Saturday, September 26, 2015

Low Expectations and Students with Disabilities

Research shows that 95% of students with learning disabilities are capable of engaging fully with grade level work. School administrators, teachers, and parents don't always believe it. Many students are prescribed accommodations and modifications that are taking them away from getting a quality education and many are based on low or no expectations. 

Special education's purpose is to give every child a chance at an equitable education, yet many administrators, teachers, parents, and even students want less work, no work, modified curriculum, easier work, and lowered expectations. Simplified and reduced engagement in curriculum leave students further and further behind.    

Low expectations and poor educational opportunities are limiting
65 million students chances at academic, career and or entrepreneurial success. Low expectations are systemic, they are built into the scripted basal curriculum and the push for a one size fits all education mentality. Common Bore! We must do better and learn how to develop high expectations with real results. We need to stop trying to turn our children into battery hens. 


Not Surprisingly, many of the 6.5 million US students with disabilities in this country leave high school without the academic skills necessary to thrive in a constantly changing economy. While the vast majority of students in special education do not have significant cognitive impairments that prohibit them from learning rigorous academic content, fewer than 10 percent of eighth graders with disabilities are proficient in reading and math based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress  (NAEP Data AND Reports 90% of students with disabilities are not proficient in reading and math, they are failing to thrive and succeed academically! 

When millions of students leave high school every year without the ability to read or do math at a high-school level, raising standards is simply not enough. Noneducators are focused on improving results and have mandated reforms that are pure tommyrot, they will never be effective in meeting the requirements of our students and do more harm. 

Teachers need great training, more autonomy, less scripted basal curricula, more pay, smaller classes, more support and zero teacher-bashing by politicians and the media. That paradigm will not change anytime soon so teachers need real information they can use. 

Teachers need real actionable data that they create, based on the student's individual academic and social-emotional needs. Using formative assessments daily is intrinsic to all teachers, yet many teachers need more training with high-quality diagnostic assessments like the Brigance comprehensive inventory of academic skills. The Brigance helps classroom teachers easily assess critical Academic Skills that support academic success, goal planning and at the same time trains the teacher as an "educational pathologist" diagnosing and analyzing critical academic gaps that impeded students ability to thrive. The many standards and criterion-based (Developmental and Academic Benchmarks) diagnostic assessments give teachers real actionable data, instructional targets and goals and objectives to help students. When teachers are given training, diagnostic tools, and the autonomy to meet the needs of their unique classroom needs students will thrive, and low or misguided expectations are replaced with high expectations that come with actionable data.

My first few years of teaching special needs students taught me the power of diagnosing academic problems using Diagnostic screens and assessments. The Brigance Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills and The Woodcock-Johnson® III Tests of Achievement are the two I was trained to use. The school also used the Success For All reading system and extensive progress monitoring protocols. My self-contained special education class included students who receive special education and related services, my class contained children with educable mental retardation (EMR), Traumatic Brain Injuries, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and unrecognized or undiagnosed comorbidity conditions. 80-90% of the students were performing above ability level and many students were reading at grade level. My students received two intensive 90 minute SFA literacy blocks every day.

The criterion-referenced CIBS II includes both a Reading/ELA Inventory and a Mathematics Inventory. The CIBS II Reading/English Language Arts (ELA) Inventory includes reading and writing assessments that correlate to commonly tested reading and ELA skills and strategies that reflect state and national standards.

SFA Progress Monitoring progression: Identify a school goal. Identify areas of concern. Establish targets. Identify root causes. Select interventions. Create a new or revised achievement plan. Evaluate results and identify future actions.

The Woodcock-Johnson® III Tests of Achievement includes 22 tests for measuring skills in reading, mathematics, and writing, as well as important oral language abilities and academic knowledge

My primary academic diagnostic tool that I still use today is the used 1999 Brigance CIBS R that I bought from I have used the information gleaned from years of testing to guide instructional planning. The knowledge gained from these diagnostic instruments and academic screening tools have been used with great success for the past16 years. 80-90% of my special education students read at or above grade level by the end of the year. Recent revisions of the Brigance academic screens and inventories have included Common Core Standards, normed and criterion assessments. Classroom teachers and parents with children with disabilities should use the easy to use diagnostic instruments and goal setting tools to help their children thrive and excel. Sean Taylor M.Ed Special Education 

Albert H. Brigance, an author, and special education resource specialist, resided in Maryville, Tennessee, USA, until his death in 2007.

In 1975-1978, Brigance created a comprehensive inventory of basic skills for his own use in his work as an assessment specialist for the California Master Plan in Humboldt and Del-Norte counties in northern California. Colleagues urged him to find a commercial publisher. The Brigance Inventory of Basic Skills became an instrument for assessment evaluation, student academic placement, Individual Educational Plans (IEPs), and instructional planning. 

All Teachers are Education Pathologist:

An Education Pathologist is a teacher who assesses, examines and discusses a student's academic and social-emotional needs, they administer and check the accuracy of academic diagnostic tests and interprets the results (Actionable Data) in order to facilitate the students' "diagnosis" and education treatment (corrective or compensatory education services). The Education Pathologist will analyze the students' academic history and look for missing skills and academic abnormalities. When corrective or compensatory education services are necessary, they will also assess and examine developmental benchmarks for gaps. The Education Pathologists interpretation of tests results that include targeted goals and objectives will help the education team identify the cause of the student's academic deficiencies. Once they’ve found the cause, they can begin treatment.


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