The Link Lines newsletter features answers to questions submitted by readers. For the September/October issue, the following question was posed by an educator from Amelia County Public Schools after reading Laying the Foundation: Considerations for Scheduling Students with Disabilities.
“I would like more information about class grouping. If 20-40% of the students have IEP’s, then what should the breakdown of the rest of the students abilities be rated. In other words should the other students be low, medium or high achieving students? What percentage? Thank you for any help you can give me on this topic.”
Friend, Hamby, and McAdams (2014) suggest scheduling students with disabilities first and to then “populate the rest of the class with a representative sample of other students in the school” (p. 2). Careful consideration should be given to other students assigned to the class to prevent it from becoming one that is comprised of students with specific learning needs (e.g., English language learners, students who require tier two or three behavioral supports) (Friend et al., 2014; Murawski, 2008). Brink (2014) is intentional about creating balanced class rosters and developed Grouping Cards and Grouping Card Helpful Hints that can be used to summarize important student information. For example, in elementary school classrooms, Brink (2014) suggests that students with disabilities should be placed in classrooms with students who model good study habits and positive behavior. During the pre-scheduling process, teacher teams group students by learner characteristics (e.g. English Language Learners, gifted, students with IEPs) and flag students within each group who need additional behavioral supports. They later collaborate to combine students from each of these groups to create a balanced classroom roster that provides curriculum access to all students and allows curriculum “momentum” to be maintained (Friend et al., 2014, p. 3). The teachers who participate in the pre-scheduling process know and understand the students and their learning needs.
Specific percentages of “low, medium or high achieving students” in each classroom are not recommended beyond the 20%-40% ranges suggested by Friend et al. (2014) and Murawski (2008); however, when educators follow the steps outlined in this response, Laying the Foundation: Considerations for Scheduling Students with Disabilities, and in the additional resources on scheduling students with disabilities listed below, they have the tools to create balance in each classroom.
Inclusive Scheduling: Including Students with Disabilities in General Education a scheduling resource by Miami, Dade Public Schools
Creating a Master Scheduling that Supports Inclusive Practices T/TAC Link Lines Article by Dale Pennell
Flexible scheduling for in-class supports: A blueprint for change developed by the Florida Inclusion Network.
Scheduling for Co-Teaching and Other Inclusive Practices, a paper presented by Friend, Hamby, & McAdams at the 2014 CEC Conference.
Note to Readers: Share your story with us. If you have implemented processes that have been effective at supporting students with disabilities during the master scheduling process, please let us know about them by sharing a comment below.
Brink, G. (2014, September). Scheduling to best support students with disabilities. Presentation at the Principal’s Institute: Leading with the success of students with disabilities in mind, symposium conducted by The College of William and Mary and Old Dominion University Training and Technical Assistance Centers (TTAC), Hampton, VA.
Friend, M., Hamby, L., & McAdams, D. (2014, April). Scheduling for co-teaching and other inclusive practices. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Council for Exceptional Children, Philadelphia, PA
Murawski, W. (2008). Five keys to co-teaching in inclusive classrooms. School Administrator, 65(8), 29-29.