Forum Replies Created
I appreciated reading your response. I think you defined patterns of quality especially well. I also noted that patterns of latency are very frequently culturally influenced and not necessarily indicative of any sort of disability. I also completely related to the pattern of latency in your own learning, as I listed the same pattern n my learning. I think we must have similar personality types! I also liked and agree with your comment (in your response to dawn) that “it is very important to learn about our own learning styles, strengths and weaknesses. It helps us understand our students better and relate to their struggles.” I wholeheartedly agree and can give an example of this. Due to difficulty with rote memorization of multiplication facts, holes in my learning due to limited exposure, and difficulty with demonstrating knowledge through timed tests, (As I said in part II, I work methodically.) I struggled with math through much of elementary and middle school. I don’t know if I suddenly hit a developmental milestone in the 9th grade, or if I had just gained the adaptive skills to perform to the expectations given my strengths and weaknesses, but that year everything changed. I suddenly “got it” and math was never a limitation again. It is now one of my favorite subjects to teach! I feel that this experience has given me empathy for my students, impacted my teaching and assessment strategies and the way that I think about math education. It helped me see the importance of having a strong foundational base of knowledge but not limiting a student’s exposure to higher-level information. It has impacted the way that I think about least restrictive environments and accommodations and helped me to see the big picture with regard to special education. When I was younger, I think that learning disabilities often went undiagnosed, whereas today, we are often over-identifying students. I often wonder if I would have identified with a math disability if our current model had been around when I was growing up and I am so thankful that I never was. Sure, I may have had to work hard, but working hard is not always a bad thing. And rather than limit me, I feel that my experiences have made me stronger and given me more compassion for others. Had I been identified, I think it would have created more long-term harm than benefit because it would have impacted my sense of self-worth. This is why I never like to rush in to identifying students until the data shows proof that the need is truly “IEP worthy”- that an IEP will be beneficial to the student in the long term.
Part I: Comments Regarding Types of Patterns
Patterns of Quality
Quality is defined as a demonstration of a concept or skill in a way that, while allowing the child to accomplish a desired task, is done in such a way that it may hinder understanding of others, the accuracy of the performance, and/or may get in the way. Examples of quality include, issues around intelligibility, application of too much or not enough force, moving too quickly or too slowly, talking too loudly or softly etc. Patterns of quality don’t automatically suggest a concern; rather, they are an important consideration if they are interfering with interactions, physical health, and/or acquisition of future concepts and skills.
To me, detecting a concern with a pattern of quality means that the student can perhaps perform the task, but not to the degree that is required for mastery. Because the skill is not truly mastered (or maybe mastered incorrectly) it will limit the student’s acquisition of later skills that are built upon this skill. For example, a student who struggles with social skills and peer interactions may learn to converse with others. They may make eye-to-eye contact and go through the motions of holding a back and forth conversation. But if there is a concern in the quality of their conversational skills, they may speak too quickly, too loudly, not with enough intonation, perhaps they perseverate on one topic or struggle to be able to take other people’s perspectives into account. All of these issues reflect concerns with the quality of the student’s social conversational skills and can limit the student’s interactions and participation with others, thus limiting the development of other social skills.
Patterns of Latency
Latency, as it relates to learning or development, is defined as the amount of time it takes for someone to act or “do” after a request or prompt. In other words, how quickly does a child respond? Examples of latency include issues around time to task or verbal responses to questions or prompts, and also include concerns around impulsivity. Patterns of latency may not always be a concern, however they are important to consider if they are negatively impacting learning, development, health, communication, and/or behavior.
Latency is the amount of time that it takes a person to respond to a stimulus. I think that concerns with latency are an area that is highly variable and dependent on many external factors and it can often be difficult to determine whether these concerns stem from a disability or from environmental factors, such as culture.
I tend to be more concerned with a pattern in which the student responds too quickly or impulsively to a demand because it can result in poor quality of work and decreased focus when learning new skills. I am less concerned with a pattern of latency in which the student requires extra time to process and respond to information. With a few exceptions (such as reading fluency- which is important for comprehension), slower response times do not tend to impact the student’s ability to understand information or perform a task well. Furthermore, especially in Alaska, longer response times are often driven by cultural expectations and norms and have no correlation with disability.
Patterns of Assistance
Assistance is when an adult, a peer/sibling, or the environment performs part of the concept or skills under consideration. Assistance alone does not warrant concern or a higher tier of instruction (i.e., assistance might be expected based on what is known about developmental expectations); however, when a pattern of needing assistance (e.g., required under predictable circumstances/situations beyond what would be expected of a novice learner, for the child’s age/present level of ability/developmental readiness, culture, and/or prior exposure) emerges, a concern is noted.
A pattern of assistance could also be thought of as a concerning pattern detected with a student’s independence. This would be when a student cannot (or will not) perform a task (such as eating with a fork, reading, dressing, toileting, transitioning, writing, etc.) independently, though they have been given ample time and scaffolding for it to be reasonable to expected independence with the skill. Detecting this sort of pattern (or any of these patterns) helps the team to focus their attentions on how to collect further data, but detection of the pattern alone does not give a clear indication of why the student is struggling, as the causes can be numerous. For example if the student has difficulties with independent toileting, possible causes are:
Environmental factors: Learned helplessness: the student refuses to wipe independently because they have not been forced to and they don’t want to.
A different rate of development (still within the norm for the student’s age): Student is 3 and just isn’t ready yet.
Developmental delay (Student cannot perform the task because they have not mastered the cognitive skills required to perform the task): Student is 6 and still not ready.
Disability with fine or gross motor skills: student has difficulty with balance or physically getting to/on the toilet in time.
Adaptive skills delay: Student struggles to transition and does not stop playing in time to make it to toilet.
Anxiety or other social/emotional needs: Student cannot perform the task because they have so much internal anxiety that they cannot focus on it or do not want to try it. (ex: Student is overwhelmed by other factors and cannot focus on performing a skill that is not yet automatic; fear of bathroom, toilet or noise that toilet makes; student it the victim of abuse.)
Medical need: Student cannot physically detect the need.
Patterns of Interfering Behaviors
An interfering behavior is one that a child demonstrates instead of the desired or expected concept of skills. Not all interfering behaviors are aggressive or purposeful; however many times they are (e.g., hitting, biting, throwing). At times, behaviors can interfere given that the child (by choice or otherwise) is not able to maintain or establish attention, walks away from interactions or tasks, or even outright refusal to participate. Sometimes these are unconscious (sensory/biological); so this pattern has less to do with challenging behavior and more to do with a barrier to learning.
A pattern of interfering behaviors would be when a student responds to an expectation by performing an alternate activity. For example, a student is expected to clean up, but they keep playing or completely melt down; a student is expected to start reading, but they sharpen pencils, clean their desk, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom- anything so that they don’t have to read; a student is expected to participate in a physical activity, but lacks self-confidence due to poor coordination and decides to sit on the sidelines instead; a student is expected to share a toy, but instead they throw, scream, and bite. Sometimes these alternate behaviors are learned, and thus, within the student’s control and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are due to a disability, and sometimes they are not.
Patterns of Unexpected Performance
Patterns of unexpected performance represent instances where the child’s performance would not have been anticipated or expected according to typical development. For example, a child was demonstrating a later skill before demonstrating an earlier skill, or was emerging across early and later skills simultaneously. This pattern may also represent situations where children have a tendency to demonstrate inconsistent performance, to the extent that they may excel or struggle on the same skill without a clear explanation for the difference in performance.
As I understand it, these are patterns of behavior that simply do not follow the “normal” developmental progression of skill mastery. They may master difficult skills seemingly without being taught. They may master skills in an unexplained or unusual order. Or they may master advanced skills at the same time as the prerequisite skills on which they depend. An example would be a child who learns to walk and crawl at about the same time; a student who learns to write letters and words before learning to draw representational pictures; a student who has ridden a bike for two years, but cannot swing his arms in an alternating pattern while running; a student who is a master at building with tiny Legos, but does not have the fine motor skills to eat with a fork or cut with scissors; a student who very consistently writes and eats with his left hand, but switches to his right when throwing a ball. Though these do not necessarily indicate an “IEP worthy” concern or even a disability, this sort of pattern could cause frustration later in life if prerequisite skills are not mastered by the time that the student is expected or wants to perform higher-level tasks. I do not see this pattern as frequently as any of the others. Interestingly, all of the examples that I gave were observed in the same student.
Part II: Identified Pattern of My Learning
Patterns of Latency
List Patterns of Latency: The pattern of latency that I can identify in myself is the fact that I tend to be relatively slow and deliberate in what I do. I think I read and comprehend text just a little bit slower than many- especially if the subject is unfamiliar or uninteresting. I eat slowly. I complete work tasks, schoolwork, and produce artwork methodically. I think before I speak or act. I have never been highly impulsive and I find that rushing often produces unnecessary errors. However, I don’t feel I have never been slow to a degree that could be considered a hindrance or a disability and I think that it is just a personality trait. This trait has some benefits as well: I am a detail-oriented person. I value quality over quantity and I never like to attach my name to a piece of work that I feel is shoddy. I tend to be patient and a good listener. Thinking before I speak and act reduces the number of poor or dangerous decisions that I have made (even as a teenager) and it helps maintain positive social relationships. To account for this trait, I just know that I need to allow enough time to complete tasks because when I procrastinate (an interfering behavior that I admit that I do) the resulting “all-nighters” can be exhausting.
I really appreciated reading your response- especially to the first and second questions. You provided a great example of how student’s needs are ever changing and may require a great deal of intervention even though the cause maybe an external factor and not a disability. I liked your comment, “All children will demonstrate needs at all Tiers from time to time, because they are complex, growing, changing, developing beings.” And your reminder that, though perhaps “He just doesn’t get it,” it is important to go back to the data to examine the possible causes and patterns.
Are all Tier 3 needs IEP worthy?
No- I do not feel that all tier 3 needs are IEP worthy. A Tier 3 need may only be a concern because the child is missing a prerequisite or foundational skill. That may be due to a disability, but it also may be due to a lack of exposure or a lack of quality education and scaffolding for the skill. Tier 3 needs will require interventions and teaching of specific skills, but when that is provided, if the student responds quickly, then it would indicate that the need is not the result of a disability, and thus, not “IEP worthy.” It is impossible to tell if the need is “IEP worthy” until interventions are tried.
How would you define “the messy middle”?
“The messy middle” as I understand it refers to a situation where a student is struggling, but teachers have not yet identified the cause of the struggle or what can be done to address it. This is the intervention stage where data is being gathered and discussed and a first intervention strategy might be attempted and the results evaluated. After this stage, a team will have more valuable data that can be used to determine possible causes of the student’s struggles and revise the intervention plan or move forward with an IEP referral.
Can a Tier 2 (targeted) need be IEP worthy?
It depends on whether the need is the result of an identified disability or not. By definition of tier 2 (intervention for students whose learning has stalled in an area), the student should respond positively to general education interventions at a tier 2 level. Though a student could qualify for special education services due to a need at this level, it doesn’t mean that they should. I would almost never want to label a student with an IEP if their needs could be met without it. That said, if a student already qualifies for an IEP (for example through OHI), and they are struggling with a tier 2 skill as a result of that disability that limits their participation in the general education setting, then I would consider the need to be “IEP worthy.”
In what way can a child who is eligible for special education have Tier 1 needs?
Any child can have tier 1 needs, whether they have an IEP or not. For example, children who qualify for special education services in reading may have needs in math that can be met through tier 1 interventions rather than be added to the IEP. Another example might be a student who receives special education services for speech articulation, might also struggle with expressive language and vocabulary usage- but this need may be due to lack of exposure rather than a disability. In this case, the student may receive tier 1 interventions to address some needs and special education services to address others. If student needs can be met through tier 1 interventions, then the need is probably not due to the disability itself. However, I do not think that a student who only has tier 1 needs would be eligible for an IEP.
I appreciated reading you response. I too need to remind myself and other staff members to slow down and teach one skill at a time. Your response provides many good, and specific, examples of ways that these learning progressions are applied every day in the school setting. I think the Zig Zag Process printable will be a good tool to use at our RTI intervention meetings to help remind us to do that. I hope it will also be useful in driving discussions, focusing our attention, and brainstorming intervention strategies.
As for your RTI program, I think you are right that it takes support from the admin to get a good program up and running. In my district, I found that though most teachers were on board with the program early on, there were a few more senior teachers who were a bit resistant (It’s that whole preferred/unpreferred and familiar/unfamiliar thing, right?) to the change. But with strong leadership driving the change, after a year or two the benefits of the program became obvious and not all teachers are on board.
Thankfully, I am a part of a district that places high emphasis on early intervention and has a process in place to identify struggling students and provide interventions before the special education referral process is even considered. If a student is struggling, teachers work together to develop and implement an intervention plan (not an IEP) to address those needs. (Through in-class intervention plans as well as a “Kindergarten Call-Back” program.) If that intervention plan is not successful in closing the gap in skills after a significant implementation time (usually most of a school year, if not longer), only then can the student be considered for a special education referral. This not only greatly reduces the number of DNQ referrals that are made, but also reduces the number of over-identified students who might otherwise receive an IEP (and the sometimes difficult label that goes along with that) due to the lack of a way to provide for the needs of the student. If the student does not qualify for special education services, then supports are discussed at the eligibility meeting. Often, the student continues within the existing intervention plan. Sometimes parents seek community-based resources so that the student’s needs can be addressed in multiple settings, not just at school. Current district policy, not only allows, but requires that I work with all students and teachers. We are a team.
I see most of these learning progressions every day because I spend a portion of my day with pre-K and K children. These students range from young 3-year olds to nearly 7-year olds and they are often in the same setting together. This age span encompasses a large range of developmental abilities and readiness to perform to the expectations. Many 3-year olds are simply not ready for complex, multi-step, abstract expectations and require more scaffolding, supports, and patience to be able to perform the tasks that the 6-year olds are accomplishing. Thankfully, all of the adult teachers in the rooms are very aware of this and understand the learning progressions. We continuously scaffold and work towards the skills on the right side of the chart, but in a nurturing way that accounts for differences and allows the children to develop each skill at their own pace. I think that the greater challenge arises for the students who go to Kindergarten for a portion of their day, where they are only interacting with other 5 and 6 year olds. In that setting, the expectations are higher for all children to perform to more of the skills on the right side of the continuum. Though I am not in this setting on a regular basis, when concerns arise and there are considerations for interventions and/or referrals for IEPs, it will be helpful to have the learning progression handout to use as a talking point and a tool to help with the decision making process.
I like the image of a picture painted with words! I agree that parents are integral parts of the team, but that it takes all of the team members’ input to paint the detailed, accurate snapshot that you described. I agree and also mentioned that the youngest students tend to have more decisions made for them, but that it is important that the team not loose sight of the what matters and to advocate for the student’s best interests. I also appreciated your description of the ABC formula and the way that you explained the meaning of each step and gave examples.
When I think of a PLAAFP, what criteria really matters in determining an IEP goal?
To be an IEP goal, must to be tied to an area of need in which the student qualifies for special education services. (For example, the team should not add a writing goal if the student only qualifies for services in the area of math.) To determine what type of goal should be written within that category, it is important to discuss and consider the student’s current abilities and weaknesses and determine what would be the most beneficial skill(s) for the student to master at this point in time- what skills would allow student to participate and get the most out of their school and every-day life experiences.
In what was can and should family’s priorities and concerns be a component of that criteria?
Families concerns and priorities should be an integral part of the IEP and should be addressed and incorporated as much as possible. Families know their children best and their priorities often reflect what will impact the students the most in their every-day life. And, in the end, school is just a place to learn what we need to know for every-day life. That being said, parents don’t always know or understand the progression of learning and the prerequisite skills that a student needs to master before they can fully master more advanced skills. It is important to work closely with the family so that they understand the steps needed to achieve their ultimate, end goals.
To what extent should we consider a child’s perspective as part of that criteria of “what matters”?
I think this depends on the age of the child. With the youngest children, this would come from observations of what the child can do, what they struggle with, their responses to the demands and their environment, and their interests. This would provide important information to help the team know what to focus on and the most effective way to implement it. Older children can offer insight as to what they feel is the most important or what they would like to be able to do to feel happier. They may choose avoidance of difficult tasks rather than to focus on the skills that we, as professionals, know that they need. But their perspectives on how they differ from their peers and what would make them happiest can provide valuable insight to focus the team’s decisions. High school age students can and should be an active part of their IEP teams, with their insights and perspectives being just as valuable as that of their parents.
How does the ABC formula help us in getting to the bottom of what may be IEP worthy and ultimately, “what matters”?
The ABC formula mainly helps determine “what matters” because it ensures that we pause and put focused attention on what desired outcome, how the student will demonstrate that they can do it, and where it will happen. Considering these things when writing a goal helps to ensure that the resulting goals “matter.” When goals “matter,” they can facilitate participation in activities; allowing students to access information and generally reducing the long-term, negative impact of the disability on the student’s daily life.
I too appreciated that you included background information as it gave your rationales more context. If I had thought to do that, I think it would have made them a bit easier and given them more meaning. As it was, I struggled a bit with some of my explanations as to why I categorized them the way that I did. I also appreciated reading your goals/examples, as I would not have thought to classify some of them as you did. I might have put asking for help under independence rather than latency- but your explanation made a lot of sense. It’s interesting to hear and consider a completely different take on it.
As I thought of these examples, it became apparent that several of my examples have aspects of more than one dimension. Some are written as goals, but not all, as they are not all phrased in a way that would be easy to measure.
Student will demonstrate an increase in self-regulation by reducing the number of blurts to 2 or fewer per 60-minute class period.
In this case, I am not measuring any of the other dimensions (accuracy, latency, duration, endurance, or intensity.) The student is expected to do this independently and without prompting from an adult so I feel that frequency is the best way to measure an increase in the still.
Student demonstrates understanding of 1-to-1 correspondence by counting 10 consecutive objects in 4 of 5 attempts.
The important part of this goal is that the student understands enough to be able to demonstrate 1-to-1 correspondence accurately. I am not interested in how often they do it (frequency), how long it takes to complete the task (duration) or get started (latency), or whether the student needed prompts to get started (independence.) I only care about whether the student understands the concepts well enough to complete that task.
Student demonstrates an increase in social skills by responding to others’ greetings (eye contact & nod, hand wave, verbal greeting, response to teacher’s greeting, etc.) within an appropriate/socially acceptable amount of time.
This student frequently takes so long to acknowledge other people (if he does at all) that others often loose interest in the interaction or feel so awkward that they are less likely to engage this student in the future. None of the other dimensions really apply or could measure situation because the skill being measured is the student’s response time.
Student participates in the activity and remains on-task for 15-minute intervals within the general education classroom setting and with no redirections.
The intent of the goal is simply for the student to be able to maintain focus and self-regulate for long enough to be able to participate in classroom activities. Thus the length of time is important. Frequency, accuracy, latency, and intensity do not apply to this situation. Endurance seems closely related. However the length of time that the student participates is the important part, rather than demonstrating the repetition of skills. For example: the activity could be listening to a book as it is read. There is an aspect of independence in this goal because the student is expected to maintain focus independently- without redirections. However, the focus of the goal is for the student to maintain for a length of time so that they can take in information.
In order to complete her daily “job,” student will use her white cane to walk/navigate from one end of the building to the other without sitting at any resting spots along the way.
This student frequently becomes fatigued and, once sitting down, is extremely unmotivated to rise again to complete the task. The “job” often gets abandoned for the day. In this case, I do not care how well the cane is being used (accuracy) or how long it takes (duration), just that the student persists with the activity until it’s done. There is no latency to measure and, until the student can complete this with support, we are not focused on independence.
Student will demonstrate an increase in self-regulation by controlling the volume of his voice when transitioning between tasks and settings, requiring no more than 1 verbal prompt/reminder per day to “use your inside voice” for 5 consecutive days.
I have not written many goals for intensity. This one is appropriate because the skill being measured is control over the intensity of voice, though frequency (# times per day) and independence (# of verbal prompts required) are also necessary in order to make the goal measurable and to measure the reduction in intensity. The other dimensions (latency, accuracy, duration, and endurance) are not applicable to this goal as I am only focusing on the volume of the student’s voice because it is that aspect that makes it disruptive and socially unacceptable to others. With a different student, duration might be something to measure, but once conscious of the behavior, this student responds and lowers his voice immediately.
Goal: Student signs her name independently in 4 of 5 attempts.
Student signs her name with hand-over-hand assistance and use of her guiding tool in 4 of 5 attempts.
Student signs her name with use of her guiding tool in 4 of 5 attempts.
Student signs her name independently in 4 of 5 attempts.
**The guiding tool is a wood stencil with the student’s legal signature (2 connected letters) carved into it to guide the writing utensil.
Again, for this task, I do not care how long it takes the student to get started (latency) or to complete the task (duration.) I am not measuring how well the letters are formed (accuracy) or how often they perform the task (frequency.) And it is not a long activity, and so, does not require endurance. I just want to know that, when it comes time to sign her name on a document, the student can independently go through the motions and produce something semi-legible and legal.
Determining when to gather qualitative or quantitative data depends on how the goal is written.
It would be appropriate to gather qualitative data for goals such as speech articulation (where the observer determines intelligibility), or for behavior goals where the expectation might be remain with the group and participate in a socially acceptable manner throughout its duration of an activity, to regain composure within a reasonable amount of time, or to perform a task with a determined level of independence. I prefer to use qualitative data when some measure of the expected behavior is variable or dependent on another factor, or if the skills measured are somewhat subjective (though they may be easily defined/recognized by team members) but documented by a single observer. I tend to gather qualitative data more frequently for younger children when the goals are more often written for functional skills.
I often find it more effective to monitor progress towards specific academic skills using quantitative data. For example when working towards reading fluency, progress can be monitored using a simple measure of words read per minute.
I have found that quantitative data can also be used to measure more subjective skills. But to make this effective, an appropriate monitoring tool must be developed that defines and rates each level of skill development. For example, if the goal is to reduce the number and intensity of meltdowns, I would create a data tool that included a rating scale. (For example: 0= no disruption, student participated appropriately; 1=minor disruption but student regained control within 2-3 minutes and participated in activity; 3= student melted down and needed to be removed from setting, regained control and resumed activity within 10 minutes; etc.) I find that this can be the most effective way to measure progress if the data is subjective and the student works with multiple paraprofessionals throughout the day. The data-tracking tool can easily be handed off between adults, it helps to keep everyone on the same page, and it results in a more reliable measure of progress.
I agree with you that qualitative and quantitative data are equally acceptable, but I also find myself using quantitative data more frequently for the same reasons that you mentioned. You have a clear distinction between your qualitative and quantitative goals. Though I did not actually provide sample goals, I feel that yours encompass much of what I discussed the examples that I discussed.
I understand and can completely relate to your situation. It sounds very much like the system (or lack thereof) that we had in my last district until the RTI process became established. I agree that the more experienced teachers wrote the least complete referrals in the past, mostly because the process was just new to them. Once our RTI process was implemented for a year or two, I think pretty much all of the teachers got on board with it. Our referrals are much more complete, they feel more appropriate, and a higher percentage of the students who are referred end up qualifying for sped services.
Though we have not formally written out these steps as defined here, I feel that we pretty much do follow the DDDM process. Different team members are responsible for different pieces, depending on where the student is in the RTI, Eligibility, or IEP process.
Since the RTI process was implemented in out district nearly 10 years ago, all kids are being screened at least three times per year using a norm-referenced informal assessment. There is a sped staff member who is responsible for administering this assessment. It is now computer-based so the data is automatically recorded. In addition, the general education teachers are continually gathering and recording anecdotal and other formative assessment data. The general ed, special ed, specialists, and at least one admin member meet bi-weekly to summarize, analyze, and interpret each student’s data and determine whether further early interventions are appropriate through the RTI process and, if so, develop a plan to implement. Because this takes time and the team is also reviewing/revising existing RTI intervention plans at this time, each student is not discussed at each meeting, but they are always discussed at least 3-4 times per school year, and more frequently if they have an active RTI education plan. Progress/concerns are documented of a form that was created for this purpose. Students are not referred for special education until they have had a plan within this system for an appropriate amount of time (usually at least half of a school year) and everything tried is not having a significant impact. Students who have IEPs are not usually discussed at these meetings because they are discussed on a regular basis in other settings (see Planning/Revising/Program Evaluation section below.) In my first two years with the district, this process did not really exist. But in the last 8-10 years this process was established (through some great admin leadership) and I now feel that it is a strength for the district.
Generally the special education teacher and other specialists are responsible for gathering the data used for determining eligibility. The special education teacher is responsible for the academic data, the psychologist performs psychological data, OTs, PTs, SLPs, and other specialists each gather their appropriate data. Any one of those people can gather behavioral/social data, depending on how the concern is impacting the student on a day-to-day basis. Each person goes through each of the five steps for their area and compiles the information in a short report. The special education teacher then transfers that information to the eligibility report. When the team meets, all members go through analyzing and interpreting steps together, looking at all of the information, and reach a consensus on a plan for the future.
Planning Instruction/Revising Instruction/Program Evaluation:
These three things are formally done at each IEP or IEP amendment meeting. For these, we use any appropriate information from the eligibility decision (obviously, not all of this data is relevant- and none of it will be if the student’s eligibility was not determined recently) as well as relevant/current RTI data, progress monitoring data, anecdotal information, and other teacher/specialist-collected informal data. Before the IEP meeting, I meet with each general education teacher and specialist who work with the student to discuss progress monitoring results, present levels, and where current needs/concerns lie. In doing this, we informally go through each of the 5 steps. I also have an informal conversation with the parent when scheduling the meeting about what they’re seeing at home, what we’re seeing at school, and any concerns that they may have. Information from these conversations is used to write the drafts of PLAFFP, the goals, and the classroom accommodations. This process takes us through the gathering, documenting, and summarizing steps. At the meeting, when all team members are present, we formally review and discuss all of the information (and revise if needed) and determine goals, educational placement (LRE), classroom accommodations, tools that will be used for progress monitoring, and any other services that are needed. In doing this we are progressing through the analyzing and interpreting steps of the process. In addition to the IEP process, I also meet informally with teachers and specialists on a regular basis (frequency of these meetings is determined during the IEP meeting) to summarize, analyze, and interpret how things are going and whether the current program is working and what tweaks might be done to improve on current practices. I admit that formal documentation of these meetings is a weak point for me.
I think that, generally, we are engaging in the DDDM process continually, but different parts of it are emphasized more (or less) at different stages of planning/development/implementation of education plans. As a team, I think that we have strengths in all of the steps (gathering, documenting, summarizing, analyzing, and interpreting data) as they relate to intervention plans- especially through the initial and re-evaluation processes. I think that we may have a weakness in consciously gathering data about the whole child, looking for strengths as well as weaknesses. When we look at each student’s data, obviously strengths show up and are discussed along with anecdotal information. However, most of the discussion about strengths goes undocumented. I think that this is partly because it is a small community and we all feel that we know one another and each student quite well. Unlike in a larger district, I think that multiple members of the team could speak any individual student’s strengths at any time, so the formal documentation of that tends to go by the wayside. Also, because at the annual IEP level, much of the process falls to the special education teacher, how well these steps are being preformed depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the individual teacher. My weakness is definitely in gathering data each year about the whole child and in the accountability piece. I have always assessed/revised the data gathering tools used for each student’s goals at least once a year. But for some of the more abstract/anecdotal information, I find that having a functional data gathering/documenting tool is crucial, especially when several people are working with the student throughout the day. As mentioned, it is a lot of work to be constantly revising these tools and I’m not sure that they ever end up being just perfect.
I appreciated the way that you explained your train of thought. I agree with you on all accounts and had many similar thoughts (even about that grading system!), though I did not outline them as well. I hadn’t considered that his want to play video games might “morph into a need as it curbs anxiety.” But I can definitely see that it could be the case. I like your team approach to addressing the different factors that are impacting his health and success.