BY LINDA HERKENHOFF
The Rockford School Board, at its April 16 meeting, received an independent review of its special education program along with recommendations.
In fall 2011, the district hired Gary Woodward, an education consultant and retired special-ed director, to collect data related to all aspects of its program in an effort to get a clear picture of how it performs on a number of levels, as well as recommendations that will help the district achieve AYP (average yearly performance) improvement requirements. Woodward interviewed thirty-two staff members and examined the district’s special education curriculum and practices in preparing his report. MAWSECO (Meeker and Wright Special Education Co-op) staff provided additional information. This cooperative is a resource utilized by the district through a coordinator.
Woodward noted in his findings "The quality of all staff at Rockford Area Schools is outstanding." He also noted an interest by staff to further training and in-service a common denominator among staff as well as collaborative teaching groups and additional planning time.
The report is lengthy, but some of the key points include recommendations for the district and each school.
The district, according to Woodward’s findings, has needs in the speech and language program that could benefit from a contracted a halftime position, until a specific program evaluation is conducted.
Also, to better manage the program, it is recommended that the district consider a fulltime special education coordinator to work with principals and the curriculum director to promote progress surrounding state and federal AYP requirements.
The method used for placement in the district’s elementary program may need to be changed, Woodward reported, to alleviate AYP concerns, offering alternative resources for struggling learners outside of the special education program.
At Rockford Middle School-Center for Environmental studies, Woodward suggests addition instructional time when student progress defines a need, co-teaching between special education and classroom teachers, and identifying a common system of student progress monitoring.
Collaborative teaching teams, coordinating curriculum and improved communication are among the recommendations made for the Rockford High School.
Woodward’s evaluation also includes information on program costs.
An Arts and Academics night will be hosted by the elementary school on Tuesday, May 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. Hot off the press "Rockee" books will be available to students along with an appearance by the authors.
Third graders will host a Mother’s Day Tea on May 11, while second graders prepares for Grandparents Day on May 18.
Middle school students at Rockford are going online with a monthly news program, KSTEM.
In addition, young thespians are rehearsing Seussical, the Musical, which will play May 3 and 4.
The second trimester resulted in 50 high school students achieving grade point averages between 4.0 and 4.17, Principal Ryan Jensen reported to the board.
And prom comes to Rockford on May 5.
The next regular meeting of the Rockford Area Schools Board of Education is Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the district boardroom (located in the lower level of RMS).