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An Evaluation of Education Provision
for Students with Autism Spectrum
Disorder in the Republic of Ireland –
Preliminary Findings
Dr. Patricia Daly, Dr. Emer Ring, Principal Investigators,
Dr. Margaret Egan, Johanna Fitzgerald, Claire Griffin, Stella Long,
Eucharia McCarthy, Dr. Mary Moloney, Trevor O’Brien, Anne O’Byrne,
Siobhan O’Sullivan, Marie Ryan and Professor Eugene Wall
with Ruth Madden, Research Associate.
Overview of Presentation
•
•
•
•
•
•
Background and Purpose
Evaluation Framework
Data-Collection Instruments
Data Sources
Findings – Issues for Reflection
Conclusion
Background and Purpose
– Request for Tenders September 2013 – Overview and
Empirical Evaluation.
– Policy Advice.
– Methodology to ensure a coherent, consistent and
objective approach to data gathering and analysis.
– Against a framework of indicators and principles
based on identified good practice.
Teaching and
Learning
MCA / NCSE
Evaluation
Framework
Inclusive
School Culture
School
Management
Staff
Development
Assessment
School Culture
Leadership
Understanding
and Knowledge
of ASD for all
staff
Individual
planning
Communication
Responsibility
CPD
Learning
Environment
Appointment of
Staff
Information
sharing and
access to
specialist Info
Curriculum
Extra curricular
activities
Review of
Provision for
children with
ASD
Teaching
Methodologies
Student
Wellbeing
Transition
Team Approach
Data collection
Progress
Monitoring
Sampling
• NCSE data-bases for school-based provision.
• DES data-bases for July Education Provision and HomeTuition.
• A range of subgroups identified and stratified with
reference to geographical location; gender; socioeconomic groupings; language and needs-based.
• Purposeful random sampling was conducted with reference
to these strata.
Overview of Research Sites
Site A: ASD-Specific Early Intervention Classes (2) [Band E and B]
Site B: Mainstream Primary Schools (3) [Band H, C and F]
Site C: Mainstream Post-Primary Schools (3) [Band H, E and H]
Site D: Special Classes Primary Schools (2) [Band A and H]
Site E: Special Classes Post-Primary Schools (2) [Band I and G]
Site F: Special School for Students with Mild General Learning
Disability (1) [Band D]
Site G: Special School for Students with Moderate General
Learning Disability (1) [Band C]
Site H: Special School for Students with Severe or Profound
General Learning Disability (1) [Band A]
Site I: ASD-Specific Special School (3) [Band B, A and B]
Site J: Home-Tuition (3) [Band A]
Site K: July Educational Provision (3) [Band B, Band C]
Data-Collection Instruments
•
Observation Schedules [paired
observation of learning and teaching]
– Conducted with PI + Team member
– Ranked using rating system
– Inter-observer agreement measures
•
Semi-structured Interviews
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Principals
Co-ordinating Teachers
Special Class Teachers
Mainstream Teachers
Special Needs Assistants
Tutors
Parents
• Child-Conversations
- Semi-structured interview
and draw-a-picture
Total Data Sources
Data
Source:
Principal Teacher
Int.
Int.
Special
Needs
Assistant
In.
Child
Child
Parent Document
Conver Drawing Int.
Review
sation
Obs. of
Practice
Total
Data
Sources
20
33
25
25
271
50
36
60
22
Specific Measurement and Weighting Criteria for Triangulation of Data Collected
never/almost never
rarely
sometimes
often
always/almost
always
0-10%
11-20%
21-50%
51-90%
91-100%
Confirmed by
Findings from 10%
of Data Sources
including Classroom
Observation
Confirmed by
Findings from 1120% of Data
Sources including
Classroom
Observation
Confirmed by
Findings from 2150% of Data
Sources including
Classroom
Observation
Confirmed by
Findings from 5190% of Data
Sources including
Classroom
Observation
Confirmed by
Findings from 91100% of Data
Sources
Unacceptable
Fair
Good
Very Good
Excellent
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Assessment
– Understanding and a recognition of the importance of
assessment of, and for learning in all sites.
– Assessment curriculum-focused.
– Positive approach to the management of behaviours
that challenge evident in all sites.
– FBA almost always used in early intervention, primary
and special school sites.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Assessment – Issues for Reflection
– Challenges in developing pragmatic processes for
recording the positive assessment practice observed.
– ASD specific assessments.
– Co-occurring special educational needs in the context of
assessment.
– Role of student in assessment.
– Parents and assessment.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Individualised Planning
– Well-developed in early intervention; primary and
special schools – at an initial stage in post-primary.
– Linked to school’s existing individualised planning
where July Education Programme in school. Variable in
Home-Tuition sites.
– Parents almost always involved.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Individualised Planning– Issues for Reflection
– Adequate access to external professionals.
– Student-involvement.
– Identifying clear and attainable targets.
– Linking July Education Programme to students’ school
setting.
– Developing parents’ understanding of the individualised
planning process.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Transition
– Very good transition protocols to and from the early
intervention classes.
– Excellent understanding of signalling transitions within
the school day.
– Good understanding of the importance of supporting
transition from primary to post-primary.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Transition – Issues for Reflection
– Documenting transition protocols in school documentation.
– Scope to include transition planning in students’ individualised
planning at post-primary level.
– Allocating students a more central role in the transition process.
– Transitioning children from school to the July Education
Programme.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Curriculum
– Child-centred – individualised – differentiated and
focused on the holistic development of the child.
– Primary School Curriculum; Aistear; certification
options at post-primary and Guidelines for Students
with General Learning Disabilities.
– Focus on students’ social and life-skills in the July
Education Programme.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Curriculum– Issues for Reflection
– Curriculum Guidelines for early intervention classes.
– Potential of Aistear.
– Guidelines in relation to children’s access to Irish in Irishmedium schools.
– Guidelines in relation to the curriculum foci of the July
Education Programme.
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Teaching Methodologies
– Excellent use of generic and ASD-specific teaching
approaches used in all early intervention, almost all
primary and special schools.
– An individualised approach, which considered students’
strengths, interests and preferences evident.
– Almost all school and classroom environments were
well-structured and visual structures used
Statement 1:Teaching and Learning
• Teaching Methodologies– Issues for Reflection
– Referencing teaching methodologies and rationale for
selection in school documentation.
– Addressing the importance of the continuity of students’
experiences in the context of the July Education
Programme.
Statement 2:Inclusive School Culture
• Communication
– Communication between staff in all sites almost always
ranged from good to excellent and a strong sense of
collegiality and collaboration was evident.
– Awareness and understanding of the importance of
communicating with parents was evidenced in all sites.
– The value of the advice and support of external
professionals was affirmed by all sites.
Statement 2:Teaching and Learning
• Communication– Issues for Reflection
– Providing accessible information for parents with regard to
the communication structures in place in the school.
– Developing CPD for principals and school staff to develop
structures that can optimise communication with parents.
Statement 2:Inclusive School Culture
• Student Wellbeing
– Students’ well-being fostered in an affirmative and
proactive manner in almost all sites.
– A safe, secure and positive environment was almost
always evident and interactions were respectful and
affirming.
– Positive relationships and positive mental health
promoted.
Statement 2:Teaching and Learning
• Student Wellbeing– Issues for Reflection
– Clearly documenting the range of strategies evidenced in
school documentation.
– Identifying a staff member as a resource for students who
may be concerned with mental health issues.
– Parent wellbeing
– CPD for all staff in relation to students’ wellbeing, parent
wellbeing and their own wellbeing.
Statement 3: School Management
• Leadership
– Committed leadership - Principal
– Importance of shared vision
– Communication structures
– Staff deployment
Leadership Issues
• Small schools, rural, remote
• Time-table management and
deployment
• Additional tasks for Principal
• SNA roles
Statement 4: Staff Development
• Understanding & Knowledge of ASD
– Excellent levels by direct care staff and
some by whole school staff
– Expertise within the school
• Rotation across the school
• SNAs around sensory awareness
– Special schools – all staff
Understanding & Knowledge of ASD
: Issues
• Levels for mainstream teachers in
Primary and PP environments
• Levels for Principals in large schools
• Home tutors - variable
4. Continuing Professional
Development
• Principals
– Special schools
• Teachers
– Specialist vs Mainstream
• SESS – MCA - Patron Bodies Others
Contining Professional Development Issues
• SNAs
– Entry qualifications
– CPD pathways
• Parents
• Home Tutors
• Individual AND school-wide approaches
...it gives us a better perspective
on the whole child
development...it gives a depth to
the soul of us all
[Site B1_PM_P].
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