ETHS updates how it provides special education; team stresses giving IEP students a voice

The ETHS special education team addresses the school board on Monday, April 11. (Screenshot via ETHS YouTube)

At Monday night’s meeting of the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board, members of the district’s special education team spoke to board members about new updates to special education programs designed to improve support for students amid the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Dec. 1, 2021, ETHS had 533 students with individualized education programs (IEPs), which are documents developed under federal law for constructing an academic plan for every student enrolled in special education courses or programs.

At the start of the current school year, ETHS created a new service model for special education where teachers primarily work as either instructors or case managers, according to Director of Special Education Diona Lewis.

Under the new model, educators assigned as case managers teach a maximum of three classes with no more than 45 students, while instructors teach five courses that are either self-contained for special education students or co-taught with a mix of special education and general education ETHS students.

Additionally, Lewis reported that the school added an assistant director of special programs within the department and restructured the roles of administrators to make them more accessible to educators.

“Our staff was super excited about this, and they have reported to us on multiple occasions that the new structure has reduced burnout, increased collaboration and allows for stronger student/teacher relationships,” Lewis said. “There were fewer things to juggle, and they actually do feel appreciated with the work that they’re doing.”

Lewis said one of her main goals for the future is to allow case managers to keep the same students throughout their ETHS careers, rather than having students transition to a new case manager every school year.

The special education department is also aiming to increase the number of co-taught classes so that more special education students can get exposure to the general education curriculum and collaborate with their peers in the general school population.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: