Divisions » Student » Training and Consultation (TaC)

Training and Consultation (TaC)

Contact:  Jason Stragand at 724-219-2390 or jstragand@wiu7.org
 
Please use this form to request TaC services:
Please click here for the TaC services catalog.

Training and Consultation (TaC) staff provide technical assistance to Pennsylvania educators, parents, paraprofessionals, and agency personnel.  TaC staff have specifically designed training responsibilities based upon their training and/or expertise. 

The mission of TaC is to support Pennsylvania’s special education regulations and initiatives by partnering with local education agencies to build their capacity to provide both preventive interventions and quality special education services and programs that promote student success.

 

Delivery of Services

  • Professional Development (Individual, Small Group, Whole School)
  • Modeling / Coaching / Guided Practice
  • Meaningful Consultations (Face-to-Face, Video/Phone Conferencing)
  • Resource Identification
  • Online ACT 48 Trainings (coming in December 2019)
 

Trainings/Consultations Provided To:

  • Teachers (General Education / Special Education)
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Personal Care Assistants (PCAs)
  • Support Staff
  • Building/District Administration
  • Parents / Guardians
 
The Training and Consultation (TaC) Team provides services and support in the following areas:

-- Assistive Technology (AT)

Contact:  Candice Hite at 724-219-2360 or chite@wiu7.org
Sarah Wagner at 724-219-2362 or swagner@wiu7.org
 
 
For the 2019-2020 Assistive Technology Consultation Request, please click here.
To request a loan from the Assistive Technology Lending Library - please click here.
 
Assistive Technology (AT) devices as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are any item, piece of equipment, or product system....that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities.
 
Assistive Technology services are further defined as services that directly assist a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.  The functional capabilities of students with disabilities are dictated by the environments in which the students need to function.
 
For school-age students, AT devices and services are those that provide access to the general education curriculum, and may include high-tech and low-tech solutions.  Such devices and services may be needed for alternative augmentative communication (AAC), computer access, written communication, academic support, environmental control, or for sensory (auditory or visual) access.  They allow many students with disabilities to function effectively in the general education curriculum and to meet their educational goals.
 
Local educational agencies (LEAs) with students who demonstrate a potential need for AT devices or services may turn to the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit AT Consultants for AT consultations, training, and support.  A broad range of assistive devices can be borrowed from the WIU AT Lending Library in order to assess the appropriateness of a particular device.  Additionally, AT Consultants are available to provide professional development on a variety of topics surrounding assistive technology.
 

-- Behavior Support (PBIS)

Contact:  Kelly Heitchue at 724-219-2324 or kheitchue@wiu7.org
Marissa Rega at 724-219-2320 or mrega@wiu7.org
 
 
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit TaC team promotes the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Initiative by providing consultation services and training to the Westmoreland County school districts, local agencies, and the community.  Consultation and technical assistance is delivered through conducting observations and providing recommendations, supporting completion of functional behavioral assessments, development of positive behavior support plans based on behavioral principles, and evaluation of program fidelity and effectiveness.  A major component of the Behavioral Support Services is building local capacity through training.  A strong emphasis is placed on making behavioral-instructional connections, and raising awareness and understanding of the most effective, least intrusive strategies.
 
Professional development training opportunities are offered in:
  • Positive Behavior Strategies and Interventions
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Positive Behavioral Support Planning
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Autism
  • Nonviolent Crisis Intervention
  • PDE Behavioral Initiatives (Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support, RENEW, Classroom Management)
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid
  • Other customized offerings to fit the audience needs
Information about School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) from the Office of Special Education Programs
Improving student academic and behavior outcomes is about ensuring all students have access to the most effective and accurately implemented instructional and behavioral practices and interventions possible.  SWPBIS is NOT a curriculum, intervention, or practice...but IS a decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavioral outcomes for all students.
 
In general, SWPBIS emphasizes four integrated elements:  (a) data for decision making, (b) measurable outcomes supported and evaluated by data, (c) practices with evidence that these outcomes are achievable, and (d) systems that efficiently and effectively support implementation of these practices.
 
SWPBIS schools organize their evidence-based behavioral practices and systems into an integrated collection or continuum in which students experience supports based on their behavioral responsiveness to intervention.  A three-tiered prevention logic requires that all students receive supports at the universal or primary tier.  If the behavior of some students is not responsive, more intensive behavioral supports are provided, in the form of a group contingency (selected or secondary tier) or a highly individualized plan (intensive or tertiary tier)
 
Resources:
 

-- BrainSTEPS

Contact:  Natalie Smith at 724-219-2321 or nsmith@wiu7.org
 
 
Each year, over 4,000 of Pennsylvania's children survive severe brain injuries (TBI) significant enough to require hospitalization.  Many are left with life-altering difficulties in physical, cognitive, or behavioral functioning.
 
The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, under contract from the PA Department of Health and partnered with the PA Department of Education, has created the Child & Adolescent Brain Injury School Re-entry Program called BrainSTEPS (Strategies Teaching Educators, Parents, and Students).  BrainSTEPS is working to make sure that those who must provide educational support to children with TBI have a good understanding of brain injury, the resulting challenges, and supports and interventions that will help these students achieve educational success through graduation.
 
The BrainSTEPS team:
  • Is comprised of education professionals, medical rehabilitation professionals, and family members.
  • Receives ongoing training from local and nationally recognized leaders in the field of pediatric brain injury.
  • Provides "BranSTEPS 101" presentations, helping schools compensate for the lack of brain injury training in college teacher training programs.
  • Provides training, consultation, and on-going support regarding identification, school re-entry planning, IEP development, intervention selection and implementation, long-term monitoring of students, and other issues professionals face in supporting students with brain injury.
  • Consults with team through the BrainSTEPS Program, on a case by case basis.
What is a Head Injury? 
A head injury is a blow or trauma to the head.  While no signs of a brain injury may have been found at this time, problems may develop up to 48 hours later.  The signs may be subtle, and may last for days, weeks, or months.  Watch your child closely after the injury.
 
What are Signs of a Head Injury?
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Changes in behavior
  • Bulging "soft spot"
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness, clumsiness
  • Weakness to one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
What Does the BrainSTEPS Program Offer?
  • Development of teams
  • Ongoing team training
  • Consultation from IU team
  • Professional Development
  • Hospital to school re-entry
  • IEP and 504 plan development support
  • Academic interventions
  • Educational programming
  • Graduation planning
How Do I Make a Referral?
To make a referral, visit the BrainSTEPS website:  BrainSteps Referrals
 
Resources:
 

-- Gifted Education Network

Contact:  Natalie Smith at 724-219-2321 or nsmith@wiu7.org
 
Westmoreland Intermediate Unit provides training and consultation in the area of gifted education as well as opportunities for gifted education teachers and gifted education coordinators to participate in professional learning communities.  Through our Gifted Education Network of Westmoreland County, participants engage in collaboration and discussion related to current issues and trends in gifted education.  Any school district or nonpublic institution in Westmoreland County is invited to participate.  In addition, the Gifted Education Network of Westmoreland County provides an online resource center.
 
Periodically, Gifted Education Workshops may be offered to provide additional professional development for all educators.  The selected topics represent current issues and trends in the field.
 
For gifted education coordinators and gifted education teachers needing more personalized assistance in the area of gifted education, the WIU Gifted Liaison provides additional support on an as-requested basis.  Support may include preparing for and understanding gifted audits, compliance, and best practices.
 
Resources:
 

-- Inclusive Practices/Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Contact:  Natalie Smith at 724-219-2321 or nsmith@wiu7.org
 
 
The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as one of the principles that govern the education of students with disabilities and other special needs.  By law, schools are required to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate to the individual student's needs.
 
"Least Restrictive Environment" means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate.  Inclusive education describes the successful education of students who have IEPs with the appropriate supports and supplementary aids and services necessary to achieve educational goals when placed in a setting with non-disabled peers.
 
The Inclusive Practices/LRE Consultants provide training and consultation on effective strategies and techniques to promote and support inclusive practices.
 
Trainings are provided for any topic relating to inclusive practices/LRE including:
  • Compliance Monitoring
  • Educational Benefit Review (EBR)
  • Supplemental Aids and Services (SaS) and the SaS Toolkit
  • Instructional Strategies, Such as Universal Design for Learning
  • Writing Standards-Aligned IEPs
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Standards-Based Goals
  • Specially Designed Instruction
  • PA Alternate Eligible Content (AEC) and Essentialization of the AEC
  • Extended School Year
  • Co-Teaching
  • Presuming Competence and Project Max
  • Other Related Topics as Requested
For districts needing more personalized assistance in the area of gifted education, the WIU Inclusive Practices/LRE Consultants provide individualized consultation and support on an as-requested basis.
 
Resources:

-- Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

Contact:  Melissa Klug at 724-219-2369 or mklug@wiu7.org
 
MTSS is a Multi-Tiered System of Support that provides instruction to students.  This is not a program, but rather a framework to provide students' academic and behavioral supports on a tiered level.  MTSS should be a continuum of evidence-based practices that meet instructional and/or behavioral goals for students.  Planning, designing, and implementing should be made as a team.  The success of any framework relies on the fidelity of implementation.  A strong commitment from district-level and school staff to have strong training and periodic monitoring of sustained implementation is crucial to the success of MTSS.
 
Tier 1 - Tier 1 includes the universal core instruction for all students.  This includes:  the use of evidence-based curriculum, differentiated instruction, and implementation of Universal Design for Learning.  It is important that a Universal Screener is selected to assess all students in a consistent and regular manner.  Typically universal screenings are done three times a year to identify which students are at risk for behavioral/academic problems.  Data-based decision making and problem solving plans are created using your collection of information.  After gathering accurate and reliable data, the team needs to correctly interpret and validate this information.  This data will be used to make meaningful instructional changes for students in Tier 1.  Ultimately this is where you will validate the need for more support moving to Tier 2/Tier 3.
 
Tier 2 & Tier 3
 
 

-- Programs and Services

Contact:  Jason Stragand at 724-219-2390 or jstragand@wiu7.org
 
School-Based ACCESS
Autism
Blind/Visually Impaired Services
Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Services
Emotional Support
Job Training
Learning Support
Life Skills Support
Multiple Disabilities Support
 
Induction Program
Westmoreland Intermediate Unit offers to school districts, charter schools, private non-public schools, Pre-K Counts programs, CTCs, and other educational facilities the opportunity to participate in a successful induction program that is appropriate for any new teacher, speech therapist (SLP), or non-teaching professional.  We will design a custom professional development induction program that meets the needs of your new staff by ensuring that participants receive the foundation for building the skills necessary to increase student achievement.  Many professional development options are available.
 
Differentiated Options for Professional Development
  • Face-to-Face Workshops
  • Mentors
  • Consultations
  • Supervised Book Studies
  • Portfolio Development
  • Online Workshops
  • Action Research
  • Job-Embedded Professional Development
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Act 48 Awarded Hours
All professional development is aligned with the four Danielson Framework Domains:
  1. Planning and Preparation
  2. Classroom Environment
  3. Instruction
  4. Professionalism
Professional Development Topics:
  • Danielson Framework
  • Effective Instruction
  • Classroom Management
  • Safe and Supportive Schools
  • Standards Aligned System
  • Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports
  • Multi-tiered Systems of Support
  • Professionalism
  • Supporting Parent Involvement
  • UDL, Differentiation and Depth of Knowledge (DoK)
  • Adaptations and Modifications for Diverse Learners
  • Assessments
  • Other topics as appropriate or requested
 

-- Right to Education Local Task Force

Contact:  Natalie Smith at 724-219-2321 or nsmith@wiu7.org
 
What is the Local Task Force?
  • The Local Task Force (LTF) is a committee of concerned and active parents, consumers, and representatives, brought together to collaboratively ensure that all children with disabilities in Westmoreland County receive the supports and services they need to be successful in the least restrictive environment.
  • A major purpose of the Local Task Force is to propose recommendations that will improve, strengthen, and when needed, expand services for children with special needs.
  • The Local Task Force serves as an information-sharing and networking vehicle between members and the community.
  • The Local Task Force addresses individual issues brought to the committee by parents regarding their child's educational needs during Creative Resolutions.
Who Can Attend Meetings and Activities?
Any interested person or parent of a student with a disability or special need may attend any of the regularly scheduled Local Task Force meetings.  It is not necessary to be a member to attend, and no advance notice is necessary.
...You are always welcome!
 
When and Where are the Meetings?
Meetings are typically held every other month, with some meetings in the daytime starting at 10:00 a.m. and some meetings in the evening starting at 6:30 p.m.  Meetings usually last one hour.  Please call 724-836-2460 to find out exact dates.  All Local Task Force Meetings occur at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, 102 Equity Drive, Greensburg, PA.
 
What is the State Task Force?
The State Task Force serves as an advocate for students with intellectual disabilities, as well as those with other special needs, through resolution and administrative/policy support.  The State Task Force meets up to six times per year in Harrisburg, PA with downlinks in other areas of the state, and includes agency members.  Parent and educators are encouraged to attend.
 
What is Creative Resolutions?
Creative Resolutions offers an opportunity for a parent to bring individual special education concerns to the attention of a Local Task Force voting member for the purpose of discussion and problem-solving.  This confidential meeting usually takes place directly before a Task Force meeting, then comments are welcome after the general Task Force forum.  Confidentiality is ALWAYS protected and NO name or district is ever revealed.  Parents can schedule a Creative Resolutions meeting by contacting one of the co-chairpersons of the Local Task Force.
 
Resources:
 

-- Secondary Transition

Contact:  Mindy McMahen at 724-219-2332 or mmcmahen@wiu7.org
 
Secondary Transition is the process of moving from high school to adult life and community living.  It is a "bridge" between the structure provided during school and the opportunities and risks of adult life.  It is mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is impacted by various other forms of legislation.
 
During the process students work together with their teachers, other educational staff, community members, and their family, to develop a plan or "build the bridge" to future success.  Collaboration is crucial in that it takes a team effort to effectively plan and support the transition process.
 
The Secondary Transition process is based upon future outcomes and at the secondary level is the driving force behind Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development.
 
In Pennsylvania, transition planning begins by age 14 (or sooner) with the student identifying individual goals and strengths for the future, then developing an action plan to achieve these goals.
 
Instruction and planning focuses on three areas:  post-secondary education and training, employment, and independent living and community integration.  It is a six step process:
  1. Use assessments to identify the student's post-secondary goals.
  2. Describe the student's Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP), through assessment data.
  3. Establish transition team partnerships.
  4. Design a Transition Plan that includes courses of study and services/activities (Transition Grid).
  5. Determine measurable annual goals that address skill deficits and lead to the development of the post-secondary goals.
  6. Monitor progress and adjust based on data.
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