Community Consolidated School District 180, Burr Ridge, Illinois
Challenge: In a district with more than 80 percent of students identified as low-income, many children entered kindergarten unprepared. Students struggled and exhibited behavior problems, and were eventually referred to special education and considered for retention.
Initiative: The Stepping Stones kindergarten program assures first-grade readiness for all students. An additional kindergarten teacher—licensed in both general education and special education—serves in multiple classes to support special education students, to provide interventions and to ensure IEP plans are followed. The teacher also provides separate instruction in social, emotional and academic areas for about a dozen students who have been identified as deficient in readiness skills. Parents also come to the classroom for education sessions.
Impact: Although the program is only finishing its first year, “we are beginning to bridge the gap between kindergarten and first grade,” says Kathleen Briseno, director of special education. A number of students who received extra support have been reintegrated to their full classes.
Advice: Monitor students and the program to determine if the delivery approach is congruent with the purpose. Provide integrated experiences that embed language development, literacy, social-emotional growth and traditional subjects in a play-driven, hands-on learning environment.