Interventions- At what point do you swtich from remedial instruction to "coping" instruction?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Apr 19, 2016

    My sped team has been discussing this for awhile. I think they were using a better word than "coping" but I can't remember it right now :). Compensatory maybe? Basically, remedial would mean direct, targeted instruction addressing specific skill deficits (like a pull out class focusing on teaching students who are still learning how to read, even in older grades) and the "coping" would be push-in support to help students access the grade level content by accommodating for specific skill deficits and teaching the student to compensate rather than addressing the specific skill deficits themselves. We currently do an all pull-out/remedial approach in elementary and the do an all push-in approach in secondary, with rare exceptions in both cases. The district is pushing a full inclusion approach and apparently our school/principal is the only one pushing back/asking questions. My team seems to be in agreement that the remedial instruction is important for my grade levels (primary) to try and remediate skills before the gap gets too big, and historically I've been successful with teaching kids to read in my pull out classes. However, they also think that the "switch" from remedial instruction to compensatory instruction should happen before middle school (7th grade in my district). The argument is that kids are missing too much content in the upper grades when they attend pull out classes. The thing that no one really knows or can agree on is when the switch in focus should happen. At a specific grade/age? At a specific reading level? What do you think?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Apr 19, 2016

    This is a great question and one that I've always wondered about... I guess it really depends on the individual student more so than a specific grade or age. I would think that sometime around 4th or 5th grade might be appropriate in some cases. However, if a student is receiving remedial services and is making progress, I'd be hesitant to take those services away just because the student entered a different grade-level. I would think it's most appropriate to provide compensatory services whenever a student has stalled in their progress. If the remediation services aren't really making a difference for them, then it's time to switch to compensatory... but, again, this would all be determined by the individual student's progress, not the grade level. The logistical problem here, as we all know, is that scheduling would be a nightmare if we actually had to find a way to have one teacher provide both remediation AND compensatory services to students in the same grade-level as opposed to just saying that grade-level X gets X services and teacher X provides them.
     
  4. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Apr 20, 2016

    By coping, do you mean life skills? Inclusion?

    As always, with a student on an IEP, it would depend on the student. If they are at a point where you are concerned - do an evaluation - they can be done every 12 months (With approval from all parties, of course).
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Apr 20, 2016

    Your question shows an overall problem with the way your school and many schools view special education. The grade the student is in should not dictate the services they receive. I've seen poorly implemented pull-out services in elementary levels also which adheres to the notion that the student is receiving individualized education because that student gets something different than the general ed but fail to recognize that all pull-outs are getting the same thing regardless of their deficit areas. It sounds like a "one size fits all" program based on academic area of disability instead of student needs.

    Once a student gets past the learning to read grades, this issue already exists. When pulling out for remedial reading services during reading block they are already missing the content for that area. What we do see in upper grades is the use of more reading for learning in some subjects and in some schools. The biggest issue I see is the lack of proper accommodations in those courses and the lack of training regarding the use of accommodations such as software to support reading and writing in content areas plus a lack of true teacher support in those content areas. Even when a student does get accommodations such as a reader, it may not be appropriate for that student. Sitting in that content area may not be appropriate for that student at all, especially if both reading skills and listening comprehension skills are low.

    I see this conversation as a signal of an example of special education not considering the individual needs but the ease of implementing a program.
     
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  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 20, 2016

    So I think there are a few different issues being mixed up, to start: Push-in vs Pull-out really doesn't have to do with whether or not you're focused on remediating skill deficits or not. You could remediate in or out of the classroom, and you could provide compensatory/coping support and accommodations in or out of the classroom. The decision of where to provide services is really just about finding the best instructional environment.

    In terms of the remediation vs. accommodation discussion (whether to teach kids skills they lack, or render them moot by changing the instructional environment, teaching coping strategies, or providing them with tools/supports to help them compensate for their difficulty), I don't see a finite line between when one stops and the other starts. Often times you use both.

    For example, a child may really struggle with basic math computation. We may try to remediate those skills in "instructional block 1" for example, but then provide a calculator to accommodate for that difficulty when we start working on geometry during the next instructional block because we don't want the child's deficit in area 1 to prevent learning in area 2.

    From a more philosophical perspective, I don't think it's ever appropriate to completely give up on remediation - I see that as unethical for an educator to make a decision that a child is simply not going to learn a particular skills. However, all of us need to make decisions about how we allocate instructional attention - what we choose to teach, how we teach it, how much time we give certain topics, etc. We may choose to only focus a certain percentage of our time on remediating old skill deficits, and choose to focus a percentage of our time on helping kids access the current general curriculum through accommodation.

    So, even in K we may be providing curricular accommodations during certain instructional blocks. And, even with a 12th grader on a voc ed track, we may still be remediating. We may simply choose to allocate different amounts of time on different skills.

    Here are where I see mistakes commonly being made in this area:
    • We give up on teaching basic skills too early. For example, some choose not to teach phonics to 5th graders.
    • We confuse our instructional target. Using the example above, we may be teaching geometry, but refuse accommodations for basic math computation because we want them to learn those basic math facts. However, basic math computation is not the instructional target. Geometry is. So, render their UNRELATED areas of weakness (i.e., math computation) moot so that kids can focus their attention on the actual instructional objective (e.g., geometry).
    • We think of remediation vs. accommodation as either/or. Either we only remediate, or only accommodate.
    • In early grades, we don't focus enough on providing in-class curricular support - helping kids access what's happening every day in the classroom, and instead only provide support for skill deficits. This comes from good intentions - we want kids to master foundational skills before moving on to subsequent skills. However, many things in education aren't completely linear, and kids completely miss out on what's happening in the classroom because we're only focused on remediation, rather than on providing help understanding the day's lessons.
     
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  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    That totally makes sense, but I don't have any students on my caseload who aren't making progress with remedial instruction. Of course there are some that are not making as much progress as I would like, but I don't have anyone that is just completely stalled. I don't know about every single kid on the intermediate teacher's caseload, but when I taught all of K-6 I didn't have anyone that wasn't progressing. The kids that progress the slowest tend to be the ones I would be most worried about in a full inclusion environment. I'm wondering if we need to (maybe even hypothetically) think about a kid reaching a certain reading level to say that they have enough foundation in basic skills to focus on accessing grade level content with accommodations. For example, we just got a new 5th grader who is reading on a 1st grade level. Although he clearly hasn't made much progress, I don't think we can say a 1st grade reading level is "good enough" to stop trying to teach him how to read (which would have to happen in pull out, because a 5th grade classroom clearly isn't covering that skill at all) and focus on coping skills instead.

    And yes, logistics are a nightmare. We have about 550 kids at my K-6 school, 70 kids in sped, and two sped teachers. If we "clustered" them in order to try to do push-in, at some grade levels that would mean a class that had up to 12 sped students with very little support. Not to mention, you'd have to put the lowest kids that aren't in sped yet in that same class too, because what happens if they get identified in the middle of the year? I have four grade levels, so even if the kids are clustered, that would give me about 75 minutes per day per grade level which is definitely not enough to schedule both push-in and pull-out for reading, writing, and math. Not to mention, if the push-in is going to be any type of "real" co-teaching with me doing something other than walking in and being a para, I'd have to have common planning time with four grade levels on some sort of semi-regular basis, which would involve less direct time with students. I don't see a way to do both for everyone; it would have to be some type of set up where we decide certain grade levels get one type of service and/or I provide one type of service while the other sped teacher provides the other.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I have a hard time picturing quality remedial instruction happening in a push-in setting, maybe because I've just never seen it done well. This is why I'm so partial to pull out. Can you expand on this? Every school I did a practicum/field experience in for my college program (about 12 different schools) was full inclusion, so I've seen it a lot and I've never been impressed. IME, the gen ed teacher is teaching and the sped teacher is essentially being a para. She walks around and keeps kids on task, helps kids who raise their hand, etc. After the whole group lesson, she might sit with a group of kids to help them with whatever the assignment is. IMO, this is accommodating rather than really implementing "specialized instruction." As a requirement for my program, I did a few lessons that were legitimately "team teaching" with the gen ed teacher (both of us having equal roles in delivering the lesson), but we were covering the grade level standard, not providing any sort of remedial instruction.

    My current sped teammate came from a full inclusion school and she said that she would sit with her students at a table in the back while the teacher was delivering the whole group lesson and "modify on the spot." For example, if the teacher was saying something about ratios, she's say, "Okay, here's what you really need to know about rations" and re-explain and give them simpler problems to work on than the problems the whole class was working on. She said she loved it and wants to go back to a similar setup. I can certainly see that it would be more interesting (for the teacher) than being in a para role, but I still don't think it would qualify as remedial instruction because you're still focusing on the grade level standard. I also think it would be horribly embarrassing for the kids at the "special table" and distracting for everyone in the room. Another elementary in my district is doing full inclusion this year, and when we asked about providing remedial instruction they said they sometimes pull the kids to the back of the room to do an intervention lesson. IMO, that's just silly. Basically you're doing the exact same thing you would in pull out, only now you're doing it with less space and in a distracting environment essentially so you can brag to other adults that your students are fully included.

    This is almost word for word what I told my P the other day. To me, it feels like "giving up" on the student improving their reading level (or whatever skill we're working on) to teach them to muddle through the curriculum with adult support instead. I feel like we have pretty much said that if a kid in 5th grade doesn't know phonics, we don't teach it anymore. I also agree with the point about confusing the instructional target. I feel that we have advocated for what you're talking about at my school, but it's extremely hard to get the gen ed teachers on board because they're so worried about state testing (which I totally understand, the pressure is unreal). It totally makes sense to give a kid a calculator if the focus of that particular lesson/content area is not computation, but since that's not an allowable state testing accommodation, they don't want kids to rely on it in class. Same with reading- listening to something being read or being given a lower level passage that addresses the same content makes sense, but these aren't allowed for the state testing. My state has also recently really started focusing on state test scores for students in sped and their position is that there is no excuse for a student with a learning disability to not be passing all state tests. Although I understand on a philosophical level that it's not appropriate to let the state test drive what the kid is getting, when evaluations/teaching licenses/district and school control is tied to test scores, I can certainly empathize with how teachers feel.
     
  9. bros

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    Apr 21, 2016

    Schools that exclusively have the sped teacher assist while the gen ed teacher teachers don't know how to implement inclusion effectively - there are multiple forms of co-teaching - I believe... at least six different types, if I remember my education classes correctly. Teach-Assist is just one of them.
     
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  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Yes, I learned about the six types numerous times in college. I've never seen anything but teach assist happening, and I would guess that's because logistically the other types don't work in most real world situations. Like I said, I did a few team teach lessons and although I enjoyed that a lot more, the lesson was still covering the grade level standard and not whatever remedial skill my kids needed. It also took a significant amount of time to plan team taught lessons. There aren't enough hours in the day for me to plan with four grade levels and teach with four grade levels at the same time. I've never seen parallel teaching but it seems that's what my teammate was doing in her previous school. Like I said before, I think that would be very distracting for everyone in the room and would still be just providing accommodations for the Gen ed lesson, not delivering a remedial lesson. Station teaching makes the most sense to me and is what I would advocate for if I ever have to do push in, but that can obviously only happen during guided or independent work time, not whole group time, which still leaves nothing for the sped teacher to do but watch or be a para during whole group. It also seems silly to me to teach a small group in the room with no space, less access to my materials, and in a distracting environment just so we can say the lesson is happening in general ed rather than the resource room.
     
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  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think we're in agreement with both points here. In terms of your first about remediation happening in a push-in setting, yes - practically very tough when considered from a SPED model. I think I was approaching the topic from a more broad educational perspective - not just SPED. Remediation in terms of small group reading occurs routinely in a general ed environment effectively, but this isn't SPED usually. So, theoretically, I don't think instructional environment defines instructional approach/goal, but I agree with you that practically there are severe limitations with some of the combinations.

    Yes, we're in agreement about giving up on kids by dropping remediation.
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    As I read all of your responses and gave this some more thought, I'm reverting back to something I started thinking a lot about this current school year... Shouldn't the answer to this question really be determined by each individual student's IEP team?? The answer is not going to be the same for all students, and, if we are truly providing individualized instruction, then we must base it on the individual student's needs. In most cases, there is not enough time in the day to do both remediation AND modified grade-level instruction. We usually have to choose one or the other. The goals that we write in the IEP should reflect which type of instruction we've chosen for an individual student, then setting should be the place where this instruction can most realistically be provided. Sometimes that is an inclusion setting; other times it is resource. Even that is dependent on other things, such as how the gen ed teacher provides instruction in his/her classroom (Is it all whole group? Do they do small group reading? etc.).

    I started thinking about this because my current AP (the one who observes and evaluates my teaching) seemed to have an issue with my providing Wilson Reading System instruction to students in my resource ELA class. Rather, he wanted me to be providing a watered down version of the EngageNY ELA curriculum that the gen ed teachers were providing in the gen ed classroom. I backed up what I was doing by showing him that the students had phonics and fluency goals written into their IEPs and that my role, as the sped teacher, was to teach towards their IEP goals, not the grade-level curriculum. He only seemed to buy into what I was saying half-way... mainly because he really has no idea about how sped works and has admitted to being against remediation instruction... but that's another story.

    So, anyway, I think this is a conversation that we need to be having with parents and team members at each annual IEP... Do we provide the student in question with remediation instruction or modified grade-level instruction? What do the parents want for their child? What supports would the child need to be successful in gen ed, and are those realistic? What basic skills is the child lacking, and how likely is it that the child can learn these skills if provided remediation instruction? These are all things that we need to consider when determining what is appropriate for the individual student. However, I'll admit, that leaves us with the question of how do we logistically work out having only a small number of teachers available to meet a wide variety of student needs in the few hours we have available during the school day...?
     
  13. bros

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    Apr 22, 2016

    I saw parallel teaching a few times, it was pretty interesting. The districts I was in mostly did team teaching - the Gen ed teacher would send the lesson to the push in, the push in would do some quick notes on what they could teach or expand upon, stuff like that. The teachers would.... establish a rapport in front of the students - bouncing questions back and forth to each other.
     
  14. FourSquare

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    This is an interesting conversation.

    I don't know the answer, but I do know I've got 13 kids in my first period pull out class (60 minutes) and I've struggled to provide any remediation to them at all whatsoever. I'm basically teaching slower get ed content with accommodations. It's stressed me out so bad that I went out and got another job - lol.
     

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