Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

This month’s Bright Spot comes from staff at the Mount Pleasant Cottage, Summit, Hallen, Hawthorne Cedar Knolls and Clarkstown schools who attended a three-day training on Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) facilitated by RSE-TASC Non-District Specialists Fran Fernandez and John McCabe.

What were students able to achieve?

Over the three months in which the training took place, participants shared multiple student Bright Spots, describing how student performance was positively impacted by their use of EDI strategies.  The student impacts were many and diverse, and included things like, “my students increased their participation”, “they increased their test and homework grades”, and “they were able to discover pro/con evidence in a text, fully annotate texts and engage in class discussions.”

What practices or systems made this possible?

Here is just a sampling of the EDI strategies teachers found powerful:

⇒ Explicitly teaching about growth mindsets

⇒ Providing adequate wait time

⇒ Using processing activities like pair-share

⇒ Ensuring every student had ample opportunities to respond by using strategies like white boards and track/pronounce-with-me

⇒ Checking for understanding throughout a lesson using TAPPLE (Teach First, Ask a Question, Pause and Pair, Pick a Non-Volunteer, Listen, and Provide Effective Feedback)

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

The EDI framework for lesson planning and delivery has been proven to be effective for all students, including students with disabilities, through multiple research studies.  More importantly, real teachers in real classrooms are telling us the same — EDI works for their students!

This month’s Bright Spot comes from a team of teaching assistants (TAs) and administrators in the Rockland BOCES special education programs who worked with Francesca Fernandez and Nicole Scariano, RSE-TASC school improvement specialists, to design and deliver a training for TAs to promote understanding of IEPs, roles and special education regulations.

What were students able to achieve?

The team shared a number of powerful student impacts that resulted after teaching assistants and aides were trained:

* Students developed a stronger voice in educational planning and learning and became more independent in expressing their needs.

* Students showed more confidence in daily routines and activities.

* Teachers in the BOCES career and technical program that serves the same students reported improved student performance and independence in classes.

What practices or systems made this possible?

The team reported that they saw an increase in these practices by aides and assistants who were trained:

Þ Class teams developed more measurable goals for students based on their IEPs, and collected and analyzed data regarding progress towards those goals.

Þ Aides and assistants had a better understanding of students’ IEPs “bringing awareness to each student’s capabilities” and, as a result, were better able to help build student independence.

Þ As a result of reading and understanding the New York State Blueprint for Improved Results for Students with Disabilities, teaching aides and assistants became more aware of and committed to the importance of Principle 1: Students engage in self-advocacy and are involved in determining their own educational goals and plan.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Teaching assistants and one-to-one aides provide critical supports to students with disabilities. When they are supported and provided with professional development opportunities that recognize the important function they play, it has a direct impact on student independence and performance.


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