View the movie below and then proceed to the Initial Thoughts section (time: 2:49).
Principal Flores: As educators, it always seems like we have new issues to deal with, but one thing always remains the same—or should—and that is providing the best education possible for all students. Only, some of our students are in danger of falling through the cracks. Hi there. I’m Yolanda Flores. I’m the principal at Wilbur Valley Middle School. You see, our students with disabilities didn’t perform very well on the standardized tests the past couple of years. In fact, last year we were 4% lower than the previous school year at the Basic level. Only 1 or 2% of students with disabilities scored at the Proficient level, and no one scored at the Advanced levels, even though we’ve made accommodations. Everyone at our school agrees that students with disabilities should be a part of our accountability system. And these students are entitled to accommodations so they can show what they’ve really learned. But it can be so confusing—all these different rules and exceptions! After getting together with my School Improvement Team and hearing what they had to say on the matter, I decided that it was time to sit down with my assistant principal, Jim Ericson, and come up with a plan of action.
Principal Flores: I think what we need to do now, Jim, is focus on the solution. We need to create an action plan, one that’s going to pull these kids up.
Mr. Ericson: Well, we could start by bringing in some more special ed teachers.
Principal Flores: Yeah, don’t I wish? The ones we’ve got are overworked as it is. What do you really think it’s going to take to raise the scores?
Mr. Ericson: Off the top of my head? I don’t know. We’ve included special ed students in general education classes. I think that’s important, but I wonder if we’ve done an effective job with inclusion?
Principal Flores: You know, it’s possible these kids know more than their test scores show. I think we need to sit down with the general ed and special ed teachers and have a meeting.
Mr. Ericson: That’s a good idea. Our teacher are really dedicated. And I know they’ve really been focusing on the basics. They spend extra hours working on math facts and reading.
Principal Flores: Unfortunately, what they’re doing isn’t the answer. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out where to go from here, isn’t it?
Here’s Your Challenge:
Ms. Flores and Mr. Ericson are reviewing the large-scale assessment data across all grade levels and want to improve the scores of students with disabilities. What problems do you think they might discover?
How can Ms. Flores and Mr. Ericson use the school summary data to guide their efforts to help improve the scores of students with disabilities?
What questions should Ms. Flores and Mr. Ericson ask the general and special education teachers?