Special Education is an integral part of the total education system, not a separate entity. Students, regardless of their educational needs, are a part of our school community, which actively promotes and fosters positive attitudes toward and full acceptance of all students. Staff are empowered to meet the educational needs of all students. Classroom learning environments enhance instruction for all students.A student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the product of successful collaboration between the parent, student, and school. IEP’s for students in grades 7 and 8 thoughtfully approach the students’ transition to high school and adulthood.
ECS has structured general and special education into one unified system by facilitating the full inclusion of all students, adapting a co-teaching model, and eliminating the resource room. All students, regardless of ability, are educated in the regular education classroom together. The co-teaching model evidences the unification of general and special education by placing both the regular and special education teacher in the classroom as equals.
ECS is committed to supporting all students in a full inclusion setting. Inclusion is the practice of educating children with disabilities in classrooms with children without disabilities. This approach to instructional delivery is consistent with the research over the past 20 years. Ryndak, Jackson & Billingsley (2000) examined how experts in the field of school inclusion for students with moderate to severe disabilities defined the term inclusion. Their qualitative research methodology yielded 7 themes. ECS strives to evidence these 7 themes in our school and in our classrooms.
- Placement in natural typical settings. All ECS students are educated together in the regular education classroom. Students with disabilities are placed in age-appropriate general education classes with their non-disabled same age peers for all instruction. The only time they are pulled out is for related services as indicated in their Individual Education Plan (IEP), such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling services.
- All students together for instruction and learning. All ECS students participate in the general education curriculum together for instruction and learning in both academic and non-academic classes. ECS Literacy and Mathematics classes utilize a workshop model to facilitate differentiated instruction, positive peer interactions, and individualized attention. These classes also employ a co-teaching approach to address the needs of all students by placing two teachers (regular education and special education) of equal licensure in the classroom. These teachers work collaboratively to deliver our rigorous curriculum to all students.
- Supports and modifications within general education to meet appropriate learner outcomes. All ECS students identified as students with disabilities receive modifications and accommodations in the general education classroom and curriculum to provide them with appropriate learner outcomes. These modifications and accommodations are detailed in their IEPs and allow students with disabilities to be successful in the general education classroom. Students with disabilities also benefit from the co-teaching partnership of the regular and special education teacher.
- Belongingness, equal membership, acceptance, and being valued. ECS staff and students abide by a code of conduct that values the importance of each individual within our school. Every member of our school community is valued and accepted as an equal member by both staff and students.
- Collaborative integrated services by education teams. ECS has established grade level teams that work collaboratively to plan instruction for all students. These teams meet monthly to plan upcoming units and also weekly to evaluate and adapt instruction as needed. Co-teachers meet daily to collaborate on best teaching practices for delivering instruction to students with and without disabilities.
- Systematic philosophy or belief system. ECS is fully committed to a full inclusion with co-teaching approach and hired 24 new employees for the 2012-2013 school-year to support this initiative. The new hires include classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and inclusion facilitators (1:1 aides). Each Literacy, Mathematics, and Cultural Literacy classroom is co-taught and staffed by 2 teachers. ECS has made a significant investment of resources to insure the best learning outcomes for all students.
The Special Education Team has a wealth of experience in supporting all aspects of students’ educational needs and of supporting our families throughout this process. The Special Education Office can be reached at 412-247-7970 ext.117. Maryssa McGuire, School Psychologist, can be reached at 412-247-7970 ext. 119. Our Confidentiality Designee, Dwight Laufman, can be reached at 412-247-7970 ext. 112. For questions about 504s or Title IX, please contact Kate Dattilo, 412-247-7970 ext. 102.
Special Education Advocate & Instructional Coach | email@example.com
School Psychologist | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower School Principal, Special Education Coordinator | email@example.com
Director of Assessment and Accountability/Confidentiality Designee/ | firstname.lastname@example.org
Upper School Counselor/504 Coordinator | email@example.com
COO/Title IX Coordinator | firstname.lastname@example.org