My ds is in 7th grade at a relatively large private K-8 school. He has been there 3 years. (He attended our local Waldorf school before that.) He has had a 504 in place for most of the time. I thought he was doing okay. He was getting mostly C's with the help in place. Today, the principal told me that the school cannot help him be successful and recommended that he go to a public school for special education. The principal said he was functioning in most areas 3-4 grades behind. By the way, he has no behavioral issues and really does try hard.
So, I am going to a public middle school tomorrow for a school tour and to meet with a special education teacher and counselor.
I would love to hear people's experience with special education, especially at the middle school level. And, I'm wondering what questions I should ask.
Our experience with special education in a public middle school was wonderful. My DD was mainstreamed for most classes, but had one period a day with the special ed teacher as well as appropriate accommodations in her other classes. The teachers, social worker, and principal at her school were WONDERFUL and worked very hard to help her succeed.
What is your son's DX? What sort of evaluations have been done? What is on his 504 now?
Going in with that information, I would start by asking how much they see him being mainstreamed, and how much in special ed. I would ask how the special ed teacher and regular teachers coordinate. One of the great things about special ed in middle school is being able to switch for classes so it isn't so obvious. A child might be working on math in an IEP only math classroom, reading in special ed, and a mainstream science class and it really isn't so obvious to all the children as it is elementary school when every one is based in one room for the day.
I would ask about extra curricula activities and find things he can do and enjoy. I think this is really important for this age.
I would also ask the current school exactly *why* they are unable to meet his needs, not to question the truth of that statement, but to better understand what he needs so that the new school can provide it.
Good luck. We've had to switch schools before and I find it stressful. Keep a positive thought -- you are moving your son to a place where there are real experts at helping kids like him succeed.
but everything has pros and cons
That's great that your DD had a good experience.
I went to the middle school this morning. My ds had tons of testing done by an educational psychologist in December 2009, so even though it was dated material somewhat, I still brought it and they said it was helpful. They would test him again once we enrolled. I was impressed with the counselor I met and a special education teacher that was also there. However, when I did the school tour, I almost flipped when I saw how jammed the classrooms were. Their max is 30 students and I just worry about my ds getting lost in such a large class. Anyway...what to do? what to do? I know we'll figure this out, it's just stressful, that's all...
Thanks for the reply, Linda on the move! It's good to know of your positive experiece!
Those are big classes. Do you know yet if he'll be in those large classes, or in smaller ones? At our public school, there were IEP only math classes with a strict limit of 15 kids. The SN classes were even smaller. I wouldn't assume that he will be in huge classes for every period. My DD was in a mix of classes.
BTW, IEP only math was such a blessing. The teacher was AMAZING and had the patience of God. My DD made huge strides in her understanding.
but everything has pros and cons
He would be in the large classes except for his math class, which would have 6-10 students. For two of his classes (Social Studies and English), the class would be large, but there would be a mainstream teacher and a special ed teacher co-teaching the class. I am actually going to check out the other public middle school to see how large the classes are and to see how they would place him. So, I have two options, which is nice.
It sounds like your dd had a great experience with her math class as well. Good for her!