I've posted before that the bigwigs in my district are really pushing a "co-teaching" model even though we don't have near enough staff to do it (I work with 12 different gen ed teachers). We went to a metro area training the other day and the presenter was talking about how important it is for struggling readers to get an extra 30 minutes of intervention in addition to core instruction every day. I asked my director how we were going to do both that and co-teaching. She said that "her vision" is to have us doing just those 30 minute intervention blocks for our grade levels (4, for me) and then spending the rest of our day co-teaching. I asked how we were possibly going to meet hours that way- it's not logistically possible! She explained that we're moving in a direction where "IEP services" can really be met by anyone, including other specialists and gen ed teachers. For example, if the child's IEP says they get a daily 30 minute reading intervention group, they could be in the title 1 group, the EL group, or even a group with a classroom teacher instead of my group. Her plan for math is to have a "really strong gen ed teacher" doing those services (currently, no one but SPED does math interventions). So instead of getting math services with me, the child's IEP could say that their classroom teacher will do a daily small group/reteach with them or even that they'll go into another classroom teacher's room for re-teaching during math time and this would count as "services." Any "co-teaching" from us will be during the core reading block.
I think the rest of our staff is going to be LIVID about this. Although this notion is sometimes misguided, they fight for kids to get IEPs so they can get "extra help." Frankly, if I were the classroom teacher (I have taught gen ed) and I went through all the RtI hoops to get an IEP only to be told that the IEP is basically documentation of the small groups I already do in my room, I'd be pretty irritated. Our title 1 teacher is also often usually pushing for the lowest kids to get IEP services...I don't think she's going to be happy that the "IEP services" could be the same group they've been getting all along with her. When I was talking about this in team meeting today, the rest of my team thought I was totally nuts. They said I wasn't "giving the teachers enough credit" and that they'd be happy that the child got the IEP for documentation purposes and that the IEP has "always been a plan for what everyone will do for the child, not just SPED teachers." I think they're being really na´ve. What do you think?
BTW- We're not allowed to modify tests/grades/assignments for anyone, so getting an IEP is no help there. Accommodations (even for state tests) can also be given to any student regardless of if they have an IEP or not. So really, IMO the only "big benefit" to getting an IEP over an RtI plan currently is getting the actual services.
We definitely do a lot of RtI, but the difference now is that when a student gets an IEP they get added services with me as the sped teacher. In rare cases the title teacher continues to see them, but they then also get a group with me. In most cases other interventionists like title or EL are no longer responsible once the kid gets an IEP. With this new plan, the child could get an IEP but not end up working directly with me at all, meaning the IEP is basically just added paperwork describing the RtI services that were already happening.
Yep, we are still supposed to be in charge of IEPs, testing, other paperwork, and meetings. At this training, the guy kept making the point that "learning specialists" (the word some people use for sped teachers in my area) are not "curriculum specialists." We're supposed to be in charge of the IEP stuff like accommodations,modifications, paperwork, testing, meetings and helping with differentiation while gen ed teachers are supposed to be doing remedial instruction, according to this guru. I can see how that case could be made in high school where the sped teacher isn't also certified in the content area, but it's pretty insulting to imply that I'm not capable of teaching K-3 content, IMO.
We also currently don't have any staff outside of sped who provide math interventions, so under this model I would put something like 2 hours per week of "specialized instruction" on the IEPs for math like always, but the "specialized instruction" would be their gen ed teacher doing a small group with them in class. If we go through with doing this, we'll basically have nothing to do with math other than writing the goals into IEPs.
I didn't even think of them using this as a reason to cut SPED staff, but that totally makes sense! I currently have a caseload of almost 30, but when I first started working here I was the only SPED teacher and had close to 50 kids. The one thing I kind of liked about that was that there was no feasible way they could make me do push-in instead, since I had 7 grade levels. If we can say the gen ed teachers are doing services, that wouldn't really be the case.
I will absolutely ask to see a nearby district that is doing this model. Great suggestion! Perhaps we can observe and talk to those teachers?
It doesn't help that the other SPED teacher thinks this all sounds great and is super vocal about how awesome it is. She doesn't really have a teaching background and is really strong in collaboration but weak in instruction/interventions, so this is perfect for her. There are rumors that we're getting a second title 1 position for next year (they cut a position last year to hire a THIRD counselor and rumor is new P will reverse this)- if that ends up being true, I'm strongly considering applying for it. My P knows I'm a great interventionist and I'm certain she'd back me up (and I have told her repeatedly that I will NOT stay in a position that is not instructional). Unfortunately the new P is in charge of all new hiring, so I'm not sure how good my chances would be. I really don't want to be any part of this nonsense in the SPED department.
Unfortunately, I've seen it done this way in other places (including schools in which I've worked), as long as the sped teacher is officially "overseeing" the process (which really means they write the goals and ask the other teachers for data so they can write out progress reports). Maybe the other teachers will push back enough that it won't go through? We can hope, right?
I'm not sure pushback from the teachers will make a difference. Even if we suddenly start to have a high turnover rate, I could totally see my district admin saying, "That's fine, those teachers weren't dedicated enough anyway." I certainly do hope I'm wrong though! I wish I could get a feel for now the new P feels about all of this before next school year. I also just found out today that our AP also got non-renewed, so I really won't have anyone backing me up!
As a classroom teacher, if I am going to be legally responsible for providing all services to a student with an IEP, what would be my reasoning to get that child tested so they could receive an IEP? In our district, it is a lot of paperwork and time on the part of the classroom teacher to get a student services. If I am going to provide that service, what incentive do I have to get it done? I might as well do what I can do and skip the paperwork.
They have cut down tremendously on students that can qualify for services in our district, even though they claim they haven't. So, if I have a struggling kid and I can keep them making progress, however small, I don't take them through the process. It is a waste of my time and the families' time. I (we - teachers at my school) only take students that are significantly struggling through. Sad to say because I think some of these kids really just need the smaller class size/additional attention in order to make gains...
If I were a sped teacher in your district, I would look for another job. What they are doing (and what it looks like is happening from the federal level) is looking to get rid of sped services. What is the purpose of having an IEP? I do see that you have title services to help out. We have nothing. No other resource. No reading interventionalist. No title services. It is only the reg and sped teachers.
So as a sped parent what I am hearing is that identified students will no longer be given specialized instructing by those with specialized training and education in meeting the needs of disabled students. They will be getting the same education as Gen Ed students without disabilities and nothing targeted or individualized (small group remediation lessons with the Gen Ed teacher and other Gen Ed students is not individualized, does not use the students individual learning abilities in a strengths based approach, and does not sound like it meets the criteria set forth in IDEA). So what you might you might be hearing from me and many parents like me is "hello, I'd like to introduce you to my lawyer/advocate".
Your district may not care if they get push back from teachers but how do you think they will feel about litigation and public notoriety.
I could definitely see this as a way to get rid of SPED services, even at the federal level. I could completely see it getting to the point where they're able to claim that IEPs are "discriminatory" or something like that and that all students should be general education students. This is the language I hear a lot when we're talking about pulling kids out (to actually provide real sped services) vs. pushing in (which IMO, is in no way "specialized instruction"). People say it's "discriminatory" that kids are being pulled out of gen ed.
We'll be writing the changes into the IEPs, so I'm sure it's not illegal. I actually see most of our parents being pleased with this set up. It seems that many parents grew up in an era where there was a much bigger stigma with being in a resource type class. They don't want their kids to look different or to have to leave their gen ed room. I usually spend a large chunk of time in initial meetings convincing parents that it's not like that anymore. Kids leave the room for many reasons and I typically have gen ed kids begging to come too.
I did talk to my current P about this today. I asked her for a letter of rec "just in case" since she's leaving at the end of the school year. I'm kind of "casually" looking for a new position to see if there is anything I really want to apply for. Unfortunately, I think the change to push-in/"co-teaching" is happening everywhere. I've thought about trying to switch to title 1 (ironically, they seem to always be doing actual interventions), but funding has already been cut for that in my state and I'm afraid even if I did find a position this year it would be cut next year. My P told me that she's talked to the new P about this and she's in total agreement with the way we (current P and I) see things. That was great to hear, but I'm not sure how much control the new P will have if the district is really pushing this model.