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Next Florida comes for the ESE teachers

From my district's certification office:

ANY PERSON (regardless of position or job status) applying for renewal of a Professional Certificate must earn at least one (1) semester hour of college credit or the equivalent twenty (20) in-service points in the instruction of students with disabilities. The credit in the instruction of students with disabilities will now be required as a part of the overall credit for any renewal application received on or after July 1, 2014.

I can see it now Florida’s classrooms are about to come a dumping ground for children with disabilities as the state phases out ESE classes but if the state thinks teachers will be ready for our most profound or difficult children after one college credit then they have another thing coming. I also wonder if regular education teachers previously exempt from writing IEPs are now going to have to add them to their already full plates.

Don’t our disabled kids deserve a teacher that has taken more than one college credit of professional development to teach them and then don’t our regular education teachers already under nearly unbearable pressure deserve a break?

I could not show up and teach math or practically any class successfully after one college hour of learning. Why does the state think regular education teachers can be successful with disabled children after doing the same?

3 comments:

  1. I teach 200 standard (they can't read) students and have 40 ESE students. Keeping up with their accommodations is a full-time job in itself.

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  2. I was asked by my nonverbal autistic son's second grade teacher why he could not read out loud so she could check fluency, and how I knew he could read if he could not read aloud. I told her that he reads in his head, just as she likely does. He answers the worksheets and comprehension questions on paper perfectly, so I am sure he read it. She said we cannot be sure unless he has reading fluency. He CANNOT SPEAK lady! I know the neurotypical kids in class can, but he cannot. It is not that he is unintelligent, but that he cannot form words with his mouth. If a deaf mute person cannot read aloud, how do they know how to read by your standards? You read aloud every second? Signs on the road as you are driving? It was the stupidest thing a teacher ever said to a special needs mother.

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  3. This is a difficult situation to be in. Of course we want our teachers to be highly trained and qualified in their respective fields. This is targeted at teachers who are currently teaching, right? If that is the case, then it is also understandable that we set "realistic" goals for continuing education for teachers (although, it seems that one credit hour is setting the bar low).

    That said, there is a way to diminish the strain on the current system in a way that would allow for greater resource allocation for students who are very much in need of specialized instruction. Research from the late 1990's showed that instructional methods can actually prevent reading difficulties in 97% of children who showed weakness in pre-reading skills. These were the children that, all things being equal, would have ended up in ESE classes. Most of those kids ended up reading at grade level or above by the 2nd grade. They were taught with a neuro-developmental model that explicitly teaches the skill of integrating the multi-sensory features of sound that many people pick up naturally, but that people with dyslexia do not. If we can prevent over 95% of children from requiring ESE services just by changing our methods of reading instruction, we would dramatically increase the availability of resources to those few students who truly need it.

    So what does this have to do with credit hours? It seems to me that, if we know what these methods are (and we do), then school districts should be actively implementing systematic change in order to adopt these research-proven methods, rather than expecting teachers to choose it from a variety of possible items to earn a credit hour in order to fulfill a requirement for re-certification.

    I'd be happy to share more information about the research that was done and the methods of teaching reading skills that came from the research. Email me at stephen.zedler@nowprograms.com.

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