Nomination: Special Education Instruction
School: Garden City Middle School
District: Garden City Union Free School District
Region: Long Island
Grade Level: Middle School
The practice is also featured in the Mentor School Showcase.
Staff of the Garden City Middle School hold the belief that all students should have access to the general education curriculum and that all students can be successful. They have developed a support model that allows students typically educated in special classes to participate and succeed in general education inclusion classrooms across the curriculum.
Garden City Union Free School District educates approximately 4,200 students in Nassau County, Long Island. Their Needs/Resource Capacity is Low, with less than one percent of their population eligible for free/reduced lunch. Less than one percent of the population is limited English proficient. The student composition is 94% white, 3% Asian or Pacific Islander, 2% Hispanic or Latino, and 1% Black or African American.
The Garden City Inclusion Support Model offers students with disabilities enrolled in inclusion classrooms a daily skills support class and a 2-3 times weekly content support class for each content area subject addressed in the inclusion class, affording these students 50% additional supported content learning time.
Why was the practice initiated:
Garden City Middle School staff wanted to prepare their students with disabilities for Regents-level outcomes in the middle school setting. Based on research showing equal or better academic performance, social behavior, and self esteem for students with disabilities educated in the general education environment, the school designed an inclusive model of education for students who had been in self-contained placements in the elementary grades. The administration built a schedule that, in addition to content taught in inclusive general education content classes, offers all students with disabilities a daily special education small group support period taught by a special education teacher and referred to as their team period, and multiple content support classes taught by content-certified teachers each week. This initiative began with math classes and has since been expanded to include English language arts (ELA), science, social studies, and world language. Data support the effectiveness of the program, with success achieved through collaboration and evidence based instructional strategies.
Why the practice was validated by S³TAIR:
The Garden City Middle School inclusion/support model provides students with disabilities with support for success in achieving a regular high school diploma. Since the inception of the model, Garden City Middle School has consistently achieved adequate yearly progress (AYP) and successful outcomes on State Performance Plan targets. In addition, results from a three-year longitudinal cohort study comparing the performance on the grades 6-8 Math assessments for students in the inclusion/support model versus students in self-contained classes showed little to no significant gains in average score for the self-contained cohorts, while all of the inclusion/support cohorts demonstrated gains, some in excess of 25 points in a year and 40 points over two years.
This practice has been implemented and sustained without additional
staffing or space based on creative use of scheduling to support teacher
planning, parallel content inclusion classes, and support periods. The
model successfully redefines teachers as content specialists and
learning strategists and ensures the continued interface of committed
professionals. The model of ongoing side-by-side collaboration results
in sharing of capacity, providing natural job embedded professional
development and strong mentoring opportunities for new teachers. The
district is seriously considering replication at the high school using a
similar scheduling structure.