Transcript of NCSET teleconference call held on September 24, 2003
High Schools of Authentic and Inclusive Learning: Findings of
the Research Institute on Secondary Education Reform for Youth with
Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell, Ph.D., Co-director,
Research Institute on Secondary Education Reform
Bruce King, Ph.D., Research Scientist,
Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
Principal Investigator, Research Institute on Secondary Education
Reform for Students with Disabilities
MS. JOHNSON: Welcome, everyone.
Today we are pleased to have Dr. Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell and Dr.
Bruce King as our presenters.
Dr. Hanley-Maxwell has been involved in creating and expanding school
opportunities and work systems for youth and adults with disabilities
– first as a practitioner, then as a researcher and trainer.
Her work has included direct service as a teacher, educational coordinator
and job coach, pre-service and in-service training for transdisciplinary
teams, consultation to school districts and rehabilitation service
providers, and research related to curriculum, family involvement,
employment issues, secondary special education, and collaboration.
She is co-director of the Research Institute on Secondary Education
Reform – or the RISER project. In addition to her research
and practice-related roles, she is a professor and chairperson in
the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
We also have Dr. Bruce King presenting. Dr. King is a research
scientist with the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and principal investigator
for the Research Institute on Secondary Education Reform for Students
with Disabilities. His research for RISER focuses on crucial features
of instruction, assessment, and support strategies that promote
authentic understanding, achievement, and performance for all students.
Previously, Dr. King worked with the Center on Organization and
Restructuring of Schools at Wisconsin and its five-year school restructuring
study. His research concentrated on organizational aspects of restructuring,
including school government, systems of accountability and teacher
professional community that contributed to authentic pedagogy and
achievement. He has published in leading educational journals and
has consulted with schools and other research projects in both the
United States and Australia.
I’m also happy to say that Dr. King and Dr. Hanley-Maxwell
presented at our NCSET Capacity Building Institute in July in Washington,
D.C., where their information was very well received.
The format of today’s teleconference will be a 45-minute
presentation, with a question-and-answer period after. We ask that
you hold your questions until after the presentation is completed.
I’ll now turn it over to Dr. Hanley-Maxwell.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: This is Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell.
DR. KING: Bruce King. Hello.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: We need to further refine the format of today’s
presentation because we want to do something a little bit different.
We will introduce the project to you and tell you about the sites
that we worked at, but we will then only provide you with the highlights
of the project, or the lessons that we learned from the project.
You, then, can choose which one of those lessons you want to go
into in greater depth. So once we’ve gone through our highlights,
you’re welcome to ask questions or to say, “Gee, tell
me more about the role of principals in this particular project.”
To start with, I want to tell you about RISER. We are an institute
that was developed to expand the current knowledge base related
to practices and policies of secondary schools. We were particularly
interested in those practices and policies that enhanced learning
achievement and postschool outcomes for students with disabilities.
However, our total focus included all kids in the schools, not just
kids with disabilities. Our focus was on how inclusive efforts worked
with or interacted with reform efforts in general education. We
used a reform model called Authentic Achievement, which was developed
by Newman and Wehledge and Newman, Wehledge, and Secada.
Our major research question for the whole thing – and I
won’t bore you with all of our research questions, this was
just the major one – was “Could Authentic Achievement
be used to restructure school and classroom settings in order to
allow students to learn together and to be successful beyond school?”
We worked with four schools, and they had to meet certain key
features. We used the key features in our search process to select
the most promising schools to match our research focus and our question.
First, we used the criteria of authentic instruction as described
by Newman, Secada and Wehledge. This includes construction of knowledge
– which is the higher-order thinking skills, disciplined inquiry
– with which we looked at knowledge base and in-depth understanding
of the subject matter, and elaborated written communication and
substantive conversation around those topics. We modified the elaborated
written communication to be just elaborated communication, to accommodate
those students with disabilities for whom writing was most difficult.
The other criterion under authentic instruction was that there
had to be value beyond school in the instructional component. As
Newman and Wehledge and Newman, Secada and Wehledge conceive of
this, they actually only look at it as value beyond school as applied
to current public problems or personal experiences of the students.
We expanded this to include the value of activities or experiences
in life after school – after leaving these schools. We also
added that we wanted to look at issues that we thought were very
important to inclusion, which included accommodations and support,
personalization, and self-advocacy.
Then we needed to look at the communities in which these schools
existed. So we were looking for schools that had strong professional
communities, and then had extensive external supports, because the
literature has shown that schools with extensive external supports
are able to sustain the reform efforts more strongly. We looked
for 18 months. And it was very difficult to find schools that fit
What we ended up with was four schools, of which only two met most
of the criteria. The other two had aspects in their schools or their
classrooms that met the criteria, and so we decided to keep them.
And we learned some very valuable things from including them, so
I’m glad we made that decision.
The first school we worked with is Clarendon Secondary School.
And by the way, these are all pseudonyms. These are not the real
names of the schools. Clarendon is located in an urban setting.
They have grades seven through 12. There are 520 students in the
school. They have a high minority population. Fifty-two percent
of the students were Latino/Latina, 45 percent were African American.
Of all the students, 37 percent qualified for Title One, and 22
percent of the students had mild to moderate disabilities. There
are three divisions in the school, since they went from seven to
12. We did not study the seven- eight group. Instead, we studied
Division Two, which is grades nine and 10, and the Senior Institute,
which is grades 11 and 12.
This school is 100 percent inclusive. They use an interdisciplinary
curriculum. They require service-learning internships of all students.
They use graduation portfolios and exhibitions, and they’re
a member of a national reform organization called The Coalition
of Essential Schools. The student population in that school, in
terms of students with disabilities, was mostly students with LD
and/or ED. It is possible that there were students with mild CD
in the group, but they had not been identified to us.
Our second school was Rothbury High School. This school was a
suburban rural school that served 980 students, grades nine through
12. Ninety-eight percent were white. Of those, two percent were
eligible for Title One, and 17 percent were students with mild to
moderate disabilities. This school is broken into two divisions
– nine/10 and 11/12. The nine/10 division is very interdisciplinary
and very much the authentic piece that we were looking for. Grades
11/12 were more traditional in terms of their set-up and how they
worked with special educators. This has since changed. They have
gone toward much more of the interdisciplinary framework across
the schools, but that change is not part of our investigation. This
school is 100 percent inclusive. They have a service-learning requirement,
as well. Students, as part of their requirements to graduate, must
have completed portfolios and exhibits. However, they have the traditional
ways of graduating on top of that. They are also a member of a national
reform organization – The Coalition of Essential Schools.
The students we saw in that school were primarily LD and ED –
including some students with Asperger’s – but there
were also some students that had mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.
And these students included students with autism, Down’s syndrome
and a variety of other unnamed conditions. They also had students
with TBI and physical disabilities in that school.
The third school is Mount Adam High School. This is a rural school
serving 480 students from grades nine through 12. They, too, were
98 percent white, and they had about two percent of their population
eligible for Title One. Fifteen percent of their students had disabilities.
These students were primary LD and ED. They had some students with
mild to moderate cognitive disabilities, traumatic brain injury
and physical disabilities. This is a professional development school
working with a local university. All the students had personal learning
plans in an effort to coordinate their school program to plan for
life after school. We believe that they’ve since dropped this
because this was spearheaded by one principal that they had, and
he is no longer there. They have options for community-based learning.
All students with disabilities take those community-based learning
opportunities, and many students without disabilities are incorporated
into community-based learning. They have varying degrees of inclusion,
but primarily the inclusion occurs in the lower-track classes.
Our last school is Seven Hills High School. This is a small city
school serving about one thousand students, grades nine through
12. They have a high prevalence of minorities in the school, as
well, but they are more typical of the range of minority/majority
students. 70 percent of their students are white, 15 percent of
their students are Native American, eight percent of their students
are Latino/Latina, six percent are African American. 17 percent
of their entire student population is eligible for Title One, and
11 percent of their students are students with disabilities. What’s
unique about this school is that they have several academic courses
team-taught by regular and special education teachers, and they
are truly equal members on the team.
Twenty-eight percent of the youth with disabilities are wholly
included in some courses. However, this includes no students with
severe disabilities in regular classes. There is a separate program
for those students. All freshmen with disabilities take a study
skills self-advocacy course. Their range of disabilities primarily
included LD, ED, and mild CD within the integrated portions of the
program. There were also some students with moderate CD in the integrated
programs in the school. Students with severe disabilities were served
in a separate, segregated program.
We learned 11 lessons from looking at these schools. And we looked
at them for three to four years. And actually, a week from now,
I will no longer be project director, because the project is completely
over on the 30th. These 11 lessons evolved from observations; from
interviews with teachers, students, and parents; interviews with
administrators; focus groups with a variety of people; surveys and
The first lesson that we learned is that inclusion can support
high academic standards for all students. Thus, high standards and
inclusion are not mutually exclusive. And you often hear the argument
that they are. But we found in our schools that they are not mutually
The second lesson that we learned was that when provided with instruction
and assessment tasks of high intellectual quality, students with
disabilities and students with mild to moderate disabilities exhibit
higher performance than they do when they are provided with tasks
under – of low authenticity. When provided with tasks of low
authenticity – and I mean really low authenticity, students
with and without disabilities performed equally poorly.
Now, by “low authenticity,” I mean these are much
more the traditional tasks that we see in high schools – none
of the value beyond school, the in-depth knowledge base and the
elaborated communication, as well as the higher-ordered thinking.
So these are more like the spit-it-back kinds of tasks.
DR. KING: Just to explain that particular lesson a little further,
we did a variety of analyses based on our classroom observations
in math, social studies, science, and English language arts. And
all our observations took place in classes where students with disabilities
were included along with general ed kids. We observed a number of
lessons in these subject areas at each of the four schools and we
collected assessment tasks from the teachers of these classes. And
along with the tasks, we collected the student work on those particular
In the comprehensive analysis, for example, we looked at assessment
tasks and student work that was completed on those tasks from all
eight classrooms that we examined at each of the four schools –
so 32 classrooms in total. We looked at 78 tasks across these four
subject areas, and over 1300 pieces of student work. Twenty-one
percent of the work was from students with mild to moderate disability.
What we found was really significant. In classrooms where kids
received a high degree of authentic instruction, their performance
was higher. And that’s true for both students with disabilities
and students without disabilities, when we compare those to student
performance in the classes with low levels of authenticity. There
was a gap in terms of the student performance from kids with and
without disabilities, but the important thing for me is that in
the classrooms with high levels of authentic instruction, kids with
disabilities did better than kids without disabilities in the classes
with low levels of authentic instruction. A lot has to do with teacher
expectation, and that expectation relates to both students with
and without disabilities – a very significant finding, I think.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: The third lesson we learned is that internal
school-wide – and I want to emphasize internal school-wide
evaluations and standards – that utilized universal design
elements can support authentic intellectual work and inclusion.
When we speak about universal design elements, we’re talking
about three aspects. One these elements – of these elements
is negotiation with the advisor or advisory/evaluation committee
on the task elements and the targets for completion by each student.
The second element is the repeated opportunities for feedback and
revision. And the third element is that there’s a common process
and experience for all students, but there are varied outcomes and
content that are covered by the students. Universal design overall
increases the meaning of the tasks that the students are doing and
the inclusion of students with disabilities in the regular classroom.
The strongest, most consistent finding is that the authentic schools
with formally articulate internal assessment end up being the most
The fourth lesson that we learned was that external standards
appear to have no meaningful influence on authenticity or equity.
So all the standards that we’re all working under within the
public schools didn’t have influence in these schools, on
what happened in terms of who got what and the quality of the instructional
tasks. However, external assessment – those that are high-stake
assessment like the graduation tests – do increase the likelihood
that students with disabilities are included in relevant instruction.
But the sad part about this is that the instruction then changes
in its quality and the use of authentic pedagogy dramatically goes
down. So while the assessments do increase the prevalence of kids
with disabilities in these classes, the overall quality of the classes
The sixth lesson we learned was that students without disabilities
and students with mild to moderate disabilities in our schools appear
to have better school outcomes when compared with other national
samples. This is particularly true in the areas of attending postsecondary
education or program, participation in social activities and community
groups, and obtaining paying jobs for students without disabilities.
For students with disabilities, there was no difference in whether
or not they obtained paying jobs. However, I want you to remember
that within this finding, the students with disabilities had higher
rates of enrollment in postsecondary education or programs. So we
have an increase in one area and little effect on the other.
Schools of authentic and inclusive learning also incorporate career
development, self-determination and postschool planning for all
students. In schools with more authentic practice, these aspects
become embedded in the entire curriculum. Thus they become part
of the entire school experience, including the graduation requirement.
In schools of authentic and inclusive learning, current students
talk about what they value that they’re getting. And we talked
to graduates about what they had at their former high school. We
found that they valued the help that they got from teachers and
counselors, the classes that they took, and the community experience
they had in helping them make the career decisions they made.
The ninth lesson that we learned was that a school-wide commitment
to specific academic learning goals and to inclusion and the focus
in sustained programs to address that commitment appear to be critical
to the success of efforts to become an inclusive school that has
a high degree of authenticity. In other words, you had to have the
commitment to the specific goals and to inclusion, and you had to
have mechanisms to sustain that commitment in order to have both
inclusion and high degrees of authenticity.
The 10th lesson we learned was that – and this one’s
not new to most of you, but we did find some interesting things
with this – general education and special education teachers
need ongoing support to help them work collaboratively. We found
the schools that used ongoing formal and informal mechanisms to
promote such planning appeared to be more successful in providing
learning experiences that have a high degree of authenticity to
all students and providing these experiences in fully inclusive
settings. Many of the techniques that these schools used were adapted
from the Coalition of Essential Schools or variations on their own
school philosophy. And they had a variety of ways to keep the teachers
learning and to keep the teachers’ efforts at reform and inclusion
The last – the 11th lesson is that schools of authentic
and inclusive learning – particularly those high in authenticity
– use planning and problem-solving groups for students and
teachers. And these planning and problem-solving groups are highly
valued and part of the overall structure of the school. The last
lesson we learned is that it is not necessary to have a principal
as the leader of inclusive and reform efforts. In a highly democratic
culture, where teachers are determiners of their own fate and the
curriculum and the overall practices and policies of the school,
they do not need a principal as a leader. However, a principal that
is opposed or obstructionist to inclusion and reform, or a school
that does not have a highly inclusive or a highly democratic culture
will find it very difficult to move forward without a strong principal
as leader in those schools.
Now, what do you want to hear more about?
MS. JOHNSON: Anyone who has a question or a comment for Cheryl
or Bruce, please introduce yourself and the state that you’re
MS. SIMONELLI: I’m at the Center on Disability Studies at
the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and I was wondering if you would
talk a little bit more about your point number four, which is about
the external standards having no impact. And that was all I wrote
down. So if you could speak a little bit more about that it would
DR. KING: We interviewed teachers and we also conducted school-wide
surveys of the whole staff. Included in those surveys were questions
regarding external standards and assessments. And across the four
schools, generally speaking, teachers said that the standards that
were in existence in those four states generally were supportive
of their work, but they didn’t feel that they had direct or
very meaningful significance in terms of how they thought about
their curriculum or their pedagogy. There was a general sense that
there was – that their curriculum was well aligned with state
standards, but they didn’t feel that the standards were compelling
them in a good or bad way to do anything differently.
MS. SIMONELLI: OK.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: And only one of our schools actually aligned
their curriculum to the standards…
DR. KING: Purposefully.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: Yes, purposefully. All – the other three
basically ignored the standards or just checked to make sure they
were in the ballpark with the standards.
MS. SIMONELLI: OK. Thank you.
MS. STATMAN: Oh, hi. I’m from The Arc of Texas, in Austin,
Texas, and I’m interested in hearing more about the self-determination
aspect of how – and also the planning and problem-solving
groups with students.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: So you’ve actually got two questions
there, and I’ll start with the self-determination question.
Students in three of these schools were expected to do postschool
plans. And to do those postschool plans, students in two of the
three schools were given training experiences – cumulative
experiences that helped build their advocacy skills, that helped
build their planning skills within the curriculum and the tasks
that were done in the classroom. They were also given guidance in
self-evaluation on all the tasks that they did in their classrooms.
So little by little, they gained those skills. By the time that
they were juniors, they had to do these graduation plans. And I’m
going to talk about Clarendon and Rothbury here, and then I’ll
back up and talk about Mount Adam’s personal learning plan.
Clarendon and Rothbury expected students to do what was literally
a transition plan for themselves. But they didn’t call it
that. They called it the post-graduation plan or post-graduation
portfolio. The kinds of things that were covered in the post-graduation
portfolio at Clarendon were postschool high school living arrangements,
post-high-school employment and education and training, and post-high-school
community and citizenship. They had to complete this plan before
they entered the Senior Institute. And then it was continually updated
and revised while they were in the Senior Institute. It was the
first requirement and also the last requirement considered when
looking at graduation. They had to actually demonstrate that they
had growth in competence and intellectual understanding as a worker,
as a citizen, and as a learner.
They also included in their post-graduation portfolio at Clarendon
the idea that students had to have an understanding of what skills
that they had learned or experience they’ve had that they
should put forward for employers. So not only were they taught to
make plans and to act on those plans, they were also taught to reflect
and to be able to self-advocate on the areas that they found most
relevant to the jobs that they were seeking. I don’t think
I need to go through all of the practical skills that students in
that had. But I do want to mention a couple things. They were taught
how important voting was. They were given all the tools that they
needed to go and actually register to vote. And then they discussed
political issues in the classroom, so that they were encouraged
to vote. The planning and problem-solving was also part of the portfolio
process at Rothbury.
They did their personal learning – or their post-graduation
plans – through a series of problem-solving activities. They
would look at what they wanted to do post high school. They would
research what they wanted to do post high school. And that could
be either library research or an interview process, but they had
to interview at least one person in the field to find out if that
was truly what they wanted to do. They also had to figure out what
courses would be related to their postschool outcome intentions.
They had advisors that worked with them in advisory periods every
single day from their freshman year and that helped them go through
the problem-solving process. Furthermore, when students were faced
with challenges in schools, instead of having disciplinary action
placed on them, or instead of remedial action placed on them for
academic issues, they problem-solved those issues with their teachers
and with their advisor. In fact, the disciplinary arm of Rothbury
was the community council, of which 50 percent of the council members
were students. So students essentially worked with other students
to develop disciplinary procedures and actions, especially when
a single student was involved. Every student in that school had
a say on what went on.
The second thing that you asked about was …
MS. STATMAN: Planning and problem-solving was the second thing.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: But you wanted to know about the teachers,
MS. STATMAN: Yes, I’d like to hear about that, also.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: The teachers in – oh, I forgot about
personal learning plans, but I’ll skip them for now. The teachers
at both Clarendon and Rothbury use a variety of ways to do planning
and problem-solving. At Rothbury and Clarendon, in grades nine through
10, they used cross-disciplinary teams and they also used within
disciplinary teams to plan the curriculum, the experiences, and
to problem-solve for issues related to student problems. Particularly
at Rothbury, they spent a great deal of time in these interdisciplinary
groups, which included the special educators, in pre-planning for
problems that might come up with the curriculum or the experiences
they had planned. So they anticipated problems that individual students
would have. They planned the curriculum and the experiences to accommodate
those problems, and then as they went along, they would problem-solve
as needed when students weren’t succeeding and make the changes
that they needed to make in order to make sure that all students
in the classrooms were successful.
In grades 11 and 12, at both Clarendon and Rothbury, there’s
a much more traditional approach to the planning and problem-solving,
mostly within disciplinary groups. There was nothing really overly
unique about that, except that at Rothbury, the special educators
were considered a vital part of the planning process. At Rothbury,
they also used the Critical Friends Groups idea. I don’t know
if you’re familiar with that, but I’m sure a few of
you aren’t, so I’ll explain it. It’s a group of
people that are assigned to work together on continuing professional
development. Some of the groups at Rothbury chose to pursue specific
topics for further knowledge. So they would all learning about a
topic, such as the infusion of practical experiences in science.
Other groups chose to use their Critical Friends Groups as purely
A teacher would bring an idea about what they were going to do
in the lesson, and they’d present the lesson to the group
of peers. They’d describe the students that are in the classroom
and what the needs were of those students. They would discuss the
accommodation that they planned for to help those students meet
the curricular intent, and they would also discuss any other issues
that they felt made this a unique or exciting lesson. Their peers
then gave them critical feedback. The first time I ever saw this,
it was an amazing experience because they truly give critical feedback,
but it’s in a very trusting atmosphere. All of the teachers
felt that when they got that critical feedback, all of it –
all that feedback helped them improve their lesson-planning and
their pedagogy. The teacher would then go and teach the lesson,
and would be expected to come back and describe what worked and
what didn’t work. And then the group would problem-solve on
why things didn’t work and what could be done in the future,
and whether or not the practices that did work could be sustained
for the teacher. So that’s …
DR. KING: I would like to add – in regard to – there’s
been a lot of note in the general reform literature about professional
communities. And what Cheryl has just been describing about what
Rothbury teams and critical friends group epitomized – the
notion of professional community, where teams got together and used
inquiry and professional dialogue to further everybody’s understanding
and knowledge and skills – and a lot of it had to do with
how to appropriately include kids with disabilities in general ed
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: And I might add that what’s really stunning
is working with the general ed teachers in those kinds of Critical
Friends Groups or that are in the lower divisions that are very
interdisciplinary. They know a lot about adaptation and accommodation.
And they are not relying on the special educator for just that piece
of knowledge for kids with disabilities. They’re actually
using that knowledge and those special educators for problem-solving
around problems that kids without disabilities are having, too.
MS. JOHNSON: I have a question. On lesson number three, could
you talk a little bit more about internal school – incorporation
of universal design?
DR. KING: There’s been a lot of emphasis lately on external
assessments and high-stake testing. What became really apparent
in some of these schools – and not all of them – is
that the most meaningful assessments to their teachers and their
students were the ones that they worked on and developed collectively.
And that is what “internal” refers to.
Cheryl has mentioned portfolios and exhibitions, both in terms
of Rothbury and Clarendon, and those were the best examples of schools
that had over the years developed an internal assessment system
that was consistent with their mission, that showed a high degree
of authenticity, and that held both teachers and students accountable
for high levels of learning. And this applied across the board to
all their kids.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: And what made it universal was that teachers
would work with students so the students could plan their learning
experiences to meet their needs. So if they did better reading,
they would spend more time reading. If they really, really needed
to talk in small groups and negotiate knowledge, that’s what
they would do. If they needed guided practice, that’s what
they would do. So the learning experiences were tailored to the
students. Although they were held to the same standards in the end,
the way you got the knowledge was tailored to the student –
so was you enter a point that is best for you.
The second part of that, though, was that when you had to produce
a product or show that you knew the material, you were allowed a
variety of ways to express your knowledge. Some students would write
papers. Some students would do videos. Some students would role-play.
Some students put on a play. Some students sang or did poetry. Every
student had a choice of how they wanted to exhibit how they knew
what they had to learn in that particular lesson or that particular
task. So it became highly individualized to each of the individual
– each student. What’s universal about it is there are
no preconceived notions as to where you should enter and how you
should enter, and no preconceived notions as to what constitutes
an acceptable outcome in terms of the performance, but the standards
stay the same.
MS. JOHNSON: OK. Any other questions for Cheryl or Bruce?
MS. SIMONELLI: Yes. This is Shannon Simonelli again, in Hawaii.
And I may have missed this, but how can we get access to this study
either in part or in full?
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: There is a Web site. It’s http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/riser/.
MS. SIMONELLI: Excellent. Thank you very much.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: On that Web site, we have a number of briefs
that we’ve published. However, most of the data is not out
there. Some of it’s out there, but most of it isn’t.
We in fact are in the process of putting together a book and a series
of articles that will come out in hopefully some of the journals.
The other thing is we’re going to finish some of the briefs
that include this data and put them on the Web site, even though
the project is ending.
MS. SIMONELLI: Great. So where will the conference proceedings
MS. JOHNSON: They’ll be posted on the NCSET Web site under
MS. SIMONELLI: Thank you.
MS. JOHNSON: Any other questions for Cheryl and Bruce?
MS. OSTRANDER: This is Angela Ostrander, from the Department of
Education in South Dakota. And my question is, we have a High Schools
that Work process program, and I was wondering how this kind of
fits in with the “No Child Left Behind,” when you’re
working with disabled students.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: I’m not sure what the High Schools that
Work project is.
MS. OSTRANDER: Well, it is a project that is with junior high
and high schools that is a consortium within – mostly it started
in the southern states and South Dakota has become one of the first
in the Midwest, I should say. And it – I was just wondering,
you’re doing some authentic assessment to get disabled students’
grades in to help meet the “no child left behind,” and
I was just wondering maybe if you could expound on that.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: Actually, I think that Rothbury and Clarendon
are really good examples of “No Child Left Behind” –
and from two aspects – not from the just no child left untested
aspect, but from no child left out of the curriculum aspect. The
students in these schools learn huge amounts of information and
are exposed to curriculum that is extremely challenging. The kids
with disabilities do things with that knowledge and are capable
of learning volumes of knowledge that I have never seen in kids
in other settings. So they’re clearly not being left behind
in the curriculum. In terms of the testing, only one – Clarendon
– has to take the graduation test right now.
DR. KING: Out of the four schools. Although Seven Hills has been
in a state environment that keeps threatening to have a graduation
test, and then they keep pulling it after they pilot it and find
that, you know, only five percent of their kids would pass it.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: I believe, though, that when Clarendon looked
at the graduation test, they – that was mandated, they felt
that their students would do just fine on it because it aligned
with the curricular content what their students were working through.
The only thing that they were concerned with was the format of the
test because the format of all these tests is terribly inauthentic
and the students might have difficulty dealing with that kind of
MS. OSTRANDER: Thank you very much.
MS. STATMAN: I just wanted to follow up on that, because I’m
from Texas and we’ve had testing in Texas well before “No
Child Left Behind” for all students. And it’s –
as you describe – not authentic at all. And so, I mean, how
do you – I mean – I mean this – what you’re
describing is, like, totally not happening in Texas anywhere, as
far I can tell. I mean, at least not in public schools.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: And thus our difficulty in finding even four
MS. STATMAN: Right. And so how do we as advocates and –
I mean, how do we convince schools to move in this direction? And
how – what do we provide for them? How do we train them? How
do we get them to do this?
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: I think one of the most important points that
we found in this study is that our two most successful schools were
basically recreated from the ground up. So they were – they
were created to do the authentic stuff and to be inclusive. That
MS. STATMAN: But our schools have to take these tests. I mean,
they don’t have a choice. It’s a state law. So they
have – they would have to be involved in the test at the same
time as trying to recreate their school.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: Right. Yes, it’s a big challenge because
I don’t think that our leaders and legislators understand
what’s meaningful testing.
MS. STATMAN: That’s definitely true.
DR. HANLEY-MAXWELL: One of the – one of the things that
is a happenstance of our project is that Clarendon was actually
the model for Rothbury. And Rothbury learned how to do what they
wanted to do by visiting Clarendon and finding out what worked and
what didn’t work there. But again, they were not under the
constraint of having to meet graduation tests or those grade-level
tests that seem to be popular. I honestly don’t know what
we’re going to do with all of these tests that are out there.
I think they have a dramatic effect on what is taught in the classroom,
as well as how it is taught. We found that in this study. The more
testing you do, the less authentic the learning experience is. You
do get kids with disabilities in the classrooms, but they’re
not authentic classrooms. I don’t know where we’re going
to go with it.
MS. JOHNSON: Well, I’d like to thank Dr. Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell
and Dr. Bruce King for presenting with us today. And I’d also
like to mention that the conference proceedings from our July 8th
Capacity-Building Institute are also on the NCSET Web site. So if
you’d like to read more about Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell and Bruce
King’s work with RISER, that is available to you.
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