Special Education Programs & Services
We are a professional team working with students, classroom teachers and parents to provide theCircles of Support necessary for every child's personal and academic success.Believing every child can learn and achieve at high levels, the Special Education team at West Linn-Wilsonville is engaged in continuous improvement by focusing on three areas of growth:Improving Instructional PracticesCreating More Inclusive CulturesIncreasing Student Voice
I. What Are Our Beliefs?
In West Linn-Wilsonville Schools, we are committed to ensuring that each child, every child becomes part of a learning community for the greatest thinkers and most thoughtful people for the world. We know that creating the conditions for this work to happen is complex and multilayered. Increasingly, we have understood that the power of a growth mindset, or a student's belief in themself as a learner, is foundational to our mission. As educators, we model a growth mindset in ways we approach our own learning and in the expectations that we have for all students' success. As schools, we strive to create structures and use strategies that support students in developing a growth mindset. This has implications in the school communities that we create, the language we use, the instructional strategies we choose, and the ways we group students for instruction.
One of our vision themes has always been creating circles of support. This model is particularly important when think about the ways we support our diverse learners. In all cases, the child and the classroom teacher are at the center. If evidence suggests that current learning, whether academic, behavioral, or social, may need additional support or challenge, additional levels of supports may wrap around the child. Some students may need supports that rise to the level of an individual plan, which may include a TAG (Talented and Gifted) plan, a 504 plan, an ELD (English Language Development) plan, or an IEP (Individualized Educational Program). The child continues to have their learning nested within the general classroom. The individuality of the plan allows for a particular schedule or set services to be created that is responsive to the child. Special education plans, or IEPs, are always developed collaboratively by the student, the special education teacher, the general education teacher, the parent, and other staff. These plans are put in place to ensure that each child continues to make progress in the general education curriculum.
West Linn-Wilsonville has worked hard to develop capacity at every school to provide the continuum of supports that may be required by an individualized plan. The first and most high-leverage place to continue increasing capacity is in our general education classrooms. We continue to focus on instructional strategies that engage all learners, in helping all children develop a growth mindset, and in emphasizing the moral and performance character development of our children. We know that the more that every child feels a sense of belonging in their classroom and the more that we improve our instructional strategies, the more inclusive our culture will be for the benefit of all children.
Special education is focused on increasing the access to each general education experience. Sometimes, children may need specific, explicit instruction from a special education teacher or specialist to help accelerate their learning in the general education classroom or to support a particular individual need. The circle of support for a student served through special education may be very narrow (i.e. a child who needs support in speech articulation) or very wide (i.e. a child who has a complex way of learning and expressing needs that is significantly different from his peers.) In any case, the team at the home school will work collaboratively to meet those needs, and district-level supports will come alongside the school team if additional inquiry is needed.
II. What Are Our Areas of Focus for Improvement?
Our special education department is committed to continued growth of high leverage strategies for student success in the following areas: improving instructional practices, creating inclusive cultures, and increasing student voice. In the areas of instructional practices, we focus on assessment for learning, engagement strategies, clear learning targets, and pedagogy that meets needs for constructivist & explicit learning. In the area of creating inclusive cultures, we focus on meeting each child's needs at their home school, strong collaboration between special ed and general ed teachers, and involvement in co-curricular activities. Finally, our focus on increasing student voice includes every student involved in their IEP, developing independent learners, and every student having a way to communicate. As we continue to focus on these areas throughout our structure, we develop coherent systems of support that are nested in the overall goals of the district and work to meet individual student needs.
III. Why Has Our District Embraced This Inclusive Yet Individualized Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners?
This approach aligns with our beliefs about children that West Linn-Wilsonville has always espoused: emphasizing inclusive cultures with effective instructional practices that ensure all students are making strong academic, behavioral and social-emotional success. This approach aligns with our beliefs about equity for all students. We continue to invest in additional resources and professional development to ensure that our implementation supports the success of each child, every child in our schools.
IV. Key Points Of Our Approach to Supporting Diverse Learners
- Inclusive education aligns with West Linn-Wilsonville's beliefs about the importance of peer interaction and modeling in learning for all children.
- Strong, research-based supports will be put in place to ensure that even students with behavioral challenges can learn and be successful in a general education setting for most of their day.
- Research regarding children with emotional or behavioral problems indicates self-contained classrooms do not further children's learning in academic, social, or behavioral skills, and often leads to further regression of skills.
- Strong collaborative relationships between general education teachers and special education teachers are critical to the success of students with disabilities.
- Research has shown that students who are present in general education classrooms and have access to general education curriculum learn more.
- Creating inclusive cultures where all students have a place in the classroom sends a powerful message that everyone can belong in the community.
- Providing strong behavioral and academic support to students with special needs in the general education classroom can also provide support to other children who may benefit.
- We can teach, and children can learn, the explicit expectations for academic and behavioral success in our schools.
- Children learn these expectations best when they are be modeled by their peers.
- Individualized plans that ensure safety and minimize disruption will be in place for children who need those, and these are most effective when implemented by both the general education and special education teachers.
V. A Few Research References
- Students without disabilities made significantly greater progress in reading and math when served in inclusive settings. (Cole, Waldron, Majd, 2004)
- Students who provided peer supports for students with disabilities in general education classrooms demonstrated positive academic outcomes, such as increased academic achievement, assignment completion, and classroom participation. (Cushing & Kennedy, 1997)
- No significant difference was found in the academic achievement of students without disabilities who were served in classrooms with and without inclusion. (Ruijs, Van der Veen, & Peetsma, 2010; Sermier Dessemontet & Bless, 2013)
- Kalambouka, Farrell, and Dyson’s (2007) meta-analysis of inclusive education research found 81% of the reported outcomes showed including students with disabilities resulted in either positive or neutral effects for students without disabilities.
- Time spent engaged in the general education curriculum is strongly and positively correlated with math and reading achievement for students with disabilities. (Cole, Waldron, & Majd, 2004; Cosier, Causton-Theoharis, & Theoharis, 2013)
- Students with intellectual disabilities that were fully included in general education classrooms made more progress in literacy skills compared to students served in special schools. (Dessemontet, Bless, & Morin, 2012)
We comply with all state and federal regulations for offering and providing services. The following is not an exhaustive list. It highlights the most commonly provided services:
We design a personalized education for each individual child through the IEP team process.The Student Services Team is committed to your child's success!Personal and Academic Excellence - Personalized Education - Community Partnerships
- Referral of students for consideration for assessment
- Evaluation and testing of individual students
- Identification of a disability
- Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
- Individual case management for students and families
- Specially designed instruction in reading, writing, math, social and communication skills, behavior, language, life skills, articulation and adaptive Physical Education.
- Occupational and Physical Therapy on an individual student need basis.
- Speech therapy is offered in each school for students needing articulation and oral motor therapies. Students often work in small groups in a therapy setting with a licensed speech pathologist. Speech pathologists also serve students in the areas of language and social communication
- Additional supports as necessary
- Links and support for post-high school success
- Transition services for eligible students ages 18-21
- Information for families about community-based supports
Circle of Support - Educating The Whole Person - Integrated Technology
Parent CollaborationEvery aspect of a child's educational process is about true partnership between parents and educators. In the Special Education process, parents are part of the team in developing each student's individual plan. We work together in formal and informal ways to support the academic and social success of each child.In addition to the involvement that parents have in their individual child's special education plan, we value collaboration with parents on ways we can work more effectively as an organization to support all children. The Parent and District SPED Collaboration Group provides an on-going venue to learn together and help our school community to continually improve in our supports for students with disabilities. For more information about this group, visit the Parents Page of our Student Services website.
Here is a video made by students at West Linn High School to promote awareness of the diversity of students within our school community:
ResourcesSpecial Education Report CardsParent Rights at a Glance - a one-page overview of the Procedural Safeguards booklet