Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

This month’s Bright Spots again come from our year-end survey.  This time we looked at the responses of the teachers and administrators from multiple districts, including Carmel, Port Chester, White Plains, New Rochelle, Southern Westchester BOCES, Byram Hills, Eastchester, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, Dobbs Ferry, Putnam Valley and the PARC Preschool, who attended the RSE-TASC Student-Directed IEP series last year.

What were students able to achieve?

Educators described some powerful impacts on students, including:

* Students developed a better understanding of their strengths, needs and goals and took ownership of their IEP development.

* Students changed their view of teachers and the school; they now feel they have control of their education instead of it “just happening” to them.

* Students and their IEP teams created much more reflective IEPs with a more accurate focus on student needs.

 What practices or systems made this possible? 

Educators implemented more student-directed practices, including:

* Students were more directly involved in the creation of IEPs and in CSE meetings; at one high school, every student presented on his/her strengths, needs, interests and future plans at the annual meeting.

* Staff used templates to develop accurate goals and measurement processes that were shared with students.

* Transition and graduation information was shared at meetings and systematic procedures for developing coordinated transition activities were put in place for all students, starting at age 14.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Principle 1 of the NYS Blueprint for Improved Results for Students with Disabilities, i.e., Students engage in self-advocacy and are involved in determining their own educational goals and plans, begins by fully engaging all students in the creation of their own educational plans.  It can be done!

Our beginning-of-the-year Bright Spots come from the end-of-the-year RSE-TASC Survey.  Thanks to all who responded!!

What were students able to achieve?

More than 50% of the survey respondents shared evidence of improvements in student outcomes as a result of changes in practices and systems, while another 48% said they were collecting evidence and expecting to see a change.  A few examples of improved student outcomes include:

⇒ I have observed more involvement in activities, less negative behaviors and more positive behaviors—students are self-monitoring and using positive language.

⇒ My students are more engaged.  They are participating in the lesson and answering questions without fear of getting the wrong answer.

⇒ Students have shown an increase in attention to task as well as an increase in their comprehension of the objective(s) being taught.

⇒ Scores on content area tests that measure vocabulary understanding went up.

⇒ STAR assessment scores have improved.

⇒ Student data from Fountas and Pinnell Assessments (for comprehension) and Aimsweb Tests (for reading fluency) have all improved.

⇒ Students have increased vocabulary and are improving syntax and semantic skills both verbally and in writing.

⇒ I receive more positive feedback from parents after my staff’s efforts to collaborate with teachers, service providers and administrators using a team approach.

⇒ Because of improved quality of IEP Goals, students are making progress and parents are impressed with student progress.

⇒ We see that students are developing a better understanding of their needs and goals and taking more ownership in their IEP development.

⇒ The student seemed to change his view on teachers. Before he felt school was against him and not in his control. Teachers saw him take a more active role in his education instead of it just happening to him.

⇒ Students are now exploring more career options.

⇒ Students look forward to working in the school store and learning vocational skills.


What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

When educators have the opportunity for on-going exploration of evidence-based and best practices in professional learning activities, and receive support in applying what they learn, there is a direct impact on student performance across a wide range of achievement areas.  Student engagement, confidence and ownership of learning increase as well.


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