How to mainstream special education students…

Why Haven’t They Done That Yet?

This is going to be a rather short post. In fact, this post exists only to solicit feedback from all of you that read this blog to help me improve something I have been working on.

So…What have I been up to?

A substantial portion of my special education teaching position is to help students in self-contained classrooms transition out to general education classrooms with resource support. To meet this end, I have been working on developing a data-driven rubric or list of qualifications to guide my efforts. I finally sat down this weekend and put the rubric into a written, or better stated, flowchart form.

I have focused my efforts at this juncture on the standardized neuropsychological assessments we have for each and every student. In our school district that means the Vineland or ABAS-II for adaptive function, the Woodcock-Johnson III for academic skills, the BASC-2 for behavior and emotional well-being (I focus on anxiety measures as they are particularly relevant to success or failure in education), and we use curriculum based measurements (CBM) like the DIBELS, GoMath and ImagineIt! tests, along with computerized assessments. I justify using these standardized measures because all students get them at their evaluations and re-evaluations, but also because I want to avoid any potential for IEP teams to make judgement calls based on how we feel a student may perform in mainstreaming. I am choosing to constrain myself to only considering standardized data that are out of my control.

Once I apply this flow chart, I then start collecting behavioral data from the students while they are in the general education classroom. I feel the more typical method of evaluating behavior in the self-contained unit, to determine if the students are ready for general education, is often unfair. What I mean by unfair is that oftentimes the students that act out in the special education classroom due to boredom are being deprived the very challenges that they need to better themselves. In this way I feel I am giving students the chance to succeed when presented with a challenge, and I am collecting data that will serve useful to provide strategies the students may need when the going gets tough.

So what am I asking all of you to do

I ask that you give me any and all critical feedback you can muster. I can take it, I promise. I feel that as a scientist I need to put everything I do out there for public review, and that continues more so now that I am in education. This flowchart is going to serve as my model by which I can collect data on student achievement. I am almost finished with collecting my first quarter of data. When I move into the next quarter in November, I want to feel confident in my rubric because it has passed a sort of external peer review process.

Also, I think that if anything is unclear, that is also information I need. I am confident I will be handing this rubric off to others, and I need it to be a fairly useful tool at the outset. So if anything is unclear, I also need those feedback.

Quick info:

  • I have chosen 60 as an adaptive cutoff based on research from a scientific colleague I respect.
  • I have selected the 50th percentile for any CBM because that means 50% of their General Education peers are performing worse than the student of interest is on that particular task. To me this is a marker of success for a student in special education-being academically average.
  • I have chosen Clinical Significance for anxiety from the BASC-2 as the relevant anxiety cutoff because anxiety uniquely effects a student’s ability to persevere during tough tasks and changes their perceived stress level in mainstreaming.

Thank you all in advance for your help. Feel free to give feedback in the comments (I will approve them as fast as I can), by email through my contact form, on twitter, or on my class Facebook page as a comment.

Here it is! You can download a pdf version of the Mainstream Flow Chart!


Click to enlarge!

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