DC turns old school into state-of-the-art building for severely disabled students
- The state-of-the-art River Terrace Education Campus in northeast Washington, DC, replaced two run-down buildings in the DC Public Schools and serves 135 students with severe physical or intellectual disabilities.
- The Washington Post reports Principal Aimeé Cepeda Pressley believes students are better off in the sheltered environment with small class sizes and more time for one-on-one instruction rather than in a traditional school.
- Besides offering academics geared to the needs and capacities of each student, River Terrace teaches students how to cook, do laundry, navigate public transportation and prepare for potential future jobs, in hopes they can achieve a level of independence as adults.
Some schools have found that personalized learning programs decrease the need to take special education students outside of the classroom. If each child is working at his or her own pace with supports from the teacher and digital tools, special education students can do the same. While federal law requires schools to preference inclusion, students with severe physical or intellectual disabilities likely will always need some kind of sheltered instruction.
In Texas, an arbitrary target for special education enrollment has created a perverse incentive to deny students services even if they need them. A massive investigation by the Houston Chronicle that was published in September found Texas has the lowest rate of students being served through special education nationwide — 8.5% in 2015, the state’s target rate, compared to a national average of 13%.
- The Washington Post Remodeled River Terrace school aims to better serve special-education students
- Houston Chronicle Denied
Follow Tara García Mathewson on Twitter