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 Response Page - Gibbons  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Kim Gibbons Interview of
07-12-2013.
 

Fix special education not with more money, but by reforming regular education

                                                                                                         OVERVIEW

Kim Gibbons, executive director of the St. Croix River Education District (SCRED), believes that special education is a broken system. She says the way to fix special education is not by providing it more and more funding, but by reforming the regular education system. She argues that school districts in Minnesota and elsewhere should be using the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework, which ensures the provision of high-quality, personalized instruction and interventions that are matched to the needs of students requiring additional academic and behavioral supports. Through RtI's regular use of screening assessments and earlier interventions, Gibbons says, school districts can reduce the number of children struggling with reading who are identified as having specific learning disabilities and are then referred to special education. 

To increase the use of RtI statewide, she advocates that Minnesota consider doing four things: providing incentives to districts for implementing RtI; giving educators access to high-quality professional development and coaching around RtI; becoming a mandated RtI state, as 11 other states have done; and continue providing funding for positive behavioral interventions and support, which is part of the RtI framework. 

Gibbons states that successful implementation of RtI strongly depends on a school district's leadership, especially the principals. But, she notes, while a number of districts have struggled with teacher resistance to RtI, in some districts, teachers have taken the lead in implementing the system.

For the complete interview summary see: http://bit.ly/17HSPyp

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

Readers were asked to rank the following on a scale of 0-10 ("not at all important" to "very important").

1. Importance of topic. (8.6 average response) How important to you is today's interview?

2. Value of further study. (7.9 average response) How would you rank the importance of scheduling additional interviews on this topic?

Readers were asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points made during the discussion.

3. Education lags research. (7.5 average response) The field of education hasn't caught up with research on what is needed to help children learn to read.

4. Instruction for many inadequate. (8.2 average response) Consequently, many children receive inadequate and inappropriate instruction.

5. Poor readers mislabeled. (8.4 average response) Moreover, many children who haven't learned to read are unnecessarily identified as having disabilities and needing special education.

6. Reform regular education. (8.8 average response) The way to fix special education is not by funneling more and more money into it, but by reforming regular education.

7. Early intervention key. (8.9 average response) Early, personalized, intervention—such as a strategy known as Response to Intervention (RtI)—helps all children learn to read better and significantly reduces the number of children needing special education.

8. Leadership essential. (9.1 average response) More leadership by principals and superintendents is essential for broadly implementing an early intervention model.

Response Distribution:

Not at all important

Moderately unimportant

Neutral

Moderately important

Very important

Total Responses

1. Importance of topic.

0%

0%

6%

50%

44%

16

2. Value of further study.

0%

0%

13%

63%

25%

16

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Importance of topic.

0%

0%

6%

50%

44%

16

2. Value of further study.

0%

0%

13%

63%

25%

16

3. Education lags research.

0%

13%

6%

44%

38%

16

4. Instruction for many inadequate.

0%

0%

19%

38%

44%

16

5. Poor readers mislabeled.

0%

0%

6%

56%

38%

16

6. Reform regular education.

0%

6%

6%

25%

63%

16

7. Early intervention key.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

16

8. Leadership essential.

0%

0%

0%

44%

56%

16

Individual Responses:

Betty Nowicki (10) (5) (7.5) (5) (7.5) (5) (10) (10)

1. Importance of topic. It has long been known, both by research and observation, that there are better ways to help some students who have difficulty with reading or math. There may be push-back as well from some teachers—often because they have been [down] this road before, being told that this method is better than the old, only to have it turned 180 degrees in a couple of years due to cost. Consistency counts to staff as well as students.

2. Value of further study. Depends on whether or not this could actually happen. Where will the money come from to start its implementation? Her district received special funding to start this back when the legislature supported public education. Does anyone realistically see that happening now?

3. Education lags research. Educators have been through a lot of "flavor of the month" changes. There has been a lot of research out there, about a lot of areas that will help students succeed. It fails because funders (legislatures) want to see immediate improvement. It takes money.

4. Instruction for many inadequate. We have administrators that should be supporting frequent paid time for staff to be updated on new ideas and techniques that are grade/age appropriate. To often these days are filled with meetings that are not involved with curriculum or teaching techniques.

5. Poor readers mislabeled. It is hard on self-esteem to know that you can't read as well as your classmates. When we set hard rules about criteria for intervention with a student, whether it is about behavior or learning it is hard to get that help to a student early because they don't meet the criteria.

6. Reform regular education. Special Education costs money. We will still have students that need that type of help, but if we can reduce the number of students who get a label we will all better off.

7. Early intervention key. I agree; however, many of their needs do not disappear when they enter kindergarten. Money may need to follow them for a while until we know they can succeed in a regular classroom setting. We do not take the social stigma away when we pull them out for "special" help.

8. Leadership essential. Without their buy-in, it will not succeed unless you have a strong core of dedicated teachers willing to fight hard for it. They need to be sold that this will work and that it is worth the extra hours they will need to put into it

Dave Broden (10) (7.5) (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. Importance of topic. The best discussion of Special Education approach and issues. Innovation and success. Shows effectiveness of good leadership and flexibility.

2. Value of further study. The Special Education subject is worth more study but only if the interviewee is really engaged in working to improve the process and can show results.

3. Education lags research. There are multiple studies and approaches to teaching reading, many of which seem to show benefits. The real issue is how each is applied. More research is perhaps always beneficial but application approach and achieving results is the real issue.

4. Instruction for many inadequate. Many children receive inadequate instruction because of the teaching approach and effectiveness, not due to the type of reading methods. Both of course are critical but the interaction and encouragement of a strong and effective teacher must be included.

5. Poor readers mislabeled. One apparent problem with special education is that many students are not properly evaluated and placed in the correct classroom to achieve the desired results. Better "diagnosis" is definitely needed.

6. Reform regular education. Reforming both and seeking to have a full spectrum view of education is needed.

7. Early intervention key. The RTI approach discussed in the interview seems to capture the real need and yield benefits. This can change the way children are categorized.

8. Leadership essential. Principals and Superintendents certainly must be key but real support and buy-in by the teacher, whether special education or basic education, must be the focus.

Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Bruce Lundeen (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

1. Importance of topic. With what is spent on Special Education, moderately important to all taxpayers.

2. Value of further study. I think rather than inquiring about relevancy, you should concentrate on increasing readership.

3. Education lags research. Teachers have received professional development ad nauseam.

Bert LeMunyon (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10)

Don Anderson (5) (5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10)

Sandy Vargas (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Importance of topic. Very important to examine why the mass education process we use throws kids overboard when they don't learn the same way.

2. Value of further study. I think this is an important topic to dig into. We need reform of our educational system and we have research and technology that could help many underperforming students.

3. Education lags research. I agree. How then does the research get transferred into big systems that want to keep the fundamental status quo in place?

4. Instruction for many inadequate. We do not make sure that teachers have adequate information, training and the ability to practice their new skills.

5. Poor readers mislabeled. Because we have the mind-set of mass education any variable beyond a certain range will mean kids get moved into a structure of Special Education. This is an all-or-nothing mind-set. We have tools to help kids but the current set up doesn't allow for tailoring education to the individual needs of the students. We have to build a new mindset and a new education design.

6. Reform regular education. I totally agree. There is still a need for special education but just because someone speaks a different language or learns in a different way doesn't mean they can't learn with tools that get put forward for them.

7. Early intervention key. I don't know much about this program but it seems to be the answer in principle.

8. Leadership essential. Leadership is key. They have to believe it.

Roger Johnson (10) (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (2.5) (10) (7.5)

Tom Spitznagle (7) (7) (7) (8) (8) (8) (9) (8)

Chuck Lutz (8) (8) (9) (9) (8) (8) (9) (8)

Paul Gilje (8) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (8) (10)

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (8)

There is no doubt early identification of reading problems is "key" to success in other subjects. I am so old I can remember when there were 3 reading groups in every class beginning in 1st grade. Teachers worked with students and parents to identify the problems and take measures to improve reading skills. High school drop out rate was practically non-existent.

William Kuisle (9) (8) (6) (7) (8) (10) (8) (10)

Wayne Jennings (8) (7) (6) (7) (7) (9) (6) (7)

I looked for research on RTI but found it mixed in terms of results. I think part of the problem is the expectation that all students will learn the same things at the same time and rate. That's unrealistic as kids learn very differently according to maturation, interests, motivation, learning styles, intelligences and other factors. RTI works for some but may do harm for others who simply are not ready and thus, even with good RTI instruction, once again prove themselves "dumb" when in fact they are different in many ways. I agree that special education has not done well with many students primarily because it tries to force a standard education, which is weak on experiential approaches.

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Tom Swain (10) (8) (5) (7) (9) (10) (10) (9)

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

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