Insights into ICT: What to Expect in the Classroom

According to the NYC DOE, classrooms with Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) services include students with IEPs and students without IEPs. No more than 12 (or 40 percent) of the students in the class can have IEPs.

 

There are two teachers—a general education teacher and a special education teacher. The teachers work together to adapt materials and modify instruction to make sure the entire class can participate.

 

If your child has been placed in an ICT class, read on for insights from members on what to expect. And to find support in all aspects of the parenting and schooling journey, join Park Slope Parents today!

 

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One parent asks the community…

 

“I'm hoping to hear from parents who have had a child in an ICT class and would be willing to share their experience.  

Doesn't matter if child is gen ed or has IEP.

 

My daughter recently had her Turning 5 meeting and was mandated for an ICT class.”

 

Responses include…

 

Honestly, every classroom is very different and it depends on the teachers. I’ve seen teachers collaborate wonderfully. I had a great experience with ICT bc I had an amazing young teacher who was way more tech savvy then me. I brought experience and knowledge of the system/SpEd/the ropes of the school/expectations/ and strategies learned from many years of experience. She brought fresh knowledge straight out of grad school, speed, enthusiasm and new ideas that kept our approaches to learning and behavior very fresh. We saw our students succeed. On the other hand, I’ve seen teachers hate the experience, dislike their co-teachers and eschew collaboration in favor of dividing the work and the kids.  

 

If I were in your shoes I would ask to meet the teachers of the classroom. Many of the teachers I worked with would voluntarily show up for a mtg or a call with a parent but my school had a hands-on staff. I was one of the senior teachers and in my late 30’s when I stopped to raise my kids. Young teachers tend to be very willing to give their time. (Older staff not so much. #union;)

 

If you can’t bc it’s summer then make it a point to establish rapport with the teachers early in the school year. Be as involved as you can be so you become familiar with the tone of the class and the school. Remember, as a parent, you can always ask for an IEP meeting and request changes be made. You can ask for a Parent Advocate. If the school doesn’t help you with this, call 311 for help on who to call. Be the squeaky wheel for your own kids 100% of the time. Schools will make decisions that also work for them sometimes at the expense of the kids so ask every question. Finally, and most importantly, parents should have their kids evaluated outside of the school. School psychs are stretched very thin and I’ve often heard them admit that an outside eval is more thorough and objective than an in-house eval. Also, you don’t have to give the school all the info that you receive on the eval. If there are things there that are not pertinent to the school’s concerns then you can keep some of that info private at your discretion.”

 

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“My older daughter has been in 3 ICT classes as a general ed student: pre-K at TLC and Kindergarten and 2nd grade at PS 130. I don't know how consistent the ICT experience is across schools, but at 130, it's been really wonderful. Obviously I can't speak from the IEP side of things, but for my gen ed kid, seeing all the different ways different kids learn and get support has just been a wonderful experience. It just really de-stigmatizes getting support and having different learning styles. Plus having two teachers and additional adults in the room was wonderful as there were more opportunities for small group break outs, etc.

Our daughter was in an ICT class for Kindergarten - Gen Ed side. It was amazing. She had two teachers and 3 support teachers in the class. The support teachers were there for the kids that needed it but they all benefited.

 

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“My daughter is currently finishing up 3rd grade at PS 234. She's gen-ed and she's been in 2 ICT classrooms and 2 single-teacher classrooms. Our experience has been great every time but she happened to get teachers that are super highly well regarded every year (luck of draw).

We haven't had any disruptive behavior issues and for what it's worth it seems like the gen-ed kids in ICT classrooms benefit too because everyone gets slightly more personalized attention just by virtue of having a smaller student to teacher ratio.

 

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“My oldest daughter has been in an ICT class since second grade (now in 4th grade at PS276). She is a gen ed learner, and we have loved that she has been in the ICT class. Having two teachers, and multiple paraprofessionals, in the room is a benefit from my perspective (more adults and different voices to teach). Plus the kids really don't know who has an IEP (who doesn't), they are much more open and accepting than us adults - thankfully. It's been great for her to have exposure to all types of learners - That potential ostracizing is a learned behavior.

Some do find it distracting, but we have not found it a challenge.”

 

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“I saw your post and wanted to reach out as a parent. My first grader is a remote

student in a general ed class this year but next school year will start in an ICT class. 

My older child, now in 7th grade, was a general ed student in an ICT class for three years. It was a very good experience which is why I am looking forward to my younger child, who is dyslexic, to be placed in an ICT class.

I wish the ICT model was available everywhere. My observations over three years

include that the additional adult in the room makes a large difference in the behavioral dynamics of a room. Students are not all competing for attention from one 

adult. The presence of having two professional teachers makes this point so much 

more compelling!

I observed that the two teacher dynamic gave each teacher someone reliable to lean on. I am not a professional teacher. But as someone who understands workload, having a colleague who is right beside you, as you work in a room full of students and come across challenges, to have someone to help work through them together, and appreciate together is terrific. ICT classrooms are a space where project work can actually get accomplished.

 

Lastly but not least is the fact that one teacher is certified in special ed. The strategies this teacher employed taught my gen ed child many important behavioral and academic strategies that he would not have been exposed to. My older child learned how to slow down, learned how to collaborate with different points of views, and learned how it feels to show other kids how to do something. That final point was key. In ICT classrooms, children are taught to share their learning strategies with one another -- they are actually teaching each other in conjunction with the academics/lessons  presented by the teachers.”

 

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“My kids are older now, 14 and 16 but both had ICT classes when they were younger. We were happy they had it as having two teachers was very helpful. They both had IEPs but grew out of them. My son's IEP ended in 1st grade and my daughter's in 6th grade. They both went to Brooklyn New School and loved it there. Take advantage of the ICT classes as having two teachers really helps the kids and if an IEP is offered take it as it will help your child develop and will help with middle school admissions down the road. 

ICT is a good thing and best of luck to you!”

 

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My son is in ICT (finishing up 1st grade) at PS 321. It has been a great experience so far. I am happy to chat! 

Probably will get lots of answers but my gen-ed son has been in an ICT class for K & 1st grade at PS321, and it's been wonderful. We have 2 brilliant co-teachers, kids with lots of learning styles, and plenty of attention to go around. Pre-covid, his K class had 5 adults in the room (between teachers, assistants, and paras) while friends had maybe a teacher and a part time assistant? All in all, we have had a pretty great experience being in an ICT class.

My daughter is this year in an ICT class. She had a 97 percentile on the G&T and is with the advanced ones in her class. You are not supposed to know who needs some extra help or who doesn’t. In her class one of the children has Down syndrome who clearly needs extra help and has a separate aid. I honestly think an ICT class is great for every child. There are more teachers and more time and attention for each individual child. We both didn’t go to school in the US and were also suspicious around anything ‘different’ but this year has been great.”

 

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“I see this from the different angle, being a special needs mom (and gen Ed mom at the same time).

Here are the things I like about ICT classes.

1. There are at minimum always 2 teachers in the class. Not a teacher and assistant, or a teacher and a para - both are fully certified teachers, one of which will have additional certification in special education. Those are usually more experienced teachers that have additional training.

2. There are always more adults in ICT classroom. Since many children (up to 40% of the class) might have IEP’s, many (but not all) of them will also have paras - those are all extra adults in the classroom. Although not teachers, they would be the ones to keep their students focused and on task, and mitigate any discipline challenges.

3. Most kids with IEPs have very ‘modest’ needs - speech, PT, OT. If there are major behavioral issues, ICT is most likely not the right setting for that child - but due to the ‘least restrictive environment’ doctrine, sometimes these children may end up in ICT at first, before being able to be transferred to another class setting that is deemed ‘more restrictive’ (ex 12:1:1, 8:1:2 self contained classes, etc).

4. A great thing about being a child with the IEP in an ICT classroom is that the child has all those general Ed student peers to model after, all while getting enough support needed for their specific needs.

Everything of course in the end of the day depends on the specific children that end up in your child’s class, their families and the teacher/ school leadership. If something doesn’t work, it’s mainly because of the adults in the room, not the kids (the teachers cannot successfully maintain class focus; paras don’t pay enough attention to their kids; teachers/administration don’t raise the question if the classroom is appropriate for a child with more significant needs, etc). Your daughter is still young enough (K) where you should try it out, so that if that doesn’t end up being a good fit for her, you can later advocate at her IEP meeting for a potentially different setting/class (and will have proof to back you up!)

But she might surprise you (and the other adults that know her) and  she could do really well in ICT classroom. You’ll never know until you try it :)

My son who had an IEP in pre-K (speech, OT and PT due to low muscle tone) was in a general Ed classroom that was SOO disruptive, I think ICT class would have been much better!”

 

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“My 7yo has been in an ICT class in K and 2nd grade, and was given an IEP during 2nd grade. So she’s been in the position of both a general student and one with an IEP! She did very well in both instances. 

I would say a huge benefit of an IEP class is there are two teachers who are trained to deal with any disruptions, vs a ‘regular’ class with one teacher and the same amount of kids. Much easier with two adults with specific training. That said, in K you will have ‘disruptions’ in any classroom so is normal. 

My daughter was also a reserved and timid child. Being in K did wonders for her and really allowed her to shine. I give a lot of credit to the teachers who knew how to nurture her confidence while facilitating learning thanks to their education and training. I do not know your daughter’s specific needs but having that built in extra support makes things less scary and ‘big’ for them. 

As far as any kind of label given for being in the ICT class...I completely get it because I felt the same way when my daughter went into K. But there were 20+ kids in the class and it truly was difficult to tell who had an IEP and who did not. It felt like a regular, old K class with a darling bunch of kids who happened to have rockstar teachers to support them. 

If given the choice in future, I would choose the ICT class for her each year! It’s really not as ‘bad’ as it may seem. The kids are not pointed out or labeled as IEP, are treated no differently aside from what is required in the IEP plan (which is discreet, I still don’t know which other kids in her grade have an IEP!), and the bonus of having the extra training of the teachers is a win win to me.”

 

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“I’m a former DOE teacher with Special Ed & ICT experience. [An] ICT class is usually designed not to include kids who show behavior concerns. Generally, the makeup is kids with IEPs that have mild learning issues where a SpEd class is not necessary.  Then, the Gen Ed kids are usually strong students because the idea is that with two teachers and strong peers, everyone helps assist and lift those with the IEPs.”

 

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“Both of my children have been in ICT classrooms as Gen Ed and assigned through IEP. I’m not sure where she is going but we are at 89 and everyone gets assigned to it at some point.

1. As I said all kids get put in ICT so they aren’t singled out or labeled- it isn’t special to be in ICT... the kids don’t know any different or care- in fact when they get older and they hope for a particular teacher in future grade they pick the 2 teacher pairs as desirable as well. For the record, in our experience at 89, the kids do not tease the kids getting pulled out for speech and OT and things and again wish it was they who were getting something special!

2. I’ve found the ICT classrooms to be no more disruptive than any other classroom (even compared to my experience growing up where ICT didn’t exist). If kids are prone to something behavioral they’ve likely been evaluated and assigned an aide so there are even more adults in the classroom.

3. The benefits of ICT are great- you’re getting a much lower teacher/student ratio and as I said possibly lower adult ratio (all the kids interact with the aides so again that child isn’t singled out). One teacher is a special Ed teacher so they bring different perspectives and teaching skills. There is just more opportunity for them to keep your child on track and provide attention.

4. Many parents are dying to get their kids into ICT for these reasons and try everything to convince their principal to put their child in it so it’s awesome to get assigned through IEP :)

Overall ICT should be just like any other K experience for her and hopefully better!”