I was fascinated by the presentation given at the February 14th School Committee meeting on co-taught classrooms for students with special needs who previously received one-on-one aides. An alternative being piloted at Countryside and Mason-Rice involves structuring a classroom with two full-time teachers each trained in elementary education and special education. These teachers lead blended classes with up to 1/3 special need and 2/3 mainstream students.
According to NPS presenters, children with special needs and their parents have been very positive about this approach, as the children are with their peers throughout the day rather than being pulled out periodically to meet with their aides. These children seem to being doing better academically and socially.
Also the mainstream students have been positive with this approach as they benefit by having a second trained teacher rather than a lightly trained aide in the classroom.
The co-taught teacher model has the potential to save a considerable amount of money as the second teacher, though more highly trained that the aides, may replace a half-dozen of them.
The pilot is still in its early stages and data collection and analysis related to specific academic and experiential outcomes is not complete. However the anecdotal stories are encouraging and this pilot effort reflects well on NPS. I am looking forward to being able to review the data when it becomes available.
(Followup to my original post: I spoke with a parent whose child has been receiving SPED services in NPS. He noted that the co-taught teacher model “works for the kids it works for.” Meaning it is not for every child. This is understood, and it suggests that if our pilot is deemed “successful”, co-taught classrooms are simply part of the mix of solutions offered to our students with special needs.)