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December 10, 2008
Can high-achieving students with special needs take AP courses?
Last year, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said he wanted to increase the number of students passing Advanced Placement tests. But for high-achieving kids with special needs, taking AP classes can be near impossible. This week, I talked to a parent about how hard it was for her to find a high school that says it will offer AP classes to her child, a high-achieving eighth-grader who is legally required to be placed in a team-teaching setting. Specifically, this student must be in a Collaborative Team Teaching class, where two teachers, one with special education certification, work with a class made up of some students who have special needs and some who do not. Despite her careful research, the mother told me, it hasn't always been clear which high schools will meet her child's needs. In the high school directory released each year by the DOE, most selective schools say they will offer special education services "as needed." Some schools have reputations for including kids with all kids of special needs in their most challenging courses, but others do not.
December 1, 2008
No team planning time for this team teacher
Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week or so here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) is when two teachers work in a classroom that is 60% general education students and 40% students with special needs. As a part of a team teaching classroom, I must be a team member. I cannot walk into the classroom and successfully teach with another teacher without planning together successfully. It seems obvious, right? Well, maybe not obvious to all. Our students leave us for a short time daily to enjoy what other teachers have to offer in physical education, art, music, and other "cluster" classes. During this time, when our students are away, my team teacher and I keep on working as a team. This time is vital to the success of our Collaborative Team Teaching classroom, and we use it as completely and efficiently as possible. I can rarely be found without Ms. B, and she’s rarely seen without me. Unfortunately, since the third week of school, some have been trying to split us apart and take our team planning time. Because it is a CTT class, there must be two teachers with our students at all times, even during cluster classes. Our school has not accommodated this requirement, and the cluster teachers and UFT representative know this. Their solution: One of the classroom teachers must give up the team planning time and stay with the cluster teacher. Anyone familiar with the rights of NYC teachers would know that our contract gives us a certain amount of planning time that cannot be taken away. Don’t worry, we've been told, you’ll get your planning time.
November 26, 2008
Rise & Shine: Wednesday, 11/26
Bad budget news: from Governor Paterson, talking to school leaders. (Daily News) Optimistic budget news: from Senator Schumer, talking about a possible federal bailout.
November 25, 2008
Rise & Shine: Tuesday, 11/25
The doctor accused of sex abuse resigned from his institute, which did work for the city. (Times) In Australia, Joel Klein said the media…
November 17, 2008
Teacher tries to stay positive, fight for her students’ needs
More than one of the city’s teacher-bloggers wrote this weekend about how hard they have to work to stay positive right now. For…
November 14, 2008
A Brooklyn author looks to you, the crowd, for help with his child
I’ve recently been following the fascinating work of Jeff Howe, a Wired magazine reporter who has written a book on what he calls “Crowdsourcing.” Crowdsourcing…
November 7, 2008
State, special ed advocates tussle over proposed changes to IEPs
Special ed advocates objected to the limited choices in this drop-down menu on the proposed IEP form. A new push by the state to standardize the way school districts plan which services special needs students should receive is rattling parents across New York. At the heart of the process is a document called the Individualized Education Plan, which a team of experts crafts to describe the student's educational needs and how the school should address them. For years, every school district has used its own IEP form. Now, state officials have created standardized forms to be used by all districts. The officials say this is an important move because it will create consistency across the state, but special education advocates are worried that the new form could put children's needs in jeopardy. Everyone agrees that IEP forms are crucial documents because they are the strongest form of insurance a parent can have that his child will get specific services. Advocates worry that the forms the state is pushing would weaken that insurance.
November 6, 2008
State special ed hearing conflicts with city special ed conferences
I just spent the afternoon at a public hearing about the state’s proposed changes to special needs students’ individualized education plans. I’ll have more to…
October 28, 2008
Teacher struggles with being told to leave a child behind
Teacher-blogger Mr. S believes he’s responsible for making sure every child he teaches makes what Teach for America calls “significant gains.” But he’s…
October 23, 2008
Accessibility standards for standardized tests
Tests can be made more accessible for English Language Learners and students with special needs, say researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of…
October 16, 2008
Lawyer, advocate: Special needs children are not political pawns
The Palins with son Trig. Following last night’s debate, where McCain promised to “care for these young children [with autism],” Charles Fox,…
September 23, 2008
For kids with special needs, finding a kindergarten is extra stressful
Too few high-quality public school options exist for children with special needs, writes Christine Gralow, a special education preschool specialist, on the New York Times’…
August 12, 2008
Students with disabilities receiving impotent diploma at too-high rate
The graduation rate of students with disabilities continues to be a dark spot on the school completion picture in New York State. Statewide, only 5 percent of students with disabilities earn a Regents diploma in four years, and in New York City, only 20 percent of students with disabilities graduate in four years with a Regents or local diploma, according to the data the state released yesterday. Also alarming is the proportion of students with disabilities statewide who are included in the 4-year cohort data as receiving an IEP diploma: 12 percent.
August 5, 2008
New report takes practical approach to reforming District 75
Parents and advocates of disabled children who attend schools in District 75, the DOE's district for children with special needs, are breathing at least a partial sigh of relief this week after a report commissioned by the DOE recommended revamping, but not dismantling, the district. But their anxiety about the district's future persists as the DOE contemplates which recommendations, if any, to put into action. The report, released Friday by the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of 66 urban school districts, calls for integrating District 75 better into the rest of the school system and improving the quality of special education instruction in both District 75 and community schools. The report concedes that District 75 is isolated and incoherent as it is currently configured, but it concludes that the expertise contained in District 75 personnel and structures, as well as the support the district receives from its parents and teachers, make it worth retaining. (Read the whole report, hosted online by NYC Public School Parents.)
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