The 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t be in Special Education

7/26/2016
 
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Statistically, you’re crazy!
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 better 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 you make sure—everyday—that you’ve recorded their progress, graphed data on a chart, or written IEPs. It could make a HUGE difference for that kid!


3. You overcome daily obstacles

Everyday it’s something else. The internet goes down. A student acts out. A budget gets cut.

But you show up, everyday, with the same persevering attitude. You are a high-pressure, steam rolling, freight train who takes responsibility for their learners no matter what the circumstance. There’s no such thing as “can’t!"

So why hasn’t anyone recognized this?

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!


If we want more successful teachers, we’re going to need:

1
An easier way to recognize and record behavior

We’re using subjective and vague descriptions for our IEPs and our data sheets. This is what goes right into our progress charts! How can we be sure we’re making the progress we say we are, if we’re not all on the same page about what “progress” actually means? It makes no sense to do all of this work and care so much if we can’t even make a confident decision at the end of it!
2
A faster and error-free way to track student progress

We’re typing numbers into spreadsheets, a known way to produce frequent human-errors after a hard day of work. And we’re making graphs that take time to create, explain, and share with others. (Anyone else tired of fussing with pivot tables in Excel?)

How can this process be so error-prone when the outcome is so important?


3
A clear and consistent way to communicate student progress to parents, learners, and supervisors.

Finally, when we get our graphs and reports, we each say something different about them.


No parent or supervisor has ever looked a progress chart and immediately understood what it meant.

It takes time to explain, 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 of them give us the one thing we need; the REASON we started collecting data in the first place!

None of them 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 have given us the power to make decisions in the moment.

Now, THAT could change someone’s life.

And isn’t that why we all signed up for this in the first place?


So how do we empower special education teachers to change students’ lives?

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Scientifically proven 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

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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.

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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.

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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 who make decisions in both general and special education, 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


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.

This requires a school to precisely identify a student’s challenge, accurately monitor performance, forecast performance to predict achievement across the semester and make the best decision.

This also means schools need to communicate across their staff, and to their parents to make 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.

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.

This is critical, because these 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.


This is precisely how we built the IMC measurement framework in Chartlytics.

Identify | Monitor | Communicate
Identify behavior. Monitor progress. Communicate results.

We 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.

That kid is going to be thinking “I must be stupid,” when in reality they just need more practice.
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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 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:

Generative Learning

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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 is the reward.

Chartlytics is providing special education teachers with software that enables them 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 . . .

You don’t need to change how you teach.
You don’t need extra time to enter data.
You don’t need to be a whiz with technology.

Schedule a free Chartlytics tour with a Celeration Ninja, today!

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