NEW YORK, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Rethink today announced the release of its new inclusion content, consisting of an additional 300 video-based lessons to its research-based curriculum library. Already an educational leader providing best practice technology solutions for teachers, school districts, parents, and healthcare providers working with students on the autism spectrum, Rethink now addresses the needs of all special education students working in or preparing to enter general education classrooms.
"With an increased focus on supporting students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE) at school, Rethink is pleased to announce the release of its new content advancing inclusive practices," said Rethink CEO, Daniel Etra, of the company's venture into the wider field of special education.
Dating back to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990 and the 1975 Education of All Handicapped Children Act which preceded it, the inclusive model of special education, in which special needs students are taught and receive special services in a general education classroom, is now widely accepted as the preferred solution for meeting the needs of special education students and of ensuring that the least restrictive environment (LRE) legislation mandated by IDEA is being addressed.
While the inclusive model of education has been in effect for more than a decade, tightened budgets and the reported failures of schools across the country to meet the needs of special needs students and LRE mandates have meant that many school districts are recently under increasing pressure to reduce costly spending on institutional care and segregated special education classrooms by mainstreaming more and more of their special education population.
In New York City, for instance, the 2012/2013 school year saw significant reforms carried out to this end, as all special education students, except for those with the most severe needs, were allowed and encouraged to enroll in their neighborhood zoned schools, many of which now only offer the inclusion model for their special needs students.
As school districts across the country have, like the NYC DOE, worked vigorously over the last two decades to mainstream their students into neighborhood schools and general education classrooms, teachers have been faced with a new set of challenges: How to maintain rigor for high and low-level students working in the inclusion classroom? How to teach academic and behavioral skills for all students? How to differentiate instruction in order to challenge every student without alienating anyone? How to meet each student's individual IEP goals while also addressing the needs of the classroom at large?
Such challenges are precisely those addressed by Rethink's new inclusion curriculum.
The new curriculum content targets thirty critical social and study skills identified by teachers that will lead to the success of students with disabilities in general education classrooms. These skills are addressed through a three-tiered intervention model, providing more intensive strategies for small-group and individualized instruction times, as well as classroom-wide strategies that can be easily implemented in the context of a larger group.
Level three teaching strategies are designed for students requiring more intensive support who may be preparing to enter the inclusion classroom or are increasing the proportion of time they spend in inclusive settings. Level two strategies can be implemented by both teachers and paraprofessionals working with students in inclusive settings. These strategies are designed to support students requiring minimal individualized instruction but who may still be accompanied by a support team of paraprofessionals in their inclusion classroom. Finally, level one strategies are designed to be carried out in inclusive settings by the mainstream classroom teacher. These strategies not only target the needs of special education students, but are also beneficial to the entire classroom population of mixed-level students.
"We not only made sure that the lessons portrayed in each video are research-based and demonstrate teaching strategies proven to be effective, we also took into consideration the time constraints our teachers face. Each strategy video is only 1 to 2 minutes long, is practical to implement, and comes with free printable materials," said Lin Chong, Rethink's VP of Curriculum and Content Development.
As with the entire Rethink curriculum, the new inclusion library is also fully compatible with the platform's data collection component, which has also been enhanced to support probe data and brief observations. By providing districts with comprehensive analytics of student progress for all special education students, the Rethink platform offers a scalable model for tracking student progress across different settings, support models, and intervention strategies.
As Rethink continues to develop creative ways of using technology to address the constantly evolving needs of districts, teachers, and students, it is changing the way the country thinks about special education.
About Rethink Autism (http://www.rethinkfirst.com)
Rethink Autism, Inc. seeks to ensure that every special needs child has access to effective and affordable evidence-based treatment options by providing professionals, parents, and family members with the tools and information necessary to teach children with special needs in a way that is easy to understand and apply. Rethink Autism was founded in 2007 and has its headquarters at 19 West 21st Street in New York City.
Executive Vice President & Chief Learning Officer
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SOURCE Rethink Autism, Inc.