I had the opportunity to attend a site visit and presentation by Dr. Robert Pasternack in my former school district. Dr. Pasternack has been the Head of the Federal Office of Special Eduction. He was responsible for much of the language changes in the new Individuals with Disabilities Education (Improvement) Act (IDEiA). I asked Angelique and Karie, who visited Burlington in the October, to share their thoughts on Dr. Pasternack’s visit to Karie’s School – Pearl Sample Elementary.
Angelique and Karie:
On December 10th, Culpeper County Public Schools was honored to host Dr. Robert H. Pasternack. Dr. Pasternack is a nationally known expert in the areas of special education, educational policy, and response to intervention (RtI).
During his presentation, Dr. Pasternack shared compelling data that illustrates how building an RtI framework in our schools can remove artificial barriers to student progress and improve outcomes for instructional practice, student learning, and the community as a whole.
A critical feature of any response to intervention model is prevention and early intervention. No matter the ailment, putting interventions and solutions in place early is the best chance of curing the problem. The focus is on student needs, and measuring effectiveness according to student instructional outcomes.
Another critical feature of RtI highlighted by Dr. Pasternack is a commitment to instruction that is validated by research. Fidelity to the methods of instruction that have been proven reliable and valid provides educators with a roadmap toward meeting the needs of all learners, from the students with academic gifts and talents to the students who need more practice to achieve mastery level learning.
Finally, as a boardmember on the National Center for Teacher Quality, Dr. Pasternack emphasized the importance of exceptional teachers, high expectations, and systematic, purposeful instruction in the educational outcomes of students. He shared compelling brain images that illustrated how the right kind of instruction can literally change a student’s brain to one with inefficient neural pathways when reading to one that will use those pathways more effectively. “Good instruction is good instruction” and our great teachers are performing brain surgery in their classrooms!