Summer vacation is a time for reflection. You have an IEP for every special child you teach, and the growth each student has made will be measured in relation to that IEP. If you are in a K-12 classroom, the children you worked with this past year are moving up to a new grade and there’s a temptation to bundle up and pass along IEPs for the new teachers in the next grade and get ready for your new flock. There’s a danger in this practice, have you made sure the students from this past year have met all their IEP goals? New software for managing IEPs may be helping you stay in touch with progress, but if you are a process oriented person, it would behoove you to go back through every IEP from this past school year to see if goals have been met. If not, and chances are not all goals have been met, you’ll want to evaluate materials and methods to find more effective ways to bring those students to readiness for the next grade, or to adjust IEP goals so they are more realistic. Many IEP meetings take place first thing in September, now’s the time to prepare.
The federal government says the average cost of educating a student is around $11,000 per year (this of course varies by state and by individual school district). Are parents getting their $11,000 worth for each student for which you are responsible? Educating students is a tough business and costs go up rapidly for educating disabled children. If you don’t think even a concentrated effort has brought students to the level of growth you want to see, you might recommend that certain students go to a summer program. That will increase the cost of educating each student that you recommend for these intensive efforts, but it may be a good investment to help the student gain some valuable skills. By the end of the summer, the lingering unmet goals should be met and you can move kids up to the next level with a clear conscience.
Even in schools that show good average gains, you may still have individual students who do not show the growth they should. These are the students we want to focus on. The IEP development process for next year needs to be inspected to make sure there is a legal document in place in September that gets kids off to a great start. The teacher in that next level will be grateful, and so will you, there won’t be that lingering fear that something was left undone.
It’s a fact that we spend more on educating students with disabilities than we do on other students. That tends to increase the pressure on teachers and administrators to make sure that a majority of these students are growing at a pace that will at least make them competitive in the work force once they graduate. We want to try to get every ounce of growth possible out of these students so they can be both productive and competitive for the rest of their lives.
If you have some students that defy goal-setting and seem to stand still no matter what you do, you must investigate new ways to teach these kids. Technology has shown great promise in this regard. There are some wonderful computer programs, especially for reading, that have helped students excel where traditional methods have failed. Your school library media specialist or technology coordinator will be trained in finding those programs that show promise to bring special students up to planned levels. When you identify programs and methods, you’ll also need to identify the funds required to pay for them.
Achievement Products® Free Grant Database will cut your funding search down to size. Special education technology programs are wonderful subjects for grant applications. Most have research to support their effectiveness in teaching the skills you are targeting, and foundations and corporations like to pay for them. They are finite units that can studied and pointed to for their effectiveness. Software programs and Internet based learning tools are also good investments for special kids because they are often effective in attracting your most disengaged child. Kids who just don’t seem to respond to all your work with traditional tools, sometimes warm up to a technology solution. Also, in the case of internet programs (in the “cloud”), the programs are regularly updated and improved at no additional cost. You don’t need to keep buying new versions, the updates are automatic in the background. You’ll also find that most of the publishers of these programs are very happy to work with you to get the program you need and adjust it to your needs. It’s in their best interests to be responsive. Achievement Products® adaptive technologies may assist in your goal setting process too.
So it’s summer, you’re going to take last year’s IEPs, go through them carefully to see if goals have been met, and come up with strategies and funding to support children that will be ready to learn in a new grade.
Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Dollar General Literacy Foundation Youth Literacy Grants provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Grant funding is provided to assist in the following areas:
Implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs; purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives; and purchasing books, materials or software for literacy programs.
States: All States
Average Amount: $4,000.00
Website: Dollar General Website
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other.
Program Funded: After-School, At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Early Childhood, ESL/Bilingual/Foreign Language, General Education, Library, Reading, Special Education.
Deadline to Apply: 5/23/2014
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