CHIME Charter Elementary School: Co-Teaching/Planning Model « Center on Educational Governance (CEG)

CHIME Charter Elementary School: Co-Teaching/Planning Model

Practice Area: School-University Partnerships

CHIME Charter Elementary School:
Inclusive Co-Teaching Special Education

CHIME Charter Elementary School

Woodland Hills, California
Founded 2001
220 students
Grades K-5
White 56%, Hispanic 27%, African-American 9%, Asian 8%, Other 0%
7% English language learners
20% Special needs
20% Receive subsidized meals
Teachers not part of collective bargaining unit

Source: Center on Educational Governance, 2006.

The practice of co-teaching best serves the students at CHIME Charter Elementary, 20 percent of whom have disabilities yet can remain in their grade-level class throughout the school day.

A general education teacher and a special education teacher deliver lessons, often together, to each class. This level of parity between general education and special education is reinforced throughout the school.

Both for student achievement and as a model for the inclusion of special education students, CHIME has been recognized on the national, state and local levels.


The general education teacher is the curricular content expert, while the special education teacher adapts the curriculum for the students who need extra support: for example, modifying worksheets to include pictures in place of words.

In practice, students aren’t aware of the teachers’ roles; they simply know they have two teachers. Each classroom’s staff also includes paraprofessionals, student teachers and assistants.

CHIME has three special education teachers, each serving two grade levels (K-first, second-third and fourth-fifth). They rotate among classrooms, spending a part of the day in each and alternating between curricular areas (math and reading).

Before each school day, classroom teachers meet to share plans, discuss lessons, develop curricular modifications and share roles. This communication often runs over into lunchtimeor off-hours.

For a half-hour after school each day, grade-level teams debrief. Teachers and classroom support staff each share a success and a challenge from the day while providing support and feedback to one another.


CHIME spends about $7,000 per pupil annually, supplementing the state’s allocation with foundation grants and donations from nonprofit organizations. Sources of funding have included the Lucky Brand Foundation, Style for Smiles, the Weingart Foundation and Toyota-Harman International.

To serve 200 students in grades K through fifth, CHIME has 14 full-time employees: one administrator, 11 general education teachers and three special education teachers. A speech and language pathologist visits classrooms two days a week. Paraprofessionals assist the special education teachers; student teachers come from California State University at Northridge.

To use its current site, the school pays a per-square-foot lease to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Inclusive co-teaching reduces the need for classroom space as schools don’t require separate day classes for students with disabilities.

The staff attends a week of professional development before school starts each year, plus another two days on average during the year. Co-teaching is the primary topic, but other areas have included collaboration skills, teaching to a spectrum of learners, positive behavior support and curricular enrichment for gifted students.


Co-teaching has helped CHIME with early intervention. In the 2004-2005 school year, nine kindergarten students were designated at-risk. At the end of the year, seven of the nine were no longer labeled as such.

CHIME’s teachers often mention the benefit of having a teaching partner with whom to collaborate, of being able to discuss individual students’ needs with someone who knows the student equally well. General education teachers learn strategies to reach struggling students; special education teachers increase their knowledge of curriculum.

Team commitment from all staff members is necessary for co-teaching to work, CHIME’s staff has said. Differences in instructional philosophies and doubts about other team members’ skill levels are challenges the staff has mentioned, though planning and debriefing sessions are the designated venue to air such issues. To reinforce parity between the general education and special education teachers, staff developed a co-assessment practice where the teachers together decide on students’ grades and comments for report cards.

CHIME’s staff realized the need for more special education teachers through experience. Initially, one teacher served grades K through three, which wasn’t enough for successful co-teaching. Some special education teachers have expressed the desire to stay in one classroom all day, however, this would require additional teachers and funding.

The teachers also have said that finding enough time to plan lessons with their co-teachers is a true challenge. One can’t just go home and plan, it has to be a joint effort. Working around each other’s schedules requires flexibility as well.


CHIME’s teachers express great professional satisfaction with the co-teaching model, and the school’s success radiates far from its campus.In 2005, the U.S. Department of Education named CHIME as a national model for inclusion of students with disabilities and for providing a blueprint for local schools throughout the country.

Another indicator of a public school’s success is its desirability. CHIME accepts students only through a lottery system and its current student body draws from 32 different zip codes.


Center on Educational Governance
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
3470 Trousdale Parkway
Waite Phillips Hall, Room 901
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4039

Phone: (213) 740-0697
Fax: (213) 740-4184
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