Area of Nomination: Literacy
Sandy Creek Central School District took advantage of opportunities provided by the Reading First program to develop an intervention strategy for students with disabilities collaboratively designed and implemented by the reading and special education departments.
The Sandy Creek Central School District serves approximately 990 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. There is a 95% graduation rate and 75% of the graduates continue in some form of post-secondary programming. Over 55% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch cost. Less than 1% of students are African American, Hispanic or Asian.
In 2003, Sandy Creek Elementary School became a Reading First school. The highly prescriptive reading program presented challenges for educators providing instruction to students with disabilities in the inclusive environment to which the school is committed. After a self-described rocky start, the decision was made to see Reading First as a challenge that could improve the delivery of services and impact the success of students with disabilities. The reading and special education departments plan and work collaboratively as a team to provide appropriate, intensive services for all students, requiring that all involved be creative, determined, and outspoken. The result is a remarkable program that is benefiting students with disabilities and their typical peers in the early elementary grades and as they progress in their educations.
Why was the practice initiated:
The inclusive Reading First model was initiated in response to the Sandy Creek School District's desire to mesh a structured, data-driven reading program in the elementary school with the inclusive special education service delivery model, which had been in place since 1989-90 school year.
Why the practice was validated by S³TAIR:
Since its inception in 2003, this practice has resulted in an overall
40% improvement in the number of students that have reached benchmark
standards on Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
in kindergarten through grade 3 (38% to 78%) and grades 4 and 5 (30% to
70%) .Fifty-four students with disabilities have been declassified and
the number of students with disabilities has decreased by over 40%; by
2007-08, the number of students with disabilities had fallen below 3 for
each assessed grade. These students successfully transitioned to general
education, as is reflected in New York State (NYS) English language arts
(ELA) Assessment outcomes: In 2007-08, 73% of students in general
education at grade 3 achieved levels 3-4, and 13% achieved level 4; 60%
of 4th grade students achieved levels 3-4 and 5% achieved level4; and
85% of 5th graders achieved levels 3-4 and 9% achieved level 4.
The district is committed to collecting data and actively using the information to drive instruction. All teachers are responsible for collecting data from a variety of sources that include the Early Reading Intervention, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Houghton Mifflin Theme, Word Lists and Word Passages Assessments and DIBELS. All teachers in grades K-6 have a Palm Pilot device to use for DIBELS assessments and to access information during data meetings. Teachers are active participants in team data meetings to assess student progress and plan instruction and interventions for large and small group and individual instruction.
Team data meetings provide a platform to discuss and gauge program fidelity and stress structured and focused time management and distributed accountability for data collection and analysis. The number of students with disabilities has decreased dramatically over the years of implementation. Those students who are identified are placed through a well thought out process that places each student with general education sections in the grade level rather than with special education teachers. Special education teachers go to the general education classroom to provide support to students and teachers at the point of instruction, using a consultant, co-teaching or in class resource model.