kitchen table math, the sequel: money back

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

money back

from my notes taken during the Summer School Institute at Morningside Academy:
We put our money where our mouth is. [In special education] every year you gain [just] 6 months & get farther and farther behind. Instead of gaining 6 months, we want you to gain 2 years for 1 year in the chair [i.e., one year in Morningside].

The kids gain two years. [They are] not lifers in special ed. We want them to gain a lot and grow a lot.

People say it’s impossible.

If we don’t [produce 2 years gain in 1 year], we give the parents the money back.

There are a couple of riders: students have to attend [school], and parents have to support the program. Parents have to be involved in daily report card.


Parents are required to attend one class a year on how to read and understand the daily support card. The parent has to interact with the Support Card or they lose the guarantee – [and] the parent can’t just give kids money for lots of [As]

[At Morningside, an equal sign on the Daily Support Card is the equivalent of an A.]

The parents do give tangible rewards: you pick dessert, you pick the video. Parents tie rewards to positive interactions in the family.

Or the family could just have a discussion with the child [if grades on the Daily Support Card are not what they should be].

The Support Card is a jumping-off point for parents. The parent can talk about each category, and the categories are very specific.

QUESTION: How do you know the parent has interacted with the Support Card?

If you see the child hasn’t been taking the Support Cards home – if that pattern shows up – or if the kid doesn’t care if he gets a point; that means the parent doesn’t care. Then [we] call the parent in for a conference, & at every conference we talk about 'How are you interacting with the Support Card?'


palisadesk said...

Oops, I posted a reply to the wrong thread. Trying again -- part 1 of 2

Morningside Academy offers a money-back guarantee for progressing two years in one in the skill of greatest deficit.

This is one area where we could imitate Morningside, but where we have moved backwards rather than forwards over the last while. When I taught an LD class (in a somewhat smaller district than my current one), it was made clear to me at the outset that I was responsible for producing a minimum 2-year measurable gain in both language and mathematics for every one of my students. I had a class of 10 with a full-time aide, what looks today like an enormous budget ($900/annum for curriculum materials; classroom supplies such as notebooks, pencils and paper were provided outside of that budget), and fairly generous PD support at the outset. I already had a graduate degree in assessment, LD issues and instructional design, but I was given opportunities to visit exemplary programs, attend professional learning sessions and network with other teachers with similar assignments. This was where I first learned the details of Direct Instruction, Precision Teaching (the Morningside kind), linguistic phonics (pre-Diane McGuinness) and Orton-Gillingham programs for dyslexic students.

My students ranged in age from 7-12; most were boys from lower-income homes, and about half were ESL. However, like Morningside's school-year students, they were considered to have a "learning disability" or ADHD, not cognitive impairment. In a few cases the student was on the borderline in measured ability, but was given the benefit of the doubt, considering that measuring the IQ of young children, especially those with limited knowledge of English, is known to be imprecise at best.

I was at first intimidated by this mandate -- two years' progress! Yikes! -- but was surprised to learn that this was in fact usually simple to accomplish. Not EASY -- it involved a lot of hard work, careful thinking and planning -- but not at all complicated. First, one had to establish exactly where on the learning continuum the student was stuck (in both language and math), choose appropriate resources and a sequence to address these, implement daily thorough targeted instruction with descriptive feedback and measurement of results, involve the parents in celebrating success and keeping motivation high, bring in high-interest content (science, history, technology...) to keep the students focused on learning with a purpose, look for extracurricular and summer activities for the students to increase the world and word knowledge....

palisadesk said...

Part 2 of 2:

My best weapons in this fight (on the skills front) were Direct Instruction, some PT strategies that I learned from colleagues, linguistic phonics readers and resources to supplement DI, early computer-based practice programs and gadgets like Speak 'n'Spell, charting and graphing progress and regular standardized measurements of improvement. My students (and those in our other programs with the same expectations) regularly made well over 2 years' progress their first year, and usually caught up or surpassed their grade level the second year. Even the odd "slow learner" I had who was placed in the program to give him a chance met those goals for the first year but had more difficulty closing the gap with their same-age peers due to slower development.

We could do this consistently because we had the tools (proper curricula), the training (good teacher PD), the assessments (to identify what needed to be done and where to start), the budget (to ensure we had the right tool for each student), the staff (a trained aide who enabled every student to get individual reading lessons every day), and the space (a large room with both group work areas and individual carrels for each student to work undisturbed).

My old district did a longitudinal 25-year follow-up on graduates from this program, who were integrated back into general ed classrooms following 2 or (max) 3 years of specialist instruction, and found a greater then 80% success rate, with most student meeting standards at the honors or college prep track and a few at the track that led to community college and tech trades. The dropout rate was low.

But that was then and this is now. The "LD" classes in my district now have become another track for unsuccessful students, leading nowhere. They are large -- 16+ students on average -- and do not have full-time aides, special materials, or trained teachers. They use the same curricular materials as everyone else. Can you wonder why the results are poor?

A Morningside-type model WOULD cost more, but one could argue -- I would argue but don't have the data to calculate the benefit -- that the investment would bear fruit over time, with students graduating with real skills and the power to be self-sufficient, productive adults. But taking the long view has never been a characteristic of public education generally.

palisadesk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimson Wife said...

After looking at the Morningside Academy website, I have to say that I feel they are "cherry picking" the special ed kids who are the easiest to get caught up. Their selection criteria is above average IQ with no serious emotional problems or developmental delays.

Their model may be a sound one, but their selection criteria purposely exclude the special ed kids who are hardest to educate.

Where is the Morningside Academy for autistic kids like my youngest daughter?

palisadesk said...

Where is the Morningside Academy for autistic kids like my youngest daughter?

Morningside teacher alumni and fellow PT practitioners have started schools for precisely such children -- harder-to-educate kids with autism (and sometimes with autism and other issues as well)

Catherine may know more about this, but I'm sure if you contacted Kris Melroe at Morningside, or Regina Claypool-Frey, who has the outstanding Precision Teaching wiki (and who has a fairly "hard to educate" child with autism herself), either could give you more specifics. These methods have proved extremely powerful for kids with autism.

Catherine Johnson said...

Crimson Wife - definitely - they are a school for what I think of as 'high-end' SPED.

It was actually pretty funny because of all the students there I was the ONLY one teaching a general ed population, and I have two severely autistic kids myself!

A number of the teachers there teach Asperger's kids, but, otoh, those kids sound pretty challenging to me.

I'd say the majority of teachers at this year's Institute are teaching a VERY challenging population. One teacher showed me a photo of her arm COVERED in bite marks. Completely covered.

She said she allowed the biting because she was putting biting 'on extinction.'


Anyway, the teachers kept coming up with this, that, or the other question --- and Kent, more than once, would have to just say, "I don't really know that much about autism."

One of the three main teachers & leaders of the Summer Institute, Deb Brown, is an autism person. (Severe autism, I think - though I'm sure she has some Asperger's students -- )

For autism, the two places to start are:

* Michael Fabrizio
* Elizabeth Houghton & the '6+6' skills - plus the account of Elizabeth and her husband Eric more or less 'curing' a child with pretty severe CP

(I may be putting that wrong -- 'cure' isn't the right word, I'm sure. But that child grew up to be a person who can drive a car...)

I'll track these things down & put up a post.

I'm very keen to work on the 6+6 physical skills for Andrew.

palisadesk said...

If people are looking for info on Elizabeth Haughton (AMAZING woman!), they need to spell it correctly -- it's "au" rather than "ou." Here are some links to follow up on your comment:

(sorry about non-hot links: Blogger not accepting my HTML today, just cut and paste)

Haughton Learning Center (good info here, but I am told Elizabeth is no longer running the center although she does still do some tutoring and consulting)
(the Methods & Philosophy and Who Can Benefit links are of general interest)

Ogden Lindsley's tribute to Elizabeth;s husband, Eric Haughton, the father of PT applied to education:

I heard Terry Harris, Elizabeth's student who was predicted to be a hopeless, incapacitated imbecile, speak at the 2008 Precision Teaching conference.

This article (you have to let the ads go by, very annoying) tells how Elizabeth got him up and running:

Terry's website. If you click on "Home" there is a photo album, you can see Terry and Elizabeth. Far from being an institutionalized human vegetable, Terry has several degrees and currently works with people in the correctional system.

If Elizabeth had listened to the IQ doomsayers at the time, Terry would probably be in some hospital, propped in a wheelchair and drugged to the eyeballs. I think about him when I see a young child who appears to be "disabled." The "disabilities" may be and usually are very real but much can be done to overcome them. The article hints at how much persistence is needed (rather like the Engelmann research on kids who needed 11 000 repetitions). I try not to give up too soon.

For autism people in the Morningside network:
Organization for Teaching and Learning:
Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Washington:
Academy for Precision Learning:
(check out the videos, it gives you a better idea how they tailor the Morningside approach to a wide variety of learners)

We could be doing so much more for exceptional kids *and* general ed kids! It's frustrating to know this and not be able to do very much about it.