Here is a situation that we currently face nationally…. The policy environment around employment is changing. Employment First efforts have reinforced the belief that integrated employment is the first and most preferable option for all individuals.
The policy environment around employment is changing. Employment First efforts have reinforced the belief that integrated employment is the first and most preferable option for all individuals.
There is a mismatch between the policy emphasis and practice in the field. Expectations for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities too often do not include integrated work options. Therefore, their academic, social and transition experiences differ significantly from students that are expected to engage in integrated employment.
Although there are issues in achieving competitive employment that earns a career wage for many students with disabilities, the data for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is very concerning.
Questions about how LRE applies to transition and landmark legal decisions have clarified that schools and communities must examine their expectations and programmatic options to maximize opportunities for all students with disabilities … including students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
How could a convening approach help address this issue?
The progress of students with disabilities is deeply connected to the quality of education provided to all students. Special Education needs to be included in the larger dialogue about policy, strategy and practice. But, with so many divisions, initiatives and funding streams influencing SEA plans, this is difficult to accomplish.
This separation trickles down to the field. It is difficult to help general education leaders to see that they must be partners in changing special education practice. Evidenced –based approaches like Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) have strong connections to special education…but, must have a general education identity to be successful.
Many SEA strategies could be informed by special education research and TA. Likewise, special education practice could benefit significantly from greater general ed. collaboration. Yet, across the Dept., new initiative/proposals/grants continue to be developed independently and fail to build on our collective knowledge and existing efforts.
The district has adopted and implemented school-wide PBIS. Behavior referrals have declined. Teachers are able to focus on teaching and students can focus on learning. Still, many students have needs that surpass the school-wide approaches. There are numbers of students who are in need of ‘tier 2’ or ‘tier 3’ services. The school staff cannot provide all that these students need.
The district, in collaboration with the community services, proposes to work together to meet the needs of all the students. While the school staff knows they need help, they are skeptical about the ability to make the new collaboration work. Community staff wonder how their current approaches will be received in a school setting.
They decide that their best chance for success is authentic engagement of the potential partners and others that will be impacted by developing a new more ‘comprehensive’ system.
Using the convening approach, how could they begin?
What should they ‘pay attention to’ as their work develops?
A local school has identified an evidence based practices that seems to have relevance to the problems that they face. The protocol for the practice recommends that they secure 80% support before initiating a practice. In a faulty meeting, the principal makes it clear that she wants to initiate the training in this practice and gets compliance.
It might be a stretch to say that there is support…but the training goes well. Most of the faculty follows the protocol, completes the fidelity checks and participate in data teams using time that the principal has created in the schedule.
Things seem to be going well…but the principal has an uneasy feeling
about the true support for the practice. She wonders:
How might she approach these doubts in a convening framework?