The role of the public school district in private education
When parents make a choice to enroll their child in a private school, how many of them give any thought to the role that the school district plays in private school education? It’s a question that rarely comes up during admissions. Usually parents see very little connection between the two entities. When parents ask what support strategies and interventions the school can utilize, should their child ever need them, the help of the school district often comes as a surprise.
Over the last few years, Austin International School has developed strong links with Round Rock ISD, the district which AIS falls within because of it’s geographical location. Over this time period, the district has helped several students at AIS in different ways.
So when does AIS enlist the help of RRISD? Firstly, every school district has a process in place to identify and support children with difficulties and provide services to allow those students to help them successfully access the curriculum.
Prior to contacting the school district, there are many steps that take place to help students in the classroom. When we can see that a student might be in need of help and support in a particular area, the class teachers, in conjunction with one of the pedagogical coordinators, will meet to discuss interventions such as tutoring, strategies to increase a child’s concentration, adjusting reading materials to the student’s ability level, making certain that the student is practicing whichever skills he or she needs to on a regular basis – whatever the possible interventions may be. The teachers at AIS do this, not only for students who are struggling but for all students in the school. Team meetings to discuss each child’s progress as well as the instructional strategies used to bring out the best in each student are a key component of the work of the teachers at AIS. The teachers always use a range of accommodations and strategies where necessary with any student. They also regularly look at each child’s assessment results and meet frequently to discuss the effectiveness of what they are doing in the classroom.
Every so often, there are students who are still struggling despite having tried numerous interventions and accommodations. If teachers are satisfied that the student has received adequate and appropriate instruction but is still experiencing difficulties in the classroom, they may at this stage feel the need to enlist the help of the school district. This decision is always taken in conjunction with both teachers and parents. Parental support is always crucial to student success so it is essential to communicate openly about this with parents.
Over the years, the district has been able to help in many different areas including speech/language testing, achievement level testing, behavior support, psychological testing and evaluations of a more medical nature. Not only does the district work with our students directly in these cases, they have also provided support materials for our teachers to use in the classroom. AIS and RRISD meet periodically and we remain in regular contact with them throughout the school year in order to discuss the needs of any students who we feel may benefit from their services.
With students who do qualify for special educational needs, the district can determine what those needs might be. At AIS, regardless of whether students meet the criteria for special education as determined by the district, the teachers and pedagogical team will design an individual plan in conjunction with the parents for any child who has undergone an evaluation from the district in order to help them move forward successfully. It is not just children who have undergone an evaluation from the district that receive an individual educational plan. This is also done for any child who is struggling at AIS or who is in need of constant challenges to keep them advancing. The school really focuses on the individualization of every student and where appropriate, the teachers will individualize the instruction for each student accordingly so that they can meet or make progress towards the curriculum standards at each grade level.
AIS is very appreciative of the help and support we have received from RRISD. This relationship is very important to the students and families and has helped a variety of children in recent years. It has enabled some of the students to move forward in school more successfully and we thank RRISD for everything they have done with AIS.