sites (The Bush school used to be where all students with special needs went for kindergarten). • Now, we are serving most of our students in their home schools. Goals for District Leadership for Special Education Programs • Establish a Shared Vision • Build consensus around what special education is and how various programs, service models, and instructional practices best serve our students. • Raise the level of professionalism around special education staff in order to maximize and be more systematic in the delivery of services. • Continue to improve in the area of customer service by adopting a “servant to servant” approach with a our families and buildings. Organizational Changes to District Office-Fall 2012 • The Board of Education and Dr. Holodick commitment to special education programs with district level support. • Supervisor of Special Education dedicated to just special education programs. • Two additional coordinators for special education (Kate Siegel- Elementary and Susan Krikelis- Secondary). The Stetson Report- April 2006 • In 2005, BSD requested Stetson & Associates, Inc. to submit a proposal for consideration as an external evaluator of services provided to students with disabilities within the district. • The purpose of this evaluation was to look at how BSD was serving students with disabilities and make recommendations for improvements. Evaluation Tools • Focus group sessions with multiple stakeholders • Parent Forum with district personnel • Surveys of parent perceptions of BSD services for students with disabilities • Surveys of faculty members’ perceptions • Structured interviews and classroom observations • Review of comparable district statistics and other information Six Emerging Themes • A Common Vision for Students with Disabilities within the Context of Inclusive Education • Decision-Making Processes that are Student Centered • Instructional Excellence for All Students within the Context of High Standards • Staffing Models that Support Student Success • An Atmosphere of Collegiality and a Focus on Effective Collaboration • Respectful and Productive Parent-School Partnerships A Common Vision for Students with Disabilities within the Context of Inclusive Education • Overall, Stetson stated that the district should be applauded regarding its movement toward inclusive education practices. • Create a clear understanding the BSD desires a “unified system” leaving the parallel system behind. “Embrace, Inspire, and Challenge Every Student Every Day” • Prepare a brief matrix of current, research based practices related to inclusion, access to the general education curriculum, collaborative planning and service models. Common Vision-continued • Connect best practices for student with disabilities with best practices for all students (Learning Focused Solutions, Response to Intervention, Instructional Support Teams). • Various communication methods from district office to reiterate their shared commitment to expectations (parent, school, team, PLC, department meetings). • Effectively address students with disabilities in our school success plans. • Ensure distribution of resources is equitable to support schools (allocation meetings). Common Vision-Continued • Provide training to school administrators (Administrative Monthly PLCs). • Create and share an operational definition of inclusive education (Council revisiting). • Clarify roles and responsibilities of staff (Council revisiting). • Encourage schools to consider multiple ways in which special education personnel are incorporated in team meetings (accomplished). • Clear feeder patterns have been outlined and the district has reconfigured the elementary and middle school grades. Decision-Making Processes that are Student Centered • The district has created a vision and purpose for the Instructional Support Team (IST) Model. • The district has committed an IST Facilitator in the elementary buildings. • The district continues to refine the process for IST. • The buildings utilize various data and data collection methods (i.e. Itracker Pro) to monitor student progress. • The district is working to implement Response to Intervention (RTI). • Professional Development in the area of IST and RTI has been ongoing. • The goal for both the IST and RTI models is to support students that are academically struggling. Instructional Excellence for All Students within the Context of High Standards • The district designed guidelines/procedures for accessing the general education curriculum. However, this needs to be evaluated again. • Buildings are utilizing options to support students within the general education curriculum (i.e. co-teaching and in class support). However, this is an area for growth. • The district has offered professional development in special education. However, the professional development plan needs to be more systematic. • There has been a commitment from the district with Learning Focused Solutions. LFS is student focused and helps teachers plan lessons more effectively. • The district continues to support best practices through cooperative learning, student-centered learning, and positive behavioral supports. Instructional Excellence- continued • Accommodations and modifications are developed by the Individualized Education Plan Teams. They support access to the general education curriculum. • Flexible, heterogeneous, and homogenous groupings are used in increase instructional effectiveness. • There are an elementary and secondary grading committees that are currently meeting. • The district has and continues to develop reference materials for administrators regarding effective instruction. • Instructional technology is being reviewed by Jud Wagner. The recent passing of the referendum addressed this area. • A plan for the increasing need to get technology into the hands of our students is being developed. Staffing Models that Support Student Success • Master Schedules are currently being discussed in order to best serve student needs. • At our Administrative Professional Learning Community (PLCs) meetings, we are looking at how to best utilize earned staffing units under the Delaware Department of Education’s Guidelines. • The district holds allocation meetings with building level administrators in an open forum. • The Educational Diagnostician’s (ED) role is no longer split with the IST role. The primary function of the ED’s role is to serve special education programs. • Professional development continues to be an area that the district is seeking to address systematically. An Atmosphere of Collegiality and a Focus on Effective Collaboration • The implementation of the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) have created more opportunities for teachers to plan collaboratively. However, the district continues to challenge itself to provide more opportunities. • The district has committed additional support to the buildings with the hiring of the two additional coordinators. • District and building level administrative staff consistently meet on a monthly basis. Currently, I meet with our identified building level “special education experts” on a monthly basis. At the these meetings, the emphasis is on special education topics. • The district is striving to send the message to our buildings and families that we are here to serve them. Respectful and Productive Parent-School Partnerships • The district continues to strive for parent/family partnerships. We are presently working on relationship building through our Brandywine Special Needs PTA. We have engaged in a number of conversations thus far. • The district is going to strive for increased avenues for parent/family participation in our goals moving forward. • The district has been partnering with the Parent Information Center (PIC) and our internal family engagement teams. • We are increasing opportunities for parents and educators to receive training relevant to special education. For example, we are going to hold a webinar on February 20th, 2013 from 3:30 to 5:00pm at Claymont Elementary- 2nd Floor Conference Room. The topic will be, “Creating Inclusive IEPS.” The webinar is open to families and staff. • The buildings continue to work on building relationships with families and sending an inclusive message. In December, we celebrated Inclusive Schools Education Week. The message was “Its not just a seat!” • The district continues to work at developing “genuine “ relationships with our families. We truly want families to feel comfortable that they can reach out to schools and district office for support. Current Initiatives • The reorganization of the district and it’s commitment to additional support to help facilitate improvements. • Evaluating current programs and services. • Identifying the needs in those programs and services and working to build systems that will serve our students more effectively and efficiently. • The Special Education Council has been established and has met two times thus far. From the staff perspective, these themes were identified as areas of need: – – – – – – 1. Roles and responsibilities 2. IEP Writing 3. Specialized Instruction 4. Professional Development 5. Programs and Services 6. Communication Current Initiatives-continued • Created a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for building level administrators that will become “Special Education Experts.” We hold monthly professional development on special education topics. • Evaluating practices in the related services area (i.e. Speech and Language and School Psychology). • Identifying current practices in Inclusion and designing improvements. Utilizing coordinators to support efforts in helping teachers better understand and implement inclusive practices. • Build consistency within our inclusive models and the language we use to define them and evaluate their progress. Special Education Council’s Vision (Draft) • The special education council’s vision is that students with disabilities will reach their full potential as members of society. We embrace parents/guardians as collaborative partners in a process that promotes trust and respect. Each student shall be treated as a unique individual and shall receive appropriate inclusive education through the use of best practices based on scientific research.