Oct. 12 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Now that we have reached the midpoint of the first quarter, please see the following information about ongoing services, supports and opportunities for our students with disabilities, English Learners and Gifted students: 

Special Education
APS has developed an inclusive model to phase students back into hybrid instruction. More information can be found here.

On Tue, Oct. 6, Dr. Durán, Bridget Loft, Dr. Kelly Krug, and Heather Rothenbueshcher joined Arlington SEPTA to present awards and honor winners and nominees during SEPTA’s virtual annual Awards Ceremony, recognizing excellence in special education. Read more about the winners and nominees here.

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. APS is hosting a Virtual Dyslexia Conference, which will feature sessions including: The Science of Reading; Recognizing and Supporting a Student with More than Dyslexia; Dyscalculia: What We Know and Strategies to Help; Read & Write Literacy Software Tool; A Step in the Writing Direction; and Practical Strategies for Parents. More information and registration links can be found here.

October is also Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month. In addition to providing professional development for staff on core vocabulary, the Assistive Technology Team is partnering with our Autism/Low-Incidence Disability Specialists and the Parent Resource Center to launch a Project Core Parent Series, a 12-part series of learning modules that aims to build capacity to support students of all ages with disabilities and complex communication needs who are emerging in their communication and literacy skills.

Our Transition Services team, Program for Employment Preparedness (PEP), and Parent Resource Center (PRC) are sponsoring a Transition Series this year, which will feature monthly transition topics. October’s topic, scheduled for October 28th, is Understanding Transition Services and What Needs to Happen. Registration and additional information can be found here.  

English Learners (ELs)
As you may know, each year Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and valuable contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In APS, almost a third of our students identify as Hispanic/Latinx. APS is proud of them and all our outstanding staff and students. APS is proudly celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition to a variety of activities at schools, at the School Board meeting on October 8th, the Board presented the Annual Latinx Student Recognitions which highlight one high school student from each secondary program chosen by their principal for their character, leadership and outstanding successes in school and life.

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APS is currently planning for English Learners (ELs) to be eligible to return to school, in the hybrid model. The transition to hybrid in person webpage has complete information regarding ELs and all students. The transition back to hybrid will start with a small group of students in what is called Level 1. That is NOT a reference to a student’s English language proficiency level. The levels in this sense represent a  group of students eligible to return for hybrid model instruction. In Level 2, English learners will start to return to school in the hybrid model. For the most current information, please refer back to the link above. Ability to proceed to each Level is based on the COVID-19 dashboard. If community health conditions worsen, APS, in collaboration with the Arlington County Public Health Department, will pause at the current level, reverse, or suspend all in-person instruction. ​It is best to continue to check back at these two web pages.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s English Learner (EL) teacher. They can give you information about what instruction will look like in the hybrid model. Also, the Bilingual Family Liaison is always a good contact when you have questions about the school and the hybrid or distance learning model.

Gifted Services Gifted Services in Action @APSGifted
Every school has a resource teacher for the gifted (RTG). One of the roles of RTGs is to model critical and creative thinking strategies from the APS Critical and Creative Thinking Strategies Framework (CCT Framework) and then support teachers in their implementation of strategies to add additional rigor and engagement in lessons.

With the very important focus on social emotional learning and academic success especially in the virtual environment, RTGs are working with teachers on Habits of Mind (HOM) which are part of the Decision and Outcomes section of our CCT Framework.

HOM are 16 attributes and/or dispositions that support knowing how to behave intelligently especially when confronted with a situation in which there is no readily agreed upon solution. For more information please visit The Institute of Habits of Mind. Be sure to visit the parent section with additional resources.

Here are a few examples of this work happening at McKinley ES and Arlington Traditional School: Kevin Trainor, RTG at McKinley, collaboratively planning with Ms. Sklar:

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Another role of the RTG is to communicate with families about happenings within the school as well as opportunities happening outside the school day. Here are examples from Williamsburg MS, Dorothy Hamm MS and Yorktown HS.

Kristie Board, RTG at Williamsburg, shares the latest newsletter on the WMS Gifted Services page:

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Kat Partington, RTG at Dorothy Hamm, shares the latest on the Vocabulary Bowl for interested Dorothy Hamm students:

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Eileen Wagner, RTG at Yorktown, shares a SciFest All Access for students, families, educators:

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Follow @APSGifted for more news!       

William & Mary’s Center for Gifted Education is offering two virtual programs for high-ability students:

Gifted Services Advisory Committee (GSAC)
The first meeting of the year was held virtually on September 30th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. You can find the presentation by Cheryl McCullough, K-12 Supervisor of Gifted Services in the GSAC section. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 26th from 7:00 – 8:30 PM.

Please email Dan Corcoran danjcorcoraniii@gmail.com if you would like to attend.