Teacher Evaluation and Special Education Settings

Kids

Section 30-2.9 of the Rules of the Board of Regents provides that, in order to be certified as lead evaluators, administrators must be trained in nine elements. One of the required components is: “Specific considerations in evaluating teachers and principals of ELLs and students with disabilities.” In our initial Lead Evaluator Training, at OCM BOCES, we address this topic specifically with the help of the Regional Special Education Technical Assistance and Support Center (RSE TASC). Recently, this year’s cohort did just that. This component, however, has not received the attention that it should in the continuing training we provide for Lead Evaluators who have been previously certified.

Nonetheless, all of our teachers are teachers of students with disabilities, whether they are a general education teacher or a special educator. The rules about special education sometimes change and we also know more about how to better assist our special education students (as well as all students) than we used to, so updating our understanding is important.

In the special education realm, the principles of Specially Designed Instruction direct us to adapt the content, instructional delivery, or methodology in the least restrictive environment in order to provide students with disabilities with access to the same general education curriculum as their grade level peers. To enable students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate, specially designed instruction and supplementary services and supports are provided through a variety of services.

NYS outlines its continuum of services as:

  • Related Services
  • Resource Room
  • Consultant Teacher (Direct or Indirect)
  • Resource Room
  • Integrated Coteaching (Optional and no longer just called coteaching)
  • Special Class (15:1, 12:1+1, 8:1+1, 6:1+1,12:1+[3:1])
  • Teaching Assistants compared with Teacher Aides

The Regional Special Education Technical Assistance and Support Center has provided a tool to help our school and district leaders understand the continuum of special education services in our schools. It explains the purpose and regulatory components of each service. This is helpful information for all school and district leaders to have – and it is probably good for all educators to understand.

More than just describing the rules for implementing each of the services, the tool also offers “look fors” and effective practice information. This can help leaders understand how different services are supposed to work and it helps leaders understand what it should look like when it is working well.

Consider this example from the tool:

Resource Room 
Purpose Frequency Duration Location Grouping Class Size & Caseload
To provide specialized supplementary small group instruction. This supplementary instruction is provided in addition to the general education or special education classroom instruction that the student receives. It is not provided in place of the student’s regular instruction.Primary role of Resource Room Teacher is to enable access the general education curriculumThe Resource Room Teacher teaches students the skills to learn the content not the content itself.Resource room programs are for the purpose of supplementing the general education or special education classroom instruction of students with disabilities who are in need of supplemental instruction in organizational skills, reading, the use of an assistive technology devise, the use of Braille, the use of a compensatory strategy. This means that instruction is not provided in place of the student’s regular academic instruction.

A resource room program for a student with a disability cannot be treated as a study hall. Resource Room is not homework help or a test accommodation center.

IEP must specify how often service will be provided during a particular time period Minimum- three hours per week Maximum- 50% of school day Resource Room or push-in to the general education classroom, provided that the resource room teacher provides supplemental instruction Students must be grouped by similarity of individual need:

  • levels of academic or achievement and learning characteristics;
  • levels of social development;
  • levels of physical development; and
  • the management needs of the students in the classroom

Instructional group maximum of 5 students per teacher. If a group size less than 5 is recommended, it must be specified on the IEP.

Total caseload:

Grades 1-6,
20 students

Grades 7-12,
25 students

Hallmarks of Effective Practice
  • Utilization of content instructional materials to teach skills and learning strategies
  • Utilization of explicit instruction to teach skills and strategies
  • Provision of specially designed instruction
  • Skill and strategy instruction based on IEP goals is taking place
  • Opportunities for students to practice skills and strategies being taught are provided
  • Method established for regular collaboration and communication with general education teachers to ensure accommodations are used and strategies and skills are generalized.
  • Sharing of progress monitoring data with general education teacher
  • Evidence of data collection and ongoing monitoring of student performance
  • Services are being received as per IEP
  • Evidence that lesson planning includes specially designed instruction for students with disabilities

The rules and regulations about special education are complex and can be tricky to navigate. Armed with this helpful guide, Lead Evaluators can also provide better growth producing feedback during the APPR process.

Craig,-Jeff_WEBJeff Craig
Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Support Services
JCraig@ocmboces.org

 

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