Helpful Hints & Super Strategies: End of Year Prep

Wouldn’t it be great to have a fully up to date account for your new student next year so you can see what’s’ been done before and start teaching and collecting data immediately?

Did you know that you could prep your students Rethink account at the end of the year to help the teacher who will have your student in the next grade?

Follow these super easy steps for preparing your students account for their next grade and their ongoing success…

Tips to Prep Your Students Rethink Account for Next Year

1. Complete Assessments: Make sure your student skills assessment is up to date, so that lesson recommendations are current for the new teacher

student skill assessment

2. Update IEP Goals: Make sure that all the skills/lessons from the students’ current IEP are entered into the students learning plan.  This will help the new teacher to get started.

3. Keep working and helping together: Use the “future plan” feature to add new goals and objectives to the student plan without interfering with your current plan and data collection. (See enclosed document for directions). This allows all new skills to be entered to help the new teacher but allows you to continue your current programming through the end of the year.

Create "future plans" to add new goals and objectives to a the student plan

As we conclude another school year we encourage you to follow these steps.  Make the effort to prepare your students account for their next grade and their ongoing success…

Have a great and safe summer!

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Earnestine Chambers

Ms. Chambers Jackson PSD Mississippi

Ms. Chambers, from Jackson Public School District in Jackson, Mississippi

Position: Special Education Teacher
District: Jackson Public School District, Mississippi

Ms. Chambers is a Special Education Teacher from Peeples Middle School.  Peeples is one of thirteen middle schools in the Jackson Public School District in Jackson Mississippi.  Jackson Public School District has been utilizing Rethink since the 2012 school year and educates K-12 students.

Ms. Chambers incorporates Rethink into daily activities to promote social skill building, transition skills, and word recognition skills daily.  “I consider the Activity Center to be the most valuable aspect of the Rethink program because it enables students to access the program on a one-to-one basis,” said Ms. Chambers.

Rethink provides paraprofessionals and teachers visual instructions and step-by-step lesson plans on how to teach the individual objects and targets for the specific student.  Ms. Chambers explained, “Our paraprofessionals use Rethink to practice skills that were previously taught and assists students with completing goals on their IEPs.”

“Rethink was implemented after we observed very little progress being made with some students.  Shortly after launching Rethink our Professional Service Director showed us how to collect data using a task analysis that increased student success, as well as helping us create custom IEPs,” said Ms. Chambers.


Ms. Chambers and a student completing an activity on Rethink’s Student Activity Center

“I consider the Activity Center to be the most valuable aspect of the Rethink program because it enables students to access the program on a one-to-one basis.”


icon-teacherspotlightMs. Chambers found Rethink to be a valuable tool for all special educators.  “Rethink provides a multitude of objectives to select from when tailoring the individual needs of students, lesson plans to guide teachers when working on objectives/ targets with individual students, and data for progress monitor (i.e. graphs and summary reports).  As well as, assisting our students with meeting their Short Term Instructional Objective’s (STIO) listed in their IEP for yearly progress,” said Ms. Chambers.

Keep up the fantastic work, Ms. Chambers! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

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A reflection on another school year and ESSA

The end of another school year is here; yearbooks are signed, progress reports are finalized, summer plans are made, and the final bell rings, marking the start of summer vacation. The activities leading up to this moment are hectic, exciting, and a definite cause for celebration of the accomplishments made by kids and teachers during the school year.

For students, gains in academic progress, as well as, milestones met in social learning and independence are recognized through mastery of IEP goals, passing scores on tests, and comparison of performance data from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Teachers also review qualitative data to articulate student changes. These assessment processes require carefully orchestrated team effort with leadership and guidance from educators to ensure that the progress made by students is effectively expressed. Assuring all stakeholders can see successes and areas of continued need.

essa-signing-RethinkEqually important at the end of the year is the reflection of educators on their growth as professionals and identification of areas in-need of improvement. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015, the ownership of teacher evaluation protocols returned to individual states to define effective teacher and how is that measured.

In a recent article published by Education Week, author Ross Wiener, identifies three strategies that are critical for states to focus upon during this exciting change: ensure evaluators are adequately trained to focus on growth, allow flexibility in the measurement of student learning, and test to ensure the integrity of the evaluation system. Weiner’s recommendation that evaluators are trained and certified to focus on professional growth and not just ratings resonates in the spirit of reflective teaching and learning.

We must view kids as more than their test scores, and the call to evaluate teachers using more than a rating is vital in the continued development of highly-qualified, dedicated professionals who value professional learning and growth. The type of educator who can look at their own practices, receive feedback, and identify not what they are good or bad at but rather what they improved upon. This process calls to mind Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and the idea that growth is so much more than effort but reflection on what about your effort was not successful, what you learned through the effort, and using that information to decide what to do differently next time.

teacher evaluationsRoss Wiener’s suggestion of professional growth having equal weight to quantitative ratings on teacher evaluation opens a door for administrators to learn to foster a growth mindset in teachers through the evaluation process. Just as summative reports for children are multi-faceted and holistic, so should be teacher evaluations. Valuing both the rating but also the ability to accept feedback allows teachers to grow, have courage to try new things, and ultimately widen the breadth of their professional experience which trickles down to benefit our primary focus, students.

As the year winds down, I encourage you, as a professional educator, a parent, or even administrator to truly reflect and accept the feedback of what went well this year and what did not and why. Take that knowledge and use it – make a small or large change; it could be all the difference!

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Rethink Announces Jamie Pagliaro to join Advisory Board for Behavioral Health Center of Excellence

Mr. Pagliaro to advise on development of industry quality standards

Jamie PagliaroJamie Pagliaro, a leading innovator in healthcare and educational technology for autism and developmental disabilities, was recently invited to join the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence ( as an advisory board member.  The California-based organization mission is to identify and recognize quality providers of Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) services to individuals with autism and related disabilities, many of whom now qualify for services through their health plans.

“Jamie is a pioneer in using technology to enhance ABA service delivery, and we are excited to welcome him to the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence’s Community Advisory Board.” said Sara Gershfeld, Founder of the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. “We believe his strong experience, especially in creating systems that promote ethical and efficient practice management, will be extremely valuable as the BHCOE continues to grow and measure quality standards across the United States.”

Mr. Pagliaro served as the Executive Director of New York City’s first public charter school for children with autism. He subsequently co-founded Rethink, the leading global provider of research-based online resources to support individuals with developmental disabilities. After recognizing the need for ABA service providers to have better ways of working with payers in the healthcare industry, he launched Rethink’s behavioral health division (, which provides a suite of smart practice management tools.

“Due to a substantial increase in state insurance reform initiatives led by the national nonprofit advocacy group, Autism Speaks, the need to develop quality benchmarks, then identify and recognize qualifying ABA service providers is becoming more important,” said Pagliaro. “I was compelled by BHCOE’s vision to establish quality standards aligned with best practices in our industry, as this directly impacts outcomes for consumers and can help families navigate options in an informed way.”

As a member of the advisory board, Mr. Pagliaro will help provide strategic input on the ongoing development of BHCOE’s quality standards.

About the BHCOE

BHCOE is a trusted source for recognizing exceptional special needs providers that excel in the areas of clinical quality, staff satisfaction and qualifications and consumer satisfaction. Using standardized methods and practices, the organization acts as a third-party to measure and report on existing quality criteria in the behavior analysis community, through interviews with agency clinical leadership, detailed staff qualification review, an anonymous staff satisfaction survey and an anonymous consumer satisfaction survey. BHCOE awards only those service agencies that meet elite standards. For more information, visit

About Rethink Behavioral Health

Rethink Behavioral Health provides the tools every behavioral health provider needs to manage their practice and deliver quality ABA treatment effectively & efficiently. Rethink’s easy to use web-based software streamlines client care with sophisticated yet intuitive tools for both clinicians & administrators. For more information, visit

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Melissa Farrell

Melissa Farrell Stamford Public SchoolsMelissa Farrell, a Special Education Teacher from Stamford, Connecticut, has been using Rethink for the past 3 years.  At the time, Melissa’s class was the first classroom within Stamford Public Schools to pilot the implementation of Rethink.

Since the Rethink implementation Mellissa has had all of the paraprofessionals within her classroom successfully complete the training center modules.  Currently, Melissa has program binders for each of her students.  Within each binder are the printed out lesson plans and data sheets.  One area of Rethink that has helped Melissa the most is the progress reporting section.  This has been the most useful during report card and IEP time as she is able to run reports to print out or show in a PowerPoint.

Rethink has really helped Melissa to better organize, monitor and track all of her students’ data. Melissa acknowledges that the assessments and lesson libraries have further supported her with ability to develop appropriate IEP goals for her students.

“In the beginning it may seem like it will take a lot of time to use, but as you become more familiar you save a lot of time and makes you much more organized in the long run!”

Rethink has helped develop IEP goals for Stamford Public School studentsPrior to using Rethink, Melissa found it challenging to keep track of all the paperwork and data for each student. Rethink has decreased the amount of paperwork she accumulates and has made it easier for her to track her student’s progress more efficiently.  Melissa feels as though Rethink has helped her to be a more effective teacher.

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Kawana McCloud

Rethink teacher spotlight: Kawana McCloud, Behavior Specialist from Arkansas River Co-OPPosition: Behavior Specialist
Co-OP: Arkansas River Co-OP, Arkansas

Kawana McCloud, a Behavior Specialist from Arkansas, has been a passionate Rethink advocate since it was implemented across her district last year. At the time, Kawana was tasked with developing a systematic behavioral program, a common but challenging goal that many districts and CO-Ops face.

When Kawana is in the classroom she lives by the saying, “each moment in education is valuable, especially special education.” As the only Early Childhood Behavior Specialist in her program, Kawawa was looking for resources that would allow her to leverage her time and efforts most effectively, while providing the flexibility to manage her program from any location.

The systematic behavior program that Kawana created was enriched when Rethink was used to help:

  • Create behavior plans
  • Track and measure progress
  • Develop goals and objectives
  • Collect data
  • Develop student profiles
  • Assess students progress
  • Monitor teacher and student progress
  • Analyze effectiveness of program implementation and interventions

“Rethink has provided flexibility and allows me to manage my program from any location. The ease of use allows for better use of my time and aids in the productivity.”

ARESC’s Early Childhood division is now in the process of having Itinerant teachers incorporate Rethink into their Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and paraprofessionals are in training, so goals can be personalized based on student data. Beyond the day-to-day collection of data and use of curriculum resources, Rethink’s one-on-one training, online webinars and ongoing support have helped show the teachers and parents that Kawana is tracking and measuring the student’s progress towards their goals.

“Rethink is no longer a resource to my behavior program; it is an essential element that contributes to its productivity. Whether you work in general education or special education, Rethink is a program that will maximize the success of any educational organization/establishment.”

Rethink teacher spotlight: Arkansas River Co-OPKawana experienced many of the same challenges and opportunities that other educators face daily. “Educators and change agents are constantly seeking ways to spend less time with paperwork and tracking devices… and more time actually working with students. Rethink is a well-organized solution that aides in addressing challenges associated with the process of providing quality service to ALL children.”

Keep up the great work, Kawana! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Tracy Shellooe

Rethink teacher spotlight: Denver Public Schools

Rethink teacher spotlight: Denver Public SchoolsPosition: Special Education Teacher
District: Denver Public Schools, Colorado

Walking into Tracy Shellooe’s classroom, one thing is clear, this is a space that values students, above all. A veteran Rethink user, Tracy and her team of paraprofessionals have integrated Rethink into almost every facet of their daily activities to support students. During the 2015-2016 school year, the team has seen academic growth in their students that Tracy attributes to her team better addressing behavior and supporting student needs based on frequent progress monitoring and the use of individualized reinforcement strategies.

In Denver Public Schools, one of the core values, district-wide, is students first. To find the above mentioned successes, Tracy started with training herself and staff using the Rethink Training Center modules. This laid the groundwork for fostering responsibility and accountability toward the daily work they do with students.

Paraprofessionals own data collection procedures and have collaborated extensively with Tracy to ensure quality data is collected not only within the classroom but in inclusive settings. There are even weekly data meetings that allow the team to discuss student progress and make instructional shifts to best address current student needs.

Rethink curriculum in classrooms

Tracey’s token board has helped encourage students to make independent decisions.

Tracy also uses Rethink’s printable resources to allow students to pick their own token board. They have a community space that shows what each student is working for during instructional time and have fostered independent decision making by allowing students to choose what they are working for. This visual space has proved very reinforcing and fosters learning not only on the individual level but also for the class, as a whole. Tracy’s students have improved time on task, are excited to learn and participate because of the reinforcement they’ve individually chosen.

icon-teacherspotlightFinally, as a veteran Rethink user, Tracy shares advice with anyone using Rethink in their classroom. “Take it one step at a time and allow yourself to make mistakes, you will find new ways to incorporate Rethink into your classroom every day. This is an invaluable asset in our classroom.” Tracy and her team’s belief that students feel safe in their learning environment has truly proven itself through the amazing work they have done with students and the progress they have made! Great job team!

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Top 5 Questions to Ask For Data-Based Decision Making in the Classroom

Learn teaching decisions for SPED data collection to determine student progressStudents served by special education have many different types of learning differences that one must take into account to determine the best teaching strategy.  Part of a teacher’s job is to determine the right teaching strategy to ensure that the student makes progress towards their educational goals.  It is the responsibility of the teacher team to also make quick decision when it comes to changing ineffective strategies. This is where data-based decision making comes into play.

A teacher has the responsibility both to the student and the student’s family to assist each and every student to reach their full potential and be a contributing member of their community.  Time is of the essence!  If the data does not show that the student is progressing in the desired manner, the teaching team must ask several different questions:

1.) Was the data sensitive enough to measure change?

One thing to consider is if the data that was used is accurate in measuring what you want it to measure.  Part of that accuracy is making sure that it is sensitive to the change that you were hoping to see with a student’s progress.

2.) Were the teaching strategies employed correctly?

This is a time to look back on the teaching trials and to determine if the strategies were followed based on the evidenced-based strategy that you have chosen to use.  It might be time to look into these strategies and take a closer look at how they were written into the lesson plan.

3.) Is everyone on the teaching team employing the same teaching strategies?

Not only does a teacher need to look at the teaching strategy used, but if all the team members teaching the student adhered to the lesson plan.  A teacher can use exploratory questioning and spend some time observing all the staff teach the specific skill before answering this question.

4.) Is the student motivated to learn? What other motivators can be used to motivate the student?

A large component of any student learning a new skill is to look at the motivating operations for the student.  Is the student motivated by the reinforcers used by the staff or the naturally occurring reinforcers in the environment potent enough for the student to be motivated by them.  Teachers may need to take some time to complete experiments around the reinforcers to find the reinforcer that will motivate the student to learn.

5.) Is there a prerequisite skill(s) that need to be taught prior to this skill?

Often times there are prerequisite skills that a teacher might need to target prior to working on the current skill.  A teacher may put the current skill on hold and work on building these prerequisite skill before they go back to targeting the skill.  This might also include breaking the skill down into smaller components or steps to target the skill more systematically.

These are just a couple of the questions a teacher might ask in looking at their data to determine if the current teaching strategies are effective in making change.

Summer School Decision Making

As the school year is winding to a close, teaching teams are often asking if the student needs to attend summer school to retain the skills that they previously gained in the school year.   Data is necessary to measure a student’s ability to retain skills over school breaks.  Previous data over other schools breaks provides the information to help determine if a student should attend summer school to retain previously retained skills.  Phase change lines are used in the following graphs to mark this change in the student’s programming and to assist the educational team to determine the need for extended school year services.
Rethink data collection graph

Data is the powerful tool that allows educators to make the decisions needed to inform the teaching process. It is time to dive into the data and see what it is telling us.

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Kevin Jackson

Spotlight Teacher Kevin JacksonPosition: Special Education Teacher
District: Beaumont ISD, Texas

Kevin Jackson is brand new to Rethink, but already, after only a semester of use, he has seen first hand the tremendous impact using Rethink can have on students as well as the impact it has had on his own teaching practice. Kevin works as a special education teacher in a classroom designed to support students with behavioral challenges. Since he began using Rethink to target specific behaviors for his students, he has seen students take more accountability for their actions, engage in more positive behaviors, and seen an overall reduction in problem behavior.

Kevin regularly utilizes two aspects of Rethink: Behavior Support and the Student Activity Center. Kevin will identify specific challenging behaviors that he wants to target for each student, and use Rethink to set up the behavior, develop an intervention plan, and track the behavior. Additionally, Kevin will identify each students’ skill deficits, and use the Rethink Activity Center to teach students the skills they need to acquire, giving them 20 minutes of online time a day to complete activities and practice skills.

One of Kevin Jackson’s students completes an activity on Rethink’s Student Activity Center

 “A lot of times seeing is believing. If they see their behavior data and they know their parents are going to see it, they are more motivated and take more responsibility. And when they see that they are doing well, they brag on themselves.”



By using these two features side by side, Kevin is able to reduce challenging behaviors and support students in building the skills they need for success. Using Rethink in this way has helped Kevin establish clear routines and practices in the classroom, making everything run more smoothly. As they have gotten into the groove of using Rethink every day, Kevin says his students have begun feeling excited about the 20 minutes they get to spend on Rethink every day.

In addition to supporting his students in reducing challenging behavior, Kevin has found that Rethink has shaped his own teaching practice. He particularly likes how Rethink’s Behavior support has encouraged him to isolate one behavior at a time rather than tackle everything at once. “Before I started using Rethink, I was trying to track everything at once and it was overwhelming,” explained Kevin, “Rethink encourages me to target specific behaviors and figure out what really works for that behavior, and then move onto the next.”

1041Rethink has also helped Kevin run more consistent data, which he says has lead to more accountability amongst his students. Not only do students feel more accountable when Kevin can go in and see whether they were actually working, but regularly showing students their own behavior data has helped them take more responsibility for their actions. “They feel more responsible for their own behavior,” said Kevin. “A lot of times seeing is believing. If they see their behavior data and they know their parents are going to see it, they are more motivated and take more responsibility. And when they see that they are doing well, they brag on themselves.”

Keep up the incredible work, Kevin! Congratulation on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

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Webinar Recap: Promoting Social Emotional Wellness Among Transition Age Youth with ASD


Addressing the Challenges Facing Transition Age Youth with ASD

Rethink recently had the amazing opportunity to host a webinar on the topic of social emotional wellness for transition age youth with ASD.  We were privileged to be joined by three talented professionals, each with their own unique perspectives to share on the topic.  Anne Roux is a researcher at the Drexel Institute and has published extensively on the topic.  Kimberly Smalley is an autism clinical specialist and behavior analyst with many years of experience providing behavioral services to individuals with autism of all ages.  Finally, we were lucky to be joined by Maurice Snell, a development coordinator at Easter Seals, and an adult with ASD who was able to share with us his own experience of growing up and transitioning to adulthood with autism.

What is the Services Cliff?

Over the last year the phrase “services cliff” has become a staple of the standard lexicon used in autism circles.  The term refers to the drop off of services that occurs for young adults with autism as they transition out of high school and into adulthood, often a time when, as new research suggests, services might be most valuable. Because there is no federal mandate to provide supportive services in adulthood, families are often left struggling to find adequate support for their children on their own, with seventy percent reporting that “some” or “great” effort was needed to access services after high school.

How Does Social Emotional Wellness Fit In?

Further compounding the problem is that 60-70% of these young adults with ASD also have a co-occurring health or mental health condition, with 3/4 of youth taking at least 1 medication on a regular basis for a co-occurring condition.  We also know that young adults with ASD are significantly more likely to suffer from depression than their peers. What we do not yet know is exactly how mental health conditions impact individuals with autism.  

Whether or not a young adult suffers from a mental health condition, one of the key features of an autism diagnosis is difficulty relating to other people, and without the community school provides, this can then tend to leave young adults with autism feeling isolated and alone upon graduating. A Drexel Institute study found that 1 in 4 young adults with autism had not seen or spoken with friends in the past year.

The goal of the webinar was to better understand the research, what some of the systemic problems are, and to discover different ways that they can be addressed.

Challenges and Solutions

During the webinar Roux reviewed the current research she has done with the Drexel Institute, laying out some of the issues, including the lack of coordinate services, lack of planning and preparation when students are still in school, and a knowledge gap in the research on the relationship between autism and mental health conditions.   

Kimberly Smalley who works in California discussed some of the things she has seen be successful in her own practice.  For instance, California operates a regional system, which in some cases pulls together multidisciplinary teams through telehealth, allowing disability and health service providers to talk to one another and to parents.

Smalley also emphasized the importance of teaching students the social skills they will need to build relationships and live meaningful adult lives. For instance, she worked with a group of boys to specifically teach them self-advocacy and self-determination.  She would break the components of self-determination into small task analyses in the same way she would any other skill, and then use rapid fluency to help them learn things like things you can say on a date or in a job interview.  For Smalley, it is always important to keep the long view in mind.  “We continue to fight the myth that autism goes away in adulthood,” she explained, “we need to empower youth with ASD to be responsible for what they can do to make themselves comfortable in the world.”

Both Roux and Smalley agreed that better supports can be put in place before young adults transition that set them up for success.  Leaving school with a job or community is still the best predictor of success in life beyond school.  Schools, parents, and communities can all help by ensuring that young adults with autism have employment opportunities while still in school and communities can make a point to have places students can transition to after school through jobs programs and volunteer programs.

Snell agreed, sharing his own personal account of how important his church community was in making him feel like he had a social community while in school that extended into adulthood.  He also commended his supportive family that went to great lengths to ensure he was in a supportive school community where he was encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities, like marching band and ROTC, and always provided him with a social life outside of school. His sister is one of his best friends.

View The Webinar On Demand!

Watch the webinar on demand to learn more from our guests about the current research, practical strategies for teaching social emotional wellness, and real life accounts of what works and what does not, we encourage you to check out the slides and watch the entire webinar!

View Webinar

Transition Success Story

Check out how Yonkers Public Schools began using Rethink’s Transition Curriculum to teach the students Transition skills and used Rethink’s task analysis sheets to collect data on the tasks the students perform.

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