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bjbjLULU MARGARET WARNER: Now: how one school has succeeded in reducing the odds that a
student with learning disabilities may drop out. Past studies have found that these students
drop out at more than twice the rate of their classmates. NewsHour health correspondent
Betty Ann Bowser reports on what can be done in the classroom to prevent that. It's for
our series the American Graduate Project. BETTY ANN BOWSER: On a recent Friday morning
at the Henderson Inclusion Elementary School in Boston, there was organized chaos as nearly
250 students crowded into the auditorium. Then it was showtime. The students were celebrating
African-American History Month. But the show was also a celebration of a unique public
school where one-third of the student body is disabled and where all the children are
educated together in an inclusive setting. Dr. Tom Hehir is a professor at the Harvard
Graduate School of Education and one of the country's leading experts on special education.
DR. TOM HEHIR, Harvard Graduate School of Education: It is not unusual that some kids
don't walk. It is not unusual that some kids don't talk. It's not unusual that some kids
struggle learning how to read or process information. That's the norm. And so that philosophy carries
through to the whole school. BETTY ANN BOWSER: For the kids with learning disabilities, what
goes on in the classroom is especially important. Using federal government data, the National
Center for Learning Disabilities says 20 percent of children with L.D. drop out of high school
vs. 8 percent of the general population. And the center reports that half of secondary
students with L.D. perform more than three grade levels below where they should be. DR.
TOM HEHIR: Not only is it more likely that kids with learning disabilities are going
to drop out of school. It's also less likely they're going to reengage in education. That's
associated with unemployment, low wages. And there is evidence that there's increased likelihood
of getting in trouble in the community. And those are all bad outcomes. BETTY ANN BOWSER:
So the emphasis at Henderson is on early intervention, and a big part of that is technology. Former
principal Dr. Bill Henderson realized more than 20 years ago how technology could help
L.D. kids. At the time, he was going blind and had to learn braille from scratch. That
gave him special insights. DR. BILL HENDERSON, former principal, Henderson Elementary School:
When we read, most people with their eyes, I now with my ears or with my fingers, you
have to figure out what the text, print or braille dots are saying. That's decoding.
Many children who have specific learning disabilities, in particular dyslexia, have to put extra
energies and efforts into decoding text. You cannot read as much material. You can't keep
up with grade-level and rigorous material. BETTY ANN BOWSER: Current principal Patricia
Lampron showed us how one second-grader with learning disabilities showed his comprehension
of a story he'd read writing in longhand. PATRICIA LAMPRON, principal, Henderson Elementary
School: He wrote, not very neatly, "Rosa helped Blanca, and Blanca helped Rosa. I can be nice
to others." He did exactly what the prompt asked him to do, but obviously he has a difficult
time with spelling, handwriting. And is that a benchmark second-grade response? I would
say, no, it isn't. BETTY ANN BOWSER: Then, on another page, she showed us what the same
student wrote using a computer to explain his comprehension of another story. PATRICIA
LAMPRON: He uses a text reader and a word-prompting software, and the word-prompting software
helps him to produce something more on grade level, and definitely more thorough. BETTY
ANN BOWSER: Every classroom is abuzz with these kinds of teaching devices, computers,
iPads, digital audio programs. They allow students to learn a variety of different ways
and at their own pace. Two teachers are assigned to each class, working as a team. One is a
general classroom professional. The other is a special education teacher. Together,
they brainstorm what works for each student. This second-grade classroom of 23 students
has seven disabled kids in it and each one works at their own speed. So, for dyslexic
kids like Ronan Gorman, comprehending text means using a traditionally textbook, an iPad
and headphones. Principal Lampron explained. PATRICIA LAMPRON: Ronan can listen to the
book also while he is reading along with the book. So sometimes he may use the book separately
from the iPad or he can read it in digital format. And what digital format allows students
to do is listen, as well as read along. BETTY ANN BOWSER: Nine-year-old Ronan had been held
back twice before he entered Henderson in September. His parents said he was unhappy
and feeling like a failure. His dad, Gerry, was especially upset by all of this because,
like Ronan, he too is dyslexic. But in a few short months, things have turned around. GERALD
GORMAN, father: It's almost emotional for me to talk about it, because, seeing him now,
seeing him from where he was, and seeing me where I was at that age, he's doing what I
used to do when I was 14. He's 9. So it's -- it's just -- it's phenomenal. ANN GORMAN,
mother: First of all, he smiles a lot. He goes to bed every night with about five piles
of books, which he always did. But he reads them now. And he used to say to me, "I'm never
going to learn how to read this." BETTY ANN BOWSER: When Bill Henderson was principal,
he realized, if kids like Ronan didn't get help early, they would fail later on. So he
came up with the team teaching idea and introduced a robust arts program. DR. BILL HENDERSON:
The arts were terrific for kids with print disabilities and dyslexia. There are many
outstanding artists and visual artists and dancers and singers who have significant dyslexia.
And they have a chance to shine and show their skills and their talents in a different medium.
And print isn't always the easiest way for them to do that. BETTY ANN BOWSER: The Henderson
School has a full-time music teacher, several occupational therapists, a teacher who specializes
in sensory therapy, and on the day we were in this second-grade classroom, there were
five different teaching professionals helping just 23 students. All that costs money. Under
federal law, a child identified with learning disabilities must receive a free and appropriate
public education up to the age of 18. Generally, the more the disabled a child is, the more
money is allocated for his or her education. But Harvard's Hehir says there are many places
in the country that don't spend that money wisely by segregating L.D. kids in special
education classrooms, which costs more than spreading it around in inclusive settings.
DR. TOM HEHIR: There's a large number of kids who still are inappropriately separated from
their peers. And, also, those kids -- the kids who are getting the better programs are
much more apt to be middle and upper-middle-class kids. Low-income kids are much more apt to
be segregated. BETTY ANN BOWSER: There are no figures on how many students go on to graduate
from high school, but both Lampron and Henderson have followed many of their former students
through the years, and say most of them are doing well. DR. BILL HENDERSON: If we want
kids to graduate from high school, then having a strong foundation at the elementary level
is critical. And for kids with significant learning disabilities and significant attention-deficit
disorders, having technologies, providing accommodations for reading and writing are
critical. BETTY ANN BOWSER: There are hundreds of children on the waiting list to get into
the Henderson School, and they aren't just students with disabilities. Through the years,
the reputation of the school has grown. And, today, it's held up as a national model of
what early intervention can do for children with learning difficulties. MARGARET WARNER:
American graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
On our website, we introduce to you to a one-time dropout who's now a Harvard graduate student.
Find out what advice he offers students and parents dealing with learning disabilities.
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place urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags City MARGARET WARNER: Now: how one school
has succeeded in reducing the odds that a student with learning disabilities may drop
out Normal Microsoft Office Word MARGARET WARNER: Now: how one school has succeeded
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Engaging Students With Learning Differences Early On

1645 Folder Collection
gogomeimeididi published on October 13, 2014
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