A program at Hillcrest school designed to provide new services for learning disabled students was a success, the Hillcrest principal told the Lawrence school board Monday night.
Bill Armstrong, Hillcrest principal, said that important components of the program were greater collaboration among teachers and allowing the students to spend more time in their regular classrooms.
The pilot program, which was initiated last year, also included students in the Chapter 1 program, which is not a special-education program but which provides students supplemental instruction in reading or math.
Armstrong said a major component of the program was to allow students with learning disabilities to spend more time in a regular classroom instead of being pulled out for special services. Of 16 Chapter 1 or learning-disabled students who were not pulled out of class as part of the project, 12 said they favored the traditional classroom support.
CAROL Abrahamson, a teacher at Hillcrest, said students probably didn't like being pulled out because it makes them look "different" in the eyes of their peers.
"It can be a blow to their self-esteem," she said.
Abrahamson said that keeping the students with disabilities in the regular classroom also served another purpose.
"We're trying to broaden our range of expertise so we can meet the needs of more students in the classroom," she said. "We're trying to develop a competency with a broader range of students in the classroom so we don't throw up our hands so quickly when we have a student who doesn't fit in the middle range."
Armstrong said another successful component of the program was the creation of a teacher-resource team, which helped other teachers in trying to solve the problems that students had in the classroom.
Abrahamson agreed that the team was helpful.
"IT FEELS good to be able to talk to people who you know experience the same problems you do," she said. "And it's not always to get advice. It's also to have someone say that what you're already doing is good."
Standardized reading tests were given to students in the program at the beginning and end of the school year, and the test score gains made at Hillcrest were slightly higher than the ones made at a control school, a written report on the program showed.
Armstrong said that despite the success of the program, it might need to be tailored to fit the particular personalities of other schools if implemented elsewhere in the district.
However, board member John Tacha said, "I see your teacher-resource team as being a constant."