Sunday, February 14, 2010

KUOW Seeking Parent Feedback on ICS Model

Ann Dornfeld, a reporter for radio station KUOW, is seeking families to interview about the way services are being delivered under the ICS model. If you wish to contact her, you can reach her at 206-816-5434 or adornfeld@kuow.org.

32 comments:

Aurora said...

FYI ICS = Integrated Comprehensive Services. This should concern all parents, as it potentially adds special ed students to general ed classrooms w/o sufficient support.

spedvocate said...

Isn't it funny? They said they wanted more inclusive opportunities for students on IEPs. They said specialized placements and self-contained settings have failed to produce results. So, what do they do? Instead of expanding the inclusion model programs that are working exceptionally well at providing students with full access to general education... they decide to cancel them. They kill the inclusion programs, the very things that have been working great for lots and lots of kids and the things that are doing exactly what they said they needed. What???? Kill the thing that works? Keep the things that are broken?

Now we have the "new inclusion", that is, inclusion without any inclusion programs, just dumping kids in buildings without support.

The thing is, parents aren't going to just send their kids to self-contained placements anymore. These kids will be in your classrooms. Schools with inclusion programs are all pretty great: Montlake, Lafayette, Graham Hill, John Hay, Lawton, Blaine, Salmon Bay, Eckstein, Roosevelt... unfortunately, the "new inclusion" won't be like any of those, because nobody's going to be working there. At least, not anybody with a college degree.

reader said...

I'm sure they never mean to get rid of self-contained programs. That would never happen in a million years. Obviously, the real intent is to coerce kids in inclusion programs into self-contained. We'll see if they get away with it.

dan dempsey said...

"If it works. Stop it." Must be the current district motto.

This is how to hold everyone accountable.

"Anyone Achieving must be Stopped."

This language needs to be added to the Strategic Plan .... and the SPS letter heading is in need of revision.

Charlie Mas said...

Families of students with IEPs will be given a Hobson's choice:

You can enroll your child in a school with the Integrated Comprehensive Services or you can enroll your child in a self-contained program.

In the ICS school your child will be dropped into a general education class with no assurance of support, no assurance that the IEP will be followed, and no assurance of protection from bullies. Services, if any, will be provided sporadically by a trained teacher in a resource room who will either periodically visit your child's class or be periodically visited by your child in a "pull-out" program.

In the self-contained program your child will in a ghetto of disabled students and only ever see typically developing peers at lunch (and maybe gym or music). You still won't have any assurance that your child's IEP will be followed or that they will do anything more academically challenging than coloring all day.

Whichever one you choose, the district will respond to your complaints with "Well, you chose that for your child."

The District wants families to choose the self-contained model because that is easier for them to manage operationally. As in all decisions at Seattle Public Schools, the operations tail wags the academic dog.

Inclusion, when it is done right, can be absolutely brilliant for every child in the classroom. It cannot, however, be done right without the proper staffing and training. There is no indication that Seattle Public Schools is interested in providing the proper staffing or training to make it work for any of the children in the classroom.

The "resource room" version of Special Education services is detached from reality. It's like putting one hand in 145 degree water and one hand in 35 degree water and thinking that it should be comfortable because the average water temperature is 90 degrees. What's the plan here? To give the resource room teacher a walkie-talkie and a pair of roller skates?

TechyMom said...

Forgive my ignorance, but, how do the "good" inclusion models work?

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to a blog post, SpeEdChange: How Inclusion Works, that discusses how inclusion classrooms can and should work. In addition to reading this blog post, please read the one that prompted it.

dianag said...

A good inclusion model means your student spends most of the school day in the regular classroom with support by a special ed teacher and instructional aides in addition to the excellent general ed teacher.

Anna B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna B said...

My child was a gen ed student in one of those "inclusion" models at Salmon Bay that many claim worked wonderfully. I have to wonder if the folks that say it worked so well ever had a child enrolled in the school?

Each middle school classroom had 3 or 4 high needs special ed students, but no extra support for the classroom teacher. This translated into much of the teachers "teaching" time being used to manage, calm down, and engage the 3 or 4 sped students who needed a lot of 1:1 attention, while the gen ed kids sat there bored to tears, for most of the period, watching, and rolling their eyes. It wasn't pretty. There was a roving special ed teacher that the classroom teacher could call on for help when needed, but the support teacher was rarely available since the entire middle school shared her services. This was not an isolated, one classroom or one teacher scenario. It was common.

I can't imagine that the special ed students needs were being met in that environment, and I know the general ed students needs weren't. There wasn't a whole lot of teaching going on for either group, just a whole lot of classroom management.

But SB is a middle, and upper middle class, predominantly white school. Kids get good test scores, no matter the low quality of teaching they get, so the school flies under the radar. And everyone thinks they and their inclusion model are doing so very well.

By the way I often volunteered in the classroom and saw these things first hand. I also rarely, if ever, saw a spec ed parent volunteering so I have to wonder if they knew what was really going on with their kids in those classrooms, at lunch and on the payground.

spedvocate said...

Alternative schools like Salmon Bay aren't for everyone. If you are a regular kid, you have a choice; you never have to step foot in Salmon Bay if you don't like it. Not true for the kids in the special ed programs. There are only 5 middle schools with inclusion programs, 2 are option schools. So, if you hate special ed students, you can pretty much avoid them unless you are force assigned to Eckstein, McClure, or Madison.


People like Anna, always claim that other people's kids are not "well served"... "they" shouldn't be there. The families in the autism programs at Salmon Bay are the most satisfied in the district. That is indisputable. Perhaps Anna knows about the better option, a better program somewhere else. Please tell. ???

Regular kids, well, they just keep lining up at Salmon Bay to get in. It must be serving a lot of them well too or there would not be a mile long waiting list.


The thing is, moving forward, and even now, the district is defunding those programs. Currently the programs are grossly overloaded at Salmon Bay. That's because the district won't open new programs. Is that the fault of the students? Should they just quit, and be homeschooled, move somewhere else? Students with severe disabilities at Salmon Bay have already been dumped without support into the resource room (or rotation), and in only 2 grades. They have no options.

spedvocate said...

While there's always been a lot of people who love to complain about Salmon Bay. (and who neglect to mention that lots of other people love it) We've got other very inclusive schools now that are also incredbily high performing: Montlake, John Hay, Lafayette, Eckstein, Graham Hill, Blaine. I think these schools currently DO serve as models of excellence that Charlie mentions, and models of discipline. Everybody gets a great education at these schools. (a complainer or two notwithstanding). Why do we want to kill these models?

And Charlie's absolutely right about the choice. The district says "here, make a choice". Making a choice that way is completely illegal. Services are supposed to be IEP driven, not driven by a district menu.

Anna B said...

Spedvocate you say "Currently the programs are grossly overloaded at Salmon Bay".

Could that be what I witnessed?

Then you say "While there's always been a lot of people who love to complain about Salmon Bay. "

So I guess I'm not alone in my opinion of what was going on there.


Then you say "it is not the fault of the students"?

Who said it was the fault of the students? Not me. Where did you get that from? Or do you just want to pick a fight?

In my opinion it's the fault of the system and the program. Putting 3 or 4 high needs spec ed kids in a 30 kid classroom with one teacher and no support does not work for anyone. Not the teacher. Not the spec ed kids. Not the gen ed kids.

It might work fine if the classroom teacher had in classroom support. It might work fine if there were only one high needs spec ed student in the classroom? I don't know. But what I do know is it didn't work the way it was going. For anyone.

Aurora said...

The larger point is that the inclusion programs, such as the one being discussed, provided around a 1:8 support by special ed teachers for special ed students in general ed classes. That is being phased out The new ICS has it up to 1:22. This harms all students.

mom of 3 said...

I have had 2 general ed students at Salmon Bay and now have one in the inclusion program.SB has two cohorts of 8 students, each with a support team of one sp ed teacher and two aides for the 8 students. Each cohort is on a different Salmon Bay "team." Each team has 120 students, so 8 out of the 120 are in the level 4 inclusion program. Anna B. is wrong that the general ed teachers have no support. The special ed teacher works together with the general ed teachers to adapt instruction, and the aides are also present in the room. All 8 students are not, however in the same classroom at the same time, so sometimes there is no aide/sp ed teacher present, although there is almost always the ability to get one quickly.

Both as a general ed parent and now as an inclusion parent, I have been impressed with both the general ed and the special ed staff at SB. Yes, sometimes it gets difficult. Guess what - sometimes general ed students get difficult, too. And yes, I've volunteered at the school (and the other schools my kids are at - 3 this year) over time. In fact, Anna, many times the Sp. Ed. parents spend way more hours at the school than many Gen. Ed. parents, because we're sometimes told that our child can't participate in the program unless we're present. I'm not completely sure this is legal, but it happens to me, and to other inclusion parents I know frequently. How many general ed parents are told that in order for their child to participate in a core part of the curriculum as defined by their school (at Salmon Bay say Winter Enrichment or camp) they HAVE to attend? Yes, I know these programs can't go on without parent support, but most parents have a more generalized pressure, not the pressure that their child will have to stay home if they can't take time off from work to attend.

Anna's fears are right on if we're suddenly taking the cohort group of 8 and turning it into a cohort group of 22, however. There's no way for a small team of the special ed teacher, and aides (and no promise on the ratio of aides to students in the ICS model, you'll notice), can keep up with those ratios.

spedvocate said...

Anna, to simply say "inclusion doesn't work" and to site some examples of bad practices you saw one day, misses the point. It sort of implies that the students should be somewhere else or that "inclusion" isn't working. Where should those students be? How should it look? First of all, the classes shouldn't be heavily overloaded, though a little might be ok to warrant the expense of extra staffing. But also... these general ed teachers need to take some ownership and responsibility for ALL students, and for using techniques that work for everyone. It's possible and it works other places. Students on IEPs are general education students just like everyone else. Now, imagine if the "inclusion" teachers were gone. That's the current plan. All the same kids, none of the teachers. Who needs teachers?

Although you might not like what you saw at SB. I'll point out that by any objective measure it's a very successful school.

The SB programs are overloaded by 2 kids each and the resource room teacher is part time. The resource room kids are picked up by the inclusion staff. If you look at the numbers of special ed kids in the middle school, you will see it's about 80 kids. (Look at the OSPI school report card) That is a lot for 2.5 special education teachers!

That thing about "come and be with your" kid for activity X or they can't participate... is very common all over the district. Yes. Illegal also. Kids with disabilities must be accommodated for ALL school sanctioned activities: field trips, winterfest, after school sports, WASL prep, chess club, everything.

TechyMom said...

So, it occurs to me that we're back to class sizes and differentiation. It seems like a pretty unreasonable expectation for a single teacher, every single teacher, to provide ALO and SpEd to 30 elementary kids in the same room. 30 high school kids, maybe. 15 elementary kids, maybe. But 30 8 year olds with abilities over a several grade span? Add in behavior problems, whether from a behavior disorder, poverty, or an unchallenged gifted kid acting out, and that just seems like way too much for one person to do, no matter how talented and dedicated he or she is.

Call me crazy, but as a manager, I have to question any system that causes employees who have 12 weeks of vacation a year to burn out.

spedvocate said...

Differentiation is a MUST. Without it, you can do nothing. And, there's plenty of resources in the current special ed programs for it so there's no excuse not to do it. Lots of special education students also have extreme talents to be developed too, just like everyone else. So, it's not ALO or special ed... it's definitely BOTH, possibly at the same time. And lots of schools throw in multi-age as well. I don't hear a lot of complaining that Montlake is doing a terrible job, and it does all those things: severe disabilities - high performance over mulitple ages. Yes, teachers have to do it... it's simply following the law.

TechyMom said...

Just to make sure no one thinks I'm blaming teachers here...

If you have employees who get 6 times as much vacation as most people, and they burn out on a regular basis, more often than those other people with a lot less time off, then YOU, as a manager, are doing it wrong.

TechyMom said...

Yes, teachers have to do it. But asking them to do it for 30 kids is too much to ask. Montlake uses parent volunteers and PTA-funded floating teachers to reduce effective class sizes. Or, at least, they were doing that last year when I toured. I'm not sure they're still allowed to do that. Montlake is a wonderful school. It was one of our choices when we did open enrollement last year, and the inclusion model is one of the things I liked about it.

I never said that a student was ALO or SpEd but not both. I can see how my sentence strcture might have implied that, but that wasn't my intent. I just don't think differentiation scales well to large class sizes. My solution to that is not to get rid of differentiation, but to reduce class sizes.

Anna B said...

Spedvocate said "Differentiation is a MUST. Without it, you can do nothing."

I have not heard one person, myself included, say that there shouldn't be inclusion. Not one. You can stop arguing that. We get it, and we agree with you.

What we are saying is that inclusion must be done right to be effective. Having a classroom of 30 kids, 4 of which are high needs special ed, and one teacher does not work for anyone. Would you want your sped kid in that class? Do you think he/she would get the services and attention that he/she needed? I don't.

So yes to inclusion, but done right. With reasonable ratios. Do you think 80 special ed kids to 2.5 roving special ed teachers is a decent ratio? Do you really think that is ideal or effective. I doubt you do. And if you do, then go sit in on some SB classes and watch it in action. You may change your mind.

spedvocate said...

TechyMom, 30+ kids in a class is a big deal? Welcome to middle school.

The bottom line is... we will have inclusion, done right or done wrong. The "inclusion" isn't the issue. To my mind, 22:1 is inclusion done wrong. Too bad we are being forced with this change, when we have so much better now.

Perhaps we are all just saying that we have a huge staffing problem. Everything must have good ratio's to be effective, inclusion is not different than anything else. When you have more kids, you will need MORE differentiation, more techniques which are differentiable, not less.

Josh Hayes said...

I'll just throw a spanner into the works, as usual, and remind people that at AS1 we had a hugely successful inclusion program for several years - teachers from all over the district, and from other districts, apparently, came to see it in action.

The core of it was that our special ed teachers taught "core" classrooms just like every other teacher in the building. Their classes, of course, had lots of kids with IEPs, but also lots of kids without IEPs -- thus greatly reducing the stigma of being in the "special ed" classroom.

Alas, this turned out to be illegal: special ed teachers cannot teach kids who are not special ed kids, apparently. The district, or whoever is responsible for this policy, seems to want to ensure that stigma is attached to having an IEP. Neither of my kids does, but I still think it stinks: both of them had classes in the "special ed" classrooms before the district put the kibosh on the whole thing, and they had wonderful learning experiences there.

I know there are plausible policy-based reasons for the policy. Something I'm learning more and more every day: sometimes policy is an ass.

reader said...

It isn't illegal, but failure to account for it might be. Eckstein has co-teaching today, and has always had it. Special ed teachers teach general ed students along students on IEPs. In fact, it's the only way teaching is done at Eckstein. And, the district had lots of blended Kindergartens sprinkled throught the district. These programs featured special education teachers who taught in general ed classrooms. How can it be OK at Eckstein, but disallowed at AS1? There must have been something wrong with the way funds were accounted for at AS1. The district needs to account for the general education students taught by special ed teachers, and refund the special ed piggy bank for it. That might have been an unpalatable proposition. It usually isn't policy that's the ass... it's money. As we all know, nobody cares about policy.

ttln said...

I believe it has to do with SDI- specially designed instruction- if gen ed kids are receiving it, then it isn't special and therefore IEP kids aren't being served by definition. Co teaching sped teach with gen ed helps address the technicality of what constitutes SDI. Madison attempted to do the same type of model where the sped teachers' classes included gen ed kids about seven years ago. We were not permitted to try it due to previously stated legalities.

Full inclusion is tricky (including ALL learners even those coded 10) but can be done if a teacher nos what they are doing. For LA, Readers/Writers Workshop sets a teacher up for success. The teacher only needs to figure out how to tier mini lessons on a demo text, utilize small group instruction, and individual conferencing to reach those levels. Record keeping can become a nightmare- using notebooks as a record for conversations works great for some. Personally, I use a palm pilot that has a version of the grade program the district uses. I put notes into the palm gradebook which then gets synced up and posted on the Source. Parents can see what interventions the student and I are trying or individual skill work we are doing. The palm is my own tool and not district supported.
Done right, inclusion is obtainable given structures and tools that make it easier to manage the individuation, especially at the middle school level.

ttln said...

nos = knows
lovely- the palm keyboard is a challenge :-)

casey said...

I, for one, am glad to see special education on the blog radar. When we look up from our own personal situations, it becomes clear that we need to work together and educate and INCLUDE ALL children in our learning communities, our schools. They deserve it. For those new to this topic, the school district paid for an outside group to evaluate our special education programs over 2 years ago. I believe that on the whole, they did an excellent job and made valid recommendations. What followed, unfortunately, is how this district seems to operate. Two years of ever changing committees and task forces (the names change, but the meetings and lack or accountability don't) and then, with the special ed administration once more in disarray and changing, a new "model" of providing services was implemented. Now with yet another permutation of special education administration, the district is trying to patch up mistakes, and add band-aids. And more power point "professional development" opportunities. It is a well intentioned mess. We need to all work together to change this because it doesn't work for ANY of our students. Teachers are well intentioned and struggling with lack of information and support. I am glad to hear that there are good things happening and someone, somewhere must have the infamous "data" to show this (?). Now can we pause and figure out what works and replicate it before we expand this model of service delivery and have to patch that up also?

SpedDad said...

What works? See:

Eckstein, Ballard HS, Graham Hill, John Hay, Lafayette, Montlake, Salmon Bay, Roosevelt HS. They have the inclusion programs! I don't understand how they can be killing those.

John Hay for one, has better WASL scores for it's disabled students alone than most schools, even better than the so-called "good" schools.

John Hay 4th Grade WASL scores
(disabled only):
93.8%, 75%, 69%
for reading, math, and writing.

These are the scores for 16 disabled kids, 7 of them are autistic in this school's fourth grade cohort. Why would you want to bust that up?

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kelsped10 said...

We were sold something that could never be... how could one or two special education teachers take our kids into each of their classrooms and help them? How did we think that was really possible? Now what.. my deaf/delayed 2nd grader has not kept up even closely with his peers and now they want to just shove him through to the next grade with no way he'll be able to feel any level of success at all in the next grade level.. keeping him more and more in the EXCLUSION classroom with his mentally challenged peers. He isn't mentally challenged and needs to be with typical peers as well. He falls into a huge chasm between the spec. ed and typical classes.. what do we do.. feeling so helpless and frustrated!

Anonymous said...

Kelsped, how indeed was your kid supposed to make it? ICS is only about saving money, it isn't about your child "making it" in general ed. Unfortunately, in special education, it's all about you getting out and demanding your child get what he needs. I suggest you go to the SEAAC meetings and/or the special ed ptsa meetings. See here. Special ed ptsa has many more members and offers more parent to parent support. SEAAC features monthly meetings with the district. Contact the leaders in these organizations and they can get you started, or assist you in getting the sevices your child needs. No, you don't need to go to the exclusion room. Your child will still be deaf in that room. Self-contained special education was not invented for the benefit of the students assigned, even the "mentally challenged"... exclusion classrooms are for the benefit of everyone else! And when people say some kids "do better" in those places... it's only because they do less, way way less, maybe nothing at all. Everyone does "better" when there are no expectations don't they?

Fingerpainting anyone?

Anonymous said...

PS. There are still "inclusion programs". That's the chasm you're talking about. Does your child need one? Sounds like maybe he does. If so, you'll need to make a case for it. Get an "expert" to recommend it. Ask for an outside evaluation. You actually could force them to place your child in an inclusion program. But... if you just accept what they give out. Guess what? It won't be much. It will be ICS.