Newark Public Schools Hosts Special Education Leadership Institute Meeting

Training focused on inclusion instruction, part of broader, district-wide effort to enhance and improve special education

[Newark, NJ – April 4, 2016] Newark Public Schools (NPS) hosted a Special Education Leadership Institute session on Thursday that focused on professional learning and instructional support as it relates to inclusion instruction at Harold Wilson School in Newark. The Special Education Leadership Institute is part of a broader district-wide effort to increase academic success and inclusion instruction, which is the practice of educating students with disabilities in the same classroom as students without disabilities.

“The district has been working hard to provide more curriculum support for our special education program in recent years,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of NPS. “It is our goal to make sure that every child in Newark has access to an excellent education, and we are committed to creating a high-quality learning environment that will help our students with disabilities achieve academic success.”

Thursday’s attendees discussed best practices and strategies on the five types of models for inclusion instruction. The district is embracing a co-teaching model where general teachers are focused on content and special education teachers in the classroom are learning strategists who are focused on approaches.

The district has outlined steps it needs to take in order to help students with disabilities achieve academic success and is executing on the following measures: providing professional learning to educators; providing high quality Individual Education Plans (IEPs); improving compliance rates; creating Child Study Teams, and providing special education pathways.

“The district is taking significant measures to improve our special education program,” said Kimberly Honnick, Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent. “We are providing valuable training and mentoring programs so our educators have the necessary resources to provide children with disabilities the specialized care and support they need to be successful in our global economy.”

NPS is investing in special education by providing curriculum and instructional support for educators in various ways. The district is providing centralized trainings to enhance and share best practices among school leaders and educators. It has also adopted a coaching model in schools to promote collaboration among educators and has proven to be highly effective in improving professional development.

Over 6,000 special education students attend Newark Public Schools, which makes up approximately 17 percent of the student population. In addition to Thursday’s training, NPS regularly provides the following professional learning offerings:

  • Monthly training for grades kindergarten through 12 (K – 12) child study teams (CSTs) on compliance and how to use the EasyIEP database
  • Monthly kindergarten – 12 Special Education Leadership Institute for Teacher Teams (LIFTT) training that focuses on planning and tailoring instruction to meet IEP needs
  • Monthly kindergarten – 12 Vice Principal Leadership Institute trainings that provide guidance on culture and climate priorities and how to support students with disabilities
  • Quarterly High School Student Support Coordinator Training that provides training for structure and processes