When you walk into an Intensive Diagnostic Educational Center (IDEC), there is a whirlwind of activity.
Three students are working with the IDEC teacher on an interactive word-study lesson on the SmartBoard in the front of the classroom. In the far corner, two kids are working on their laptops with a paraprofessional to complete a writing assignment, using a text-to-speech program. Another group is off to the side discussing a current event article, displayed on a computer and differentiated to their specific Lexile reading level.
IDEC is a program for students who have disabilities and who have not responded to previous reading interventions. It features small class sizes, research-based instruction, and integration of educational technologies. This combination has led to marked student improvement. Starting with eight middle school centers in 2010, IDEC has grown to 21 sites serving K-12 students throughout the district.
Technology isn’t just present in the classroom; technology is present in the classroom instruction. Some assignments are scanned into the copier and converted into KESI files for students to access via their text-to-speech program. Other lessons are completed by kids manipulating sounds on their touch-screen tablets. Students and teachers can share their daily progress with parents and other IDEC centers through the collaborative platform of Edmodo.
“The progress we’ve seen at the IDEC sites has been most encouraging, especially when a student finally breaks the code to reading and starts to move into the academic vocabulary needed for their content subject areas,” said Don Macintosh, administrative coordinator for instruction, who oversees IDEC. “This is our goal in IDEC -- to move them out of special education and give students at all levels access to the core standards.”
The demonstrated student growth is not just anecdotal. Students’ progress is monitored weekly in both fluency and reading comprehension, enabling teachers to transform up-to-the-minute data into a truly individualized intervention plan. The electronic Student Weekly Instructional Planner (SWIP) details the specific action plan teachers will implement for the next week of instruction.
IDEC teachers and IDEC paraprofessionals are trained in research-based programs and instructional strategies for teaching reading.
A student can be referred to IDEC if the student has scored Far Below Basic on the past two years of ELA state testing; has had an IEP for at least the past two years; and has had an 85 percent or higher attendance rate. School site personnel, Special Education Service Center personnel, and parents can request an IDEC application from an IDEC administrator or psychologist. After the application is submitted, the student is then screened to verify entrance criteria.
Students are placed in the IDEC center for one semester, with extensions possible on a case-by-case basis. While in IDEC, students also receive weekly support from a school psychologist dedicated specifically to the IDEC program. Upon exiting IDEC, students receive continued support at their new placement from the IDEC transition coach.