Governor’s Advisory Council For Exceptional Citizens January Minutes, DOE Report To GACEC

The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens hit the ball running in their first 2015 meeting.  I posted the Exceptional Children Resources Group’s presentation to the GACEC a couple weeks ago, which went over the State Performance Plan/Annual Report for special education compliance monitoring in Fiscal Year 2013.  But there was a lot of discussion at this meeting on items such as Senate Bill 229, the Elementary Secondary Education Act waivers, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Standards-Based IEPs (without even saying the words) and even the Alternate Route to Teacher Licensure and Certification Program.  Read the minutes and the DOE report to the GACEC below!

 

How Students in DE Did On DCAS-Alt 1 in 2014 & What To Expect This Year @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

For the most severely impaired students in Delaware, they are exempt from taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  But they will be expected to take the DCAS-Alt 1.  How did students do on this performance assessment during the 2013-2014 academic year?  And what should parents expect for this year coming from the signing of Senate Bill 229?  The answers are here.

 

Feds Turn Down NY’s Testing Accommodations for Students withDisabilities

Delaware just passed a similar law. Does that mean the Delaware law is shut down too? Senator Poore will be very angry if this is the case. As will several other parents. This is where it begins folks.

Diane Ravitch's blog

New York proposed to exempt up to 2% of students with severe disabilities from federally required state tests.

The U.S. Department of Education said no. Last year, 95% of students with disabilities failed the new Common Core tests in New York.

Leaders of national organizations supposedly representing students with disabilities hailed the DOE’s de is ion to hold these students to the same standards, which the overwhelming majority will fail.

Peter Goodman wrote about the Common Core exams:

“Parents and teachers across the state protested – the exams were poorly prepared, school staffs not trained and parents of SWD were especially critical – the tests were far beyond the cognitive ability of their children and were emotionally harmful. After months of discussions the state, in its application for an extension of the NCLB Flexibility Waiver asked for a change.

New York State had proposed allowing up to 2 percent…

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@GovernorMarkell just doesn’t get it. #SPECED

I couldn’t agree more. First they pass a bill to get the most severely impaired exempt from the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and now they are going to pressure more special ed students to not be exempt? Something is very wrong with this picture. Enough is enough.

Parent Opt-Out Legislation for Severely Cognitively Impaired Students Passed by Senate, House Bill 229**Updated** #netde #edude

See my notes further below, but there is more to this bill than meets the eye.

Exceptional Delaware

This bill would allow for students with either autism, multiple disabilities or a moderate or severe intellectual disability to potentially be opted out of state standardized assessments.  But the caveat here is only the parent can request it.  In lieu of the standardized test, a parent would request a “portfolio review” to show student progress.  No member of a school or IEP team can request this.  Another key part is the child must have an IQ of 50 or less.

Another important part attached to this bill deals with children with dyslexia or an inability to read by the age of 7.  The way it is worded is a little bit confusing.  It looks to me like if a child isn’t reading by age 7 they should have an IEP.  As well, it pretty much says those children would have automatic Extended School Year services in their IEP unless there…

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Parent Opt-Out Legislation for Severely Cognitively Impaired Students Passed by Senate, House Bill 229**Updated** #netde #edude

This bill would allow for students with either autism, multiple disabilities or a moderate or severe intellectual disability to potentially be opted out of state standardized assessments.  But the caveat here is only the parent can request it.  In lieu of the standardized test, a parent would request a “portfolio review” to show student progress.  No member of a school or IEP team can request this.  Another key part is the child must have an IQ of 50 or less.

Another important part attached to this bill deals with children with dyslexia or an inability to read by the age of 7.  The way it is worded is a little bit confusing.  It looks to me like if a child isn’t reading by age 7 they should have an IEP.  As well, it pretty much says those children would have automatic Extended School Year services in their IEP unless there is  a major reason for not having those services is written into the IEP.

This does not take away the emergency opt-out clause, for students who have a major, sudden illness right before the test.

I don’t think they wanted to pass this bill until HB 334, which allows for Smarter Balanced Assessments to take over DCAS, was passed.  This passed 20 minutes after HB 334 passed.  How children will do on the Smarter Balanced Assessments is very much up in the air.  Other students with disabilities may see something familiar in a year if they don’t do well on that test.

UPDATED, July 1st, 2014, 3:55pm

After careful review of this bill, does it really say what it is meant to say?  The key is in the amendments and the exact wording.  The parent can request the portfolio assessment, but it has to be agreed on by the IEP Team, the school superintendent OR charter school leader will make the decisions regarding the style of the portfolio.  And if a school requests too many? Then the DOE steps in who will already be deciding the nature of the portfolio assessments.  So what does this bill do for these students that they don’t already have?  It looks like they will be counted for the participation rate for schools whether they take this or the SBA.

SPONSOR: Sen. Poore & Sen. Hall-Long & Rep. Longhurst & Rep. Q. Johnson & Rep. Ramone & Rep. M. Smith
Sens. Blevins, Bonini, Bushweller, Ennis, Henry, Marshall, McBride, McDowell, Peterson, Pettyjohn, Sokola, Townsend, Venables; Reps. K. Williams, Jaques

DELAWARE STATE SENATE, 147th GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE BILL 229

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE EDUCATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

WHEREAS, under current Delaware law as interpreted by the Department of Education, all students are required to take a standardized assessment at regular intervals regardless of the nature of their cognitive disability, unless the student is suffering from extreme illness or injuries or has recently experienced severe trauma; and

WHEREAS, this requirement of state law often compels students who in the opinion of medical experts are literally unable to produce valid results on these tests to nevertheless sit for the tests; and

WHEREAS, some Delaware students with severe cognitive disabilities are currently required to take statewide standardized assessments over the objections of their own parents and teachers; and

WHEREAS, mandating that students with severe cognitive disabilities who are clinically incapable of producing valid results on standardized assessments can be harmful to those students; and

WHEREAS, teachers who now attempt to prepare such students for standardized assessments would prefer to use their classroom time to convey skills or information that their students could put to use in a vocational setting; and

WHEREAS, a limited number of young students in Delaware have dyslexia and other disabilities that severely limit or prevent them from decoding text; and

WHEREAS, the state should ensure that school districts and charter schools are being appropriately diligent about providing early, evidence-based interventions to these students so that they can learn to read;

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1.  Amend Chapter 1, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows and by redesignating accordingly:

§ 151 State assessment system; rules and regulations.

(j) Notwithstanding any other language in this Title, a student who has a measured intelligence quotient of 50 or less, has been formally classified as having one of the three following conditions, and whose parents or guardians, and IEP team, and school district superintendent or charter school leader believe will not produce valid results on either the standard or alternate assessment, shall be granted a special exemption from taking either assessment. The definition of each of the following three conditions shall be the same that is in effect on the date of passage of this Act in Title 14, Section 922 of the Delaware Administrative Code.

(i) Autism;

(ii) Multiple disabilities;

(iii) An intellectual disability.

The Department of Education shall promulgate regulations establishing a procedure for the review and approval of special exemptions requested under this subsection (including acceptable means of measuring intelligence quotient) and for further reviews of individual schools and/or school districts that request an unusual number of special exemptions.   The Department of Education shall also promulgate regulations providing for a method of measuring academic progress by students receiving a special exemption from the state’s assessment, which shall provide objective criteria by which student progress can be planned and measured and shall be developed in consultation with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens. Students who are granted a special exemption under this subsection shall not be included in the participation rate calculation for schools and school districts.

Section 2.Amend Section Chapter 31, Title 14 by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows:

§ 3110 Rules and regulations.

(e) With respect to any child with a disability who is not beginning to read by age seven, each IEP prepared for such student until that student is beginning to read shall (a) enumerate the specific, evidence-based interventions that are being provided to that student to address the student’s inability to read, and (b) provide for evidence-based interventions through extended year services during the summer absent a specific explanation in the IEP as to why such services are inappropriate.

Section 3.It is the intention of the General Assembly that $500,000 of the funds appropriated by Section 189 of House Bill 200 of this General Assembly shall, if such funds are reappropriated by a subsequent General Assembly, be specifically designated beginning July 1, 2015 for the annual provision of regional evidence-based summer reading instruction for students who are not beginning to read by age seven.

Section 4.The provisions of this Act are severable, and a finding that any individual provisions or sections are unenforceable shall not prevent enforcement of all other provisions.

SYNOPSIS

Section 1 of the Act would permit the state’s students with severe cognitive disabilities, with the consent of their parents, IEP teams, and school districts, to receive special exemptions from taking either of the state’s standardized assessments. The academic progress of those students would still be measured in order to ensure that they are being challenged and provided meaningful instruction.   Sections 2 and 3 of the Act attempt to ensure that evidence-based interventions are provided for young students who have dyslexia and related disabilities, to ensure that they are receiving necessary assistance in learning to read.

Author: Senator Poore

With Senate Amendment #2

AMEND Senate Bill No. 229 by deleting lines 20 through 36 in their entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

“(j) Notwithstanding any other language in this Title, a student who has been formally classified as having one of the following four conditions, and whose parent, IEP team, and school district superintendent or charter school leader believe will not produce valid results on either the standard or alternate assessment despite accommodations and adjustments, shall receive his or her alternate assessment through consideration of work samples, projects and portfolios, which facilitate authentic and direct gauges of student performance with respect to both relevant state standards and the student’s IEP (a “portfolio assessment”). The definition of each of the following four conditions shall be the same that in effect on the date of passage of this Act in Title 14, Sections 922 and 925 of the Delaware Administrative Code:

(i) Moderate Intellectual Disability

(ii) Severe Intellectual Disability

(iii) Autism, accompanied by intellectual functioning equivalent to Moderate or Severe Intellectual Disability

(iv) Multiple Disabilities, accompanied by intellectual functioning equivalent to Moderate or Severe Intellectual Disability.

The parents of a student classified as having one of these four conditions shall be informed of their child’s rights under this section, but no IEP team, school or school district shall advocate that parents exercise those rights. Only a student’s parents may initiate a portfolio assessment request under this Section, and when such a request is made, the student’s IEP team and school district superintendent or charter school leader shall make their determinations regarding the portfolio assessment within 60 days of said request. The Department of Education shall promulgate regulations establishing a procedure for the design and evaluation of portfolio assessments requested under this subsection and for further reviews of individual schools and/or school districts that request an unusual number of portfolio assessments. The Department of Education shall also promulgate regulations providing for a method of measuring academic progress by students receiving a portfolio assessment under this section, which (i) shall provide objective criteria by which student progress can be planned and measured, (ii) shall be developed in consultation with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens, and (iii) shall satisfy the requirements of 20 U.S.C. § 1412, 20 U.S.C. § 6311, and any other applicable federal laws or regulations. Students who are granted a portfolio assessment under this subsection shall not be included in the participation rate calculation for schools and school districts.”

FURTHER AMEND Senate Bill No. 229 by adding the following to end of line 36: “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the Department to approve exemptions from assessments for students not covered by this subsection.”

FURTHER AMEND Senate Bill 229 by adding a new Section 5, to read as follows:

“Section 5. All regulations required by this Act shall be promulgated by the Department of Education within 90 days of enactment into law, and shall be subject to the approval of the State Board of Education and any entities required by federal law.   The process authorized by Section 1 of this Section shall not begin until it is approved pursuant to this Section, and the Secretary of Education shall report to the General Assembly every 90 days beginning 90 days after enactment of this Act into law with respect to the Department’s progress in fulfilling its obligations under this Act.”

SYNOPSIS

This amendment makes six changes to Senate Bill 229.   First, it amends the terminology in Section 1 of the bill to adopt existing definitions and standards from existing Department of Education regulations rather than creating new definitions and standards. Second, it clarifies that students covered by this Act will still have their academic progress assessed, but by a means other than the existing DCAS alternate assessment.   Third, it limits to parents the right to initiate requests under this section, and establishes deadlines for schools and school districts to respond to such requests. Fourth, it clarifies that any regulations promulgated by the Department of Education must be consistent with existing federal law governing assessments. Fifth, it establishes deadlines for the Department of Education to promulgate regulations relating to this Act and clarifies that those regulations are subject to approval by the State Board of Education and federal agencies. Finally, it clarifies that the Department of Education’s existing authority to grant special exemptions for circumstances such as sudden, severe illness are not impacted by this legislation.

Important Legislation In Delaware Will Affect Exceptional Children

The following bills are being looked at by the House of Representatives and the Senate for the state of Delaware.  Their fiscal year ends on June 30th, so any bills that aren’t voted on will die or be reintroduced in the next fiscal year.

House Bill 23: All school boards must record!  This bill would mandate all public school boards (public, charter, vocational, and alternate schools) to digitally record their school board meetings and make them available to the general public within seven business days.  Many school boards already do this on a voluntary basis, like Red Clay Consolidated, Capital, Christina, Delmar, Brandywine and Colonial.  No charter or vocational schools currently do this.  I am definitely in favor of this bill.  In fact, I spoke to the sponsor of the bill, Deborah Hudson, last Thursday.  She said this bill was created because this is something parents want.  I asked why it has been sitting and collecting dust for so long, and she said it is not a priority.  But she did say she was going to speak about it officially during a House of Representatives legislative session.  It is still on the Ready List, so I hope it is discussed today.  The Speaker of the House, Peter Schwartzkopf, needs to get this on the Agenda ASAP!  I believe ALL parents should know what is being said during board meetings, and not just in public minutes cause they can’t possibly cover everything.

House Bill 337: This bill would allow a local school district to decide on applications to other schools in the district.  For example, in Kent County, if an application for a new charter school was submitted, Capital School District would have the ability to decide on the application based on capacity, economic impact and other factors.  This could have huge implications in Newcastle County because a part of the bill would allow for the local school district to decide based on desegregation plans that are court ordered. If an application was declined by a local school district, it would then go the Department of Education for further consideration.  This bill came about because of many allegations in Newcastle County that the charter schools are getting too much funding diverted from the public schools due to the rapid increase of charter schools in that area, as well as accusations that charter schools are not accepting African-Americans.

Senate Bill 229: This bill would allow for the most “severely cognitively disabled students” to be exempt from state mandated standardized testing.  If the Smarter Balanced Assessment is passed, this would allow these students to skip the test with no ramifications.  The House Education Committee will be meeting on this bill today at 12 noon as it has already passed the Senate.  This bill would exempt students with an IQ of 50 or less, and they must be autistic, have multiple disabilities, or have a specific learning disability.  These students would be required to take the Alternate DCAS 1, which they currently take.  If this goes through the education committee today, it could come up for a vote this week.

House Bill 334: This bill would pave the way for the Smarter Balanced Assessment to take over from DCAS.  It would also allow for a once a year assessment instead of two prep tests and the final one in the Spring as students have done for several years with DCAS.  Opponents of the bill (of which there are many) state the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a joke, and even adults can’t answer the questions as they are very confusing.  This is a very important bill, and as you can see based on my comment on this post from Kilroy’s, I strongly oppose it: http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/h-b-334-vote-will-be-defining-moment-if-delaware-public-education/

House Bill 340: This would require all schools to be compliant with the Omnibus School Safety Act by September 2014 instead of September 2017.  All schools would have to have two lockdown/intruder drills a year and two lessons a year on what to do in the event of a dangerous situation at a school.  This bill has been out of committee since 6/4/14.

Senate Bill 247: This bill just passed the Senate on 6/12/14 and it would require all schools to have a qualified school nurse within one fiscal year of hiring.  I would hope ALL school nurses would be highly qualified before they even apply to a school.  I would also hope all schools already had a highly qualified school nurse.  I believe all school and psychologists should be licensed with the Department of Education and the Professional License Board.

I agree with Kilroy that many of these bills could severely impact many elections coming up in November of this year.  I know I will be watching every single action or vote on these bills!  The Education Committee for the House will have many changes next year, and some of those could be based on what certain folks do in the next couple weeks.