Friday, September 20, 2013

Special Education and Student Services Update for September 20

Special Education and Student Services Update: 

Many of you have new experiences this year whether you are teaching 1) new students, 2) got transfer student(s), 3) in a different grade level, 4) in a new building, 5) new position or 6) in a new program.  

Having a new student can bring up excitement, but also some anxiety due to not knowing the student's strengths or needs. Others will come to you for all the answers and you are still learning them yourselves. Each day you learn something new about the student.  There is also much extra preparation time in getting schedules set up, forming relationships with the students, understanding/implementing their IEP, and meeting their health/academic/behavioral/bathrooming needs.

Teaching in a new grade level, building, or program is also a change which can be exciting and frustrating as you begin the school year.  There seems to be more questions than answers. More things to do than having enough time to finish it. 

I just wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU for all your extra and hard work.  Our students with disabilities are fortunate to have you looking out for their best interests in your new roles.  

Here are some notes: 
Special Education Family Day
Saturday September 28 at 10:00 am. Any student with an IEP receives a free ticket. 50% off soda and popcorn.  The movie is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Staff and their families are invited to attend. A flyer has been sent home to students. A sample is attached to this email.  

Occupational Therapy
We have been unable to fill our vacant Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant position with either a part time OT or full time COTA.  We will be contracting with Presence Learning through CESA 9 to deliver online OT services on Tuesday/Wednesday for select students at MAES and SES.  Caroline will oversee the online OT services and Janel Waldhart will be the paraprofessional.  Megan Courtney is working for 1 1/2 days per week. She will be doing her COTA student teaching during 3rd quarter. We will have another student teacher during 4th quarter. 

AIMS Web Benchmark Testing Window
Fall Benchmark: September 1 to October 15
Winter Benchmark: January 1 to February 1
Spring Benchmark: May 1 to June 1

AIMS Web overviews were held twice this week.  AIMS Web 2.0 version will be occurring soon. If you need further help in administering the probes or setting up students, then please let me know. 

AIMS Web Benchmark and Administration Scoring Guides were emailed out to staff over the past week.  If you did not receive them, then let me know. 

We will no longer be running a dual alternative high school and HSED program options for our students.  We will be discussing offering the GED Option #2 program during the school day in addition to our Medford Adult Diploma Academy.  This will allow all of our students to complete a high school diploma. 

NTC would like to continue the discussion on how we can offer HSED in Taylor County for Medford and other school districts. 

This was discussed at an Alternative High School Advisory Council meeting earlier this week. 

IEP I-4 and ER-2 Forms
DPI has updated the I-4 form and created new ER-2A, ER-2B, and ER-2C forms to replace the ER-2 form. These changes were necessary due to changes in Wisconsin's assessment system and the SLD law changes. We will be working with Skyward to make the changes and add the new forms. 

Case Manager
Special Education case managers are encouraged to contact the parents of students on your caseloads so they can know you. This can be done through phone call, letter, or via email. 

Special Education Staff working with Non-Disabled Students
Here is some guidance from OSEP regarding Wisconsin DPI questions on special education staff working with non-disabled students in general education and pullout settings.  There is also info on attendance at SOS team meetings.  OSEP provides the guidance on when this is allowed and gives good examples of when it is acceptable:

PALS Testing (PK-1) Allowable Practices, Modifications, and Where to Include on the IEP

18-21 Year Old Program
We have a new 18-21 year old program which was started this year.  We have 6 students in the program. They attend classes at the NTC Campus in the mornings where they work on independence and functional skills. Students attend mentorship or worksites in the afternoons including Memorial Health Center, Black River Industries, and MAES. 

I have heard compliments from parents, Aging and Disability Resource Center, and community providers on our programming.  Thank you to Nikki Gripentrog and Janet Jurgens for their work on this program. 

Speech Language SLOs
Here is an example of how to write Speech Language SLO's:

Special Education and Student Services Facebook page
Parents were mailed a letter informing them of our school district and individual teacher facebook/blogs/websites related to special education and our classrooms.  Parents were to return the form if they do not want their child's photo on these type of pages.  Please send to me if you receive one from a student. 

Child Development Days
Thursday October 17 from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm at MAES. 

Transition Night
Transition Night for students and families to learn about post-secondary options will be held on Monday November 4 from 6-8:00 pm.  HS and upper MS sped staff are encouraged to attend. We had approximately 150 people in attendance last year.  CESA 8, 9 and 12 have contacted us about our Transition Night due to the positive feedback they have heard on our night last year. 

Common Core Essential Elements for Reading and Math
We have more binders of the Common Core Essential Elements for English Language Arts and Math. If you need one, then please let me know. 

Procedural Compliance
The Medford Area Public School District participated in the Self-Assessment Procedural Compliance in 12-13.  DPI has notified us that we are in full compliance. Thank you to all the staff for your work in this area.  DPI has provided us some best practice tips: 

IEP- 4 The IEP contains a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.
For the most part, the files reviewed provided a clear picture of both present levels of academic achievement AND functional performance, however there were a few files in which functional performance was not explicitly addressed.
IEP- 5 The IEP includes how the student’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum or for an early childhood (3-5) student in age-appropriate activities.
Please provide explicitly statements describing HOW the disability affects student involvement and progress in the general curriculum. 
IEP- 6 The IEP teams must, in the case of a student whose behavior impeded his or her learning, or that of others, consider the use of positive behavior interventions and supports and other strategies to address that behavior.     
ISS (In-school suspension) is not a positive behavioral intervention and should be avoided in this section of the IEP.  The standards and directions state: An IEP that includes only negative measures, such as seclusion or restraint, suspension, or dentition does not meet the standard. Describe what POSITIVE strategies are in place to address student behavior.
IEP- 13  Following the development or revision of the individualized revision of the IEP and prior to its implementation, the student’s parent(s) were provided a notice of placement.
Parents must receive written notice, including a copy of their students IEP, in a reasonable time prior to its implementation.  Reasonable time will depend on how notice is being delivered, but we recommend at least 3 days if sent by mail.
A side note:
Students with disabilities should have access to the general curriculum and federal non-regulatory guidance states that alternate assessments should be clearly related to grade-level content, although it may be restricted in scope or complexity or take the form of introductory or prerequisite skills (U.S. Department of Education, 2005, p. 26).  If we are assessing students using grade-level content, then instruction should also be grade-level.  We understand that for some students the content will need to be scaffolded, modified, adapted and accommodations will need to be provided- however, students should still have access to grade-level content. 

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