A New School Year Brings a New Format for Link Lines

Welcome back to another school year ripe with possibilities and learning!  While you were enjoying your summer, the Training and Technical Assistance Center at the College of William and Mary (T/TAC W&M) celebrated its 20th year anniversary.  Over the past two decades, T/TAC W&M has provided a variety of services, resources, and information to support professionals who serve students with disabilities in K-12 educational settings. Our Link Lines newsletter, initially in print format, has become an online resource for many educators and families in Superintendents Regions 2 and 3.

Recognizing the importance of providing a variety of multi-media formats, we are implementing some changes to Link Lines this year.  Although the number of editions per year will remain the same, the design will be new.  Our first edition of the 2016-17 academic year highlights past resources and new products related to co-teaching and co-planning as described below.

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Co-Teaching

Co-teaching is first and foremost a special education service delivery model, whereby students with disabilities receive the specially designed instruction needed to address specific skill deficits (Friend, 2014). Co-teaching involves a partnership between two licensed educators, usually a general education teacher and a special education teacher, sharing responsibility for one classroom of diverse students. These professionals share the planning and delivery of instruction as well as accountability for student learning. Such a partnership between professionals with different areas of expertise is necessary for some students with disabilities to access and make progress in the general education setting.

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Supporting the Success of Students With Disabilities in the General Education Curriculum

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (2004) requires that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum.  To accomplish this, Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams identify student needs as well as supports and services to address those needs.  Once that is in place, students with disabilities must be provided specially designed instruction within the context of the general education curriculum as specified in the IEP.

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Data-Based Decision Making

Data is a term frequently used in education. The terms data-based decision making and data-driven decision making are also often used. But what is data and what decisions are driven by this data? Merriam-Webster (2015) defines data as “facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something”.   The key to using data wisely is to identify the “something” that will be analyzed or planned before actually starting to gather the data.

Schools make many decisions that require analysis of high-quality, rich data. Such decisions inform strategic planning, school zoning, resource allocation, teacher assignment, and instructional practices. According to Earl and Katz (2006),

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Developing Self-Determination Skills Through Student-Led IEPs

The purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is “… to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living …” (IDEA, 2004, §601(d)(1)(A)). In order to prepare students for these future endeavors, IDEA requires the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) defined as a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting in accordance with 34 CFR 300.320 through 300.324, and that must include:

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Co-Teaching Partnerships:Planning for a New School Year

The start of a new school year is a great time to implement new instructional practices and refresh old ones. Schools have been providing co-teaching as a service delivery model for students with disabilities for more than two decades (Friend, 2014). Each year, new co-teaching partnerships initiate and veteran teams renew their instructional plans and commitments to the purpose of co-teaching: to ensure academic progress for students with disabilities in the general education curriculum. [Read more…]

Creating an Environment of Inclusion

Have you ever created a Wordle?  Wordles provide a visual means of representing text through word clouds.  Words that appear more frequently in text appear larger in the cloud.  For example, I created the following Wordle using the principles of effective inclusion from a number of resources (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2014; Halvorsen & Neary, 2009; Peterson & Hittie, 2007; Salend, 2008): [Read more…]

What Educators Can Do to Foster Family Involvement

Families are key contributors to student learning at all levels of a child’s schooling (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007).  Thus, student achievement increases and school improvement efforts are more effective when families and schools are true partners in the educational process. “Intentional, well-designed practices to inform and support family engagement have a positive and long-term effect on student outcomes, including grades, test scores, behavior, passing rates, enrollment in higher-level programs, high school graduation, and college attendance” (Mapp, Henderson, & Hill, 2014, “The Whole Truth,” para. 2). [Read more…]

Family Involvement: What Families Can Do to Get and Stay Involved

familyinvolovementFamilies’ involvement in their children’s education has a significant positive impact on student achievement (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).  When families engage with school personnel, students adjust more easily to the classroom environment at the secondary and elementary levels (Ferguson, Ramos, Rudo, & Wood, 2008). Further, regardless of socio-economic status, involvement of parents increases the likelihood that students attend school regularly, earn better grades, and persist to graduation (Colorado, 2008; Henderson & Mapp, 2002). [Read more…]