Assistant Secretary for Special Education Tours Beers Elementary School
January 10, 2011
Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, visited Beers Elementary School in November to see firsthand how a school can integrate supports for students with disabilities in the general education classroom setting.
She also visited the Early Stages Center, the DCPS diagnostic center for children ages three through five years old.
Beers Elementary School is one of 16 DCPS schools that follows the Schoolwide Applications Model (or SAM).
This model is a whole-school, all-staff, all-students school model designed to provide the best possible educational environment.
At SAM schools, the entire staff is focused on creating a safe and orderly learning environment so that all students can achieve at high levels.
"It was my pleasure to visit Beers Elementary School this November,” said Dr. Posny. “I was so pleased to witness firsthand how they are implementing inclusive practices schoolwide.”
SAM schools follow a Response to Intervention (RtI) model, which means school leaders and teachers use individual student achievement and behavior data to identify the supports that students need to achieve and meet grade level expectations.
“I have long been a proponent of response to intervention and its usefulness as a general education initiative – I believe it is the future of education,” said Dr. Posny. “Beers really gets it. They are doing really great things, and they are a wonderful example of how using a collaborative model –where kids with disabilities are included within general education classrooms and among their non-disabled peers – is truly the best way to provide the best possible education for all students, including students with disabilities."
Frequent and ongoing assessments help determine the instructional approaches best suited to meet each student’s needs. And instead of providing isolated support services to students, services and supports are fully integrated and available to all students at SAM schools.
Pamela Hagens is a support teacher, which has similar responsibilities as a special education teacher, at Beers Elementary School.
Hagens was teaching a fifth grade classroom when Dr. Posny stopped by to visit.
Ms. Hagens is a firm supporter of inclusion. She said she believes that teachers are supposed to differentiate lessons naturally, so it should not be a stretch for teachers to differentiate their lessons for the different learning styles of students with disabilities.
“We owe it to our children to level the playing field so they can access the general education curriculum as much as any other child,” said Ms. Hagens.
To read more about Beers Elementary School, check out their school profile.
To learn about SAM schools at DCPS, visit the SAM page.
At Early Stages, Dr. Posny visited the parent resource center and the evaluation area of the center. She also learned how Early Stages staff works with families to determine if their child has a developmental delay or disability.
As a result of Early Stages’ success over the past year, they have a parent satisfaction rate of 92 percent. To learn more about Early Stages, visit their website.
Read more Special Education News.