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HFM BOCES Special Education students see exceptional academic growth

June 16, 2017 | Filed in Archive

With the introduction of a new web-based curriculum and a 1:1 technology initiative now fully implemented, educators with the HFM BOCES Special Education Division are seeing dramatic improvements in student performance.

A student sits at an Ipad engaged in an educational activity as a teacher looks on.

A student uses i-Ready.

Last year, BOCES Special Education staff began using a web-based curriculum, i-Ready, and rolled out the beginning of 1:1 technology across the division. Now, all students have their own device primarily utilizing Google Chromebooks to access the web-based program. All BOCES Special Education classrooms are also equipped with interactive whiteboards.

To highlight the success, members of the BOCES Special Education Division recently returned from a regional conference where they presented how they are using the curriculum and technology to increase student engagement and development.

Last year, when teachers began phasing in the new changes, student test scores across the division increased by 110 percent.

HFM BOCES Special Education Division Administrative Coordinator Daniel Salvagni, Curriculum Specialist Megan Collins, Technology Specialist Patrick Mangino and teachers Theresa House, Cody Headwell, Daniella Murphy and Jennifer Sherman were interviewed at the conference for a video being produced about the IReady program.

“The i-Ready program has really been a game changer for our teachers,” said Salvagni, explaining how they’ve implemented the curriculum to better help students who struggle with the rigors of today’s academic standard.

Staff members pose for a picture.

BOCES Special Education staff members recently returned regional conference where they presented how they are improving student engagement and development. From left Jennifer Sherman, Theresa House, Cody Headwell, Daniel Salvagni, Patrick Mangino, Daniella Murphy and Megan Collins.

With the i-Ready program offering a “gamified” approach to many lessons, teachers say the increased use of technology has improved student response to instruction.

“It’s increased our student engagement significantly,” said Collins.

While many districts use IReady and similar products as a supplemental resource or for academic intervention, BOCES uses i-Ready as a main curriculum source for reading and math.

The program includes diagnostic and instructional components and a teacher toolbox, which provides lessons for small group and whole class instruction. In addition to game-like learning activities, the program also offers ongoing feedback during writing projects and more.

“It interacts with the students. They understand what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong,” said teacher Cody Headwell.

The implementation of i-Ready has also created consistency across classrooms and has given teachers the capability to customize lessons and push them out to students via their Chromebooks.

Teacher Jennifer Sherman says she now often has students sitting side by side working together on different lessons.

“It’s individualized to them so they don’t have to feel they’re in competition with other students,” said Daniella Murphy, who teaches many students on the autism spectrum.

BOCES has nearly 300 students in grades K-12 based in 37 classrooms. Approximately two-thirds of the students enrolled in BOCES Special Education programs face behavioral challenges but still have the potential to succeed academically.

“We’ve got great teachers working together with standard curriculum and other tools, and it’s helping our students succeed,” Salvagni said.