“Do What You Think Like”

By: Steven Tobias, Psy.D. 

What do Character Education, Mindfulness, religion, emotional intelligence, Weight Watchers, and your mother all have in common?  They all want you to think before you act, which is actually hard to do.   

As human beings, we tend to do what we “feel” like.  When we act based solely on our emotions, we are using our reptilian brains, and then we shouldn’t be surprised when we respond like an alligator, chameleon, or snake in a highly charged emotional situation. Unfortunately, we have a strong tendency to respond reflexively with “fight or flight” triggered by primitive parts of the brain.   Thinking seems to be a fragile ability, which is why we have to strengthen it.

So, what can we do?  First, soothe the beast.  Take care of yourself.  Have fun.  Be with others you love.  Do meaningful and rewarding activities.  This reduces the stress that feeds the tyrannosaurus inside you.  Yes, you are too busy with work, needs of your family, home, and distraction of screens (but that’s for another blog).  Get your calendar  (I’ll wait)…  Put “ME” time on the calendar.  Do it now, or you will never “find” the time.  You can decide later what to do, but make sure it is what you want and is pleasurable.

The above is a prerequisite for thinking.  The more stressed you are and focused on others, the harder it is to think.  Now that your life is back in balance, let’s work on thinking.

  1. Reflect: What is going on? How do I and others feel? This stimulates your deliberate human brain to control your impulsive reptilian brain.
  2. Consider: What is your goal? This will give you direction and purpose.
  3. Decide: What can you do? What else?  What have you done before?  The more solutions you can brainstorm, the better chance of success.  Then, set a deliberate plan:  who is involved, what are you going to do, when are you going to do it, where are your going to do it, and how are you going to do it?  By the way, the “why” is so that you can get what you want.

This is doing what you think like, not what you feel like, and is more likely to get you what you want emotionally, socially, and materially.

Want to learn more? Join us for the next webinar in our SEL Expert Webinar Series presented by Steven Tobias, Psy.D. This webinar will teach how to be aware of and control emotions that lead us to poor decision making, how to set deliberate goals for oneself, and how to follow through with actions that are consistent with what one really wants.  The trick is to “think” while feeling, and this is harder than one might think.

By: Steven Tobias, Psy.D. 
Steven Tobias, Psy.D., is the director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown, New Jersey. He has over thirty years of experience working with children, parents, families, and schools. Dr. Tobias feels a strong commitment to children’s social and emotional development and provides consultation to schools as a way of reaching many children, including those who are underserved in terms of their social and emotional needs. He has coauthored several books with Dr. Maurice Elias, including Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers. He has given lectures throughout the United States on topics related to parenting and children’s emotional development. Dr. Tobias lives in New Jersey. Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D Professor of Psychology at Rutgers., and Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D Director for Center of Child and Family development are the authors of several books including: Boost Emotional Intelligence in Students and Emotionally Intelligent Parenting.

Press Release: Cultivating Safe, Supportive Schools & Communities: City School District of New Rochelle Partners with Rethink Ed to Roll Out New Learning Initiative

With every new school year comes the promise of a new beginning: new academic subjects, new teachers, new classmates, new friends, and, of course, new opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.

And so it is for the students, teachers, administrators, and parents of the New Rochelle Public School district.

That’s because the 2018-2019 school year is bringing with it an extended partnership with Rethink Ed and the implementation of Rethink Ed’s Social and Emotional Learning Solution, designed to promote active learning, mutual respect, and well-being within the entire district, for all students.

“We couldn’t be more excited to expand our six-year partnership with New Rochelle Public School District by implementing our comprehensive SEL Solution,” says Diana Frezza, senior vice president of Education for Rethink Ed. “Not only is SEL scientifically linked to improved academic outcomes, it’s shown to have a profound effect on increasing prosocial behavior and creating higher quality relationships. Ours is a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind SEL Solution for alllearners, including the educators who teach them and the parents who support them.”

Amy Goodman, Assistant Superintendent for Student Service, has her district keenly focused on SEL, or social and emotional learning.  SEL refers to evidence-based practices rooted in applied learning and rigorous social psychology. These practices underscore the why and how behind understanding, using, and managing emotions, which then leads to a whole host of positive changes academically, socially, and emotionally.

All human thoughts, actions, and behaviors—what we pay attention to, how we manage our time, the decisions we make, the way we feel about ourselves, how we treat others—are driven by emotions. Fundamental to Rethink Ed’s SEL Solution is a series of interrelated social and emotional skills that support learning, promote development, improve achievement, and encourage connectedness. The results of successfully implementing a whole-community SEL Solution is remarkable: engaged learners, happier teachers, and socially healthy communities.

That, coupled with the district’s prior work with Rethink Ed on training and support to the New Rochelle Special Education team and students, led the district to extend its partnership with the EdTech innovator and research-based content provider.

Naturally, the City School District of New Rochelle is equally excited about the extension of the alliance, says Amy Goodman, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for Student Support Services.

“Not only does Rethink Ed’s SEL Solution align with the national competencies set by CASEL,” she says, “it extends and enhances the value of the work we’re already doing in our Multi-Tiered System of Supports initiative. That means our Rethink Ed SEL initiative will touch all students, across all grades, in all our schools, as well as every administrator, educator, and parent.”

Ms. Goodman adds “The advantage of implementing Rethink Ed’s whole-community SEL Solution is that it helps advance the vision of district administration to foster cooperation and increase collaboration with Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) teams, principals, and community outreach.”

“Rethink Ed’s comprehensive, all-learners, whole-community approach to SEL complements the positive and forward direction this district is headed,” says Goodman, “which is to create and sustain healthy and supportive school, family, and community environments.”

About Rethink Ed

Rethink Ed combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable, and evidence-based instructional materials that positively impact educators, students, and their families. With a comprehensive suite of tools, Rethink Ed ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral, and social & emotional skills necessary to succeed in school, at work, and throughout life.

The City School District of New Rochelle

The City School District of New Rochelle works to provide a high-quality education for every child within a safe and nurturing environment. The District seeks to embrace its rich diversity, and to further student success in partnership with a dedicated team of parents, teachers, administrators, and staff.

Learn More: https://go.rethinkfirst.com/l/83952/2018-08-20/b4c9hx

Rethink Ed, ERB Launch Groundbreaking SEL Solution with Embedded Assessment to improve culture and climate in schools

Rethink Ed and the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) have launched the first comprehensive social and emotional learning solution that includes an integrated assessment, on-demand professional development, and a multi-tiered curriculum for all learners.

A key differentiator in Rethink Ed’s approach is that SEL is for all learners, and that includes teachers, as well as students in general and special education. Rethink Ed’s SEL professional development series not only helps improve the social-emotional well-being of the teacher but also empowers them with the knowledge and confidence to teach SEL successfully to their students. Rethink Ed’s curriculum address the learning needs of all students, including students in Tiers 1, Tiers 2 and 3.

Rethink Ed’s SEL approach is based on research that students who are motivated, who know how to learn from failures, and who persist through challenges are the most successful in school and adulthood. An essential part of a student’s development, SEL skills such as “communication” and “relationship building” are rarely taught of formally measured in American schools.

And yet, today’s caregivers and teachers are charged with preparing children in a rapidly changing, technology-saturated world in which an estimated 65 percent of children entering school today will eventually have jobs that don’t yet exist. To thrive, students will need more than traditional academic learning, said Rethink Ed Senior Vice President Diana Frezza.

“The keys to a successful program of developing SEL competencies are to begin with standardized measurement to assess where you are and then to link programs and professional development to the outcomes of that measurement,” said Dr. Tom Rochon, ERB president. “We are delighted to partner with Rethink Ed on an innovative product that for the first time provides students and teachers a reliable, effective means of measuring ‘soft skills’ and then acting on the results.”

A key differentiator, ERB’s assessment is a measure of socio-emotional learning as described by the five CASEL competencies, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. The combination of ERB’s assessment tool with Rethink Ed’s curriculum and professional development components allows teachers and students to make classroom adjustments that meet individual student needs.

“ERB’s SEL assessment serves as an objective lens through which schools and districts can measure their students’ social and emotional learning skills, intervene appropriately to address deficiencies, and evaluate the effectiveness of their curricula and teacher professional development,” Frezza said.

“Our world will demand that today’s students are communicators, collaborators, and problem solvers,” Frezza explained. “A data-informed SEL program will prepare students for today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.”

About Rethink Ed

Rethink Ed combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable and evidence-based instructional materials and supports for all learners. The comprehensive suite of tools ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral and social/emotional skills they need to succeed in school, at work, and in life. Rethink Ed positions educators, students and families for success.

About ERB

ERB is a not-for-profit organization providing admission and achievement assessment as well as instructional services for PreK – Grade 12. For 90 years, and with over 2,000 member schools and districts around the world, ERB continues to be a trusted source to inform admission decisions and/or to support curriculum and instruction.

Learn More: http://bit.ly/2rcicKo

Back to School: Rethink Ed Update 2018

Summer 2018 has been a busy few months for Rethink Ed! We are excited to share some of our latest updates!

  1. We’ve updated the look and feel of the Rethink Ed platform!

  • – Administrators: We’ve created a way for you to easily access an instant snapshot of overall teacher usage and student performance so you can achieve accountability and transparency across the district.
  • – Educators: We’ve simplified data collection, added an incident tracking feature, and created a way for you to easily search and find lessons!

*We will have guided tours and trainings available to assist you and your staff. If you have any additional questions about the new Rethink Ed UI or want more information on Rethink Ed register for our upcoming webinar: 5 Rethink Ed Platform Updates You’ll Want to Try

2. We’ve partnered with ERB, Educational Records Bureau, to launch Rethink SEL, a groundbreaking SEL Solution with Embedded Assessment to improve culture and climate in schools. It is the first comprehensive social and emotional learning solution that includes an integrated assessment, on-demand professional development, and a multi-tiered curriculum for all learners. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2rcicKo

3. We’ve teamed up with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, to pioneer the first SEL Superintendent Convening, Educating the Total Child through Social Emotional Learning, in ChicagoOct. 19-20. During this event, school system leaders will convene in Chicago and discuss the needs of the whole child–including social and emotional development. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2MzsLAC

4. We’ve developed a Social and Emotional Learning Administrator Toolkit.

“Rethink is an SEL PK-12 program solution to schools and the only company that I believe has figured out social emotional learning.” -Joseph Erardi, Jr. PhD (Former Superintendent, Newton, CT)

We are excited to share with you a preview of our SEL Administer Tool Kit presented by the former Newtown School Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Erardi. Watch and learn how SEL can help educators and school leaders manage crisis and support Social Emotional Learning.

Follow us on LinkedIn for more up to date Rethink Ed News!

School System Leaders Convene in Chicago on meeting the needs of the whole child–including social and emotional development

“We are proud to partner with AASA, The School Superintendents Association and launch the first SEL superintendent convening”

Rethink Ed and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, announced last week their joint collaboration in pioneering the first SEL Superintendent Convening, Educating the Total Child through Social Emotional Learning, in ChicagoOct. 19-20.

SEL is an innovative practice scientifically linked to successful student development, enhanced school climate, improved well-being, and greater connectedness among administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

“SEL is an evidence-based practice designed to help children and adults understand, use, and manage their emotions to learn,” said Diana Frezza, Rethink Ed’s senior vice president, education. “Because SEL programming for all learners contributes to healthy and supportive school, family and community environments, it only makes sense for us, as creators of the first comprehensive social and emotional learning solution, to partner with AASA to empower school administrators to transform their schools with SEL programming.”

Throughout the two-day symposium, leading superintendents will discuss why and how SEL contributes to educating the whole child, as well as hear from leading experts, learn strategies for enhancing social and emotional skills in children and adults, and examine real-world success stories.

“School administrators not only have a responsibility to ensure academic performance but, as child advocates, they must also meet students’ needs for social and emotional development,” says Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “SEL is proving to be a catalyst for doing just that, so we’re excited to partner with Rethink Ed to host an event that will inform and inspire district leaders who are committed to meeting the varying needs of all children.”

More details about the event, including the agenda, speaker bios, and registration can be directed to Rebecca Shaw at rshaw@aasa.org.

In the meantime, Rethink Ed invites school administrators to receive a complimentary superintendent SEL Toolkit. For additional information on how Rethink Ed can support your schools SEL implementation please visit www.rethinksel.com or schedule a demo today.

About Rethink Ed 

Rethink Ed combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable and evidence-based instructional materials to those who work with students with disabilities. The comprehensive suite of tools ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral and social & emotional skills necessary to succeed in school, at work and in life. Rethink Ed positions educators, students and families for success.

About AASA

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

Read More: https://go.rethinkfirst.com/l/83952/2018-08-09/b45bh8

Inclusion Benefits All Students

By: Debbie Burney

October is National Bullying Awareness Month, and our most vulnerable population for being the victims of bullying are children with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities. Every student deserves to thrive in a safe school and classroom that is free from bullying, and schools have an obligation to keep kids safe. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) notes that:

A growing body of literature suggests that the two most notable predictors of the bullying involvement of students with disabilities are lack of social skills and communication skills. Therefore, teachers could incorporate activities in their daily curriculum that reinforce socially appropriate social and communication skills without directly implementing a prescribed anti-bullying program. Link to article

Rethink Ed provides teachers with lessons they can use with their students with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in general education classrooms. The four domains into which the lessons are categorized are:

  1. Social Communication
  2. Group Participation
  3. Study Skills
  4. Peer Interaction

Join us as we take a deep look into this powerful curriculum from Rethink Ed, and learn how it provides the tools for Special Education teachers to help their students safely integrate into the general education classroom. Watch the Webinar Recording Now: Inclusion Benefits All Students

The Effects of Bullying

By: Christina Whalen, PhD, BCBA-D, Director of Research

Any student can be the target of bullying. One out of 5 students report being a victim of bullying at some point (National Educational Statistics, 2016). Students who are bullied have increased school avoidance, decreases in grades, and difficulties with learning. These students often suffer from sleep difficulties, headaches and stomachaches, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Students who are frequently bullied are two times more likely to have suicidal ideation or attempts (Gini & Espelage, 2014). Students who are bullies also have long-term issues such as academic problems, substance use, behavioral issues, and problems with the law. They are less likely to obtain meaningful employment and often struggle with independence and relationships as adults.

There are many reasons why a student might be the victim of bullying. The research on race, ethnicity, and national origin are still not clear, but there are some studies that report this to be a reason for bullying. For instance, Davis & Nixon, 2010, reported that about 16% of students reported this as a reason for bullying. Common reasons for bullying include looks and body shape. In 2010, Davis & Nixon reported that about 55% students reported looks as the primary reason for bullying and about 37% reported body shape as the primary reason. About 1/3 of overweight girls and ¼ of overweight boys reported being teased or bullied about their weight (Puhl, Luedick, & Heuer, 2011).

The students who are at highest risk for being targets are LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. In a National School Climate Survey in 2013, about 74% of students reported being verbally bullied and about 36% reported being physically bullied due to their sexual orientation. More than half of the LGBTQ students in this study reported that they felt unsafe at school and about 30% of them missed at least 1 day of school in the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school. Almost half of the students reported that they were targets of cyberbullying.

A student with a developmental disability is 2-3 times more likely to be a target of bullying than their peers (Marshall, Kendall, Banks, & Gover, 2009). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act state that bullying based on disability can be considered harassment and is illegal (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

Some students with disabilities are more commonly targeted including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some warning indicators that a student is being bullied include increased school absences, decrease in academic performance, increased anxiety, sleep or eating issues, and increased social isolation.

Some indicators that a student is being a bully include a decreased sensitivity to others such as laughing when someone gets hurt or fails at something, a strong desire for popularity, secretiveness, and increased behavioral challenges.

Not all bullying occurs at school but the incidents can certainly have a negative impact on students’ academic and social interactions at school. For instance, cyberbullying can seriously affect the interactions of students at school, even though it typically happens outside of school time. Cyberbullying is the harassment or threatening of another person through online communication such as social media, texting, or video. Bullying can take place through rumors, comments, photos, or fake profiles. Like other types of bullying, students who are cyberbullied are more likely to miss school, have decreases in academic performance, have increased anxiety and depression, and isolate themselves more from other people.

About 16-21% of students in middle and high school report being targets of cyberbullying according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). If a student appears to be a target of cyberbullying, encourage the student to not respond to it and block the person that is bothering them. Talk to their parents about the issue and be sure to let the student know that you are doing so. For students who appear to be cyberbullying other students, be sure to talk to them about the long-term consequences of inappropriate online behaviors and postings for their own future. Try to get them to understand how their behavior really impacts other students- not only the target student, but other students as well; speak to the student’s parents about your concerns but be sure to notify the student about these conversations or have them involved in the discussion.

Run, Forrest, Run… Towards Inclusion!

Could inclusive education mean the end of bullying for kids with disabilities?

By Katherine DeCotiis Wiedemann, M.A., BCBA

Kids with disabilities being bullied is nothing new; we’ve seen it portrayed in popular culture for decades. Who could ever forget Forrest Gump being chased by a truck-full of mean-spirited kids, trying desperately to outrun them despite his bulky metal leg-braces? Special needs aren’t always as visible as they were in that scene, but the victimization of people with differences has arguably been around as long as the institution of education. In all realms of life, bullies usually target people who are more passive, anxious, quiet, sensitive, or unusual in some way (Hoover 2003). Unfortunately, in schools, this demographic often includes children who are classified and receive special education services. Many typical features of American schools may have historically exacerbated this divide between the disabled and the non-disabled, particularly the physical and curricular labeling and segregation of children with disabilities, the non-participation of special needs students in mainstream educational and extracurricular activities, and a general lack of understanding and interaction between the two groups.

When Dan Habib’s infant son Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a ticker of chilling questions scrolled through his brain like a hurricane warning on the nightly news. Would he ever walk? Would he be able to talk? Have a job? Drive a car? Fall in love? Perhaps the most painful unknown was how his peers would treat him. Would he be the target of ridicule in his neighborhood, on the soccer team, in his grade-school classroom? With fear looming heavily, threatening to swallow them whole, Habib and his wife made a choice and never looked back. They committed to including Samuel in every facet of their lives, regardless of what the scope of his disability turned out to be. And they didn’t stop there – eventually, the arms of their crusade reached their friends, members of their community and eventually the school district Samuel entered as a preschooler. The Habibs became diehard advocates for inclusive education, and as a direct result, Samuel flourished. He was placed in general education classes with supports and modifications. A specially made wheelchair and a culture of acceptance allowed him to play baseball on a regular team in elementary school. He scored a role in the school play and read his lines from his augmentative communication device. He went to middle school dances and made the honor roll. By all accounts, Samuel belonged. And he wasn’t the only one who benefitted.

Sadly, not every kid with special needs is as warmly accepted and included as Samuel. Statistics illustrate that in the United States, children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. In one study, nearly 60% of students with special needs reported having been bullied at some point in their lives, compared to only 25% of students in general. Another more recent study indicates that children with disabilities are victimized by bullying at a much higher rate over time than their nondisabled peers. The researchers attributed their findings to the fact that many students with special needs never learn or have the ability to practice the social skills needed to combat bullying as they age. So how can we teach kids with special needs to advocate for themselves? And perhaps even more importantly: how do we go about teaching kids without special needs, acceptance and kindness?

The answer to both questions might be found, at least partially, in inclusive education. The benefits of inclusion for kids with disabilities have been documented in 40 years’ worth of research – higher test scores, increased social interaction, exposure to peer models, access to the general curriculum, and higher levels of motivation. In fact, in those 40 years, no study has ever been published comparing segregation and inclusion that came out in favor of segregation (Jackson 2008). But how does inclusion affect gen-ed kids? Studies are starting to emerge, and it appears that inclusion may have even more of a positive impact on nondisabled peers than on those with disabilities. Kids in integrated classes have daily opportunities to learn and practice tolerance, respect, and kindness. Regular exposure to differences de-stigmatizes kids with special needs and creates a culture of diversity and acceptance. Additionally, gen-ed kids can guide and teach their peers, which fosters within them a sense of accountability and purpose. They are likely to exhibit more developed values and ethics later in life. Of Samuel’s effect on his nondisabled peers, his father notes, “He’s had a tremendous impact on his peers. His peers now see disability as part of the natural diversity of our world (NPR 2014).” Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of inclusion for nondisabled peers lies in the realm of academics; data indicates that general education kids in integrated classrooms perform better on tests and have greater academic outcomes.

It is becoming widely accepted in education that “far-reaching and sustainable bullying prevention is intricately connected to and predicated upon the promotion of equity and inclusion (Safe@School 2013).” Creating a culture of inclusion in schools is not an overnight job, but a quick Google search will demonstrate just how much information is available to those who are willing to consider making the change. There are detailed guides which illustrate the core concepts and features of inclusive education, and outline the steps to take to get there. It may not be an easy task, but in the words of Dan Habib, “If we know it’s going to yield better outcomes for kids with disabilities, it’s the only way to go forward (NPR 2014).”

Today, Samuel Habib is a 17-year-old junior at Concord High School in New Hampshire. In May of this year, he was the keynote presenter at the 5th annual self-advocacy conference hosted by the University of New Hampshire, where he spoke about his experience with inclusive education and previewed his first short documentary as a filmmaker. For more information on inclusion and Samuel’s journey, please visit www.includingsamuel.com.

REFERENCES

Habib, D. (2014, April 22). Dan Habib: Disabling Segregation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izkN5vLbnw8

Hoover, J., & Stenhjem, P. (2003, December). Bullying and Teasing of Youth with Disabilities: Creating Positive School Environments for Effective Inclusion. Examining Current Challenges in Secondary Education and Transition, Vol. 2 (Issue 3).

Katz, J., & Mirenda, P. (2002). Including Students with Developmental Disabilities in General Education Classrooms: Educational Benefits. International Journal of Special Education, Vol. 17 (Issue 2), pp. 14-24.

Preventing Bullying, Promoting Equity and Inclusion. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.safeatschool.ca/plm/parents-and-guardians-partners-in-prevention/preventing-bullying-promoting-equity-and-inclusion

Reilly, D. (2017, January 05). The Bullying Culture: What You Must Know. Retrieved from http://www.lifezette.com/momzette/bullying-culture-what-you-must-know/

Staff, N. (2014, April 27). Learning With Disabilities: One Effort To Shake Up The Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/04/27/307467382/learning-with-disabilities-one-effort-to-shake-up-the-classroom

Progress Monitoring Explained

By Jennifer Bessette, Director of Professional Services

What is progress monitoring?

Simply put, progress monitoring allows educators to measure student performance throughout the year. Progress monitoring lets you know which students are succeeding and which students might be struggling to make progress. This information is used to make decisions about the student’s educational plan, and ensure student growth. Schools may also use progress monitoring techniques to make decisions about whole classroom performance.

Why do we need it?

It helps us make informed decisions. Without measuring student performance, you are merely guessing student ability. These guesses are subjective, and may or may not be accurate. For example, you may notice a student point to his shirt and say “blue.” This leads you to believe he knows his colors, so you decide not to teach this skill. In reality, however, he may have heard someone else say his shirt is blue. If you ask him what color the sky is, he may not know the answer. When you measure student performance, you obtain a much more objective view of what the student does and does not know. Once you know how students are truly performing, you are much better equipped to make decisions about their education. Learn how Greenwood School District takes the guesswork out of teaching by regularly monitoring student progress.

Students make more progress. When you’re able to make decisions based on student performance, students make more progress. This is because you are now (hopefully) adjusting your teaching methods based on student need.

Communication improves. Progress monitoring allows you to have more detailed conversations about student performance. You are now able to provide documentation on student strengths and challenges. This is especially helpful when students perform differently in different settings (as is often the case in special education). For example, you can clearly see how a student performs in the resource room, general education classroom, speech therapy, music class, and even at home. This provides a well-rounded view of the students for all educators, related service providers, family members, and district administrators to share. Learn how North East ISD uses progress monitoring to improve home-school communication.

Is collecting data the same as progress monitoring?

Not exactly. Data collection is a great first step towards monitoring progress, but it is only that – a step. Here at Rethink, we spend a lot of time discussing the importance of data collection. We send our partner districts messages celebrating the amount of data staff collect, and offer support should data collection decline. This is because data collection leads to progress monitoring. It is not enough to merely record data – educators need to review the data and base their decisions on the data collected. If the data isn’t accurate and easy to understand, educators are going to have a tough time knowing what to do with the data. For more information on how Rethink Ed helps educators collect and analyze data, check out this recent webinar.

Need help improving your district’s progress monitoring skills? Contact us today!

Student Performance Drives Teacher Evaluation

By Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH

As an educator, I have always viewed my success by student learning. If students are learning, then I must be teaching effectively – right? I guess that depends upon how learning is measured. There is research that demonstrates that tying student achievement to teacher evaluation improves student outcomes. However, many teachers voice concerns about their evaluations being tied to student achievement given the multiple variables that affect student achievement. Much of this debate is related to the use of a single measure, high stakes testing, as the primary measure of student performance.

In special education, reliance on the single measure of a high stakes test is not necessary since a direct measure of student learning is available: achievement of IEP goals and objectives. A well-written IEP contains goals and objectives that are designed to be achievable within one year. Demonstrable growth is demonstrated by students throughout the year and this growth is documented through progress monitoring and graphic display of individual student data.

Special education teacher evaluation should include supervisors reviewing this individualized student achievement data and assessing the success of an educator through their student’s learning. Principals are often the professionals conducting teacher evaluations. A special education teacher should feel confident in sharing their student achievement data with their principals. Those graph lines going up, documenting student growth, can be proudly shared as demonstration of teacher effectiveness. Teacher evaluation is a hot-button issue. Special educators are in the unique position of having individualized education plans and individual student data to document their teaching effectiveness.