March 13, 2018
Inclusive Practice in action:
Embracing change by removing the old bandage
It is no secret that the K-8 special education instruction model has undergone substantive change this year. Anecdotal conversations with special education staff members are beginning to show the positive results we anticipated. One of the schools that embraced the changes early on was McCarty Middle School. The combined effort of the building leadership, special education team, and a dedicated general education staff are at the core of their early success.
Knowing that the growth rates of his students with special needs had been declining and that something different was needed, Principal John George took an active role in the change process by accompanying a team that visited West Linn-Wilsonville School District. The purpose of this visit was to inquire about their more inclusive model, which was similar to the one the GBSD was considering. Principal George also contacted administrators he knew in other districts, particularly Hermiston, that had adopted similar models and gathered their ideas.
Mr. George shared this information with his team, which ultimately led to a different approach to building their master schedule. They decided to start building the schedule around the classes students with disabilities needed first and then those learning English as a second language. This choice enabled the skills classes for students with special needs and ELL to be double blocked with their core classes.
During the summer, additional planning occurred which manifested in staff trainings about co-teaching and a presentation from FACT Oregon. Combined with the master schedule building emphasis, these start of the year events set a proactive, positive tone right from the start.
At the beginning of the school year it was also made clear to the staff that participation in the annual IEP meeting is the best place to discuss workable accommodations and successes and concerns. Additionally, it was made clear that if a staff member chose not to be at the meeting the expectation was that they would follow the decision of the team and implement the accommodations. Staff presence at IEP meetings has seen a huge increase as a result and the productivity in these meetings has seen a corresponding increase as well.
Anecdotally, the special education staff at McCarty is beginning to see positive effects for students. The number of students needing service in math skills classes has decreased which has freed up more time for the special education staff to increase service in other areas. Ongoing training in cooperation with Catherine Wilson from the SSSO has also helped all staff improve their ability to meet the needs of all students in their classes and has kept the positive momentum going as well.
The entire McCarty staff deserves credit for their teamwork, dedication and willingness to embrace change for the benefit of all of their students. You are what they mean by “team." Great work!