Aids Special Ed Teachers
Program created by Mesa district to cut
by Mel Meléndez, The Arizona
Republic, Feb. 15, 2003
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A Mesa Unified School
District software program for special-education teachers could
become a chief recruitment tool for the district, while also
generating substantial revenue, school officials said.
Designed in-house, the Integrated Special Education
Computerized System (ISPED) is a browser-based program that
links numerous files required by federal and state laws. The
forms include initial referrals, notices, tracking sheets and
the Individualized Education Programs (IEP) that detail
Benefits of the system include teachers spending more time
with students, clearer documents for parents, and the ability
to hire more teachers, said Joe Zello, the district's
Arizona has about 6,500 special-education teachers serving
nearly 100,000 students. About 6,300 of those students are
taught by nearly 370 Mesa teachers. Still, districts annually
scramble to find qualified special-education teachers. They
often hire people who are given emergency credentials to teach
Richard Mainzer, a spokesman for the National Clearinghouse
for Professions in Special Education, said a recent survey by
the group shows teachers' "overload of paperwork" likely fuels
"They're frustrated because these forms take considerable time
away from their students, which is why they picked this career
to begin with," he said. "So using programs that cut back on
that manual paperwork is definitely the way to go."
The system will slash hours from teachers' reporting process,
said Ryan McLay, a special-education teacher at Franklin
Northeast Elementary School.
"Even changing one thing in a child's IEP can require hours of
redoing many documents," he said. "On ISPED it's not even an
hour, so I'm thrilled."
The system's integrated features should make it easy to
market, Zello said.
"It's too early to say yet, but I suspect this could prove to
be a substantial revenue source," he added.
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