Improving Student Outcomes

June 07, 2018

What works and how can we do more of it? That was the question Patti Slobogin, director of the Lower Hudson Regional Special Education Technical Assistance and Support Center (RSE-TASC), used to kick off the Student Outcomes Conference Thursday at the Double Tree Hotel in Tarrytown.

The conference, sponsored by the Lower Hudson RSE-TASC with offices at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, Rockland BOCES and Southern Westchester BOCES, drew more than 250 educators from across the region to share best practices on improving outcomes for students with disabilities.
The conference was a true exercise in peers helping peers with presentations by teams from 17 schools and school districts such as White Plains High School, Wampus Elementary School, the Mamaroneck Union Free School District, the Walden School at PNW BOCES, Green Chimneys School and the Mount Pleasant Central School Districts.

Jessica Lyons, a school psychologist at ACDS Westchester, a Scarsdale preschool for students with special needs, said the workshop she attended on PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports) would help her school go to the next level in using that approach to improve student behavior. PBIS emphasizes clear expectations and positive reinforcement for good behavior in the classroom.

“We’ve just started to implement PBIS at our school so it was helpful to hear feedback on it and to learn how others are collecting data on its effectiveness,” she said.

The team from White Plains High School shared information about the district’s Work Experience Program, where students with disabilities work with job coaches and employers to develop workplace skills that can lead to paid employment. Since implementing the program, the high school has seen 25 percent of participants obtain paid employment by graduation, a significant increase on the typical rate for students with disabilities.
The program improved student’s employability by working on skills such as following directions, using good hygiene and managing time effectively. Participants also received instruction in resume and cover letter writing, job interview skills and everyday financial activities.

New Rochelle educators shared successful strategies for increasing the amount of time students spend in inclusive settings through explicit and specially designed instruction. “We’ve been able to really understand who our students are and better plan what they need to integrate into inclusive settings,” said Beth Sanchez, adding that the time spent outside of a regular classroom has decreased from 32 percent in 2013 to 25 percent in 2017.

Carmel Central School District educators shared how students with disabilities improved their literacy, math and behavior through the use of universal strategies, data analysis and targeted interventions.

As a teacher at the United Preschool Center of Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, Donna Hysler said she not only enjoyed hearing different perspectives from other preschool educators but appreciated hearing about outcomes for older children. “I want to know how I can affect outcomes for the long term, so this was very helpful,” she said.

In addition to those mentioned earlier, the following schools and districts participated in the event: Hawthorne Country Day School, the John A. Coleman School, the Pennington School, Fieldstone Middle School, Boyce Thompson School, Washington Irving Elementary School, Ives School at Lincoln Hall, SAIL at Ferncliff Manor and the Garrison School.
Patti Slobogin, director of the Lower Hudson Regional Special Education Technical Assistance and Support Center (RSE-TASC) asks participants: “What works and how can we do more of it?”