In response to the reauthorization of IDEA, our school is reorganizing the way we identify kids who may need special ed services. Today our school psychologist and social worker introduced the new plan of action. It puts a lot more teacher/expert remediation between the initial referral and a final eligibility for special ed.
No more Child Study Committee. Instead, a focused staff committee takes an initial inquiry by a teacher, helps to formulate a plan of intervention/remediation, assists in the implementation of that plan, reassesses frequently to determine the child’s responsiveness to the extra help, and only then can the referral move on to the official testing for learning problems.
The idea, we are told, is to make sure faulty teaching isn’t the cause for an increase in special education placements. For example, a child who isn’t reading will receive extra help in alternative (more direct, phonics based?) reading instruction BEFORE referral for special ed services.
I have read that this initiative might reduce the number of minority children identified as special ed.
The committee, called CARE (for Children At Risk for Education), will join the other school wide support committees that focus on supporting teachers and students who are not meeting the most basic, required levels of achievement: SBAT- Student Behavior Assessment Team, our various Professional Learning Community configurations (grade level teams, vertical teams-like k-3 or 4-6 teams, Emotional Disabilities Team). It’s meant to be another critical layer of support for our struggling students.
It sounds good. The federal requirements make it a necessity. And our caring, dedicated staff is committed to making it all work for the kids.
As a member of the SBAT team and 3 different Professional Learning Community groups, I won’t be joining the new committee. But I’ll cheer those staffers on, and hope the support services they provide will keep the numbers in our special ed program low.