Yesterday I attended an IEP/Annual Review for a student of Woodstock's own therapeutic day school at Clay Academy (formerly known as Clay Elementary School). I was invited by the student's parents and thought I was going to a parent-teacher conference.
Imagine my surprise (well, not too great) at being ushered into the principal's office and finding quite a few people present: principal, nurse, social worker, outside agency rep., school district office rep, teacher, case manager and two parents.
This particular student has had a very high rate of absenteeism; in fact, out of 43 school days since mid-January, he attended on 17 (if I remember the count correctly from the attendance report).
Although the 15-year-old student was invited to attend, he did not accompany his parents to the meeting. There are some meetings where it's better that the student not attend, and this was one of them.
His progress was reported as non-existent, "due to the number of absences." After listening for about 90 minutes, I was asked if I had a comment, and I asked whether the school had attempted to determine the cause for the absences. Exactly, I meant.
I suggested a Functional Behavior Assessment, which is a well-known tool designed to reveal the causes of any particular behavior are. If properly used, an FBA can often pinpoint what is leading up to the behavior in question. You look for causes; what happened before the behavior;what was to the student; who was present; what happened before that? And before that?
The popular phrase, "the devil is in the details", comes to mind. Teachers and staff must be honest and complete in their reporting.
If a student reports that a teacher is constantly yelling at him, a teacher may deny it. But, is it happening? Responses are sometimes "politically correct". Sometimes (often?) they are couched in "workshop" or "in-service" terms that protect the teacher. But, if the student feels "yelled at" and shuts down or acts out, and it's a therapeutic school setting for special-needs students, then the teacher and staff should be figuring out Plan B.
These teachers have a tough job. There is no doubt about it. But they also have smaller caseloads and small classes. We need, and the kids deserve, the "Ron Clarks" and the "Erin Gruwells" of the educational world. If you don't know who they are, do a search on Google for "Ron Clark 55" and Erin's name.
Sorry, but "no progress" is not an acceptable report. There must be some progress, even if you only pick up from the last day of attendance and go on (even a little).
May 26 4:30PM - Misleading countdown timer
1 month ago