Instruct-A-View: An Alternative to Suspension

by C. Elaine M. Smith, Teacher Specialist, Norfolk Public Schools, Dept. of Special Education Services

The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA) emphasizes increased access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who display behavioral challenges are often able to maintain behavior in a general education setting but periodically exhibit poor social skills resulting in classroom disruptions. IDEA supports providing positive behavioral supports (PBS) for these students. Without consistent behavioral intervention, they continue to disrupt instruction and, ultimately, may be removed from the least restrictive setting into self-contained classes or may be suspended. Rather than addressing the root problem, placement in self-contained classrooms results in limited opportunities for generalization of social skills training across settings and limited access to the general curriculum. Further, to obtain an advanced or standard diploma, students with disabilities must be instructed by teachers who are certified in the core subjects. Because few special educators are content certified, removal of these students from general education interferes with the successful completion of diploma requirements.

An analysis of Norfolk Public Schools' (NPS) disaggregated discipline data on students with disabilities compared to the discipline data of their nondisabled peers at the same grade levels revealed numerous infractions resulting in out-of-school suspensions, showing that discipline is a districtwide concern.

In an effort to adhere to provisions of IDEA and provide effective programming options for students with disabilities that encourage positive behavioral outcomes, NPS' Department of Special Education offers programming in various ways for students with disabilities who present challenging behaviors. At the secondary level, social skills instruction is provided as a positive behavior support intervention. In co-taught classes, positive behavioral supports are provided to students receiving instruction within the general setting through weekly identification and review of individualized target behaviors, goal-setting and development of a plan of action to address those behavioral goals. Some students with disabilities, many of whom are working toward an advanced or standard diploma, periodically require more intensive positive behavioral supports than can be provided in the general education setting. Instruct-A-View evolved to meet this need.

NPS' Department of Special Education, in conjunction with the NPS' Network Services, embarked upon an innovative intervention to assure students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum while providing an alternative to suspension. In a pilot program at Granby High School, selected general and special educators who co-teach at the ninth-grade level in each of the four content areas (English, science, social studies and math) agreed to have their sessions recorded and broadcasted live while teaching Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) units of study.

Under the supervision of a special educator, students with disabilities who exhibited behavioral challenges that required removal from the general education setting have the opportunity to receive their instruction via web-cast viewed in a designated location, the Instruct-A-View lab. In addition, these 20-minute direct instruction sessions are archived on a web-based server to be accessed at a later time by students as needed. This strategy is anticipated to assist with remediation of SOL skill acquisition while providing students with a temporary alternative to suspension without compromising their diploma options.

Instruct-A-View is a positive behavior support intervention that began as an effort to provide students with disabilities a temporary alternative to suspension while continuing their access to the general curriculum. From its embryonic stage, it has evolved into much more-a world-class intervention with the potential to benefit all students. In Norfolk helping "all students" succeed really does mean ALL students!

For more information, contact Elaine Smith at esmith1@nps.k12.va.us.

Date: February/March 2007