Darien schools restructure special education to increase efficiency, student learning
Published 1:15 pm, Saturday, September 17, 2011
A slight restructuring of the special education program will help teachers get programs running faster and assist in more efficient learning.
The new structure would have special education students in elementary school grouped together while high school level students would be spread out more. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Judith Pandolfo explained the tweaks would help reduce the number of teachers who have to collaborate together for one student's education. She said in the past a special education teacher could expect to work with students who each have different teachers.
By grouping students together, special education teachers are able to use their time more efficiently and they are also encouraged to set up service schedules early. Since the changes have been made at the elementary level, Pandolfo said she has already received feedback from teachers who said they were able to initiate their programs much faster than in previous years.
The system works differently at the high school level because in the past, special education teachers would go into the classroom to help students. However, it was discovered the special education teachers weren't necessarily needed in the classroom every day. With the new structure, students who needed help in the same courses would be spread across different sections of the class so the special education teachers could assist different sections on different days.
Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Matt Byrnes said the new system establishes teacher schedules for the students instead of student schedules that fit the program.
As well as the restructuring of the help in the classroom, the learning centers at the high school were altered so that they are organized by subject and not grade level. The changes allow students to get even more specific help in difficult subjects.
Currently, there are 612 students enrolled in special education and Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone said that was a number the administration would continue to watch over the course of the school year.