Saturday, November 3, 2012

Helping Change the Course of Lives

Helping Change the Course of Lives
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month.  During the October Board of Education meeting I listed the number of ways we have attempted to improve our services for those students with learning disabilities.

We should ask the question - are these working? 

Here are three examples where you can answer those questions. 

1. Hardest Working Student
Five years ago a current 10th grade student couldn't register a score on the NWEA MAP online testing.  We started him in Wilson Reading.  He continued to score at the 1st percentile rank on NWEA for two years.  During his 8th grade year - Mr. Leonard asked him "how is reading going?"  The student replied "It is going great Mr.  Leonard.  When I ride along with my Dad I can now read the signs on the side of the road."  That student has now spent the past 3 summers during extended school year services, had double blocks of reading instruction, and done reading assistant.  He is now doing one period of Wilson Reading and one period of Read 180 at MASH.  In the Spring 2012 NWEA - he scored at the 55th percentile.  He is now serving as a role model for the other student doing Wilson with him. At his IEP meeting last week - the studetn, parent, and teachers were overcome with emotion on his progress.  

2. Proud of Himself
An 8th grade student with a cognitive disability has participated in an intensive reading remediation program.  Last week he was walking around the middle school and stopped in the office area.  He had a book with him and read a page from the book to Mr. Leonard and myself.  The student also stopped in Mrs. Wieman's class and read a page from his book to a whole class.  This is a student who is so proud of himself for being able to read that he wants to read to everyone who has 5 minutes to listen to him. 

3. Special Education is Not Forever
Three years ago a student was struggling significantly with his reading in another school.  After meeting our teacher and learning about our reading program the parent decided to enroll him at MAES.  The student was provided specially designed instruction and participated in the Wilson Reading program for 1 hour per day.  He came in 45 minutes before school started every day during the 11-12 school year to receive Wilson Reading instruction.  He is now receiving no special education services.  In 3 months I will have his IEP meeting and the IEP team will be looking at dismissing him from special education because he has remediated his learning disabilities and has learned appropriate skills.  

4. Remedial Curriculum/Skills for All Students
Five years ago there was a separation between special and regular education.  Now our special education curriculums are being taught at the universal and/or targeted levels (Wilson Fundations, Wilson Just Words, Reading Mastery Signature Series, Read 180, Reading Assistant) to more students than ever. Staff are teaching at risk students so they can be provided specially designed instruction and curriculum so they won't need special education services. Staff are taking initiative and taking on additional responsibilities in learning these programs to help implement them with fidelity so it can best serve the students. 

New Services in the Past 5 Years:  
  • RTI for Identification of Students with Specific Learning Disabilities
  • WIlson Language - Wilson Reading, Just Words, and Fundations
  • Wilson Reading Professional Development - Level II, Level I, and ongoing Wilson Workshops
  • Wilson Fundations Certified Presentors
  • Wilson Academy online support for staff
  • Reading Assistant (fluency) Program in each building
  • Read 180 at MAMS and MASH
  • Read Write and Gold - MAMS sped computers and home versions
  • Kurzweil stations
  • Learning Ally - books on tape subscriptions
  • Bookshare subscriptions
  • Unlocking the Mystery of Dyslexia - Dr Reuter and Dr Messerly presentation
  • Audiobooks/MP3 players for books in MAMS library
  • Read Naturally at SES Special Ed
  • Richard Lavoie Video Series on LD
  • Taylor County Literacy Council
  • Title I Teacher at MAMS
  • Adult Literacy Classes through CLC
  • Family Reading Night at MAES and SES
  • Updated Reading Mastery Signature Series curriculum
  • Corrective Reading Decoding Strand
  • RTI Medford School District Website
The combination of our new programming/services coupled with existing measures such as Title I services at MAES and SES, Medford READS, Foster Grandparent, Grandma Readers, Remediation Assistants, Special Education and 504 Services, and early intervention (ECSE, Pre-K, and K-2) all help provide tiered levels of supports for our students.  

Thank you to our staff, administration, and Board of Education for working so hard to help our students with learning disabilities.  You are making a positive difference and helping change the course of their lives.  You and the student(s) working together are that difference.  I hope in the process - these children and their progress - are also changing the course of your lives. 

News and Notes: 

Ad Hoc Committee of Self Assessment of Procedural Compliance
We are meeting tonight - Wednesday October 31 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.  We will review items we are not in compliance with according to IEP Record Review and Evaluation Record Review Checklists.  We will also discuss and develop a Corrective Action Plan.  This information needs to be submitted into DPI by November 16.  We will then see if DPI will be making an onsite visit to review our files and corrective action procedures. 

Special Education and Student Services Staff Appreciation Night on November 1
4:00 to 6:00 pm at Florenas Restaurant.  Appetizers will be provided for all those in attendance.  Please join us for some food, refreshments, collaboration, and a fun evening.  

Transition Night on November 5
We are up to 129 registrants with over 30 agencies represented for our first Transition Night for Parents and Students with an IEP or 504 plan.  There are 27 separate families scheduled to participate.  Thanks to the Taylor County Transition Advisory Council (especially Cheryl Ketelhut), Medford Morning Rotary Club, and all the staff for their help in organizing this event. 

Special Education Family Day
A flyer was/will be handed out this week to staff for Special Education Family Day at the Broadway Theatre on Saturday November 10 starting at 11:00 am.  Students with an IEP or 504 plan will receive a free movie ticket to see Wreck it Ralph or Skyfall.  All other family members are $6.00 each.  Popcorn and soda are 50% off.  Thanks to the Broadway Theatre and Special Education Advisory Council for making this event possible.  

iPad/Educational Technology
Thanks to all the staff who attended our iPad training on Tuesday.  Dennis Hinderliter has volunteered to meet with special education groups during PLC time on November 6.  If you are interested, then please contact him. 

Grading at MASH
MASH staff are discussing more consistency in grading at the high school. For example: if there is more than one section of the same course, the students grades should be calculated the same.  In relation to special education: all resource rooms should be set up with the same assignments and points so if a student has to switch classes, their grades transfer seamlessly.  The same would go for Read 180, Wilson Reading, etc. At our next MASH PLC there will be discussion this topic. 

Rosetta Stone
We will be purchasing 20 slots for Rosetta Stone to use with our students and adults in the community to learn how to speak English.  

WKCE Testing
Thanks to all the staff who helped with the preparation and administration of the WKCE in 12-13. This is a large undertaking in each building on an annual basis. 

Postsecondary Contacts for Students with Disabilities
Contacts for Students with Special Needs at 2 and 4 year colleges:

Wisconsin Technical College Systems Key Contact List for People with Disabilities:

Wisconsin Disability Documentation Guide
Wisconsin Disability Documentation Guide: Helping People with Disabilities Prepare for Post-Secondary Education and Training:

Wilson Reading Workshop
Wednesday November 7 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm at MAES in the computer lab.  We will help answer questions, set Level II staff observation schedule, and work on Steps 7-12 online class together. 

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