Friday, May 31, 2013

Response to Intervention

Elliot, Judy. (2008). Response to Intervention: What & Why?. School Administrator, 65.8, 10-12.

Elliot defines RTI as “the practice of providing hig-quality instruction and intervention matched to student need, monitoring rogress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals and applying student response data to important education decisions.” Elliot asserts the there is a need for every student in the education system to have their learning needs met to ensure future success. Elliot suggests that RTI requires culture to acknowledge and understand all students can learn, resources must be aligned to facilitate student growth, and “appreciation and continual use of data in making instructional and programmatic changes.” Elliot states RTI is researched based and in order to be successful, educators must understand all children can learn, intervention should be implemented early, RTI is a multitiered model for instruction, and problem-solving methods should be used to make decisions within the multitiered model. Elliot defines the three tiers as follows: tier 1 – all students; tier 2 –target instruction; and tier 3 – intensive instruction.

Mesmer, Eric M.; and Mesmer, Heidi. (2008). Response to Intervention (RTI): What Teachers of Reading Need to Know. Reading Teacher, 62.4, 280-290.

Mesmer and Mesmer give a history of RTI and explain the laws surrounding RTI. Mesmer and Mesmer suggest that the RTI process should be implemented in 5 steps. In step 1, Mesmer and Mesmer suggest establishing universal literacy practices. In step 2, Mesmer and Mesmer suggest that educators should implement “scientifically valid interventions” (283). In step 3, Mesmer and Mesmer suggest educators should monitor the progress of students receiving interventions. In step 4, Mesmer and Mesmer suggest that educators come up with individualized interventions for their students that are still struggling. And in step 5, Mesmer and Mesmer suggest that a team try to determine the need for special education services for students who continue to struggle. The authors explain that RTI is designed to benefit the students by incorporating assessment and interventions. The authors are concerned about the requirement of RTI being implemented by using scientifically based instruction. Mesmer and Mesmer argue that many companies may label products as scientifically based because an experiment was done on the product. Therefore, it may be difficult for educators to find beneficial products and programs.

Reutebuch, Colleen K. (2008). Succeed With a Response-to-Intervention Model. Intervention in School & Clinic, 44.2, 126-128.

Colleen K. Reutebuch is a professor and research associate at Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Reutebuch defines Response to Intervention as a framework in which high-quality instruction and intervention is matched to the needs of the students. Reutebuch continues that RTI includes progress monitoring and assess-ment in order to make educational decisions on the students, as well as improving the outcomes of students in both special and general education. Reutebuch explains the guidelines set up by the federal government are a framework in which states and local school districts can develop their own appropriate model. These guidelines include: implementation of research-based instruction, early intervention, multi-tiered intervention, individual problem-solving protocol, fidelity checks and consistency, identifying at-risk students, differentiated instruction, frequent assessments, multi-disciplinary teams to determine special education needs, professional development, follow-up support, grouping formats, collaboration of personnel, determining instructors at various tiers, setting short-term goals, developing an entry and exit plan, culturally responsive practices, implementation of constant support, family involvement, and an understanding of RTI and student achievement. Reutebuch guides the audience through each of the guidelines and explicitly explains how the guidelines should be implemented.

Samuels, Christina A. (2009). High Schools Try Out RTI. Education Week, 28.19, 20-22.

Samuels’ article focuses on the lack of research on the implementation of a RTI model a secondary level, which is also addressed in the Elliot article. Samuels uses high schools in Colorado to show how RTI is being implemented and to outline the difficulties in implementing RTI at the secondary level. Samuels uses Palmer High School in Colorado as a model of effective implementation of RTI. The teachers at the school have pooled their resources so that each department could develop programs to address the needs of struggling students. These programs were organized into “tiers of increasing intensity, while adding other types of interventions for students.” The school also opened a tutoring center in which the students who are struggling can go to after instruction in the inclusive classrooms is given. The teachers monitored their low performing students to see if the programs resulted in higher grades. The educators found that students who used the programs were more successful than students who did not. Samuels’ article does not address the fact that many students with disabilities lack the self-determination skills needed in order to evaluate whether or not they need to go to tutoring.

Tilly, David. (2008). Questions to Guide RTI’s Use. Educational Leadership, 64.8, 22-23.

Tilly’s article defines Response to Intervention as a “framework for organizing instruction in schools using research-validated procedures and decision-making structures.” In Tilly’s district, Heartland Area Education Agency 11 in Iowa Tilly states RTI has been implemented for eighteen years. Tilly states that consensus must be built in order for RTI to be effective by providing information and allowing educators to question and challenge information as well as involving staff when the principles of teaching and learning are discussed. Tilly suggests that false notions, such as the need to know students’ IQs, that students’ learning can be accelerated by placing them in special education, and the disability label determines the instruction for the students. Therefore, Tilly suggests teachers undergo professional development in order to debunk these issues. Tilly suggests using current practices to build on for the RTI infrastructure by establishing a leadership team who identifies modifications to be implemented to current practices without holding on to existing regularities. Tilly further suggests that implementation be reviewed and refined often in order to ensure effectiveness and maintain long-term student learning.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

“I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is raising a child with special needs. I think the worst thing is to raise a child who is cruel to those with special needs.”

~ Anonymous

Friday, May 3, 2013

Alternative Assessments for Students with Disabilities

Ahlgrim-Delzell, Lynn; Browder, Diane; Flowers, Claudia; and Spooner, Fred. (2005). Teachers’ Perceptions of Alternative Assessments. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30.2, 81-92.

The authors state the purpose of the study is to “examine teachers’ perceptions of alternate assessments.” The authors surveyed 983 teachers from 5 states by using two inventories one with a 5-point scale rating and one with a 4-point scale rating to determine what influences the alternative assessment outcome and the impact of alternative assessment. The samples used were representative for each of the five states surveyed. The study shows that teachers often agree that students with disabilities should be included in general education settings and should be held accountable, but they did not agree that the alternative assessments were beneficial and added more paperwork and time to their schedules. Therefore, the researchers suggest that more resources should be offered to alleviate the demands of alternative assessments. The researchers state limitations to the study include confounding factors, and a lack of evidence that suggests their findings would improve the outcomes of students with disabilities. Also, the researchers warn about generalizing the results to states that were not sampled.

Crisp, Cheryl. (2007). The Efficacy of Intelligence Testing in Children with Physical Disabilities, Visual Impairments and/or the Inability to Speak. International journal of Special Education, 22.1, 137-141.

Crisp indicates that the design of intelligence assessments may inhibit an accurate score for students with disabilities. Crisp states that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires all students, even those with disabilities to be held accountable on academic assessments, but it does not acknowledge that some of the students with disabilities may never attain the academic level of their peers. Crisp asserts that each person with a disability is an individual and must always be put before their disability, and each disability is different in that individual. Crisp argues that standardized tests fail to take the nature of the disability into consideration, and many fail to allow accommodations to be made to the test because doing so would hinder the integrity of the test. Crisp provides a list made by Fagan of those who are unable “comply with the requirements of standardized testing: cerebral palsy, all of the muscular dystrophies, dystonia, brain injury, some language disorders, developmental disorders, mental disorders, and cultural differences. Crisp provides several more appropriate options for measuring intelligence.

Dykeman, Buce F. (2006). Alternative Strategies in Assessing Special Education Needs. Education, 127.2, 265-273.

Dykeman states that Response to Intervention relies on standardized, norm-referenced assessment to determine special education needs of students with disabilities. Dykeman argues that functional assessment, authentic assessment, curriculum-based measurement, and play-based assessment should be used within the RTI model, but psychometric issues of reliability, validity, and fairness have become issues when determining the needs of students. Dykeman explains how students with disabilities are assessed and outlines the guidelines of diagnosis according to IDEIA 2004. However, Dykeman argues that IDEIA 2004 does not tell how assessments and evaluations are to be conducted. Dykeman argues, as does Crisp, that standardized, norm-referenced tests cannot always be indicative of the cognitive abilities of students with disabilities. Therefore, Dykeman suggests the use of the alternative assessments he discusses, which the language of IDEIA does encourage. Dykeman suggests more evidence based assessments be used that address the individual needs of students in order to allow fairness while determining special education needs.

Roach, Andrew T. (2006). Influences on Parent Perceptions of an Alternate Assessment for Students with Severe Cognitive Disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31.3, 267-274.

Roach states the purpose of his research was to “understand the variables that influence parents’ perceptions of the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment.” The study included special educators in both elementary and secondary systems across the state of Wisconsin. The sample of students included was representative of the gender population and grade levels in which the study was done in Wisconsin. Demographics on parents were not gathered, but parents were given pencil and paper rating scale surveys to ascertain their understanding of the WAA. The findings show that parents were positive about the WAA process, supportive participation of all students, and pleased with the alignment of the WAA to Wisconsin’s academic standards. Roach also found that student age was directly correlated to parent’s perceptions of the WAA. Parents with older students were less likely to be satisfied with the WAA, which mirrors parents’ perceptions of inclusion. Furthermore, Roach found that parents were confident in the WAA results, and those parents who were more involved with their students education were more satisfied with the outcome. Therefore, Roach suggests that resources, support, training, and support materials be provided to facilitate parent understanding of the WAA.

Vacca, John J. (2007). Incorporating Interests and Structure to Improve Participation of a Child with Autism in a Standardized Assessment: A Case Study Analysis. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22.1, 51-59.

Vacca, an assistant professor of Individual and Family Studies at the University of Delaware, states that research indicates standardized assessments fail to predict concrete suggestions on supporting students with autism and fail to offer insight as to how behaviors of these children will be manifested in multiple environments. Vacca also points out that some attempts to assess children with autism by using standardized testing is unsuccessful, so researchers are looking at alternative assessments, which include interest areas to provide supports and instructional strategies for students with autism. Vacca accommodated the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition by using interest areas to assess the developmental level of a child with autism, who was once deemed untestable. Vacca found that the use of the interests particular to the child helped the child complete the BSID II. Therefore, Vacca recommends that assessments for children with autism be accommodated by using the child’s interest area.
“A worried mother does better research than the FBI.”
~ Anonymous

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jimmy: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


The purpose of the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) video is to bring awareness about the disorder and to give a voice to people who live with the disorder as well as their families.

Essential Points

Inattention. Jimmy drifts off during conversations. He said it is like “I go back in my mind.” He also tells the interviewer drifting off happens a lot in school. Later in the interview, Jimmy did not immediately answer the interviewer. Jimmy told her that his mind “went” and a “cartoon just popped in” his head.

Impulse Control Difficulties. When the interviewer asked Jimmy if he moves around a lot, he told her that he does not. His mother laughed a little after he said it. From the start of the interview until this point, Jimmy was in constant motion. He could not sit still. His actual behavior compared to his own idea of his behavior was significantly different. He does not realize that he is in constant motion. When asked about his restlessness, Jimmy does say that it is worse when he has to sit still.

Affects of ADHD on Education. With Jimmy, he does well in school if he is on his medications. However, it is very difficult for Jimmy to get on a routine and schedule. Though he is disorganized, Jimmy has a good memory while he is paying attention. Jimmy does well with math facts and bulleted lists. Jimmy’s mother said that the increased ticks, which are the side effects of the medication, is a good trade-off for his homework being easier. However, Jimmy does admit that he looses things often, but he also eventually finds them. He also says that sometimes he leaves things at school that is supposed to come home, such as homework. Jimmy also said that it is difficult for him to transition from one activity to another. He told the interviewer that it is difficult to do large projects, and writing is the hardest part of going to school. According to Jimmy, copying information goes pretty fast, but writing takes a long time if it is his own ideas. His mother said with the help of an occupational therapist, Jimmy’s handwriting went from being illegible to legible.

Social Implications. Jimmy admits to having problems with his social skills. He tells the interviewer that he often cuts into conversations; interrupts people when they are talking, and speaks so fast people do not understand him. Jimmy does say that he can slow down his speech when the fast pace is brought to his attention. He says that he often becomes obsessed with things, such as Lego’s. Jimmy states that his friends let him know when he is becoming obsessed, and they let him know he needs to do what they want to do as well. Jimmy told the interviewer that he has told his closest friends that he has ADHD, and they understand why he acts as he does.

Affects of ADHD on the Family. In the video, Jimmy relies on his mom quite a bit. She often answers for him, or repeats the question if he does not understand it. She gives him cues to quit fidgeting, such as a light touches on his arm. Because Jimmy is so disorganized, he depends on his mother to keep up with his things. She prepares his backpack for school the next day. She tells the interviewer that Jimmy is forgetful, but he is also easily directed. He and his mother have to work together. She tells the interviewer that having a name helps a bit, but she does not want it to be used as an excuse for his behavior. She says that he has no problem sleeping, but she is concerned about his decrease in appetite, which is another side effect of the medication. Jimmy’s mother says he does not eat lunch. Therefore, she has asked him to at least drink milk at school, and she makes him a large breakfast. Another concern she has is having Jimmy on medication. She said she does not want to have him on medications, but she knows it helps him to learn skills he needs for the future. Jimmy’s mother also states that they have to work as a team, and they have found a balance. The interview closes with us learning that Jimmy’s ADHD is not only exhausting for Jimmy, but it is exhausting for his mother as well.

Application of the Essential Points

I feel this video will help me to be more considerate to the needs of my students with ADHD. Because of this video, I plan to study a bit more on effective redirecting techniques for students with ADHD. Because of my nephew with ADHD, I could relate to Jimmy’s mother. However, I never realized how much Zachary could and could not control until I watched this video. Now, I know that Zachary is not just ignoring me. He is most possibly drifting off because the activity we are involved in is not stimulating enough. Therefore, I will have to find ways to keep my students with ADHD, like Zachary, from not blanking out in the classroom. Now that I have heard from Jimmy that sitting still for long periods of time, I plan to find ways to get the students up and moving in the classroom to try to keep them focused.

Personal Reaction

I liked this video, because showed me a picture of how ADHD looks. It was rather interesting that Jimmy said that he does not move around a lot, and as he said that, he was fidgety. I feel it is important that the educator should know what ADHD looks like. Many students with ADHD are like Jimmy. Many of them do not realize that they are fidgety, talking too fast, or not paying attention. I found myself a bit concerned about Jimmy’s dependence on his mother. I feel he could benefit from self-organization techniques, such as assignment sheets.
“A child with autism sees things differently than we do. Perceives things in a different light. Can perceive things in ways we could never imagine.”
~ Anonymous