Special Education in Delaware Is Still Failing Miserably Based On Annual Performance Report

Delaware Special Education, Uncategorized

The Delaware Department of Education Exceptional Children Resources Group gave a presentation to the Governors Advisory Council for Exceptional Children (GACEC) on January 20th.  This was led by the Director of the DOE group, Mary Ann Mieczkowski, also a member of GACEC, as well as another member of this DOE Group, Barb Mazza.

The presentation dealt with the indicators all states are judged on by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the US Department of Education.  There are 17 indicators, and this presentation showed how Delaware did for 16 of them for Fiscal Year 2013.  Last June, OSEP labeled Delaware as one of three states needing federal intervention for special education.

Did they improve for FY 2013?  Read the below file and judge for yourself.

Of the 19 special education complaints filed with the Delaware DOE, only 4 of them were given merit to continue.  That is only 21.05% of complaints moving forward.  The report does indicate complaints may have been withdrawn but does not specify between the two.  For mediations, 5 out of 8, or 62.5% resulted in a signed agreement between both parties.  For both of these indicators, targets were not set for the future because there would need to be 10 or more in each category.

Due to one student not being evaluated during the designated time period for determination evaluations, Delaware failed in this category as the target is 100% and is set for that for the next five years worth of evaluations.

A major failure for Delaware special education was not including post-secondary goals for students transitioning out of high school to either further college education or some type of job.  The goal was 100% but Delaware scored only 48.43%.  The goal for students with IEPs to move on to higher education after high school as set by the US DOE is 22%.  Delaware failed in this category as well, with 19.74%.  The target for all special education students to either move on to higher education or be in a post-secondary education or training program or to be “competitively employed” within one year of graduation was 100%.  Delaware scored 65.64%.

Two schools, one public school district school and one charter school, caused Delaware to fail in the category of “disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education that is the result from inappropriate identification”.  The goal is 0%, and Delaware had 4.65%.

Delaware did exceed the target for special education students receiving Social/Emotional skills with 86.14% of schools being in compliance with the target being 85%.  However, in the Acquisition/Use of Knowledge/Skills section of this indicator, Delaware failed by missing the target of 88% with a score of 86.63%.  For Least Restrictive Environment,  Delaware passed the two sections.  For students with goals on their IEPs of being in the regular classroom 80% or more of the day, the target was 67% and Delaware barely made the target at 67.2%.  In their defense, they did fail this category in 2012.  For students inside the regular classroom less than 40% the goal was 15.6% and Delaware had to be lower than that which they did at 15.54%.

For students with IEPs placed in the following categories: separate schools, residential facilities, or homebound/hospital placements, Delaware met this goal at 5.16%, just a few tenths less than the target of 5.2%.

For family involvement, which is defined as “percent of parents with a child receiving special education services who report that schools facilitate parent involvement as a means of improving services for children with disabilities”, Delaware did quite well with a score of 90.97%, beating the target of 87%.  However, the caveat to this is that only 10-14% of parents received this survey over the past three years through the DOE.  At the IEP Task Force, this matter was brought up to increase the survey pool through more collaboration with the Parent Information Center, the GACEC, and the Delaware PTA.  I think ALL parents should get this survey.  It’s too important and even if one child is not serviced properly in special education, that is one too many.

Delaware did very well in the category of special education populations meeting Annual Yearly Performance.  For local education agencies (LEA) in elementary school, 80% of them met their AYP, as opposed to the goal of 53%.  In FY12, the number was 80% as well…

For middle school, the number slid down to 59.38%, but still exceeded the goal of 53%.  What is very troubling though, is that for FY12, middle schoolers with special education were at 81.3%.  They fell 22% over a years time.  For 10th graders, Delaware LEAs were at 79.16% for FY13, beating the goal of 63%.

Delaware passed all the standardized testing participation rate goals of 95% with the sole exception of 10th graders with IEPs which was at 90.1%.  It will be very interesting in a couple years to see how Delaware did in this category with the parent opt out movement increasing based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment coming out.  The target will stay at 95% up through FY18.

Where this gets very confusing is under the proficiency rates for all special education students in each grade.  No grade in Delaware met the goal of 41.8% for both reading and math.  But 80% of schools in Delaware met their AYP for special education?  There is a very mixed message here.  In reading, the highest proficiency rates for students with IEPs was 5th grade at 38.91% and the lowest was 8th grade at 29.29%.  In Math, the highest grade was 4th at 37%, and the lowest was 6th at 23.21%.  I expect these numbers to drop drastically for the current fiscal year as Common Core is fully rolled out by all public schools in Delaware.  What is more concerning, is the targets will increase each year for students with disabilities, with an eventual target of 64.9% in reading and 65.1% in math by 2018.

Delaware did not meet the graduation rate of 63% for students with disabilities who have IEPs.  Only 59.83% of these students graduated in FY13.  Once again, this target will steadily rise until 81% of students in this population are expected to graduate by 2018.  On the flip-side, 5.12% of this population dropped out of school, causing Delaware to fail this category with it’s target of 5.1%.  By 2018, OSEP has the target at 3.6%.

The 1st state failed in the category of Suspension and Expulsion.  The target is 0%, meaning students with IEPs are not expected to be suspended or expelled at a higher rate than those without.  In Delaware, for FY13, students with IEPs were at 2.56% in this category.  This was a dramatic decrease from FY12 when the suspension/expulsion rate was at 10.26%.  However, for students with IEPs who are also in other racial or ethnic categories, this rate was at 12.82%, almost five times the regular rate.  No section is listed for students who fit in the low-income bracket for OSEP.

Delaware has a lot of work to do.  Of the 28 different categories Delaware was measured on, 2 were not even counted because they didn’t even meet the minimum number, and Delaware failed 14 out of the remaining 26, for a horrible percentage of 46.15%.  This is unacceptable.  And these numbers are only going to get worse in coming years.  We have far too many great teachers and resources and funding for this to even be a conversation in 2015.  The areas of greatest concern, in my opinion, are around standardized tests and suspension and expulsion rates for minority students with IEPs.  If Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has publicly stated he expects 70% of Delaware students will not be proficient the first year of Smarter Balanced, and the Director of Assessment at the DOE has publicly stated it will be a few years before over 40% of students are proficient, what does this mean for students with disabilities?  Because those projections have to a be a lot lower.  Is it then the ability of these students or the construct used to measure that ability?  My prediction is it will be proven to be the latter, but will it be too late for this generation of special education students by the time anyone realizes this with the authority and power to do something about it?  I’m talking to you Delaware General Assembly!




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