An inclusive school is one that educates and demonstrates success for all students with and without disabilities in age-appropriate general education classrooms. Creating and maintaining an inclusive school requires collaboration and whole-school planning using analysis and synthesis of school-wide data. Saturn Elementary School has demonstrated that these efforts can have an impressive impact on student achievement.
Saturn Elementary School, located in Brevard County, is a Title I school with a total student population of 750 students. Of those students, 63% receive free and reduced lunch. Additionally, Saturn has a 45% mobility rate, 35% minority population and a 35% exceptional education student population. Knowing that there were some challenging issues facing Saturn Elementary, the principal, Mr. Mike Miller, moved toward an approach of using school-wide data to improve student achievement and create a culture of inclusion.
During their journey, Saturn Elementary:
• Encouraged collaboration among administrators, staff, students, and family members;
• Found creative and efficient use of their existing resources, staff, time, and funding;
• Instilled a value system where all students are members of general education classrooms whose teachers hold high expectations for success;
• Promoted the use a variety of approaches, instructional strategies, and curricular adaptations that were tailored to each student’s learning abilities, needs, styles, and preferences;
• Provided professional development that focused on skills and capacities, as well as reflective actions of their staff;
• Ensured that students with disabilities were included and carefully considered in the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and whole school planning related to student achievement data.
• Enlisted the support of “critical friends” such as the Florida Inclusion Network to provide professional development and ongoing technical assistance.
With these efforts in place, Saturn was able to make and maintain an “A” school status, made AYP for the last two consecutive years, raised attendance to over 95%, raised their FCAT reading scores for students with disabilities from 27% in 2003 (achieving Level 3 or higher) to 67%, and raised FCAT math scores from 34% in 2003 (achieving Level 3 or higher) to 62%.
While the leaps in Saturn’s overall scores are amazing, the success stories of their individual students with disabilities are even more impressive. One of their students, who in the past would have been in a self-contained classroom because of behavioral concerns, was included in general education and went from an FCAT Level 2 in both reading and math to a Level 5 in both reading and math! Another student with a learning disability moved from an FCAT Level 1 in both reading and math to a Level 5! This student had a perfect score in reading and has maintained these high proficiency levels for two consecutive years!
Click here to view graphics showing the percentage of students with disabilities scoring level 3 or higher on FCAT math or reading.