Darien Public schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone discussed the district's approach to special education at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. The district administration has been looking into new practices for special education ever since Thomas Badway conducted a study on the program on the 2009-2010 school year.

"What emerged from the Badway report was somewhat helpful in putting us on the right path," Falcone said. "But we have really taken and shaped those recommendations and we've really constructed a new set of goals and a new set of objectives."

One of those main objectives was to take more of a collaborative approach towards special education students by having teachers and administrators from general education and special education work together to supplement each other.

"This has been mantra that has been ours for the past few years. It's about collaboration for student-centered learning," Falcone said. "Every teacher has got to take ownership for every child."

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Falcone said the practice offers benefits for both special education students and general education students. With the renewed focus of multiple eyes on one student, teachers are able to track a student's strengths and weaknesses effectively using Scientific Research Based Interventions tracking forms. Elizabeth Wesolowski, a program integration coordinator for the district, explained the approach. Wesolowski said they start with a general approach they use for all students.

"We start with simply we see at the beginning. Based on what we see right now we ask what patterns are emerging," Wesolowski said. "This leads us to analyzing students strengths and weaknesses and I think the important part here is that we are not just focusing on what is the student struggling with. We are also looking at what are they good at so that we can have a full view of the child and also so we can use their strengths to support weaknesses."

After they look at the strengths and weaknesses they design priorities around what the teachers would like them to accomplish and what may be most important for them personally.

"This really isn't much different from what we do with a student in general education," she said. "It's about understanding kids using the information we know and setting goals for them. And I think that the work that's happened in SRBI has helped teachers support all students in their classrooms."

As far as the future goes, this is the approach Falcone and the administration hopes will bear success. According to his report, the administration hopes continue the work they have begun with the SRBI tracking process, continue efforts to streamline services for students, and continue to provide instruction to students as close tot he general education classroom as possible.

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