ICT stands for Integrated Co-Teaching.
This from InsideSchools.org:
All students get the attention of both teachers, so ideally it is a win-win situation for all students, especially if the teachers work well together. Special education kids are not isolated and both groups learn from one other.
There is a brief description of ICT classes on the DOE website. Parents of children with disabilities, or who think their child might have special needs, may also want to consult the guides published by Advocates for Children of New York about the evaluation and placement process.
Some parents of gen ed kids are thrown off by this placement at kindergarten. What does it mean?! Is my kid’s future placement or academic achievement going to be affected? Are the special needs kids going to hold my kid back?
This is not your grandmother’s special ed. In a school that believes in the educational benefit of a heterogeneous grouping (all kids have their gifts and challenges), this grouping of high functioning special needs kids (usually 40% of the class) with gen ed kids (generally 60%) can be a big non event. The reason these classes exist is because these SE kids deserve to be in a mainstreamed classroom. The big carrot for the Gen Ed kids is the smaller student : teacher ratio. Sometimes those SE students are also assigned their own para professionals to assist with aspects of their learning, so there can occasionally be quite a few adults in the classroom.
Every school does the assignment at kindergarten differently, but once an assignment is made, I don’t know of any principal who will change it. At kindergarten, my identical twins (my own little science experiment) were placed – one in Gen Ed, one in ICT. Both had exceptional years. We are still in very close contact with both of their superb kindergarten lead teachers. One was placed in ICT at fourth grade again- and again it was an exceptional experience.
I asked Liz Phillips, Principal at 321 how they do placement:
We have two ICT classes per grade and general education children are placed randomly. We make sure that there are plenty of high performing kids in every class, including ICT. It is likely that every child at 321 will be in ICT 2-3 times. We do not keep general education kids in ICT two years in a row though, so if a child is in ICT Kindergarten, for example, he/she will not be in ICT 1st grade. As in all our classes, our goal is to have truly mixed classes.
We have had ICT in grades K-5 for over 20 years and have found it to be highly successful for all students, from the highest performing to the middle performing to the lowest performing children. We have gotten excellent feedback throughout the years. The staffing ratio (2 full time teachers) means that all children get more individualized and small group instruction at their level. This is a huge benefit for all children.
Our ICT teachers choose to be in ICT and also have a say in their partner teacher, which generally makes for very strong teachers in ICT classes.
Amy Sumner, Parent Coordinator at Brooklyn New School, said, “We do our best to make parents comfortable with their placement. It's a 'teaching moment' for parents about special education.”
Clearly, always, the strength of the teacher or team of teachers in any classroom makes the difference. This classroom can be a challenge for a new teacher or a new team, but heh, so can a Gen Ed classroom. You need a good administration that is being thoughtful about their staffing placements and the support that they receive.
This is what I tell parents who don’t like the classroom or teacher placement that they have received: It is VERY bad form to request a class change (or teacher change) before you have experience in that classroom, and you are likely to hit a brick wall if you ask. First, because this is public school, and as a parent you can't 'pick and choose', and second, you may end up somewhere that you actually like less (be careful what you wish for). I recommend that you do the year (you can support and advocate for your child if there are serious issues mid year), and then if it was less than ideal, there can be a conversation with the principal that is more like, "Well, that didn't work. I hope next year will be better!" I would think that a principal would try very hard to balance out that child's experience with a better fit classroom in the following year.
Nothing is perfect, and if you try and engineer perfection you will be doing a bad job of parenting. You often learn more from the missteps than you do from perfection. Life is full of different people and different challenges and if you aren’t prepared to navigate it all – you are at a disadvantage. The surprise is how you may LOVE the class that you were nervous about.