DOE Visits “SAM” Schools, Calls for Integration and Higher Standards

On Monday, March 14, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Alexa Posny visited the Ann Beers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., one of many schools across the nation that has implemented the Schoolwide Applications Model (SAM). This model was pioneered by TASH co-founder Wayne Sailor, who explains the promise of SAM:

The Schoolwide Applications Model (SAM) is now in its third year of implementation as a school reform model in 16 Washington, D.C., elementary schools. SAM is a schoolwide response to intervention (RTI) system that integrates all school resources and focuses them such that all students benefit from all resources. For students in special education this translates into inclusion and full membership in tier 1 instruction (i.e., grade level classroom). Special education teachers co-teach with grade level teachers under this arrangement. SAM has attracted the attention of the Department of Education for its success in educating all students including all subgroups in a fully integrated approach. The latest recognition is represented by the visit of Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary Posny to Ann Beers Elementary School, a Washington, D.C., SAM School.

Wayne Sailor
Professor, Special Education, University of Kansas
Associate Director, Beach Center on Disability
Co-Founder, TASH

In a blog post following the visit, Assistant Secretary Posny asserted the Administration’s position that students with disabilities can thrive when provided the opportunity and support. Says Posny:

We know that children are more alike than different. We know that given the right supports, every child can thrive. That’s why we want to make sure that ESEA includes all children, including those with disabilities, and that Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services provide the supports – expert teachers and highly training related services personnel, proven practices, effective models, deft technologies, among others – to help students with disabilities achieve challenging standards.

The next day, Secretary Duncan spoke at an event held by the American Association of People with Disabilities. During his address, Duncan said:

We can no longer celebrate the success of one group of students if another group of students is still struggling … We have to be open and honest about where we fall short.

The Secretary went on to say students with disabilities should be judged with the same accountability system as everyone else and that the Department would not issue another policy that allows districts to disguise the educational performance of 2 percent of students, referring to the so-called “2 percent rule.”

The following video comes from Secretary Duncan’s speech during the March 15 AAPD event:

You can view complete remarks from Arne Duncan on the Department’s website.

TASH recently teamed up with the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination and the National Down Syndrome Society for a congressional briefing on Education Reform. You can view videos of the presenters, including Wayne Sailor, download presentations and find policy recommendations in this blog post.