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Whitestone Day School’s Vocational Training Program: the Evolution of the Day School Store

February 13, 2017 3:00 pm Published by

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In April 2015, the Day School store opened for the first time as part of the school’s vocational training program. In its infancy, the Day School store offered a variety of snacks, water, and fruit to its customers, mainly Day School staff and school visitors. From the beginning, the school store has been run by Day School students. The students perform a variety of jobs associated with the school store, including but not limited to operating the cash register, attending to customers, restocking merchandise, and taking inventory of store merchandise.

The next step in the development of the Day School store was selling baked goods. With the support of our wonderful Day School staff, students then started baking a variety of goods to sell at the school store once or twice per week. The students learned to look up and follow a variety of recipes to make the baked goods. These bake sales received very positive reviews by school staff, and whenever students baked, school staff were excited to buy at the school store.

This past Friday, students made lunches to sell at the school store and it was a great success! During the past month, students have been working on surveying the school staff on lunch preferences, tallying the results of lunch surveys, making lists of the necessary ingredients, going to the neighborhood supermarket to find materials and ingredients, pricing items, and drawing signs to advertise that lunches would now be available at the school store.

The day before students were to make lunches at the school store, students working at the store visited each classroom and took lunch orders. The items available for lunch included: turkey wraps or a side Caesar salad. The students then tallied the orders to see how many of each lunch choice they had to prepare the next day. The next day, the students then worked on filling all of the lunch orders. With staff support, the students followed the recipes to make the lunches, then labeled each lunch with the staff member’s name. The students that were on cashier duty that day, then rang each order on the cash register as the orders were picked up by the staff.

The students that work at the school store then created a survey to assess whether staff members were happy with their orders and whether they would order again. Survey results were positive, and the students working at the school store will continue to expand on the menu options available. As the school store continues to grow, the students that work at the store will have the opportunity to continue developing their job readiness skills.

 

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Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed., SBL, Senior  ABA Coordinator, QSAC Day School has been with QSAC since 2007.  She started out as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years.  Cynthia has been at her current position as a Senior ABA Coordinator since 2016.  Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Special Education from The City College of New York and a Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from Touro College.

 

An Overview of the New York State Alternate Assessment Process

January 18, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

As part of the New York State Testing Program (NYSTP), students in the 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade, as well as High School, must be assessed using standardized assessments. This regulation applies not only to students who participate in the general education curriculum, but also applies to students who receive special education services. For students who receive special education services in New York State, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) makes the determination as to whether a particular student meets the eligibility criteria to participate in the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) instead of participating in the State’s general assessments (Office of State Assessments, 2016).

The NYSAA measures the progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities in achieving the NYS common core p-12 learning standards in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, and Social Studies. For the 2015-2016 school year, New York joined the consortium of states that have contracted with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation to deliver Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments for ELA and Math (http://www.dynamiclearningmaps.com/newyork). This means that for the 2015-2016 school year, teachers had to complete traditional assessments for Science and Social Studies, but the ELA and Math assessments are to be administered via a computer based platform (KITE Suite), starting in the Spring of 2016. The purpose of the NYSAA is to ensure the expectation that students with disabilities continue to progress from year to year. The NYSAA aims to test the progress of students with disabilities in relation to the NYS common core standards.

What does this all mean for us at the QSAC Day School? All of our students at the QSAC Day School participate in the New York State Alternate Assessments as mandated by each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Due to the changes made to the NYSAA starting with the 2015-2016 school year, the preparation and administration process for the NYSAA is different from previous years. During the month of December, the students that were to be assessed were identified and the relevant materials were reviewed. During the month of January, teachers diligently worked on selecting the appropriate Alternate Grade Level Indicators (AGLIs) in Science and Social Studies for their students, creating activities to assess the AGLIs, and planning the evidence to be included for each standard. Teachers then met several times to review and provide feedback to each other regarding the activities and tasks selected and created for each of their students. Once the review was completed, the teachers conducted baseline administrations. After baseline data were collected, the teachers taught the target tasks to the students using their typical teaching methods, and then conducted the final administration between 2/2/16-2/5/16 to determine whether learning occurred. After the final administration was completed, teachers compiled all of the documents for each student into a portfolio which the NYSAA refers to as a datafolio. Teachers then participated in several collegial reviews to review each other’s datafolios to ensure the accuracy of their scoring.

Although at times the AGLIs and the assessment tasks provided by the state are not necessarily appropriate for our students, through being persistent, working diligently, individualizing, and differentiating instructional tasks, our teachers at the Day School were able to successfully administer the Science and Social Studies assessments to their students. In the upcoming months, teachers will start preparing to administer the Math and ELA alternate assessments to their students via KITE Suite. Following the completion of these assessments, we then wait to receive our assessment results!

 

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Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed., SBL, ABA Coordinator, QSAC Day School has been with QSAC since 2007.  She started out as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years.  Cynthia has been at her current position as an ABA Coordinator since 2013.  Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Special Education from The City College of New York and a Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from Touro College.

 

Reference:

New York State Office of State Assessments. (2016). New York State Alternate Assessment

(NYSAA). Retrieved from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nysaa/

The Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment, Part 4

November 2, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

My colleagues and I at the QSAC Day School have been discussing the tenents outlined in the Van Houten et al. (1988) article over a series of blog entries. For this entry, I will be covering the fourth tenent outlined by Van Houten et al. which states that “an individual has a right to programs that teach functional skills” (p. 383).

As stated by Van Houten et al., “the ultimate goal of all services is to increase the ability of individuals to function effectively in both their immediate environment and the larger society” (p. 383). What this means for us at the QSAC Day School is that when developing a student’s curriculum, there are several factors at which we look. First, we look at assessment results. Decisions regarding what skills will be taught to a student will be made based on assessments of what the student can currently do and what areas/skills could be improved. Students’ programs are directly derived from areas/skills found to be deficient via completion of said assessments. Second, we look at the student’s IEP to ensure all goals outlined in the IEP are being targeted. We also look at the student’s age- what is appropriate for a 6 year old student to be working on may not be appropriate for a 15 year old student.

Once a skill has been selected, we then look at how the skill will be taught. It is important for us to look at not only what instruction we provide but also how we provide the instruction. When deciding on a skill to teach a student, we always think of what the long term purpose of teaching that skill is. This includes thinking about how the skill will transfer to the natural environment, how the skill will generalize to the home/community environment, how the skill will enhance the student’s community membership, and how this skill will have overall long lasting benefits for the student.

As stated by Van Houten et al., “unless evidence clearly exists to the contrary, an individual is assumed capable of full participation in all aspects of community life and to have a right to such participation” (p. 383). For us at the QSAC Day School, the focus of instruction is always to foster students’ independence and ultimately contribute to their participation in the community.

 

 

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Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed., ABA Coordinator, QSAC Day School has been with QSAC since 2007.  She started out as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years.  Cynthia has been at her current position as an ABA Coordinator since 2013.  Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Special Education from The City College of New York and a Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from Touro College.

 

Van Houten, R., Axelrod, S., Bailey, J. S., Favell, J. E., Foxx, R. M., Iwata, B. A., & Lovaas, O. I. (1988). The Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 21(4), 381-384.

The Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment, Part 2

September 7, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

In a previous post on this blog, my colleague, Todd Merritt discussed the first tenet outlined in the Van Houten et al. (1998) article. As Todd stated, the article provides six tenets that should be included in any program that provides behavioral services to individuals.  The first tenet covered by my colleague was the individual’s right to a therapeutic environment.

The second tenet discussed by Van Houten et al. is that “an individual has a right to services whose overriding goal is personal welfare” (p. 382).  The authors discuss how “the client or an authorized proxy” should be included in making “treatment related decisions” (p. 382).  In determining who attends an individual’s meeting, one should consider the extent to which it is feasible for the individual to actively participate in his/her own meeting and advocate for him/herself.  If it is determined that an individual is unable to participate in a meeting, then Van Houten et al. (1998) indicate that an authorized proxy can also participate in an individual’s treatment planning meeting.  Depending on the context, a proxy can be a parent, caretaker, teacher, etc.  A proxy would then be anyone who is invested in the success of the individual and would represent the individual’s best interests.

At the QSAC Day School, parent involvement is encouraged and actively sought out, as we understand how important parental input is in developing students’ goals and individualized programming.  The team then comprised of all relevant participants advocate for appropriate services to increase the independence and overall wellbeing of the individual.  All of our students have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and the goals on each student’s IEP are what drive that student’s instructional curriculum.  The underlying philosophy of any instructional program should always be that students’ goals are written based on the assessment of students’ current skills, and in collaboration of all those involved in the student’s educational team.  Having students participate in the development of their own instructional/treatment plan can look differently for different students. Meeting participation could range from ensuring students are provided with choices in the types of activities they engage in, to using students’ interests to tailor activities/goals based on those interests, to giving students the opportunity to advocate for themselves.

The underlying philosophy for us at the QSAC Day School is to provide our students with the appropriate curriculum to ensure they attain the skills necessary to thrive while at the school and beyond. Because our students are only here until they transition to a less restrictive setting, or until they transition to an adult program, we want to ensure our students acquire the necessary skills to succeed when they are ready to move on from the QSAC Day School.

 

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Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed. has been with QSAC since 2007.  She started out as an Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years.  Cynthia has been at her current position as an ABA Coordinator since 2013.

 

 

Van Houten, R., Axelrod, S., Bailey, J. S., Favell, J. E., Foxx, R. M., Iwata, B. A., & Lovaas, O. I. (1988). The Right to Effective Behavioral Treatment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 21(4), 381-384.

ABOUT US

QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.