Schools across the US are beginning to open-up classrooms, teachers are finding that they are no longer working alone or exclusively with members of their own profession. But with parent, Paraprofessionals, nurses, learning support staff, educational psychologists, social workers, and even community leaders and volunteers. This type of collaboration is called multidisciplinary teams, in its simplest terms this means members of different professions working together.
Each member of a multidisciplinary team has an essential function and has valuable contribution to make in the identifying learning goals for the student, as well as the delivery of these goals across all areas from curriculum to learning opportunities and even the students extracurricular activities. Members of this team are also able to support the child at home to ensure that there is success between home and school. The success of the student depends on a strong home/school relationship; therefore, parents are strongly encouraged to participate. Each member of the team has specific qualification and duties: Local education agency (LEA)
A representative qualified to supervise the needs of the student, someone who is knowledgeable of the general curriculum, is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency, and has the authority to commit agency resources. Family
Not only is emphasis upon parental participation ethically proper and legally required, but “parental involvement has been associated with higher grades, positive behaviors and attitudes, reduced absenteeism, and increased study habits” (Lawrence & Heller, 2001). Related staff and services
This group of people can vary depending on the student or issue being evaluated. Most commonly you will have a school psychologist who may be responsible for completing an assessment of the student, analyzing and interpreting assessment data and conduct follow-up observations to determine the success of modifications put in place to aid the student. Other related personnel can include:
• Speech-language therapists • Occupational therapists • Physical therapists • Vision specialists • Medical personnel, such as nurses and dietitians • Social workers • Counselors and mental health personnel • Adaptive physical education teachers • Vocational specialists • others Administrators A school administrator, principal or assistant principal is an essential member of the team. Because the administrator should be aware of specific resources and expertise within the school In addition, administrators are qualified to supervise the program and can commit necessary resources. The administrator usually works with LEA’s. Regular education teachers
The regular education teacher and the special education teacher more than likely have shared and equal responsibilities to all students in the classroom. Usually, the regular education teacher’s role is ultimately in charge of instruction in the classroom. The teacher is also the line of communication between the school and home, keeping the parents informed about the student’s achievement and grades and educational programs. Special education teachers
The special educator’s role is that of individualizing, diagnosing, and modifying curriculum. In an inclusive classroom the special education teacher would provide assessment and instructional planning in the mainstream setting, conduct remediation and tutorial and team teach. Team teaching arrangements were used in the 1960s (Stainback, S. & Stainback, W., 1996) in an attempt to reach a wider range of children with diverse learning needs, particularly those at risk. Identification and Placement Procedures
One of the most significant and complicated parts of a special education program is identifying eligible students, this is because the criteria for verifying a disability can be subjective and subject to change. Mistakenly identifying students as disabled or failing to identify students who actually need services can have a long term impact. Detailed steps have been created to improve the process of identifying a disability and ensuring fairness. Student Assistance Teams and Multidisciplinary Team
Two procedures included the use of a student assistance team and a multidisciplinary evaluation team. The student assistance team search for alternative solutions when a student is having problems. The student assistance team is usually comprised of regular teachers, counselors and administrators, school psychologists and special education teachers can also be a part of the student assistance team. When the issue can not be resolved by the student assistance team then a written referral is made for an evaluation by the multidisciplinary team. Multidisciplinary team includes, but is not limited to psychologists, teachers (general and special education), administrators, and other specialists.
This group of professionals follows federal and state regulations in order to determine whether a student is eligible for special education services. Before any student can be evaluated, however, the written permission must be obtained from the parents. The team approach provides additional validity to the verification process. Medical, educational, psychological, and social characteristics are usually used in the verification process. In many cases the School psychologist interprets the assessment data and is responsible for translating this information to the team for implementation. Once it has been determined that special education services are needed the team may meet as often as needed to discuss the implementation. School personnel are required to provide documentation of the mastery of benchmarks and annual goals. It is not required that all goals are meet one school term, but they must provide evidence that they are working toward achieving the goals.