Delaware schools have plan in place to jump-start progress of disabled students
The Delaware City School District received a B on its most recent report card for the progress it's made with disabled students.
Jenny Cardwell, director of secondary special education, said she was happy with the results of the district's report card, adding that teachers and staff will continue to do what is best for students.
"The report card is just one piece of information we look at; it's not the whole piece," she said.
The Ohio Department of Education released district report cards late last month in a new format that replaces the old ratings such as "excellent" and "continuous improvement" with letter grades.
The district met 23 of 24 state standards, earning an A in that category, and got a B in performance index, which measures the achievement of every student enrolled for the entire school year.
Delaware also earned an A overall in the value-added category, which measures how much progress students make over the course of a school year. In the value-added subcategories, however, grades ranged from the B for disabled students to an F for gifted students.
Mindy Rich, director of elementary special education, said the district aims to look at what is best for students regardless of the report card.
Students who are receiving special-education services are preschool children identified as having developmental delays in the areas of communication, such as vision, or motor skills, and school-age children who have a disability condition such as deaf-blindness, autism, speech impairment, multiple disabilities or other specific learning disabilities.
Cardwell said special-education students follow the same curriculum as all other students in the district.
"Our students are being educated in the same curriculum and have the same requirements and the same expectations as any of the other students," she said. "There are different learning models and more adaptability to teach the curriculum."
Cardwell said disabled students are expected to perform at the same rates as any other student in the district.
She said since last year, the district has made some changes at the high school level that have demonstrated growth in the students.
"We have restructured some things and have been doing more targeted intervention for our students," she said. "We are analyzing data in a much deeper way and finding specific areas of deficit and specific skills we need to be improving."
Rich said students have been achieving higher scores on their tests in the past few years, but added they still have a long way to go.
"We aren't there yet," she said. "We are seeing results, but we want to continue to strengthen our teachers who are working with the students in the classroom."
On Aug. 12, the district hired an academic coach in the secondary level, grade 7-12, using grant money from the Ohio Department of Education.
The academic coach will work with teachers on strategies for the classroom to meet the needs of high-risk students, as well as special-education students.
"Their focus will be with co-teaching, working with the general-education teacher and the special-education teacher and how they can work together to meet the needs of diverse students," Cardwell said.
Students who are at risk not to graduate and special-education students who are at risk will be the academic coach's focus.
At the elementary school level, there will be more on-site professional development classes for teachers. In addition, the district is expanding its intervention and programs for disabled students.
"Our new curriculum director has restructured the literacy coaches in the district to focus more on early intervention for our beginning readers," she said.
Rich said none of this is an overnight process, but the district is focusing its efforts on strengthening teachers as well as focusing on literacy for very young students.