At the Evergreen Center the standard for successful instruction is social competence. The agency believes that a volunteer opportunity achievement of social competence is a reliable predictor of successful adjustment to a lifestyle centered in community participation. This philosophy places particular emphasis on educational experiences that foster the personal independence and emotional growth of individuals with developmental disabilities. The Evergreen Center recognizes the inherent value of each student and teacher in the educational process and believes in the ability of each student to learn and grow.
The Evergreen Center utilizes an outcome-based curriculum model endorsed for all students in general education. Additional habilitative outcomes have been identified which will assist students with developmental challenges to achieve their maximum potential. The Evergreen Center Curriculum is guided by the following principles:
- Every student is capable of learning and achieving. Outcomes of instruction identified in the curriculum should apply to all students regardless of characteristics of the individual.
- Curriculum assessment, development, and implementation should be based on student and family desires and which reflect the diversity of gender, culture, race, and other characteristics of society.
- Individualized student assessment is an ongoing process that occurs throughout a student's education.
- Individualized student assessment should be based on the measurement of achievement of specific student objectives in each identified outcome area.
- All assessments should be meaningful and comprehensive; going beyond observation of a child's skills and behaviors.
- Student assessment should be linked to instructional planning and curriculum content.
- Curriculum content should support the Evergreen educational philosophy of normalization, community-based instruction, and development of social competency.
- Curriculum content for the learner with special needs should be individualized according to their strengths and capabilities, be culturally appropriate and reflective of each student's ethnic values.
- Curriculum content should include input from each member of a multidisciplinary team, including family members and, when possible, the student.
- Instructional Techniques must be based upon Evidence Based Practices (EBP) that have been validated by scientific research.
- Achievement should be measured continuously and curriculum development should be based on student performance. The Individual Education Plan outlines the process for implementing curriculum and monitoring individual student progress.
- Family members are vital to the success of the instructional process. Family involvement is encouraged at all phases of a student's education and input regarding educational priorities is valued.
Methods of Instruction
At the Evergreen Center, services are designed to promote instruction of social competencies in natural environments and to increase opportunities to fully include the student in the community. Research has demonstrated that the teaching of skills such as language, social skills, daily living activities, mobility, and vocational skills in natural environments promotes mastery and generalization for students with disabilities (Brown, Nietupski, and HamreNietupski, 1976). Empirically validated practices with demonstrated effects, including Direct Instruction (Forness, Kavale, Blum, and Lloyd, 1997; Becker and Englemann, 1982) and Applied Behavior Analysis (Baer, Wolf, Risley, 1968, 1987; Bijou, 1970; Forness et al. 1997; Skinner, 1968; SulzerAzaroff and Mayer, 1991), are used as the cornerstone of Evergreen's instructional methodologies.
In keeping with Evergreen's principle of normalization (Wolfensberger, 1980; Nirje, 1969), group homes are located in residential neighborhoods accessible to community resources. Homes are typically designed for no more than eight students. A central school located proximally to a business park and other community resources is utilized to increase practice opportunities, support therapeutic services, and promote school-to-work and school-to-home transitions. This design also facilitates community-based instruction of social competencies in typical work, school, community, home, and recreational environments.
- Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.
- Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1987). Some still-current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 313-327.
- Becker, W.C., Englemann, S., Carnine, D.W., & Maggs, A. (1982). Direct InstructionTechnology: Making It Happen. In P. Karoly & J. Steffen's (Eds) Improving Children's Competence: Advances in Child Behavioral Analysis and Therapy vol 1. , Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
- Bijou, S.W. (1970). What Psychology Has To Offer Education - Now. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 3, 65 - 71.
- Brown, L., Nietupski, J., & Hamre-Nietupski, S. (1976). The Criterion of Ultimate Functioning and Public School Services for Severely Handicapped Students. In M.A. Thomas (Ed.), Don't Forget About Me: Education's Investment in the Severely, Profoundly, and Multiply Handicapped, (pp. 2-15). Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
- Forness, S.R., Kavale, K.A., Blum, I.M., & Lloyd, J.W. (1997). Mega-Analysis of Meta-Analyses: What Works in Special Education and Related Services. Teaching Exceptional Children, 29 (6), 4-10.
- Nirje, B. (1969). the Normalization Principle and its Human Management Implications. In R. Krugel & W. Wolfensberger (Eds) Changing Patterns in Residential Services for the Mentally Retarded, Washington: President's Committee on Mental Retardation.
- Skinner, B.F. (1968). The Technology of Education. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
- Wolfensberger, W. (1980). The Definition of Normalization: Update, Problems, Disagreements, and Misunderstandings. In R.J. Flynn & K.E. Nitsch (Eds), Normalization, Social Integration, and Communiiy Services, Baltimore, MD: Park Press.