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Current RSE-TASC Reporter

Improving All Students’ Mental Health Outcomes: Start with Why - Part II

By Andrew J. Ecker, EdD, Special Education School Improvement Specialist

Two years ago I wrote a Reporter article to share my why (as in Sinek, 2011) – improving mental health outcomes for all students. Since then I have participated in the National Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF) Targeted Workgroup and conducted doctoral research on this topic. My three biggest takeaways are that we need to: (a) Start with why, (b) Demystify mental health, and (c) Leverage what works....

Joe Gilson, Global History teacher at Port Chester High School, who worked with RSE-TASC Special Education School Improvement Specialist David Luhman in the 2015-2016 school year taught students multiple learning strategies in his 9th grade Global History I Co-Taught classes to support student engagement in writing.  One strategy in particular stood out. The 5 W’s and H is a strategy used to help students think about and identify details about a topic before writing. The students identify Who, Where, What, When, Why & How  and then use these details to first develop sentences and then develop a paragraph. This strategy is designed to get students to write more and be more specific which is important in global history, especially for Thematic and DBQ essays.

What did students with disabilities achieve using this strategy?  Students began to use this strategy with excitement when planning to write and started generalizing this strategy to activities outside essay writing. Students would raise their hands saying, “We should use the 5Ws”, “If you are stuck, try using the 5Ws,” and “If you think about the 5W’s you will know the Byzantine Empire.” Not only was it effective in getting students to write essays, but students were motivated to participate and use the strategy in class and during review sessions.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Strategy Instruction is an evidence-based strategy for increasing student ownership of their learning for all learners, including struggling learners and those with disabilities.


Important Links on Graduation Options - December 2016

Click here to see the proposed amendments to Section 100.5 and 200.4 of the Commissioner’s Regulations to Require Superintendents to Make a Local Determination. Do you have comments/thoughts about this? Share them by 12/2/16 through email at or regular mail to Angelica Infante, New York State Education Department, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234. The Superintendent Determination of Graduation Form for a local diploma can be found here.  This form is used to document the superintendent’s determination and, once complete, a copy is given to the parent, student, and NYSED.  A copy is also maintained in the student’s record. The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education: Part 200 has been updated to reflect the new transition services requirements.  The Transition Services section of this regulation begins on page 49.  Click here to view the latest version of the regulations.

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