Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Marie Considine, a Resource Room teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Mahopac, is thrilled to see an increased level of engagement among the students in her Resource Room. While her students have always been interested in scientific articles involving mysterious natural occurrences and unusual animals from around the globe, they are now excited to share their work and the connections they have made to the text out loud.  They are talking to each other about sections of text that challenge them and analyzing what they think other students their age might struggle with, like multiple meaning words and unclear topics.

What brought this change to her Resource Room?

“The Reciprocal Teaching protocol,” says Marie, “has gotten my students to delve deeply into the text to come up with higher order questions to ask the group.” The process is simple, but explicit instruction in both the strategy and underlying reading comprehension skills are critical for student success. Students learn the skills for four specific roles — Summarizer, Clarifier, Questioner and Predictor — and then rotate through the roles for each section of text. Marie says students develop confidence and “are eager to try a new ‘job’ each time they read.” They have learned to develop their own questions about the text as they are reading.  While Marie had tried reciprocal teaching in the past, the bookmarks and checklists Marie received in the training improved the process significantly. Going forward, Marie plans to build her students’ meta-cognitive skills by having them label the types of higher order questions they develop as they read.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Students thrive when they are explicitly taught, and given time to practice, self-directed comprehension strategies.
  • Students solidify learning in structured interactions with their peers.
  • Both teachers and students benefit from self-assessment checklist and prompts as they learn new processes.
Elena Ratsprecher, a Resource Room teacher at Kakiat Elementary School in the East Ramapo Central School District shares this Bright Spot:

“Over the last two years parents of my students have been consistently positive about annual CSE meetings, saying that because of the visuals I provide, they leave with a clear understanding of the growth and continuing needs of their child. “

Here are the practices that she says have led to that result:
  • I begin IEP development by collecting data using Curriculum-Based Measures, or CBMs, to get a clear picture of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • I develop IEP goals that represent the outcomes I want a student to achieve, not the specific skills that need to be taught to get a student to the goal. When developing goals I ask myself, “Is this something that will improve the student’s ability to access the Common Core Learning Standards?” and whether the goal represents a push for growth. Data from CBMs allow me to make these meaningful goals measurable.
  • I continue to use the CBMs throughout the year to collect clear, concise data on progress towards the goals.
  • I create graphs using the CBM data so that progress can be seen at a glance and shared with administrators, parents and colleagues.

Because of the positive feedback, I am now providing turn-key trainings on progress monitoring with CBMs to staff.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Developing an IEP needs to begin with careful assessment and baseline data.
  • CBMs allow the teacher, student and family to see and celebrate student progress.


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