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!

Autism Prevalence Increases Again: 1:59

About 1 in 59 eight -year-old children in 11 communities across the United States were identified as having autism in 2014 as reported by the CDC this week. This report increases the feeling of urgency to ensure that all individuals living with autism receive appropriate services and supports to achieve their optimal outcomes. We still have a long way to go on this front, as adults living with autism have high rates of unemployment, experience limited social engagement with their communities, and do not have access to appropriate services in adulthood.

Autism prevalence has again risen. In addition to the prevalence numbers two interesting outcomes emerged:

  •  1.  Change in Ethnic Distribution: In the prior report (2012) they identified 20 percent more white children with autism than black children and 50 percent more than Hispanic children. In the most recent CDC report, researchers identified 7 percent more white children with autism than black children, and 22 percent more than Hispanic children. As there is no biologic reason for the disparity in autism diagnosis by ethnicity, this is directionally correct. This finding demonstrates progress in addressing ethnic diversity in autism diagnosis but as current movements like Black Lives Matter have brought to society’s attention, there is significant work to do to ensure the color of one’s skin does not dictate life outcomes. Ethnic disparity is an issue in education as well. Disproportionality in student disciplinegraduation rates, and enrollment in special education have all been raised as concerns. This autism prevalence study provides additional data that our society continues to struggle with racism.
  •  2.  Geographical Distribution: 11 US communities participated in this study and the results show various rates of autism prevalence. Across the multiple monitoring sites, prevalence ranged from a low of 1 in 77 children in Arkansas to a high of 1 in 34 in New Jersey. This disparity is most likely reflective of access to healthcare as well as awareness and understanding of autism. New Jersey is well known for its diagnostic services and supports to those living with autism and other developmental disabilities. However, children should not be excluded from services an supports simply because they were born outside of New Jersey.

Prevalence studies are important. We now have 15 years of prevalence reports from the CDC informing us as a community. Progress is being made. But awareness of the number of people living with autism should prompt action to the development of meaningful supports. Additionally, the adult outcomes for many living with autism are abysmal. We can’t just identify people; we need to identify, support, and ensure every individual living with autism can lead a high-quality life.

So you might be asking what does this mean for me and how can Rethink Ed help?

Every student with autism deserves a quality education; Rethink Ed provides your district the tools to design, deliver, and monitor, evidence-based practices in special education. 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 can help. To learn more contact info@rethinked.com.

Supporting the Whole Student with a Disability – It Takes a Village

In today’s world, we are required to think and act quickly and efficiently.  We are exposed to massive amounts of information and are expected to communicate well, work effectively, and act responsibly.  Learning these skills in school paves the path to a productive, healthy adulthood.  To better prepare students for independence, college, employment, and healthy relationships, it’s important to think beyond academic outcomes.  Students who have good health and good relationships are far more likely to succeed in school, and succeed after graduation.  Focusing on the whole student leads to better outcomes.  While this is important for all students, it is even more essential for students with disabilities.

Special education students need a safe and inclusive environment that provides appropriate accommodations and encourages growth.  Their diverse needs in areas such as: communication, behavior, safety, social interactions, health, and cognitive/academics, must be supported. Focus should be placed on their strengths and their contributions to the group, rather than on their disability.  This whole-student approach requires all those interacting with the student to be engaged in promoting positive outcomes; this is not just teachers- it is the entire village. 

To truly serve the whole student, everyone needs to be on board including educators, school support personnel such as bus drivers and school safety officers, administrators/leadership, families, and community members.  Collaboration, communication, and consistency are the 3 key ingredients for the whole-student approach.

Disability Awareness

To promote collaboration, communication, and consistency with all the student’s support team, it is important to provide professional learning for everyone that interacts with that student.  Training can be brief and inexpensive but it’s essential that everyone, including other students, have access to basic training about awareness, understanding, and interactions with students with disabilities.  Research supports the fact that improving awareness in others (adults and other students) can improve safety, interactions, and outcomes for students with disabilities. Rethink Ed understands this need and is developing a comprehensive online training series to provide disability awareness training for the whole village.  Training modules will be available for School Support Personnel such as bus drivers, cafeteria and playground professionals, school safety officers, and school office staff.  Training will also be available for educators, peers, administrators, family members (including siblings), and introductory modules for community members or anyone wishing to have some basic understanding of students with disabilities.  These modules will cover the needs of students and all of the people that support them to reach their highest level of success.  The training series is time and cost efficient and provides flexibility via online videos.

For more information on our training series contact info@rethinked.com

Raising the Bar for Students with Disabilities: Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District

The Supreme Court ruling in the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case is now raising the bar for special education for the first time in decades. The unanimous decision, issued in favor of Endrew on March 22, clearly establishes that “a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year, can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.”

The ruling came after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on behalf of Endrew F., a child with an autism spectrum disorder and an attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, who received annual Individualized Education Programs in the Douglas County School District in Colorado. According to the case, Endrew’s school never effectively addressed his behavioral issues and as a result, he made little to no progress from year to year. In fifth grade, his parents withdrew him from the school in Douglas County and enrolled him in a private school. They immediately developed a behavioral intervention plan and Endrew has since made significant progress.

This case is important to schools and individuals who serve students with disabilities because it addresses a very grey area in the Individuals with Disabilities Act. The act offers states federal funding to assist in educating children with disabilities. Along with that funding, states must comply with statutory requirements that obligate them to provide every child a “free appropriate public education.” Until now, that level of education was interpreted by a 1982, Board of Education v. Rowley case, in which the Supreme Court determined that free appropriate education meant states only had to provide “some educational benefit” to students with disabilities who meet grade-level expectations.

Today, that thought process has changed. The Supreme Court’s ruling is sending a message that it is necessary for schools across the country to help students progress, no matter their challenges. Quality instruction and intervention is the expectation for students with disabilities and therefore, we cannot ignore or dismiss the need for IEPs and interventions to be reasonably calculated to ensure children make progress in light of their circumstances or disabilities.

Over time, we’ve seen that students with disabilities can and do learn with quality programming. With the right support, they can also make progress throughout their educational career and integrate into society by acquiring jobs and living meaningful adult lives. One of the growing expectations to accomplish this in special education is the need to utilize evidence-based practices. Endrew was placed at a school that utilized Applied Behavior Analysis as the basis of its intervention practice. ABA is a well-established evidence-based practice in education. For students to have the greatest opportunity to succeed, their educational plan or program must be proven effective. Rethink is committed to all children and educators having access to the professional development tools and resources necessary to deliver effective interventions. The intervention strategies contained within Rethink are both highly effective and evidence-based. Like the program that Endrew attended, ABA is the foundation of Rethink.

Endrew prevailed in this case because he made significantly more progress in his alternative school after regressing in the previous public school he attended. This progress was demonstrated through his behavioral intervention plan and through his private school’s ability to track his progress with quality data collection and analysis tools. As a result of this case, schools must now be prepared to demonstrate that every student is making more than de minimis progress. Progress monitoring, although required by IDEA, is an aspect of special education service delivery that teachers are often not able to implement with a high degree of fidelity. Rethink supports teachers to develop, implement and monitor instructional programs. It also helps them to feel confident monitoring progress in instruction to ensure that children are not just learning, but growing in their abilities to meet their educational goals. Educators can also use Rethink to monitor progress and adapt their intervention plans and strategies to confirm students are making more than de minimis progress to meet the Supreme Court’s expectations. While more support is still necessary for schools to serve students with special needs adequately, this ruling is certainly a step in the right direction.