Teachers Get a Better IDEA

Teachers Get a Better IDEA

Changes in the law open new doors for at-risk students

Think IDEA legislation is just for special education teachers? Not anymore.

Last year, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), changing the playing fi eld for both special education and general education teachers. By allowing schools to use up to 15% of their IDEA funds to help keep at-risk students out of the special education system, this new legislation has the potential to introduce a new era of special education: one based on collaboration, early identifi cation, and individualized intervention.

IDEA allows schools to look at a child’s response to scientifi c, researchbased intervention as part of the special education evaluation process to determine if that child has a disability. Th is intervention model is now commonly referred to as “response to intervention,” or RTI. The objective of this model is to ensure that those children at risk for failing early grades—up to 40%, according to the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education—receive scientific, researchbased intervention as soon as possible.

"We're planning to use the LeapTrack system schoolwide for all low performers because teachers can quickly and continuously assess students' skills, pinpoint areas for improvement, and create an individualized learning experience for every student." -Grethe Holtan, principal Ellerhorst Elementary School West Contra Costa Unifi ed School District Pinole, California

As the U.S. Department of Education works to defi ne what RTI models should look like, a California elementary school has found a model that is making a difference in its classrooms: one using LeapFrog SchoolHouse products. Since last school year, Ellerhorst Elementary has implemented both The Literacy Center curriculum and the LeapTrack? Assessment & Instruction System, resulting in substantial gains in letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and overall reading ability among its specialneeds students. The school is now expanding these programs into additional classrooms to address the needs of many students. “These LeapFrog SchoolHouse programs are so effective for our special-needs students,” says Ellerhorst Elementary principal Grethe Holtan, “because they instruct and motivate students with tools that are fun and engaging. They are teacher-friendly by virtue of their computerized tracking system and ability to generate actionable assessments and reports. We’re planning to use the LeapTrack system schoolwide for all low performers because teachers can quickly and continuously assess students’ skills, pinpoint areas for improvement, and create an individualized learning experience for every student.”

LeapFrog SchoolHouse? materials are known for their use of multisensory components, which offer an individualized approach to learning that speaks directly to the needs of at-risk students.

“The Literacy Center is being used in my classroom as both an assessment tool and an instructional tool,” says Patricia Ogura, a K?1 teacher at Ellerhorst. “The assessments provide not only a clear picture of the child’s current academic abilities, but are formative as well. Lesson plans generated by The Literacy Center specifically target the child’s weak areas.” Effective and engaging, these programs provide the kind of targeted instruction required to meet rigorous academic standards for all students.

“These tools, while not a magic bullet,” adds Holtan, “give students a sense of independence and a sense of what they can do, and they provide individualized lesson plans that address the weak areas of each student. They help the students and they help me. What more can I ask?”

LEAPFROG SCHOOLHOUSE and LEAPTRACK are trademarks or registered trademarks of LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. ?2005 LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. LeapFrog SchoolHouse is a division of LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.


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