KILLINGTON-Assistant Secretary Alexa Posny delivered a keynote
address to the 2012 BEST Summer Institute Thursday, June 28 at the
Killington Grand Hotel. Posny focused on how to promote best
practices, reform, and excellence in the education of students with
The Summer Institute is an annual event where teams of
educators, families, community members and human service providers
share and learn strategies for supporting students and their
families, schools and communities.
Posny heads the Education Department's Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitative Services, which includes programs
aimed at helping and improving results and outcomes for the
nation's infants, toddlers, children and adults with
disabilities. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in
2009; she also served under President George Bush as the director
of Special Education Programs.
In her remarks, Posny discussed Response to Intervention,
Universal Design for Learning and Positive Behavior Interventions
and Supports as they relate to creating effective teaching and a
positive school climate and culture.
She encouraged educators to focus on how they can help students
understand that they can do it on their own, instead of telling
them exactly what to do. Positive encouragement and a proactive
environment creates the foundation for successful teaching.
Students should be taught how to be safe, stay on task, act
responsible and respect themselves and others in the early years of
education, she emphasized.
About 50 percent of children in the US are currently on special
learning plans, Posny noted, saying that many of these children
have been over-diagnosed and do not need to be in these more
expensive programs, but are pushed there because they need more
positive encouragement. Many do not get this from their homes, she
added, noting the direct connection between socio-economic status
and susceptibility of students falling behind.
Another factor influencing this trend has been the fact that the
federal government allocates more money to schools for special ed
programs and services than regular educational programs.
Posny then discussed what has been working to reverse this
trend: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, a program
for effective discipline that focuses on positive reinforcement
rather than punishment-based rules for students. Posny sited Kansas
Junction City High School as an example of PBIS success. In five
years the school increased the number of students with proficient
test scores from 8 to 63 percent. In a Kansas elementary school the
number of students eligible for special ed programs dropped from 28
to just one.
Posny hopes more schools will implement PBIS and enjoy similarly
successful results. Students, schools and budgets will all