Critical Needs Elementary

Theme - Recognition, Intervention, and Adjustments

Best Practices

  • Students’ identified needs are addressed by teacher or specialist, regardless of formal classification.
  • Positive reinforcement and intervention is the dominant approach for both academics and behavior.

While continuing to monitor and fulfill the requirements of classified students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs), both regular education teachers and specialists focus on students’ needs and address them without regard for classification. Extra time or services with the appropriate professional are provided. Efforts to avoid special education classification include Response to Intervention approaches to instruction as well as Instructional Support Teams where teachers can address concerns about students. Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems (PBIS) are also in place and often include commendations and rewards for expected behavior. These plans put the onus on all faculty and staff to nurture a safe and productive learning environment.

Some differences between higher- and average-performing schools

Teachers and administrators in the higher-performing schools approach interventions consistently and with a sense of shared responsibility. Teachers and specialists, including special educators and ESL teachers, monitor individual student progress and someone quickly intervenes when a student has missed something essential. In coteaching classrooms, both teachers are the teachers of all the students, regardless of classification.

Average-performing schools have not yet as fully developed an approach to Response to Intervention and the structures that allow the higher performers to catch and prevent problems before remediation – or classification for special education – is required. Educators in the average performers are in the process of putting such systems in place, hampered by dwindling resources and without a highly collaborative foundation to give such systems momentum.

Selected Evidence

Each school has developed a process for providing AIS and/or RTI to catch and address needs as soon as possible. Centennial Avenue's AIS Plan includes a flow chart and suggested timeline. Pine Bush provides a screening tool for literacy and mathematics to guide teachers in determining the level of AIS a student requires. Teachers in School 19 took district guidelines and "made them their own." These are contained in their Policies and Procedures for RTI.

Examples of tools to encourage and reward positive behavior - and deal with shortfalls when necessary - come from Forest Road and School 19. In Forest Road's Star Program any teacher can give any student a star for positive behavior; recognition comes in public announcements from the principal's office. Difficulties are reported on a Student Behavior Form. School 19 teachers developed CTLS (think Caring, Totaly prepared, Learn safely, make Smart choices) guidelines for behavior in each school setting, as well as a standard form to report problems.

In Pakanasink, colorful posters remind students of the Pakanacitizen rules.

To reinforce positive behavior and communicate with parents, Utica publishes a newsletter, The Express, whose January 2011 issue reported on proper cafeteria behavior at MLK. And a newsletter from Davison Avenue tells of efforts to promote multicultural knowledge and understanding.