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 Response Page - Wedl  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bob Wedl  Interview of
06-14-2013.
 

Control the cost of special education by strategically reducing the need for it

                                                                                                       OVERVIEW

Bob Wedl, senior associate of Education|Evolving, says the best way to save on special education costs is by not having to provide it in the first place. He explains that a new model called Response to Intervention (RtI), used in a few innovative Minnesota school districts, can reduce the number of students being referred to special education as learning disabled by up to 40 percent. 

Wedl calls the RtI model a three-tiered framework that includes the regular classroom, remedial support programs and more in-depth programs.  It uses analytic testing three times a year to determine which students need interventions in order to be proficient in reading or other skills. Grade-level teams of teachers decide on interventions for individual students. One- to two-minute "tests" are used weekly to see if the interventions are working. If not, the interventions are changed. While the RtI model is used primarily for reading, Wedl says it also can be applied to math and some behavior problems.

He sees technology as a powerful intervention tool in the regular classroom for students having trouble with reading, math or other subjects. 

For the complete interview summary see: http://bit.ly/13cX6aa

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. Usefulness of this topic. (8.1 average response) On a scale of 0-10, how useful to you is today's interview?

2. Importance of further investigation. (7.7 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 discussed by Wedl.

3. Reduce costs by reducing need. (8.0 average response) he best way to save on special education expense is not having to provide special education in the first place.

4. Many incorrectly classified. (8.1 average response) Many children who aren't doing well in basic skills, especially reading, are misidentified as needing special education.

5. New model can reduce need. (7.8 average response) An innovation that uses weekly, short tests of math and reading proficiency for all children, accompanied by focused intervention, can pinpoint problems and improve student performance earlier, thereby reducing the number who need special education.

6. Teachers need flexibility. (8.2 average response) To successfully implement such innovation, teachers need freedom to modify the curriculum to deal with unique needs of individual students.

7. Districts must allow divergence. (9.0 average response) School districts that have resisted the innovation because they want a common curriculum across all schools should allow more flexibility in their curriculum.

Response Distribution:

Not at all important

Moderately unimportant

Neutral

Moderately important

Very important

Total Responses

1. Usefulness of today's topic.

0%

0%

11%

56%

33%

18

2. Need for further inquiry.

0%

0%

17%

61%

22%

18

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

3. Reduce costs by reducing need.

6%

0%

11%

44%

39%

18

4. Many incorrectly classified.

0%

0%

18%

47%

35%

17

5. New model can reduce need.

0%

0%

18%

47%

35%

17

6. Teachers need flexibility.

0%

0%

11%

50%

39%

18

7. Districts must allow divergence.

0%

0%

6%

38%

56%

16

Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon (10) (7.5) (10) (5) (10) (7.5) (10)

3. Reduce costs by reducing need. But that's not the real world. There will always be students in need of special education.

Pat Barnum (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5)

7. Districts must allow divergence. Yes. With the caveat that schools are held accountable for the results. I have seen first hand what happens when a Superintendent and/or Director of Curriculum do not keep an eye on the ball, and in allowing innovation and flexibility, a school spends a lot of energy getting nowhere.

Dave Broden (7.5) (10) (0) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Usefulness of today's topic. Special Education is a topic of high interest and needs a solid focus. While this dialogue was informative it was not well stated in all respects—thus leaving and identifying more questions than answering what the problems are, how to rigorously address them and reach improvements and solutions.

2. Need for further inquiry. We need to hear from someone who has a very objective and well-informed understanding of the need, the approach, the problem. We have heard appropriately from several with special interest but none with a well-stated solution approach.

3. Reduce costs by reducing need. Special education is one area where society can reach to make a statement that there are those among us that require special attention and we do address those people in a caring way. Saving can be achieved with some innovative approaches and challenging the status quo in all respects.

4. Many incorrectly classified. Each student must be assessed in ways that capture the true need and this must be periodically undated.

5. New model can reduce need. This may be the case. It does seem to me that the criteria of special education and the categories of special education may not be well thought out or well administered on a uniform basis and that the monitoring of student progress to move them from special education to a combined format or to full normal may not be applied well to help each student become a well rounded person.

6. Teachers need flexibility. Flexibility in special education must be a key criteria and must be available to the teacher and in most cases linked to the parents or others who do oversight and support.

7. Districts must allow divergence. Common curriculum will not enable the special education student to evolve the skills that will result in growth in capability. Schools must be encouraged and challenged to move in this direction and state guidelines must demand innovation and flexibility.

Ray Ayotte (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10)

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

Paul Gilje (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Clarence Shallbetter (7) (8) (5) (na) (5) (5) (na)

Part of this interview felt like we were coming into the middle of a discussion about basic elementary education theory and of some different philosophies that are operative in K-5/6 education. I remain confused about when a student goes from regular instruction to "Special Education," utilizing the assessment team and the development of an individualized education program and the use of "special education certifified teachers. I thought that was the focus of the Legislative Auditor study and of the discussion with the Anoka School District.

Arvonne Fraser (7) (9) (10) (9) (10) (7) (10)

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

Bob Wedl is right on. The federal government made a great mistake in making Special Education mandatory and then… funding less than 20% of the school districts costs. Students should not be labeled (put in a box), but teachers should address each students emotional, social and cognitive needs. Teacher training institutions, school boards, and teachers themselves had been slow in addressing this problem for half a century.

William Kuisle (10) (9) (10) (9) (6) (10) (10)

Tom Spitznagle (8) (6) (9) (8) (7) (7) (9)

As a parent who has experience with public school’s attempts to address students with learning disabilities, it appears that Mr. Wedl has brought forward some very good methods for addressing the epidemic of kids diagnosed as learning disabled.

Chuck Lutz (7) (6) (9) (9) (8) (10) (9)

Fred Zimmerman (9) (5) (9) (10) (na) (8) (10)

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

The increase in Special Education students is often because teachers refer behavioral problems to Special Education without dealing with it themselves. There has to be a better way of identifying those that really need Special Education than the current system which has increased the number and cost of Special Education way beyond reason

Wayne Jennings (8) (8) (10) (10) (5) (9) (8)

We’d have fewer problem learners if we didn’t have such rigid expectations that every student had to meet specific standards at specific grade levels. Not all kids learn the same amount at the same time. Further, boring curricula turn kids off. Kids are learning machines but not necessarily what schools cover. Kids have many questions and interests that are ignored by a rigid curriculum that says in effect, we’re not interested in your little questions; we have more important material to cover. That results in an unconscious (and not always unconscious) resentment. Kids who aren’t on target, and many won’t be because of individual differences, feel bad or stupid and shamed, further making school learning more problematic. It doesn’t have to be that way. Wedl limited himself, as most educators do, to trying to make the current system work little better. I call it MOTS-H or More Of The Same-Harder. That may be all that can be done in many instances but let’s look at other models and let’s consider broader outcomes for learning. That’s not an argument against learning to read, write and compute but rather [for] new roads to get there without denying kids their unique personalities and talents.

Roger A. Wacek (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (5)

I'm pessimistic when I don't see anyone addressing the causes of special needs children. Vaccinations that have caused an epidemic of autism. Parent and children consumption of trans fats, rancid vegetable oils and zero calorie sweeteners created in the chemistry labs have created an epidemic of ADHD and obesity.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (7) (7) (6) (8) (7) (na)

Paul and Ruth Hauge (7) (8) (8) (7) (6) (6) (8)

    

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.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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