SUGAR GROVE – The co-teaching model that has been piloted at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School for the past three years is being expanded to the remaining three elementary schools in the district beginning this fall.
Fran Eggleston, director of special services for the district, explained during the Feb. 10 Board of Education meeting that co-teaching is pairing one general education teacher with a special education teacher in the classroom to share responsibilities of planning, instructing and assessing students in special areas listed in a student’s IEP.
“Typically the type of services we provide for many of our students are reading, ELA, writing and match,” she said.
Eggleston and Laura Garland, principal at John Stewart, have utilized the co-teaching instructional practice for years as a pilot program. Thankfully with the impact it has had, the district has decided to move forward with the expansion of co-teaching at Blackberry Creek in Elburn, John Shields in Sugar Grove and McDole in Montgomery.
The rationale to why Kaneland is bringing co-teaching to the elementary schools is to provide a better learning environment and experience for special education students while following in the footsteps of the services its providing for its older students in middle school and high school.
“The high school and middle school have offered co-teaching at those two levels and we would like to be able to add to offer that opportunity to elementary students as well,” Eggleston said. “Co-teaching also allows students with disabilities the opportunity to learn alongside their peers and then additionally IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) also asks that we do the best we can to educate students with disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate in the regular education classroom along with non-disabled peers.”
Rather then pulling students with disabilities out of the general education classes, co-teaching strives to allow those students to learn in the same setting as all of their peers. It’s another step in the district’s continuum of services and the least restrictive environment for kids with disabilities.
“You will see that both teachers are actively involved with working with students,” Eggleston said. “Students with IEPs and students with disabilities – you wouldn’t be able to tell the students with IEPs and those who don’t.”
Garland concluded that staff at John Stewart has been quite excited about the progress it has made in the third year of the pilot.
“We are excited that we have been able to increase the percentage of students that are receiving special education services alongside their non-disabled peers as the law requires us to do to the greatest extent possible,” Garland said. “Prior to starting co-teaching, zero percent of our students with special needs were being educated in general education settings. The average across the three years that we’ve been co-teaching, 96% on average of our student are now receiving their special education services in co-taught classrooms.”
In other district news, course adoptions and name changes for the 2020-2021 Kaneland Harter Middle School coursebook have been approved.
For the upcoming school year there are no new courses. According to a memo from Patrick Raleigh, Kaneland’s director of educational services 6-12, the 2020-21 school year will be focused on aligning work to proficiency-tables and assessments.
The Board accepted a donation from Dave Melton, Michuda Construction and the Carpenter’s Union of industrial arts supplies valued at about $750. Among the items that now will be used in the Harter Middle School industrial arts classroom/lab are 50 pieces of lumber (2 x 4 x 8s) and four boxes of screws.