Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Apprenticeship and Intensive Training of Consulting Teachers: A Naturalistic Study

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Apprenticeship and Intensive Training of Consulting Teachers: A Naturalistic Study

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a model for intensive training of consulting teachers, and to explore whether the consulting teachers who received intensive training performed differently from those who received standard training. While both groups of teachers fulfilled satisfactorily the administrative aspects of the job, significant differences were found in favor of the group receiving intensive training in all aspects of the job relating to instructional improvement. The findings and their implications for the training of consulting teachers are discussed.

Within the last decade a movement has called for the end of the traditional pullout model for providing services to students with mild disabilities. Its proponents (DeBoer, 1986; Idol, 1988; Reynolds, Wang, & Walberg, 1987; Will, 1986) have argued that the core educational programs for these students should operate within the least restrictive environment, the regular classroom. This alternative model calls for a new role for the special educator, involving consultation with classroom teachers in specific teaching strategies for meeting the needs of low-achieving students within the constraints of the classroom situation (Idol, 1988; Knight, Meyers, Paolucc-Whitcomb, Hasazi, & Nevin, 1981; Nelson & Stevens, 198 1). These writers have expressed a concern for providing quality educational services to all low-achieving students in the classroom, whether or not these students have gone through the formal identification process for special education certification.

Despite the explosion of research over the past 15 years on strategies for effectively teaching low-achieving students (Brophy & Good, 1986), most classroom teachers receive virtually no training in how to effectively work with these students within the constraints of a typical classroom setting (Baker & Gottlieb, 1982). Nor do most teachers adapt their teaching styles and strategies to meet the needs of these students (Ysseldyke et al., 1983).

Though there is a reasonably solid research base (Brophy & Good, 1986; Englert, 1984; Reisberg & Wolf, 1988) on effective procedures for teaching low-achieving students, developing procedures for conveying this information to classroom teachers is a difficult, delicate process. There is an urgent need for this activity to take place, however, particularly in schools serving low-income, minority students, where students tend to "fall through the cracks," and where there are serious problems with over-referral of students into special education. The current study focuses on a district's attempt to address this issue in four low-income schools.


The context was four low-income schools in a large metropolitan area. Over 95% of the students were eligible for free lunch programs; 90% were minority (African-American, Hispanic, or Asian). Some of the parents were only marginally literate; and about one-third of the students entered school with limited English proficiency.

The district was attempting to provide research-based educational services to low-achieving students in the regular classroom, rather than use a mosaic of fragmented pullout programs and services (Reynolds et al., 1987). The district was trying, as much as possible, to keep "at risk" students in their classrooms for the entire day. To implement and monitor these classroom programs, the district's administration adopted a consulting teacher model. The consulting teachers had no classroom teaching responsibilities; nor did they have pullout teaching or tutorial responsibilities. Their sole responsibility was to assist teachers in implementing the instructional improvement program, which was based on the research on effective teaching and mastery learning. Each consulting teacher was required to assist between 8 and 12 teachers within a school in the day-to-day details of implementation of the school improvement program. …

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