The rationale for inclusive schooling and co-teaching as a service delivery model relies on philosophical points with an emphasis on the social aspect of this type of schooling:
- A better education for all students
- Less program fragmentation
- Less stigma for students
Most importantly, in today's schools, the above factors apply, but they are not the primary reasons that inclusive practices with co-teaching are growing as a means for providing special education services. Recent educational law moves us beyond the philosophical and into consideration of other state and federal elements:
- Access to the curriculum
Both NCLB and IDEA make it imperative that students with disabilities, no matter what their current level of functioning, access the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible-a rationale for inclusiveness. Ohio law addresses the need for a standards based education for all students including students with disabilities. Many professionals are concluding that the primary means of ensuring access to the curriculum and to a standards based education is via placement in general education with support offered by a special educator in a co-teaching model.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
Directly related to access is the matter of ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities, make adequate yearly progress. This requirement raises several issues. First, when instruction is offered in a separate setting, it is often difficult if not impossible for a special educator to cover the content area in a way that adequately prepares students. Second, even in schools currently achieving AYP, several additional years of rising standards are ahead - and so focusing on assigning students to general education settings with appropriate support often is viewed as a means of working toward these required federal standards.
© Marilyn Friend, Inc.
How are the North Ridgeville City Schools participating in Co-Teaching?
One of the instructional priorities of the North Ridgeville City Schools is to “implement co-teaching and inclusive practices.” Co-Teaching is part of an overall continuum of services that we must provide to our students. For many of our special needs students, participating in the regular classroom in a co-teaching setting is a very powerful, successful, and least restrictive strategy. Since co-teaching is part of a continuum of services, we will still have resource rooms and pullout programs to serve the needs of some of our youngsters. Co-Teaching is part of having a “seamless system of intervention for our students,” which includes the regular classroom, intervention tutors, Title I reading, and special education services.
In August 2006, the district kicked off the Co-Teaching and Inclusive Practices project with Dr. Marilyn Friend. Dr. Friend is the chairperson of the Department of Specialized Education Services at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and she is known as the premier authority in the co-teaching field across the country. There were over 50 teachers and administrators in attendance at the summer workshops. The district entered into a three-year partnership with Dr. Friend, in which she'll travel to North Ridgeville for 6-7 days per year over the next three school years. Co-teaching teams will continue to participate in follow-up activities with Dr. Friend to continue their learning along with addressing instructional, collaboration, and planning issues. Dr. Friend will spend most of her time in the classrooms working with co-teaching teams and coaching them on best practices.
Co-teaching is a service delivery system in which
· two (or more) educators share instructional responsibility
· for a single group of students
· primarily in a single classroom or workspace
· to teach required curriculum
· with mutual ownership, pooled resources, and joint accountability
· although each individual's level of participation may vary.
Dr. Friend is training the staff on six models of co-teaching. Depending on the nature of the lesson, co-teaching teaming teams are able to use any of the following methods:
· One Teach, One Observe: One of the advantages in co-teaching is that more detailed observation of students engaged in the learning process can occur. With this approach, for example, co-teachers can decide in advance what types of specific observational information to gather during instruction and can agree on a system for gathering the data. Afterward, the teachers should analyze the information together.
· Station Teaching: In this co-teaching approach, teachers divide content and students. Each teacher then teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group. If appropriate, a third "station" could give students an opportunity to work independently.
· Parallel Teaching: On occasion, students' learning would be greatly facilitated if they just had more supervision by the teacher or more opportunity to respond. In parallel teaching, the teachers are both teaching the same information, but they divide the class group and do so simultaneously.
· Alternative Teaching: In most class groups, occasions arise in which several students need specialized attention. In alternative teaching, one teacher takes responsibility for the large group while the other works with a smaller group.
· Teaming: In teaming, both teachers are delivering the same instruction at the same time. Some teachers refer to this as having “one brain in two bodies.” Others call it “tag team teaching.” Most co-teachers consider this approach the most complex but satisfying way to co-teach, but it is the approach that is most dependent on teachers’ styles.
· One Teach, One Assist: One person would keep primary responsibility for teaching while the other professional circulated through the room providing unobtrusive assistance to students as needed.
· Source: Co-teaching: Concepts, Practices, and Logistics – Dr. Marilyn Friend – August, 2006
The district has been able to fund the co-teaching project through the generosity of a $15,000 grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and a $28,000 grant from the Nord Family Foundation. The district could not have embarked on the co-teaching journey without the support of these two organizations. The district is also funding this project through the use of Federal Title grants, and will continue to aggressively pursue other sources of funding to make sure that Co-Teaching is a solid foundation of instructional practice in the North Ridgeville City Schools for many years to come!
Service Delivery in the North Ridgeville City Schools
We believe that all students have a right to a standards based education in the least restrictive environment. We believe that while some students do require service (small group instruction or specific therapies) outside of the general education setting, services provided in the general education setting via co-teaching are an important step on the continuum of services especially in the areas of reading and math.
The continuum of services (from least to most restrictive) includes:
Consultative services provided for a student who participates in general education.
Co-teaching services provided for a student via/during participation in general education.
Small group instruction can be provided in the general education setting or via removal to another area (therapy area, special education room, etc.).
For students with the highest level of need placement out of district (perhaps in a separate facility) may be necessary.
Not all students with disabilities require that their services be delivered outside of the general education classroom. Some students benefit from receiving their services in the general education setting. Some need only a few minutes of instruction outside of the general education setting, while others need to be outside of the general education setting for most or even all of their school day. The amount of time a student receives any service either in or outside of the general education setting is determined by student need. No matter what a student’s disability the team should discuss what options are best for each individual student.