Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I.E.Ps vs CPS - collaborative problem solving plan

Many teachers and parents of challenging kids need to participate in writing up an I.E.P – an individualized educational plan for the kid. The question asked and addressed in the CPS book for schools             Lost at School

 Is ' How do we incorporate collaborative problem solving into an I.E.P'?

' In the real world, problems, persons and settings continually change. And , attempts to solve problems actually modify the problem itself. Events or activities are inherently dynamic, rather than consisting of static conditions. Change and development, rather than static characteristics, is assumed to be basic..

A problem solving approach places primary emphasis on people's attempts to negotiate the stream of life, to work around or transform problems that emerge on the route to attaining the diverse goals of life '   - Barbara Rogoff

I think the way to go is to understand where traditional IEP and CPS differ.

The IEP may contain useful information such as lagging skills and academic problems that would impact on behavior.  

 IEPs and behaviorism focus on behaviors =static intelligence which makes IEPs static documents. CPS focuses on problem solving =dynamic intelligence which leads to a dynamic CPS plan.

 The goals and benchmarks in an IEP focus on the symptoms of the lagging skills -  behaviors that make the kid look bad – and teaching replacement behaviors for eg using words instead of hitting, stepping back to chill out, and asking for help etc. The focus on behavior is in part due to the way progress is measured and ' data ' collected.  Behaviorism looks at the ' behavior ', because it is easy to measure but ignores the child's feelings, concerns and the role of others in the problem, in other words the specific conditions giving rise to the problem. So IEP goals call for the display of appropriate replacement behaviors when the kid is challenged ignoring the problem

Treating the symptoms of an underlying problem with replacement behaviors or procedures does not deal with the underlying problem and the concerns of the kid. So the crucial components of an IEP and the goals and benchmarks should the pile of unsolved problems and lagging skills that need remediation. Once we have identified the unsolved problems and lagging skills we can use a CPS plan to prioritize problems and lagging skills.  The low priority problems will be put on the back burner - Plan C , and the high priority problems and lagging skills will be addressed by named teachers who will do plan B with the kid.

We can then show how Plan B – the mutually satisfying solution
 1 addresses the both kid's and teacher's solves problems in a realistic and durable way
2. and at the same time how the Plan B process teaches   indirectly the various lagging skills.

When we assess how the Plan B solution is addressing the problem, we are not only evaluating the lagging skills but whether the solution is the appropriate one to address the problem. We also need to reflect on the actual discussions themselves. These discussions are not only revealing about the kids concerns but also give information about how the kid is using his cognitive skills  for e.g– the ability to identify and express his concerns, planning, hindsight and foresight, perspective taking , being  flexible in his thinking.

Behaviorism and IEPs that focus on measuring behaviors gathering  ' static ' information . This leads to ' static' documents. CPS gathers ' dynamic ' information which is more helpful in dealing with the kid's issues.

Ross Greene concludes that since IEPs tend to be static documents, CPS is likely to be more effective at prioritizing and revising goals, tracking a kid's progress, deciding what skills have been satisfactorily trained and problems resolved, and helping kids appreciate the progress that is being made. IEPs become outdated rather quickly – the CPS plan is a living, breathing plan of action.

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