SPED Program Spotlight: EJE Middle Academy in El Cajon

January 6, 2017

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In October 2016, CCSA was proud to release the special education report, Meeting the Needs of Every Student Through Inclusion, detailing special education best practices at 10 California charter schools that allowed these schools to meet all students' needs, regardless of ability level.

Within the report, three schools were featured for their incredible best practices, one of which was EJE Middle Academy in El Cajon.

Here's their story:

EJE Middle Academy is in its third year of implementing a schoolwide tiered support system called Resiliency Quadrants. The model was developed by a school leader at Mueller Charter School, and was adopted at EJE (with a few modifications) after observing the success it had. At the core of the Resiliency Quadrants is the idea of addressing the impacts of poverty, crime, family stressors, community violence, and other environmental factors through individual and systemic school-wide interventions.

Throughout the year, teachers place students into 4 quadrants: Quadrant 4 is for students who are performing at or above grade level based on classroom assessments or standardized testing; Quadrant 3 is for students who are showing progress or approaching mastery; Quadrant 2 is for students who are showing little to no progress; and Quadrant 1 is for students who are significantly underperforming academically but already have supports through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). EJE also has an ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, where students from any quadrant can be placed if they undergo a major crisis (such as homelessness or death of a parent) and need immediate support. Once students have been placed among the 4 quadrants, the school comes together every 8 weeks as a collaborative team to focus their attentions on students in Quadrant 2, which are referred to as Q2 meetings.

A school leader described it this way: "We actually just had our first round of Q2s where .. we [all of our staff] sit down... We talk about the students...'What are their academic needs?', 'Where are they at?', 'What have you done with them already in the classroom?', 'Have you done a home visit?', 'What have you found out about the home?', 'Have you met with the parents?' We ask all these questions. 'Do they come to school clean?', 'What is their hygiene like?', 'Are they eating?', 'Are they hungry when they come to school?', so we really try to identify every single piece to see who is able to support where."

The team reviews the data for each student, including academic assessment, observations, and any other relevant information. They decide on appropriate interventions, which can include a referral to school psychologist, family counseling, pairing a student up with a mentor, including students in small groups, providing extra support after class/after school, initiating an SST process or a special education assessment, helping students get clean clothes, helping the family secure food or shelter, and any other supports that may be necessary.

Each team member takes on appropriate roles and responsibilities based on their expertise, and eight weeks later, the team comes together again to discuss how the students are progressing with all of the support and interventions that were given. A special education teacher shared, "That's just the thing about the Q2 process; it's the whole team trying to figure out what they can do to support." EJE's staff agreed that the Q2 process is extremely valuable as it allows them to provide targeted interventions to all students in a collaborative and accountable way.

Congratulations, EJE Middle Academy! Help CCSA spread the great work of our colleagues at EJE on social media.

To learn more about the report findings, methodology, and more, check out the following resources: