Significant change is underway to strengthen Capital Region BOCES’ special education program over the next three to five years.
This includes changes to the student intake process, behavioral supports, approaches to classroom management and literacy instruction. These areas were flagged as in need of improvement in a consultant’s review of the division in 2016.
A 17-member committee—comprised of special education faculty and staff, representatives from component districts and county agencies—met under the direction of BOCES’ leadership and consultants to create a plan for implementing the changes.
The development of internal processes and procedures began in fall 2017; and other changes will be implemented beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
Overview of the Work Ahead
- A new student placement administrator, with a psychology and administrative background, will oversee the intake process, ensuring that student learning characteristics and needs are aligned to appropriate BOCES’ programs.
- Program descriptions will be re-written to include clear and detailed language about learner characteristics so that district Committee on Special Education (CSE) chairs and student’s families can gain a clear understanding of how each program is structured and what supports will be available.
- After a student enters the BOCES program, there will be a review within 30 days to ensure that the program chosen closely aligns with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). This review includes a process for accommodating hard to place students and supporting their families.
Approaches to classroom management
- Embedded (in class/in-the-moment) professional development will support teachers in the work they do — showing, rather than just telling them about how these approaches can work in their individual environments and with individual students.
- Each stand-alone site (Maywood, Fulton Academy and Rotterdam Academy I) will have an on-site behavior specialist available to assist staff there in the Response to Intervention (RtI) approach. These individuals will also be available to staff in need of support from school district-based BOCES special education programs.
- A new problem-solving BOCES-wide Student Support Team (SST) will be available to staff to help support the instructional, behavioral and medical needs of complex students. This team will consist of the division’s deputy director, student placement administrator, behavior specialist, representatives of the OT/PT/speech/social work groups, and the CSE from the student’s home district.
- Three behavior specialists are being hired to provide consultation to teachers and parents on behavior management and to assist staff in developing high quality Behavior Intervention Plans and Individual Crisis Intervention Plans.
- Code of Conduct publications were developed in Fall 2017 for elementary, middle and high school students to ensure they have developmentally appropriate information on behavioral expectations.
- A curriculum and instructional plan will be developed that includes job-embedded training. A significant piece of this is the adoption of a research-based K-12 approach to literacy, based on the “five pillars” (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.)
- Two additional literacy instructional coaches will be hired to help implement this approach.
The plan for implementing these changes was approved by the BOCES Board of Education on July 17, 2017.