Friday, July 07, 2006

Upper Levels of Primaria 3rd - 6th grades

The second half of my observations were spent observing the older students in grades 3 through 6. Students in the 3rd & 4th grades were students that we would consider junior high age students. The mandated curriculum at these grade levels continues to be a regular education academic focus which is frustrating to the teachers as they see the need to begin to include more functional, life skills and vocational activities for their students. As in the lower grades there were students in the upper levels that I felt would have been in inclusive settings in our school systems. Inclusion is a new practice in the Mexican school system. Currently students are being mainstreamed back into their neighborhood schools and special education teachers are being placed into the schools to provide support to a case load of students. The challenge that is being faced is that not enough teachers are being allocated for the students. Often 1 teacher will have to cover multiple schools in one day. Thus students are not receiving the support they need and are getting "lost" in the system. Students in the 5th & 6th grade are what we consider high school students ranging in age from 14 to 17 years of age. Students graduate from primaria at age 17. Thus, no secondary schooling is provided for students with disabilities in Mexico. They are educated based on elementary curriculum and are in segregated schools until "graduation". Teachers expressed concern that students are not provided opportunities to interact with non disablied peers in their age group. Another large concern is that students are not being taught the skills neccessary for independent living beyond graduation. This concern is echoed by Directora Isabella who will be focusing on the development of workshops at the school during the upcoming school year. The plan is to develop workshops where older students at CAM can focus on developing vocational skills that may lead to employment in the community. I look forward to working with the school on these new projects. I shared ideas with the diretor as to how facilities at the school, including the maintence / carpentery shop and kitchen, could be better utilized to teach students life and vocational skills.

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