Statistically, you’re crazy to work in special education!
There can really be only one reason you’re working in the special education field . . .
You absolutely love it.
You love working with your students, you love seeing them grow, and you love feeling like you made an impact on someone’s life. You care about them more than anyone else. You do everything you can to create better education plans, interventions, and results.
What are some of the things you do on a daily basis to make this kind of impact?
1. You give individual attention.
You know every "learner knows best.” They deserve your attention and you give it to them, despite frustrating IEPs and clunky computer systems.
2. You won’t settle for less than the best.
There’s an easy way, for sure. But every single day you take time to ensure that you’ve recorded their progress, graphed data on a chart, or written IEPs. Having good data could make a HUGE difference for that kid!
3. You overcome daily obstacles.
Everyday, an unexpected problem arises: The internet goes down. A student acts out. A budget gets cut. But you still show up, armed with the same persevering attitude. You are a high-pressure, steam-rolling, power train who takes responsibility for learners no matter what the circumstance. There’s no such thing as “can’t!"
So why hasn’t anyone recognized how much you give each day?
And I don’t mean, “why hasn’t anyone give you a pat on the back?"
I don’t mean a “great job today, Jill."
I mean, why hasn’t anyone said, “you’re a superhero! How can I help make your job easier? How can I help you be even better?”
Let’s be honest: There’s a gap in your life...
...and it can’t be filled with fluffy comments, or fleeting pep-talks.
Too many teachers are being asked to submit mediocre IEPs, read confusing progress charts, and make decisions about interventions that are unclear, unproven, and downright backwards!Think about it! You’re being asked to shape the behavior of special needs students AND get them to their academic targets!
You're being asked to ski uphill—but you aren't even given a pair of skis!
If we want better sucess, we're going to need:
1. An easier way to recognize and record behavior
Today, we’re using subjective and vague descriptions for our IEPs and our data sheets—and that's makes progress tracking unclear. What qualifies as "class disruption"? Are all "tantrums" the same? Is it meaningful to say "90% correct" if one trial includes 10 problems and the next includes 50 problems?
How can we be sure a student is making progress, if we’re not all on the same page about what “progress” actually means? Teachers are doing so much work and tracking so much data—but all the work and care in the world seems wasted if we can't even make a confident decision at the end of it! We need a easier way to recognize and record behavior.
2. A faster and error-free way to track student progress
We’re typing numbers into spreadsheets, a known way to produce human-errors after a hard day of work. We’re making graphs that take time to create and share with others. (Anyone else tired of fussing with pivot tables in Excel?) And we're struggling to analyze our data in ways that lets us accurately determine whether or not an intevention is working as needed.
How can this process be so error-prone when the outcome is so important? We need something faster, something automatic, something error-free and comprehensive.
3. A clear and consistent way to communicate student progress to parents, learners, and supervisors.
Finally, when we complete our graphs and reports, we each have to explain the data and the visual display. No parent or supervisor has ever looked a progress chart and immediately understood what it meant. Instead, every teacher has take time to separately explain every chart—and even then, many people aren’t sure they’re seeing what they think they’re seeing.
* * *
There are plenty of data collection programs out there, but none allow us to confidently know where our students are heading, how long it will take them to get there, and how to explain their progress to supervisors and parents.
None of them give us the one thing we need; the power to make decisions in the moment.
Now, THAT could change someone’s life.
So how do we empower special education teachers to change students’ lives?
We use Chartlytics: a digital platform that put real-time data-driven decision making back into the hands of educators.
Scientifically shown to raise test scores and inform your interventions
- Supports self-directed learning
- Maps to any curriculum, learning style, or mastery criteria
- Performance History shows a reliable record of student data indicating current performance levels and trajectories
Make more confident interventions and write better IEPs.
- Guides you to intervention decisions to meet short- and long-term IEP goals
- Make intervention decisions like a strategic scientist of instruction
- Teach 3-5 times more objectives per student.
Built for the real world.
- Email simple progress charts to parents and supervisors to quickly show snapshots of progress.
- Automatic data backups mean you won’t lose important progress when you lose wifi.
- Easy data entry means less time entering student data.
Make graphs less scary.
- "Single-click" graphs means no fussing with pivot tables in Excel.
- Simple trend lines accurately and quickly forecast student performance for informed IEP goal-setting.
- Attach text, images, or video to charts to add context to behavior.
So what does this actually mean for students?
Let’s get under the hood for a second.
Special education is all about fostering independence. It’s about enfranchising students so they have the skills they need to confidently move forward in their lives.
So what approach do we take to make impact? How do we identify which students are at risk for falling behind? How do we effect lasting change across so many unique individuals?
Let’s start with a model you’ve probably already seen, the Response to Intervention (RTI) approach.
RTI is designed for those in both general and special education who make decisions that are informed by student performance data. For RTI to be effective, a few key components must be in place:
- Scientifically proven classroom instruction
- High quality, lightning-fast student performance monitoring
- Crystal clear instruction “tiers” to quickly differentiate unique students
- Lots of parent involvement
RTI relies on tiered instruction. And under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004), students fall into three tiers of education:
Tier 1 - 80-90% of students
Most students fall into tier 1, and should receive high-quality, scientifically validated teaching methods by qualified personnel. This removes the possibility that a learner’s performance is due to poor instruction.
Here’s where fast, effective assessments and decision-making make a huge difference. If a student is having difficulty, we want to identify what’s going on and what to do next as quickly as possible. If they have a learning disability, we don’t want to hold them up with poor assessments; we just want to get them the instruction they need to move forward.
Tier 2 - 5-10% of students
This is the “hot zone.” Students here have been identified as struggling learners and schools are deciding if they should push them back into tier 1, or move them to tier 3.
These are the students who are at risk for falling behind and will respond best to intensive instruction and practice. On-target intervenion requires a school to precisely identify a student’s challenge, accurately monitor performance, forecast performance to predict achievement across the semester, and make strong instructional decisions.
Tier 2 student intervention also means schools need to communicate to staff and parents, making sure all stakeholders are up-to-date and on-board with the next steps.
Tier 3 - 1-5% of students
This is where individualized education plans are standard issue.
But in order for IEPs to be successful, they must break down target behaviors and academic achievement goals into small pieces. Targeted goals must be small enough that special education teachers can identify them instantly in a chaotic classroom, monitor them across the semester, make the right intervention decisions for each student, and communicate results to parents and supervisors.
Pinpoint-accurate goasl are critical, because goal evaluations can affect a student’s eligibility for special education services under IDEA 2004. These evaluations also inform parents, who can request these services outside of the school.
We IMC measurement framework in Chartlytics to meet tiered student needs.
IMC = Identify behavior. Monitor progress. Communicate results.
We at Chartlytics saw too many “at risk” kids in Tier 2, whose difficulties weren’t being identified, whose progress wasn’t being monitored, and whose outcomes weren’t being communicated accurately to parents and supervisors.
This is heartbreaking, because we all know what it’s like to have a 5th grader who is reading at a 2nd grade level but who is expected to test against the common core standards set for 5th grade achievement.
Let’s look at Suzie.
Suzie was a Tier 2 student until we applied the IMC measurement framework with Chartlytics.
She was reading words at 10 correct and 11 incorrect per minute. Obviously, at this rate, there is virtually no comprehension.
Within 30 sessions (405 minutes of instruction), she was reading brand new passages at 69 correct and 1 incorrect per minute.
This kind of growth is way above typical learning expectations.
Growth goals for 10-25 percentile readers are between .6 to 1 words per week (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2006). But with Chartlytics, we’re seeing growth of 1.2 to 5.1 words per week.
But how can that be?
This kind of growth is known as Generative Learning, and it’s a result of a method called Frequency Building to a Performance Criteria (FBPC). Basically, by identifying the core component skills of reading, and with focused practice with an instructor, Suzie was able to generate brand new skills.
In this case study, it looks like this:
We’ve also found that this kind of learning is remarkably rewarding for students.
We’re now watching Tier 3 students reaching out to their teachers to see if their progress line has gone up this week. Suddenly, the snacks and stickers fall to the wayside. Learning itself is the reward.
So let's sum it up:
Chartlytics provides special education teachers with a platform that enables you to:
- Precisely identify target behaviors and IEP goals
- Quantitatively monitor progress
- Confidently make intervention decisions
- Clearly communicate IEP progress to supervisors and parents.
After 6 months, you’ll be laughing at how you used to write IEPs—and you'll be changing students' lives.
You don’t need to change your curriculum.
You don’t need extra time to enter data.
You don’t need to be a whiz with technology.
Schedule a free Chartlytics demonstration with a Celeration Ninja, today!