Washington D.C.’s Two Rivers Public Charter School

Supporting Students with Disabilities via Responsive Classroom® and Student-Led IEP Meetings

As part of its effort to share best practices with the special education community, The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) identified several public charter schools across the country as “Centers for Excellence” and is communicating how each school uniquely leverages its autonomy to benefit students with disabilities. Here is a spotlight on one of them.

Two Rivers Public Charter School (Two Rivers), a Washington D.C. charter network composed of two school campuses, serves students from Pre-K to 8th grade. Two Rivers utilizes a dual approach to embrace inclusive education and improve success for learning diverse students: student-led IEPs and Responsive Classroom®.

Believing that learning should remain not only student-focused, but also student-led, the school teaches students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to be active voices in their IEP process. Students learn how to set their own goals, talk about their progress, identify their strengths and needs, and articulate their progress toward meeting their goals, with the assistance of faculty members and various training materials and rubrics.

Two Rivers is also committed to using Responsive Classroom®, an evidence-based practice of that addresses social and emotional growth and enables individuals to learn through social interaction and problem solving. Research highlights how the students of schools that use Responsive Classroom® techniques tend to experience positive outcomes such as increased academic growth and enhanced feelings of support and safety in the classroom. Given its high teacher and student retention rates across years, Two Rivers illustrates how this student-focused practice fosters a school environment ripe for learning.

Evidenced by strong performance on statewide ELA and Math exams compared to the DC Public School District, Two Rivers’ school wide practices nurture a positive learning environment by reflecting its cohesive school philosophy and mission. To learn more about Two Rivers and its approach to serving students with learning differences, click here.  

On President Trump's Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2019

“The billions of dollars in proposed cuts to the education budget is troubling, particularly when services and supports for students with disabilities are already significantly under-funded.

We need to increase recruitment and training of teachers for students with disabilities and increase IDEA funding levels. The proposed budget cuts do neither.

“And while we are pleased to see that charter school programs are a priority, it is critical that any investments in school choice ensure that these programs support students with disabilities and rights conveyed by IDEA.”

A New Special Education Leader for California

By: Paul O'Neill, Senior Fellow

The California Department of Education (CDE) just announced that it has selected Kristin Wright to be the state’s new Special Education Division Director, effective September 1.  The CDE has chosen an experienced, capable and thoughtful director to lead its special education work, serving more than 700,000 students with disabilities and their families.  Ms. Wright brings a long tenure with the state through a range of impactful positions, as well as years of work as a researcher examining disability issues. Ms. Wright is also the mother of a child with significant mental and physical disabilities.

The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) is particularly pleased that Ms. Wright has been chosen for this position because her career reflects a commitment to equitably serving students with disabilities across public schools, including charter schools.  She has done important research on how charter schools provide special education services, and has served for years as a trustee on the NCSECS governing board. California has approximately 1,130 charter schools; more, by far, than any other state. That gives the state an opportunity to prominently model best practices and innovative ideas that can be replicated elsewhere. We are confident that through her leadership Ms. Wright will help California ensure that families of students with disabilities can choose charter schools, and that those who do so will be excellently and equitably served. 

Click here to see the full press release from CDE.