Q. How long will it take me to administer the Assessment?
A. Because the Assessment sections are sequenced from easier skills to those that are more complex, a student with lower level skills will get through the assessments much quicker than a student with higher level skills; therefore, the amount of time it takes to complete the entire Assessment for one child will range anywhere from approximately 45 minutes to 2-3 hours. The unique aspect of the Styer-Fitzgerald Assessment is that it does not need to be administered all at one time. Because each content area has its own assessments, you can choose to administer one or two portions/content areas per day or give the entire Assessment on one day. As you determine how you will proceed with the Assessment, you will want to take into consideration your schedule, classroom coverage, and the individual student’s ability to focus and stay on task.
The other factor to keep in mind is the Assessment only needs to be administered once as the student’s Program Data book will provide future ongoing PLOP levels. However, some teachers prefer to administer the Assessment on an annual basis or as students progress from one grade or program to the next. Some districts have also found the Assessment useful in helping to determine eligibility for Extended School Year (ESY) services. If administered at the end of the school year, then again when students return in the fall, it is a consistent and clear way of documenting a student’s level of regression and/or recoupment which is then supported by the Program Data book throughout the school year.
Q. How much of my day should be spent on the Curriculum?
A. The Styer-Fitzgerald lessons are designed to be run during short, isolated time periods. Therefore, the number of lessons a student is working on will determine the amount of time required to deliver the curriculum. For students working in only one to two content areas, you should plan on 20-40 minutes per session. Those working out of multiple content areas should plan on 1-3 hours per day. This time does not need to be consecutive and can be spread out across the day.
As you become familiar with the various programs presented throughout each content area in the Curriculum, you will discover which programs from the different sections are best taught simultaneously. For example, in the Secondary Program, Functional Reading C—Sight Words (Phase II) includes public transportation sight words. Therefore, it would make sense to teach these words in conjunction with Time Management B—Transportation Planning and Community-Based Training—Using Transportation in order to increase comprehension and mastery in all areas.
You will also find programs that can be combined in order to maximize student learning. For example, when teaching students Technology B1—Using a Tablet for Daily Tasks, you could introduce them to the calculator function or a calculator app on their device. This way, when teaching Money Math B1—Entering Prices, data can be tracked for both Technology and Money Math at the same time.
If you continually look for or create opportunities for students to practice overlapping skills during instruction, in combination with other tasks, and during spontaneous teachable moments, you will see your student’s inventory of skills greatly increase. This will also increase the speed of acquisition and generalization, as well as efficiency with instruction and data collection.
Q. How do I determine when to move on to the next lesson or skill in a sequence?
A. The lessons do not indicate criteria for meeting individual student goals. Ultimately, determining when it is time to move a student to the next step or skill is something best done on a case-by-case basis. A teacher generally knows what is appropriate and can set criteria based upon his or her knowledge of each student’s individual learning style. On average, students can move to the next skill level after meeting the current level with ninety percent accuracy for two or three consecutive days. Some skills, however, require students perform independently with zero prompts in order to be safe (e.g., street crossing). The key in determining when a student has met criteria is for the teacher to look at the data on a regular basis and advance a student when he or she is ready to move on to the next step in a skill sequence.
Q. Do I need to teach all students lessons from every content area?
A. Nope! The advantage of using the Styer-Fitzgerald Program is that you can use the entire curriculum for one student and just a few sections for another. The contributing factors that will help you determine what to teach, as well as aspects that influence the levels of intervention needed, are explained next.
If a student uses tangible or tactile symbols to communicate, Styer-Fitzgerald materials should be modified to include meaningful tangible and/or tactile components. (see examples)
Once teachers have succeeded in establishing a means of communication and a method for assessing each student’s skills, they should consult with the whole IEP team and focus on skills individual students need to be as independent as possible when leaving the school system. By “as possible” we mean, look for ways that even students who will always need assistance can be independent in some way. Whether it’s helping to hand money to the cashier, or pushing the button to cross the street or open the door, independence, no matter what degree, is essential. ALL students with disabilities must have opportunities to make choices, be in control, and experience a sense of accomplishment. (see example)
Although there is more time required upfront to prepare materials for students with complex needs, it will be well worth it when teachers see each child’s confidence grow as they move from passive children into motivated, engaged students.
Q. How often should I take data?
A. It is recommended programs are run 3-5 days per week. Teachers should take data consistently and frequently to quickly show gains or a need to adjust the program. This model of instruction provides the repetition needed in order for students to learn.
Q. Do I need to copy every lesson plan and data sheet?
A. It is recommended you start with 10 copies of each lesson plan and 20-30 copies of each data sheet depending on the size of your class. You will only need one lesson plan to reference, but you will need multiple data sheets. Preparing these copies initially will save you time in the long run. That being said, if you have restrictions on the number of copies you are allowed to make, you might prefer to assess your students first, then use the curriculum flow charts to determine which specific lesson plans and data sheets are needed. You could then copy as you go. Refer to the Program Masters Information Sheet for more details.
Q. Can I use other curriculum with Styer-Fitzgerald?
A. Absolutely! It is clearly stated throughout the Program that teachers should supplement with other materials/curricula when appropriate. For example, in order to ensure critical aspects of reading are not ignored, the authors refer to and recommend supplemental programs such as the SRA series, as this program teaches decoding from a phonetic approach. It also has over 30 years research supporting its efficacy. Other programs that are recommended are Read 180 and its companion program System 44. These programs also provide individualized instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics.
Another example is in the Elementary Writing section. The authors recommend Handwriting Without Tears® as a great supplemental program for continuing to push students to develop higher level writing skills beyond just writing the alphabet and numbers. They also recommend looking into the program’s use of multisensory tools as a helpful resource for students who would benefit from the use of manipulatives.
Additionally, teachers are given access to blank fillable lesson plans and data sheets so they can easily create and add their own programs while maintaining a consistent teaching structure and progress-tracking method. Additional supplemental program recommendations can be found here.
It’s important to remember the Styer-Fitzgerald Program is designed to focus on the functional skills students need in order to be as independent as possible when leaving the school system. It is an excellent foundation for a functional academics/life skills classroom but is not the be-all-end-all. Use insights into your individual students and the creative ideas found in Shared Resources to round out your program. Also, be sure to join our Changemakers FB group to tap into the knowledge base of your fellow Styer-Fitzgerald educators. And when you come up with a solution to a challenge in your classroom, share it! We all need new ideas now and then to keep things fresh and interesting.
Q. Do I need to use all of the Portfolio forms?
A. With the exception of the assessment inventories, not all forms are going to be relevant for all students. You will need to use your judgement to determine which documents to include and which ones to leave out. If you have a student who does not receive physical therapy services, for example, do not include the physical therapy Quick Reference Form.
On the other hand, sometimes simple modifications to forms make them relevant. For example, if you have a student who is verbal, but struggles with communicating emotions and feelings, delete the questions pertaining to alternative communication systems, but keep the other questions. Even though this student does not receive speech and language services, you might still gain important information by having the family fill out the Communication at Home questionnaire.
It is recommended you read through each form before deciding whether it is appropriate or not.
The comprehensiveness and time it takes to complete the Portfolio will vary depending on the family’s level of involvement and the nature of the student’s disability. Do not be overwhelmed by the amount of information. As with most portfolios, it is a work in progress and should be completed over time.
Remember, building a comprehensive portfolio takes dedication and perseverance, but when teachers embrace the process, it is a learning experience for the entire team and an extremely valuable tool.
Q. Can I use the Styer-Fitzgerald curriculum to write my IEP goals?
A. Yes! The Student Assessment allows you to determine each student's Present Levels of Performance (PLOPs), in other words, where the student is in a particular skill area. Then each skill area of the assessment and curriculum provides a flow chart that tells you exactly what programs to teach. Each program’s lesson plan contains a long-term goal and gives an example of a short-term objective that is a step in meeting the long-term goal. The program data provides ongoing, up-to-date documentation of progress on IEP goals. In addition, youare provided with all goals written in detailed form on an Excel spreadsheet for easy uploading into most IEP systems. The Excel spreadsheets are modifiable so districts can change the verbiage to match district-specific criteria, and at the same time, ensure students are working on meaningful IEP goals backed by concrete data. To access the IEP Goal Banks, click here.
Q. Is the Program aligned to Common Core and/or State Standards?
Q. The Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics helps teachers create rigorous and challenging learning opportunities for students with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities, including autism. This type of learning environment makes it possible for students to achieve ability-appropriate success in meeting relevant standards, like the Common Core State Standards or other state-developed standards. In addition, many states successfully align the Styer-Fitzgerald goals and objectives to document levels of performance on their alternate assessments based on read more...
Q. How are the Elementary and Secondary Programs connected?
A. The Elementary and Secondary levels of the Styer-Fitzgerald Program are structured to work together seamlessly. The content areas which both levels have in common are taught in such a way that the Secondary builds on the Elementary to provide an easy transition from Elementary to Secondary classrooms. Both were created with the understanding that special education students of all ages function at significantly different levels. Students will make progress at different rates in different content areas. The rate of skill acquisition will vary across students but should be consistent and steady when materials are sequenced and implemented as designed. Included in the Implementation Tools section of the Curriculum is a Cross-Reference Chart that displays the relationship between the Elementary and Secondary content areas and assessment levels. Refer to this section in your Curriculum book for a full explanation of how to use the Cross-Reference Chart.
Q. Can I use this program with students who are medically fragile and/or have severe disabilities?
A. The short answer is yes! The authors have incorporated strategies within the Instructional Guidelines for adjusting the level of complexity in order to reach students of all abilities. The primary focus of the Styer-Fitzgerald Program is to provide individualized instruction for each student. This means it’s going to look different depending on the needs of each child. For the long answer click here.
Q. Is the instructional component specifically for teachers or can others run programs and help administer assessments?
A. Trained paraeducators, and general education peer tutors, have proven to be able to use the Styer-Fitzgerald Program effectively with students. Once teachers are familiar with the Styer-Fitzgerald Program, they can train, as well as supervise, the paraeducators and peer tutors in their classrooms. This adds to the teacher’s ability to manage and provide meaningful instruction to the wide range of student capabilities and provides more time to address IEP goals and objectives. Paraeducators are encouraged to be trained alongside teachers whenever possible, but because we know this can’t always happen, the authors have created Effective Strategies for Working with Paraeducators and the companion Paraeducator Handbook. Also available is the Teacher’s Guide to Peer Tutoring and the companion Peer Tutor Student Handbook. These resources are designed to get the whole team on board and working collaboratively to serve students.