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Pennsylvania Special Education

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Inclusionary Classroom Practices

Assignment: "What's happening in your state" Interview

February 3, 2006

Steve Oltman

I had the opportunity to interview Doris Martin, Director of Special Education Services for the Quakertown Community School District. Three questions were presented to Ms. Martin concerning IDEIA and how it affects our school district. Ms. Martin responded with a 4 page synopsis on the affects of the recent changes included in IDEIA. The information in the following paragraphs is a summary of her responses.

The first question was: How has reauthorization of IDEA affected your district? Ms. Martin responded with five key elements. The first impacted area was the new forms that are to be used country wide. The biggest challenge is identified as having to educate all teachers about the use of the new forms. Another area is in discipline. Changes in discipline procedures involve conducting manifestation determination meetings and placement in alternate education settings for incidents involving drugs, weapons, or serious bodily injury.

Response to intervention (RTI) is viewed as a hot topic in that regular educators who do not fully understand the initiative view this as an alternative way for students to qualify for special education services. It is taking much time and effort to help professionals understand the RTI is all about the use of research-based interventions being put into place and given time to be effective prior to the request for special education services. Ms. Martin finds herself constantly explaining what it is, what it would take to implement and why we will continue to use the discrepancy model for identification of learning disabilities for the foreseeable future.

Highly-Qualified Teachers have really impacted the district. To insure that all teachers are highly qualified to teach the content areas they are providing instruction in was a major effort. In addition, implementing a co-teaching model in grades 6 through 12 was a major undertaking for the district. She states that many of the changes in the law do not have a direct impact on teachers, but the highly qualified portion does.

My second question was: What immediate changes do you witness taking place because of this reauthorization? Ms. Martin identified several impacted areas:

* Focus on data-collection and progress monitoring

* Use of new forms

* Training,

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