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The Role of the General Education Teacher in RDA

This post is the third in a series based on a transcript from a recent Q&A with Dr. Alan Coulter as part of his webinar, “Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator.” Questions came directly from audience participants — special education directors, special educators and clinicians, and answers are from Dr. Coulter. Click here to see additional questions from the Q&A.

What role does the general education teacher have in the RDA process when our students are in full inclusion? How does RDA affect general education teachers differently than the IEP process?

General education teachers are absolutely essential to getting better results for kids with disabilities. Inclusive practices key to helping students not just with their academics, but also with their social-emotional learning and getting along with typical peers. One of the first things a general education teacher needs to do is allocate some time to coordinate and collaborate with their special education teacher colleagues. The level of collaboration, the frequency of co-teaching, and what we’ve learned about just simply being able to work with each other as professionals are all really important.

General education sets the tone in a school for how learning is going to take place. General educators are very, very important to making certain that students with disabilities — who after all are members of the school community — are incorporated in every aspect of what goes on in school and that they feel a part of the school.

The IEP process is one that tends to be focused on how you plan for individual students with disabilities in the primary context of special education procedures. General education teachers can take a role almost immediately by looking at the data of typical students plus students with disabilities at their grade level and and in their particular subject matter. General education teachers need to take a systemic approach to looking not so much at individual students (although that is really important for the kids that they teach) but as members of the school community. They should pay attention to students with disabilities and how their performance is matching up. The same considerations that a general education teacher applies to typical students should also apply to those with special needs.

Dr. Alan Coulter is an expert in special education accountability, and has worked at the federal, state, and local level on accountability issues for over twenty-five years. He has served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, and is currently the Director of Education Initiatives and an Associate Professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences and Human Development Center. Alan is also the director of the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students). TIERS consults with state DOEs and district administrators on the quality and use of special education data. Alan is a key participant in the national discussion regarding Results Driven Accountability and focused monitoring. His scholarly work and research is widely published in academic journals.

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