Evidence Based Programs Meet the Needs of Diverse Learning Populations

Priscilla Petrosky (bio) reviews the various struggles students face that can be addressed by EBPs.

I had many students that were struggling. And I gained first-hand knowledge that their struggle was — it represented itself as they can't read, they can't do math, or they have challenging behaviors, they misbehave, they get in trouble. I later discovered that they were being confronted with realities that we were not addressing and that were impacting their ability to concentrate in school, such as family members from parents to uncles that had passed away due to AIDS. They had lost a lot of family members.

We also found that they were students that were first time in the country. So they were struggling with separation. They were being raised by grandparents, or uncles. Their parents were not yet here, or vice versa. There was a separation of children from their immediate family.

Then I also discovered that some of them were single family homes. One of the parents or family members perhaps were incarcerated, or had some absent — they were absent from the life of the kid. So we found all of those behaviors.

As a principal, when you reached out to parent night, and parents weren't present, we made the horrible assumption that parent didn't care, maybe, or that parents just didn't come out, or they were too busy for their kid, only to discover that the parent wasn't there. What I found most troubling was that the day after that, kids weren't happy because they had no one show up for them while other kids had. So in order to shift all of that I realized that I had to address grieving. I had to address absent family members, a whole slew of things that were interfering with the ability of the child.

When I moved to associate superintendent, and when I was district administrator, I realized that we needed evidence based programs. That if we were going to integrate special education students we needed to work with general ed, the gifted program, the ELL program, and special ed needed to work together, because we had to provide for students the supports that would allow them to learn together, and teachers and principals to meet the needs of the diverse learning population. And CBITS became a component of those evidence based programs.

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Excerpted from interview at CBITS Summit 2012 in Santa Monica, CA.