Schoharie CSD has changed the way it delivers much of its special education instruction.
After more than a year of research, planning and training, the district in September implemented co-teaching in grades 2 through 8.
“Co-teaching is a model where we have a special educator and a general educator in a room at the same time with the expectation that the special ed teacher is helping with all of the students,” said Matthew Wright, director of curriculum and pupil personnel services.
The former model involved separate classrooms and/or consultant teachers pushing into multiple classrooms, with some students attending mainstream classes with their peers. This system was less inclusive and involved less exposure to grade-level content, according to Wright.
The new co-teaching model has benefits for all students, not just those who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
“The goal would be to walk in and not know who is the special ed teacher and who is the regular teacher,” Wright said. “When we have two teachers that bring different skill sets into a lesson, then everybody in that room benefits from those different perspectives.”
The former model did include students with IEPs getting some level of instruction in general classrooms, but one benefit of the new model is the consistency of having two teachers assigned to room, rather than having consultant teachers moving from room to room, according to Wright.
There was no increase in teaching staff due to the shift away from consultant teachers to co-teaching. The one additional teacher this year in the elementary school is due to an increase in enrollment in fourth grade.