Tennessee State University
Improved academic outcomes have been an important emphasis for special education policy over the past decade. Schools have been asked to be accountable for AYP of all students, including students with disabilities. According to Cortiella and Burnette (2008), when examining themes across four high performing districts in special education, the following strategies emerged: * Inclusion and access to the core curriculum, * Collaboration between special education and general education teachers, * Continuous assessment and use of RTI, * Targeted professional development, and * Use of Explicit Direct Instruction.
Inclusion and access to the core curriculum was the most strongly credited as having contributed to special education performance. Inclusion can take different forms. The strategy is to fully integrate as many students identified for special education as possible, with proper support from resource teachers depending on student needs. Also, classrooms are moving toward a blended program, providing students in special education more access to college prep courses at the high school level and to the core curriculum at the middle and elementary levels. A flexible model would be one in which students with disabilities are integrated into general education as much as possible but also receive specialized academic instruction when needed. In order for inclusions to work, general and special education teachers have to collaborate. The collaboration takes place through PLCs, where special and general education teachers discuss student needs and plan instruction together. Collaboration can take the form of blended instruction, transition planning, use of learning centers, and special education teacher participation leadership teams to ensure integration of general and special education.
I am a teacher in an inclusive classroom during my first period. When I consider my strengths, they would include planning with the special education teacher. Our planning periods are during the same time, which allows us a 50 minute period to plan at least two to three times per week. We review the students’ IEPs to determine which accommodations and modifications work best with them. We do not isolate the special education students. They are mixed in among their typical peers, which gives their self-esteem a boost. I do not work only with general education students, and she does not work only with special education students. The students in our class feel as if they have two teachers in the classroom. They can go to either one for help. Depending on who is teaching the main course of the curriculum, students (general education or special education) can go to small group with the other co-teacher, if they feel they are not quite catching on to the concept that is being taught. Also, due to the fact that our rooms are adjacent to each other, the special education teacher can send students from her 2nd period resource class to my room, if she feels that they are ready to move ahead with the group. As AVID Coordinator for my school, I push for students of all levels to be in courses that are more rigorous than what they would normally participate. I do have special education students in AVID classes. AVID focuses on college preparation. This exposes them to skills that they need to improve in the classroom, such as: Cornell Note-taking, Socratic Seminar, Philosophical