All students, with the exception of those with significant disabilities, will be expected to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers assessment in the 2014-15 school year.
The PARCC assessment will replace the current Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. Students will be tested on standards set forth through Common Core State Standards.
According to Cleveland City Schools Supervisor of Student Services Dr. Joy Hudson, the city is taking steps to incorporate inclusive practices at every school.
There are currently 1,013 students in the special populations services at Cleveland City Schools. The number includes 96 students in the preschool level; 896 students from the ages of 6 to 21; and 21 students from private schools.
Cleveland Middle School and Cleveland High School began making strides in co-teaching and collaboration between educators during the 2012-13 school year.
Hudson said CMS will be fully inclusive by the 2014-15 school year. The only exception will be those students with “significant deficits.” Sixth grade was the first to follow the inclusive co-teaching model for the math and English language arts core subjects. Seventh grade followed the lower grade’s stead this year with eighth grade set to make the transition for the 2014-15 school year.
Cleveland High School currently has co-teachers for Algebra I, Algebra II, English I and English II. Hudson said geometry will be added to the list next semester.
Additional co-teaching classes can be found throughout the elementary schools. All are expected to make the transition in time. Hudson said she felt it was important to address the secondary schools first.
Co-teaching involves having both a general education teacher and a special education teacher in the same classroom.
According to Hudson, CCSS emphasizes rigorous grade level expectations of all students. It is believed students with disabilities benefit more from being a part of the general curriculum than being pulled out for a resource class. City schools are currently moving away from the resource class model.
Hudson said students have responded well to co-teaching.
“There is a lot of support by having that much help in the classroom,” Hudson said. “The teachers are not limited to [helping] students with disabilities within the classroom. They can help anyone.”
Cleveland City Schools received a Least Restricted Environment grant for $73,000 which allowed the system to hire three core interventionists, an educational consultant, staff developoment and usher in the next phase of inclusive teaching at CMS.
One of the core interventionists is at Cleveland Middle and the other two are at Cleveland High. This means there are sometimes three educators in a class at one time. The educational consultant works with teachers on how to best address co-teaching, inclusive concepts and practice differentiated strategies. Hudson explained the strategies are necessary to meeting all the different ways students learn.
IQ scores were once used to identify students with a learning disability. The state recently mandated schools begin using the Response to Intervention and Instruction model. Hudson said the model is a three tiered program.
“Basically what it means is in Tier 1 all the students are in the general education classroom receiving instruction in the core math and English language arts classes,” Hudson said. “In Tier 2, all of the kids are in the general education classrooms plus 30 additional minutes in some type of deficit area [for students with disabilities].Tier 3 is core instruction in general education and an hour of supplemental instruction.”
Continued Hudson, “The kids are required to go through the RTI2 process. If they are not making adequate process within those [2 and 3] tiers, then they are referred to special education.”
Hudson, who has worked within special education her entire career, described the progress being made within CCS as exciting.
Cleveland Middle School teachers working within inclusive classrooms, the Principal Mike Collier and Cleveland personnel will attend a conference in February to present and learn more information on addressing the needs of the system’s special population students.