Spokane Public Faculties pushing for extra inclusion for particular schooling college students
Spokane Public Schools is working harder to make schools more inclusive for special needs students.
On Wednesday evening, the district will brief school board members on its efforts to improve performance in an area criticized by a national consultancy four years ago.
The plan, part of the district’s priority plan for 2021-22, is to “prioritize resources and education to ensure a high level of inclusion for students with disabilities”.
The goal with the target date of June 2024 is that at least 80% of pupils who receive special educational services are admitted to some general education classes during at least 80% of the school week.
It’s harder than it sounds, but with better training it is possible.
“It’s important … to recognize that special education students are primarily general education students,” said Becky Ramsey, district director of special education.
Ramsey said the district’s efforts will include promoting better communication between general and special education teachers.
According to a national study published this week by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, more than 45% of high school teachers and between 30 and 35% of middle and elementary school teachers said they had never participated in lesson planning.
This could be because only about a third of general education class teachers said they feel primarily responsible for meeting the needs of their special needs students, even though these students are usually taught with their peers who are not receiving services
That collaboration, Ramsey believes, would have helped teachers gain vital information about students and strategies on how to best meet their needs during the pandemic when students in special education were struggling.
“All children should have access to essential content,” said Ramsey.
Primary schools in Spokane did well – with an inclusion average of 77% – even before the 2017 Urban Collaborative Report was released to county officials.
Secondary schools, however, lagged and still are. According to district documents, less than half of middle and high school special needs students spent at least 80% of the school day in a “Least Restrictive Environment” (LRE).
Intent is important, said Ramsey, who noted that Chase Middle School had one of the worst LREs in the state at 25% a few years ago.
“Now it’s up to 60%, but it takes a lot of work,” said Ramsey.
Even before the pandemic, according to a survey by the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood.org in May 2019, only one in five teachers felt “very well prepared” to teach students with mild to moderate learning disabilities.
According to national experts and studies showing that children with special educational needs are less likely to be absent from inclusive classes, the issue is critical. In addition, they tend to develop stronger reading and numeracy skills and are more likely to find a job and get an education after high school.