Officials at the state’s so-called “special schools” are aiming to improve their students’ math and reading proficiency by 15 percent. Steven Gettel, the superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind, says the goal is within reach.
“In the first four years with the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind students’ proficiencies increased by 13.3 percent in reading and 13.6 percent in math and at the Iowa School for the Deaf the achievements were 12.3 percent in reading and 13.3 percent in math, so we’ve nearly achieved our goals there,” Gettel says. “It shows what you can do when you consolidate your efforts and your resources around improving instruction and understanding the needs and the that our kids have.”
There are 109 students enrolled at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs this year. Students no longer attend the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton. Instead, teachers are sent around to Iowa school districts to teach 562 students who are blind or visually impaired.
“And we’re providing sign language instruction across the state to between 400-500 adults and children,” Gettel says.
Those sign language classes are conducted online. About a dozen students who graduated from the Iowa School for the Deaf are also enrolled in what Gettel calls the “Four-Plus” program.
“Brings students back who finished their high school credit requirements, but they still need additional training and education around the areas of literacy, math skills, pre-vocational skills and independent living skills,” Gettel says.
In total, the state’s “special schools” for deaf and blind Iowans are providing services to more than a thousand children and adults in the state.