St. Matthias IB MYP Special Needs Policy

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1 St. Matthias IB MYP Special Needs Policy Vision for Inclusion of the Archdiocese of Chicago The heart and spirit of our Archdiocesan Catholic Schools reveals itself in the faith conviction that all God s children can learn and be actively involved in their own education. Our educators seek to meet students diverse academic needs that can span the continuum from those who struggle to those who excel with learning. Our students diverse learning needs are best met by utilizing data and educational practices to identify, monitor, and support achievement. Through professional development, teachers continually enhance their knowledge and skills toward helping students reach their full potential. Schools, families, students, and communities advocate collaboratively ensuring that internal and external resources are available. Consistent with the gospel message, our partnerships support the dignity of students toward becoming fully contributing members of the church and society. Philosophy of Inclusion at St. Matthias School (Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools, 2009) St. Matthias School fully supports the vision for inclusion of the Archdiocese of Chicago as well as that of the International Baccalaureate Organization, which values diversity as a positive resource to enrich the learning community (Special education needs within the International Baccalaureate programmes, 2007). At St. Matthias School, we believe that all are made in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, and we are called to welcome and revere every person in our community. All of our students are full members of their class communities. Therefore, as faculty and students, we commit to using inclusive language and practices to ensure that all members feel welcomed, loved, and supported. We understand that we will achieve this goal through continual attention, reflection, and commitment to improvement. At St. Matthias School we honor the individuality of our students and believe that a diverse community, representing multiple perspectives, makes our students education authentic and rich. Therefore, students of all ability levels are included in courses to the fullest extent possible. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students work together to ensure that the curriculum and instruction are adjusted to meet the needs of individual students, and that the students have access to the supports needed for continued academic and social progress.

2 School-wide Approach to Inclusion Response to Intervention (RtI) The RtI framework is a three-tiered approach, founded upon establishing a supportive and comprehensive educational program for all students in Tier One. This first tier includes four pillars: an evidence-based core curriculum, effective instructional strategies, a positive behavior management system, and systems of data collection and analyses to inform continual improvements. Tier 1 RtI is a systems approach, using data to identify problems with the school s curriculum, instruction, or behavior management that may be the cause of a lack of student progress rather than the inherent deficits within the student (Boyle, 2010, p.6). When the four pillars of tier one are well established and functioning, 80% of a school s students should make adequate progress. Teachers need to provide additional targeted interventions for the 20% of students who are not responsive to Tier One. However, when less than 80% of students are responding to tier one, it is a signal to the teachers and administrators that improvements must be made to one or more of the four pillars. The following aspects of Tier 1 specifically support inclusion at St. Matthias School: Tier 2 Standards-based written curriculum Research-based reading, writing, and math programs Structured time for teacher collaboration on curriculum and instructional strategies Use of differentiated instruction PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) utilized as a behavior management system at all grade levels Routine collection and analysis of academic and behavioral data Teachers practice data-based decision making for individuals and groups of students Students who are not responding to Tier 1 core classroom instruction should receive targeted interventions through Tier 2. Teachers will utilize evidence-based interventions responding to the specific deficit revealed by the universal screening data and additional data collected through classwork. The interventions must be administered frequently (more than two times per week) and are often administered in small groups. Teachers should monitor students weekly to assess progress. If students are not making progress within two weeks, teachers should utilize a different intervention. If a student continues to show no growth, he/she should be elevated to Tier 3. The following aspects of Tier 2 specifically support inclusion at St. Matthias School:

3 Tier 3 Access to evidence-based interventions such as Words Their Way and Read Naturally AIMSweb data system for universal screening and progress monitoring in math and reading Teacher training on evidence-based interventions and data analysis Push-in support for interventions from the Assistant Principal and the Inclusive Education Coordinator Sprout afterschool enrichment program for gifted students in grades K-6 for an additional cost to parents Students who do not respond to Tier 2 interventions will be elevated to Tier 3. Tier 3 interventions are highly-individualized, intensive interventions, most often occurring daily in a one-to-one setting with a teacher. Teachers will monitor data weekly to assess improvement. Students who respond to Tier 3 interventions will be moved to Tier 2, or possibly Tier 1. Students who do not respond to Tier 3 interventions will be referred to the Teacher Assistance Team or directly for an educational evaluation to determine the presence of a learning disability. Teacher Assistance Team (TAT) The TAT is a problem-solving team comprised of teachers from varying grade levels and our Inclusive Education Coordinator. A student is referred to the TAT when he/she is not making academic or behavioral progress despite teacher interventions. After classroom observations, a plan is created collaboratively with the parents, teacher and TAT members with specific interventions to help the child meet the goal. Progress is measured and the group reconvenes to discuss progress and/or develop an alternative plan. Educational Evaluation If local interventions are ineffective, a complete educational evaluation may be warranted. Parents and teachers complete the appropriate paperwork to request an educational evaluation which is submitted to the central office of Chicago Public Schools. The evaluation and subsequent staffing meetings are scheduled at a local public school. If the student is found eligible for special education services, parents have the right to request an IEP (Individualized Education Program) if the student will enroll at the local public school, or a Service Plan if the student is to continue enrollment at the private school. A Service Plan will designate the services students would be eligible for through proportionate share funding. These services are publicly funded but will be provided within the private school. Examples of services include speech therapy, occupational therapy, tutoring, and paraprofessional support; however the types of services provided through proportionate share funding can change with each fiscal year. A Service Plan will also include recommendations for classroom teachers for accommodations and modifications to curriculum and instruction.

4 Support Services at St. Matthias School All students enrolled at St. Matthias School are placed in general education classrooms with same-age peers. Students with special needs are enrolled with the agreement between administration and parents that the inclusive learning environment and the local supports available will adequately meet the student s educational and developmental goals. Several support services are available to students at St. Matthias School, both with and without diagnosed disabilities. These services include: Counseling Our school counselor provides individual and small group counseling as well as consultative services to teachers and parents. Title One Reading and math remediation is offered bi-weekly to students who are testing below grade level. Speech Therapy Speech therapy is provided for students who qualify through Individual Service Plans and funded through proportionate share. Additionally, speech therapy is offered on-site, funded by parents. Current partnerships also include a social language group that pairs students with communication needs with typical peers, with conversation guided by a speech pathologist. Occupational Therapy Through a partnership with Aspire/Belle Center, a doctoral level occupational therapy student works in several classrooms with children who have sensory integration disorder or fine motor needs. Inclusive Education Coordinator This full-time staff person with a Master s degree in Special Education consults with teachers and parents to support full inclusion of our students. This includes providing individual and full-staff training on specific instructional strategies and interventions as well as providing direct interventions to students. Sprout Afterschool Enrichment Program for gifted students in grades K 6 for an additional cost to parents Confidentiality All staff members adhere to a strict confidentiality policy. Only staff members directly working with a student have access to his/her file. Diagnostic information is kept in a locked cabinet, separate from the student s main file. Parents are asked to sign permission forms granting staff permission to communicate with private providers and/or Chicago Public Schools regarding the individual child s needs. Transition of Students Teachers assist with the transition of students from one grade level to the next. At the end of the school year, teachers complete a Student Reflection Form for each child in their class, documenting the student s learning preferences, any learning or behavioral concerns, any screening/testing, effective strategies in working with the student, and accommodations or modifications for the student. These forms are passed to the child s new teacher. Additionally,

5 each child has an RtI folder which is passed to the new teacher. This folder holds all academic and behavioral data. Teachers also have access to universal screening and benchmark testing data as well as standardized testing scores. Additionally, teachers meet in groups at the beginning of the school year to discuss the transitioning of students. Parents are also an integral part of the successful transition of students from one grade level to the next. Parents of students with special needs are encouraged to schedule a meeting with their new teacher before the start of the school year to discuss strategies to promote success for the student as well as expectations for communication. Administration and teachers also assist our eighth grade students with the transition to high school. Our IB MYP teachers provide individual counseling for students and their parents, as needed, to help discern the best high school choice for the child. Parents are encouraged to promptly share documentation regarding their child s needs with the high school upon admittance. Teacher Expectations for Inclusion Teachers at St. Matthias School are expected to fully support our inclusive model by: Cultivating a welcoming, positive, and safe classroom environment Modeling inclusive language and practices Practicing differentiation of learning environment, content, process and product within all instructional units Planning collaboratively with colleagues and support staff to ensure all students needs are met Utilizing the RtI approach by continually collecting and analyzing academic and behavioral data and providing necessary interventions for students Seeking support from the TAT, administration, parents and/or the Inclusive Education Coordinator when a student is not responding to interventions Participating in professional development on related topics such as specific learning or developmental disabilities, differentiation, or RtI Family Expectations for Inclusion Parents/guardians of students at St. Matthias School are expected to fully support our inclusive model by: Communicating, to the best of their ability, the special needs of their children to administration and teachers Providing accurate documentation at the time of enrollment or immediately upon becoming available Taking initiative to update documentation and evaluations as necessary Providing support for their child s learning at home

6 Working with teachers and administration to establish and support common goals for their child Maintaining open communication with teachers and administration regarding concerns and progress Inclusion in the IB MYP All students enrolled in St. Matthias School will be able to benefit from the IB Middle Years Programme. The vast majority of students will be able to fully participate in the program. The IB MYP provides a framework which supports inclusion. Teachers are expected to differentiate learning activities and assessments to address the diversity of our students learning styles and levels. IB MYP assessments focus on process as well as product. Teachers will offer flexibility and choice to students so that they may communicate their learning in a manner which matches their strengths and preferences. Due to a significant learning or developmental disability, a few students may be incapable of fully participating in the IB MYP. These students may not be able to be assessed using the IB MYP assessment criteria, however they will participate in and contribute to the IB MYP units. All IB MYP units are structured around a unit question which all students, regardless of special needs, will be able to understand and respond to. Teachers will modify and scaffold the learning activities for students with special needs to ensure full participation and progress in their understanding of the significant concepts of the unit. All students will be able to demonstrate growth in their understanding of the unit question upon completion of the unit. Additionally, foundations of the IB MYP include the IB Learner Profile and Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills. All students will be encouraged to embody the IB Learner Profile and supported in their further development of these attributes. The development of ATL skills will be a priority for all students, appropriate to their specific learning level. The mission of St. Matthias School states that we develop students who think critically, value diversity, and act with a compassionate worldview. It is through the inclusive practices in our school and IB Middle Years Programme that we are able to accomplish our goals. References Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic School. (2009). Resources Handbook foe Teaching Students with Differing Learning Needs. Boyle, M. J. (2010). Response to Intervention A Blueprint for Catholic Schools. Arlington, VA: National Catholic Educational Association. Learning diversity in the International Baccalaureate programmes: Special education needs

7 within the International Baccalaureate programmes. (2010). Wales: International Baccaluareate Organization.

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