Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just Sayin'... Part 2

Just FYI - I do realize that one of the major responses to my example of the blind kindergartner/mental health diagnoses is that these children might benefit from separate schooling outside of the mainstream classroom.  I have deliberately not engaged this portion of the argument because inclusion/exclusion is peripheral to my point which is twofold:

1. If it ain't workin', it ain't workin' no matter who developed the plan or how good it looked on paper.

2.  If you are facing the failure of point 1, then a new plan is needed--not more of the same plan.

On point 1--that's why data collection is so important.  I am a big fan of cold, hard numbers AS WELL AS a list of confounding factors WITH MORE cold, hard numbers (i.e., I don't care if your indicators say the child can't read.  If I routinely see him get books that he's never seen off the shelf and read them to other children, then I know that for some reason, your indicators are not measuring what they say they are.  But that isn't the same as throwing out the numbers entirely.  That is saying that in X testing situation, the subject is not displaying mastery of Y knowledge that he/she IS displaying in Z situation).  Do you see the difference?

Also, it doesn't matter if the best practices have worked in 8,000,000 other situations.  If they continually do not work (and I'm talking about 3-4 PROLONGED attempts with different teachers and in different settings) for the 8,000,001st child, then they are NOT the best practices for THAT child.  Period.

On point 2-- This is at the heart of NCLB, even though most school systems have found many ways to outwit it.  But this is also my point about creativity and actually what Ross Greene talks about in his books The Explosive Child and Lost at School.  You have options.  Your new plan can say X is not optional in our school and therefore we expel the child from our environment (not a belief I hold, but one that is still an option).  You can attack the problem from a new direction--a form of compromise (in which, it would be helpful if all parties were involved in the planning process).  Or you can re-evaluate and decide that it really isn't that big a deal and let it go.  These are all options.  YOU have to make a decision, but insisting on the same course of action is probably not going to yield better results.

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