To: Michael GreenRe: May Monthly Special Services ReportDate: April 28, 2009From: Deb Kernen
The Special Ed Department has been researching and piloting an Assistive Technology component this year with 2 students that have significant reading and writing disabilities. Each of these students has a laptop that has software that has speech to text and text to speech software. This technology allows the student to be in a Biology class accessing the textbook via a file that is read to them through headphones. Or.....the student could be in an English class working on a writing assignment dictating through a headset with the computer typing their thoughts and printing the final document. Or.......they can be at home listening to "To Kill A Mockingbird" as a part of a reading assignment. The data is clear and supportive of this as an option for students who have significant reading and/or writing disabilities. This allows the student to work around the disability that interferes with their learning and allows them to access the important content information. Another great advantage to implementing this technology is that we can then use this technology during WASL testing. This option has been shown to be used by a couple of the districts the Reading/Writing Task force is interviewing that has shown high WASL scores with special education students in middle and high schools.
One of the areas specified in the IDEA Stimulas package funding that has been designated as an allowable expenditure is to fund Assistive Technology purchases for students who have disabilities. We are making plans to invest approximately $48,000 to purchase all the manpower and components to support 25 laptops for high school and middle students that have significant reading and/or writing disabilities for implementation of this technology in the fall 09. We would have all of the textbooks and supporting curriculum in the middle and high school accessed through e-books on the district server.
The difficulty with the Stimulas package apportionment is that the dollars are only for two years and that we need to identify purchases that don't involve having to sustain people or programs. This purchase would be a one-time expense that will serve students for years to come without additional expenses. It's self sustaining and would be a very powerful tool for overcoming significant learning disabilities.