At DCPS, we know that provider success means student success. The Office of Special Education is committed to ensuring that all students have access to the quality services they need. We do so by supporting our providers and holding them accountable to high expectations.
IMPACT, our system for assessing teacher and school-based staff performance, has specific performance standards for related service provider to make sure our special education students are receiving high quality services. All related service providers are evaluated by program managers who are clinical experts in their fields.
Our related services team’s program managers design and deliver targeted training to all related service providers during DCPS professional development days. Recent topics have included crisis intervention plans and support for students with autism.
Related service providers also receive ongoing support throughout the year from their program managers. One critical form of support is monthly case conferences, where clinicians meet with their peers and supervisors to review student data and collaborate to develop skills and intervention strategies.
For the 2010-2011 school year, DCPS has partnered with Positive Nature to provide intensive on-site professional development for DCPS staff in schools that have programs for students with emotional disturbances. Positive Nature is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to vulnerable and at-risk children and youth in the District.
The goal of the training is to equip DCPS special education teams with new ways to approaching challenging student behaviors, including specific intervention strategies for behavioral support services and help in maximizing those strategies through collaboration between social workers and teachers.
Positive Nature’s training model has two key components: teaching new skills, and then modeling and practicing those skills to help change behavior. At participating schools, staff who work with students with emotional disabilities are offered a weekly 60-90 minute professional development session with a Positive Nature instructor on-site at the school. In addition to that teaching session, a Positive Nature trainer spends additional time each week alongside teachers and social workers as needed to support them as they put these skills and techniques into action with their students.
The trainer also conducts a comprehensive review of student progress in relation to IEP goals and behavior plans to make sure they are effective and to determine if changes should be made.