- Transitioning special populations
- Improving data analysis, use, and reporting
Federal education requirements under ESEA and IDEA require states and school systems to provide students with disabilities with the same academic content as provided to all students and to hold the same academic expectations. But, what methods are appropriate and valid for measuring and reporting on differences in opportunity to learn, and variation in instruction between schools, districts, and teachers? Under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, a three-state Consortium project has tested a model for analysis and reporting on opportunity to learn, and using the data with schools and teachers to help close the opportunity gap.
The enhanced assessment grant to the Kansas SEA involved educators and state leaders in KS, North Carolina, and Ohio, as well as researchers and instructional experts, in applying a model for measuring, analyzing and reporting on opportunity to learn for students with disabilities. A sample of districts, schools and teachers in each of the three states were asked to participate in reporting on the content of instruction and practices used in classrooms in mathematics and English langue arts. Data on instruction from all teachers in grades 4-8 for special education and general education were analyzed in relation to state standards, Common Core Standards, academic assessments, and, alternate assessments (where appropriate). Online data reports from over 600 teachers and 60 grade-specific standards and assessments were analyzed across subjects and state samples. Additionally, state and district specific results were reported directly to school and teacher leader teams, and a model for professional development and data-driven improvement was developed and tested through the project.
Until recently, relatively little research has documented the extent to which standards-based instruction at grade level is delivered by general education teachers as compared to special education teachers (Roach, Namisi-Chilungu, et al., 2009). One prior multi-state study showed that students with disabilities working in special education classrooms are typically receiving fewer opportunities to learn expected content than their general education peers (Kurz, Elliott, & Smithson, 2009). The three-state consortium project was designed to measure differences across a range of classroom and school conditions for educating students with disabilities—including resource rooms, co-teaching, pull-out classes, and instruction by general academic teachers.
The project analyzed differences in instruction across states using several dimensions: a) instructional content provided by general education and special education teachers working with a range of students with IEPs, including students with significant cognitive disabilities (1%), b) instructional practices used by teachers with varying student characteristics, including average LRE (least restrictive environment), class size, and achievement level, c) instructional content and practices provided by special education teachers in self-contained classes for students with significant cognitive disabilities, d) how instructional content compares to existing state standards for ELA and math, and the relationship of instructional alignment to student achievement (matching teachers to student assessment scores and gains over time), and e) the extent of instructional gaps between existing instruction in math and ELA and the CCSS.
A key project component was developing and demonstrating data tools and models for professional development that prepare school leaders and teachers to understand, apply and use the reported data in guiding their efforts to improve instruction in relation to Standards. The online data analysis tools and methods will be demonstrated in the proposed Conference session. Consortium leaders will highlight the types of data analyses and materials that were tested with participating schools and leader teams that participated in the data-focused professional development in each state and district. A school-focused professional development guide for using data in aligning instruction to standards and assessments will be demonstrated and discussed.