Delaware DOE Reveals The Common Core Loving Truth Of Standards Based IEPs

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In education tradition, the term “Standards-Based IEPs” meant something very different from the current bastardization of the words.  Nowadays, it means Common Core.  As in aligning a student with disabilities IEP to the Common Core State Standards.  I challenged the DOE on this a year and a half ago.  Their response: that it was a myth.  That this had more to do with the IEP than Common Core.  They lied.  They lied to me, and they lied to the IEP Task Force.  It is all about the Common Core.  This isn’t my first rodeo in writing about standards based IEPs.  Cause I was really ticked off here, even more than when I first figured out what they were.  I know this because the DOE put it on their own website, as seen on the last paragraph of this picture:

DOE StandardsBasedIEPs

 

So what is this WRITES initiative the DOE speaks of?  It is the “ACCESS Project”, and it comes from the University of Delaware’s Center for Disability Studies.  Yet another program where the DOE is spending tons of money to “fix” our education with their top vendor: University of Delaware.  The University explains what this project is here.  The key words from the DOE website are “aligning student IEP goals and assessments to the Common Core State Standards.”  When did special education ever become about the curriculum and standards and not the individual student?  They will try to make parents of these children think it is all about the individual, but this is the biggest lie.  Because Markell and the DOE want these students to fail…

What really ticks me off with special education in Delaware is the fact that students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd grad who qualify for basic special education services based on their IEP receive no extra funding. Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams took aim at this inequity last winter with House Bill 30, and has now been tied in with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission. I think it was one of the most important education bills in Delaware right now. But why did we even get to this place to begin with?

To find the answer to this, we have to go back almost five years ago to January 6th, 2011.  This is the day House Bill #1 was introduced to the Delaware General Assembly.  The bill made into law the needs-based funding formula that is our current method of funding schools based on units and special education.  This legislation was rushed through the House and Senate in 20 days and passed both by 1/26/11.  Governor Markell signed the legislation on 2/17/11.  The bill was more a technicality than actual groundbreaking legislation.  The needs-based funding formula pilot actually started out in Brandywine and Seaford back in 2003.  12 more districts were added in 2004, and then all districts and charters were included in 2009.  This was accomplished by use of epilogue language in the budget bill.  House Bill #1 solidified this by making it part of Title 14, the section that covers education in Delaware code.

Since 2009, all public school students in Delaware have been a part of the needs-based funding formula, but basic special education students in K-3 received no extra funding.  I have to wonder why.  Look at these students now.  Children who were in Kindergarten when Governor Markell signed this bill in February 2011 would now be in 5th grade.  If they were in 3rd grade then, they would now be in 8th.  What assessment do students take from 3rd to 8th grade?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While this bill was rushed through the General Assembly, no one could have predicted the monstrosity that is the Smarter Balanced Assessment four years later.  But Governor Markell was well aware of this.

Almost a year before this, Delaware was one of two states to win the first round of Race To The Top.  As part of the funding received from RTTT, states were required to create state assessments aligned with Common Core.  Markell knew this, the DOE knew this, and the General Assembly knew this.  The students who were denied special education funding through House Bill #1 eventually became the students with disabilities guinea pigs on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We all know how they did on this test statewide.  19% proficiency.  They were destined to fail.  I believe Markell wanted this.  After all, to justify more contracts and companies coming into Delaware to fix our education, doesn’t there have to be a problem?

We are now seeing this with the contract the DOE is currently picking a vendor for.  According to the DOE and Markell, we have a literacy problem that needs to be fixed, but there is so much more wrapped into that contract proposal.  It is all tied into US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his bon voyage gift as he leaves his position.  Which brings us back to standards-based IEPs.  How many contracts and vendors will it take to get Delaware students with disabilities from 19% to 59% proficiency in six years?  Quite a few I imagine!  It is and always has been about the money.  But as always, it is the students who pay the price.  As well, I have no doubt House Bill 30 will become law, whether WEIC passes or not.  Because the extra money and funding that these students should have never been denied, will help to get that proficiency rate up!  But for the students with disabilities from 2009-2016 who went through Kindergarten to 3rd grade in Delaware without this essential funding, what happens with them?  Their very foundation in education stolen from them because of a jacked up funding formula designed to make them look bad.

This issue is at the heart of this blog.  Because my son was one of those students.  Because the funding isn’t there for those students, getting an IEP for them can be very difficult at some schools.  Why would a school implement an IEP and provide services for these students if they aren’t getting any extra funding for them?  And these children have suffered immensely for Jack Markell’s hubris.

Arne Duncan Leaves Nuclear Bomb Parting Gift For Students With Disabilities

One year ago tomorrow, I wrote my biggest article ever.  Entitled US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States’ Special Education Rights, it generated numerous hits from across the country.  I imagine just about every engaged parents of children with disabilities read that article.  It was a warning shot.  It impeded on the ability of IEP teams to accurately and correctly formulate an IEP.   The latest “Dear Colleague” letter from the United States Department of Education is actually striking the hammer into the coffin of IDEA.  The letter, written by Melody Musgrove, the Direct of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), demands all IEPs be written with the state standards as part of the goals for an IEP.  I find this to be incredibly offense and this spits on the whole concept of IDEA.

In Delaware, where I live, our Department of Education released their Annual Measurable Objectives last week based on growth and proficiency of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While overall they want the proficiency rate to go from 50% to 75% in six years, for the sub-group of students with disabilities, they want them to go from 19% to 59% in six years.  So students with disabilities will have to work harder than every single one of their peers.

The combination of these two announcements shows that those in power in education truly don’t understand neurobiological disorders and disabilities.  It almost seems as if they want to get rid of the whole concept of special education in favor of personalized learning.  As well, it appears they want parents to pull their kids out of public education.  Is this some twisted voucher program that no one has told us about, or do they just not care about the well-being of these students?  I’m all for progress and improvement, but there comes a point in time where every long-distance runner hits a wall.  When they hit that, their body literally breaks down.  Students with disabilities are going to hit that wall and it won’t be pretty.

Vision Coalition & Student Success 2025 Is A Joke, All The Kiss-Asses Need To Stop The Charade #vcconf15

I’ve been following the live tweets from the Vision Coalition and their idiotic Student Success 2025 most of the morning.  I see lots of district admins, Delaware PTA reps, teachers and legislators buying into this absolute nonsense.  All you are doing is lining up the pockets of Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman and his corporate education reform buddies.  Enough.  You attend this event expecting some kind of miracle every year, and it is more of the same.  Endless talk with no true progress.  The NAEP scores came out today, and students did worse.  Smarter Balanced is a complete failure.  You talk and talk and do nothing about the true problems: crap like this making its way into the classroom.  All this talk about personalized learning…you have no idea what you are turning children into.  Drones for the millionaires and hedge fund managers.  And who is going to pay for all this?  Our state is facing a probable $200 million dollar deficit in the coming months, and you want to spend more money.  While funds are siphoned out of the classroom for these events?  Come on people, wake up!

If you want to do something meaningful for Delaware students, stop attending events like this.  Get in the classrooms, see what teachers really need.  See what students need.  Personalized learning is not it.  Standards-Based IEPs are not it.  You can talk about community and parent engagement all you want, but I guarantee you the bulk of the parents in this state could not give a rat’s ass about this kind of thing.  Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.  All you are doing is making clowns like Paul Herdman rich.  And trust me, he is laughing all the way to the bank.  He likes to talk about unintended consequences a lot.  You have no idea what just attending an event does to the students you like to think you represent.  If you are there for the awesome eclairs, I get it.  But if you are there to go back to your district, school, or association and fill heads up with all these great ideas, you are barking up the wrong tree.

I’m sure Jack Markell will give some rousing speech to go along with all the other bs you heard today.  Don’t forget about the students and stop going to these “all-star country club” events.  You are all culprits in the traps being set for students and teachers by merely attending.  You should be supporting a nationwide push to get outside companies the hell out of education.  You should be digging your heels in against standardized testing and all it’s punishment tactics.  Support opt-out.  Support special education.  Stop bullying.  Turn the discussion on how we can lift children out of poverty and reduce crime.  Stop with the apparent racism that exists in our state.  Stop the segregation and the tactics used to make it continue.  This isn’t education, it is a corporation.

Delaware’s Fatal Special Education Flaw: Using Response To Intervention

Delaware is considered to be horrible for special education by many around the country.  The reason for this could be due to Response To Intervention.

Under federal law, Child Find is an obligation for all public schools in the United States of America.  Wrightslaw describes Child Find as the following:

Child Find requires all school districts to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. This obligation to identify all children who may need special education services exists even if the school is not providing special education services to the child.

The US Department of Education came up with something called Response To Intervention (RTI).  This process does not work effectively at all for potential students with disabilities.  In Delaware, the whole RTI process takes 24 weeks until a suggestion is made, if needed, for an evaluation for special education services.  That is over six months because it is 24 weeks of school time.  While that may not seem like a long time for some, for the student with disabilities it can be a lifetime.  The large problem with RTI is many schools use it based on how a student is doing academically.  Some children with disabilities are very smart but the neurological wiring may not allow them to focus or have motivation to do well in school.  If the classroom is out of control, this magnifies for the student with disabilities.  Many of these students are perceived as “behavior problems” but if they do well academically, it is difficult for them to get an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Add in other factors, such as low-income or poverty status, bullying, and violence in their environment, and this is a cauldron of problems boiling over.

Title 14 in Delaware is very specific about what Response to Intervention is:

Under federal law, Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)  is mandatory for students with an IEP.  Using the Wrightslaw definition:

In a nutshell, FAPE is an individualized educational program that is designed to meet the child’s unique needs and from which the child receives educational benefit, and prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living.

The problem is getting students to this point.  At the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee meeting today, two charters brought up the RTI process in how they identify potential special education students.  But the problems mount because of the time process.  If schools are using RTI to  identify students for special education, it is a minimum of six months before the RTI system reaches the point where special education evaluation can happen in Delaware.  Schools should be looking at other factors.  I’m not saying RTI is bad.  It can be very helpful for instruction.  But using this as a determining factor for special education services can cause a student to lose a whole year.  Then add the timeframes for the evaluation, getting parent permission, convening an initial IEP meeting, and then getting to the point of actually drafting the IEP, it could very well be a whole school year.

While I don’t think any school should be over evaluating students for IEPs for additional funding, the far greater danger is in under evaluating.  If the RTI process works for academic support, but the child does not have FAPE, it is not addressing the true needs of the student.  A student with disabilities can be brilliant, but if their neurological disability gets in the way of that, it impacts their education.  This is why I oppose many of the tests schools use to determine eligibility for special education.  A simple IQ test is not going to give you answers.  Many students with disabilities suffer from large classroom sizes without enough support.  For a sensory mind, this is like a torture chamber for these children.  But get them in a small group with RTI, where the focus is more centralized to their needs, and we have a much different story.  But RTI is not an all-day event.  So when the student is back in the general curriculum environment, that’s when teachers see the true natures of disabilities manifest themselves.  If a student appears to be smart, but doesn’t seem to be in control of their actions, this is the time to get an evaluation.  Yes, they are expensive for schools.  But how much time is spent on the RTI process that may or may not get this student results until another school year in most cases?  RTI as a system costs schools tons of money, time, staffing and resources.

Until Delaware schools truly get this, both charter and district alike, we will continue to bang our heads against the wall and say “We don’t know how to fix this.”  Add to this the even more burdensome “standards-based” IEPs which are rolling out this year, and we have a special education nightmare on our hands.  I’ve said this a million times: intelligence is not the sole factor for special education.  It could be as simple as a student having sensory toys, or additional transition time, or even training for staff at a more in-depth level.  There are so many things that can be done with special education that are not financially problematic, but common sense.  But expecting a special needs child to perform at the same levels as their peers when the DOE and schools have not done their essential legwork in truly identifying these students is a lesson in futility.  They may never perform at that level, but until schools do the right thing with special education and stop doing all this time-wasting nonsense, we will never know.  And let me reiterate: when I say performing at the same level as their peers, I do NOT mean standardized testing.  All the standardized tests actually take away from the uniqueness of the individual child and says “We want all of you to be the same.”  It is a demeaning and humiliating experience for all involved when we use a test to measure success.

Delaware Parent Information Center Gets The Shaft From The US DOE

Yesterday, the United States Department of Education unveiled a $14 million dollar grant to Special Education Parent Training and Information Centers to 28 states and two U.S. territories.  But Delaware, with all the sucking up Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE due to Arne Duncan, did not get one single penny from this grant.

I don’t feel too bad though, because the last event the Parent Information Center of Delaware had was on “standards-based” IEPs.  You know, Common Core IEPs.  Of course the DOE will say that’s not what it’s about, but they also say high-stakes testing is good for kids, so there’s that!

I’m sure I’ll get a response consisting of “But we are already funded by the US DOE.”  I’m sure you are, but guess what, so are all those other states.  And you didn’t get a slice of the $14 million pie!  What does that say about Delaware special education when the Virgin Islands got over $100,000 and we didn’t get jack? (cause we have our own special kind of jack)

Delaware DOE Pats Itself On The Back For Special Education Improvements…Slow Your Roll!

Apparently the US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has come out with their official state ratings and Delaware has elevated to “needs assistance” after two years of “needs intervention”. This is based on data from two years ago, from fiscal year 2013. The DOE announced all of this today in a press announcement, which is rather long.  I love how the DOE calls it “the second highest rating” when there are only four, and they were at the “second to last” rating the past two years.  I will have MUCH more on this later.  I’m still too tired from the General Assembly’s all-night session to be objective…

Delaware continues to make special education improvements

The Delaware Department of Education is working closely with school districts and charter schools to ensure students with disabilities have opportunities to learn the same content as their peers, receive support they need to prepare for success after high school, and have their social, emotional and behavioral needs addressed.

Those were three areas about which the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) expressed concerns when, in 2014, the department changed the ways in which states were evaluated for the services provided to students with disabilities. That evaluation, based on performance data from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, gave Delaware a rating of “needs intervention,” the second-lowest of four possible ratings. This year, the state improved to the second-highest rating, “needs assistance,” in its 2015 evaluation, which used data from the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 schools years. The state expects the efforts undertaken statewide over the last 12 months will yield even greater progress.

“Over the past year we have partnered with our districts and charter schools to examine data, provide additional educator training, begin new programs and clarify expectations for students with disabilities,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “We know we have more work to do, and we are committed to continue to make improvements until all Delaware students have the best chance to make the most of their abilities.”

Results driven accountability

OSEP’s 2014 report used a new approach to its evaluation called results driven accountability (RDA); in prior years, OSEP had based its ratings only on whether states had complied with the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). RDA incorporates measures such as the percentage of students with disabilities who are taking state assessments as well as the National Assessment of Educational Progress; how students with disabilities performed in reading and mathematics on NAEP; and proficiency gaps between students with disabilities and other students. This year’s report from OSEP also includes the graduation and drop-out rates of students with disabilities.

In keeping with OSEP’s new evaluation method, the Delaware Department of Education now is using RDA in assessing the performance of the state’s school districts and charter schools. District and charter school reports for 2015 are available on the Exceptional Children section of DDOE’s website.

“Delaware is committed to closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities,” Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson said. “In the past several years, the state has moved away from solely focusing on compliance and procedural requirements. While important, we also need to focus on results for students, such as graduation rates, transitions to college or career and proficiency gaps when compared to their peers. We applaud the U.S. Department of Education for increasing the focus on these issues in Delaware and across the country, and we believe that we have a special opportunity now to address these issues.”

Over the past year the state has:

· Provided professional development for special education teachers on standards-based Individual Education Plans (IEPs), positive behavior supports and accessing the general curriculum.

· Included special education teachers in all Common Core State Standards trainings.

· Assisted districts and charters schools in developing transition plans for students with disabilities who are 14 years old or entering the eighth grade to help them succeed in jobs or further education. The state is collecting data to ensure those plans are being prepared and carried out.

· Clarified for districts and charters the policies requiring students with disabilities to take NAEP and state assessments to ensure the state has full information on the progress of these students.

· Provided districts and charter with comprehensive data on their performance to help local leaders better understand how well they are complying with state and federal law and how their students with disabilities are performing academically.

· Provided targeted state technical assistance to those districts and charter schools found to be in need of assistance and intervention.

In addition, the DDOE, in collaboration with various stakeholder groups, is developing a five-year, K-3 Literacy Initiative to ensure that specialized instruction and support is provided to the state’s youngest readers with and without disabilities. This plan will identify major areas of need and will develop, implement and evaluate specific interventions for students in these grades.

Feedback on progress in Delaware schools

The state’s commitment to improvement is one shared by district and charter school leaders.

“The mission of a public school system is to ensure the success of every student, regardless of his or her disability or socioeconomic status,” Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “The State of Delaware and the Indian River School District have made tremendous strides toward this goal since the initial OSEP evaluation in 2014. The professional development provided to teachers has been integral to the process of giving students the individual tools they need to overcome their personal challenges and be successful in the classroom. We believe future OSEP ratings both locally and statewide will show vast improvement and reflect the hard work invested by educators across Delaware.”

Parents said they are seeing positive changes as well as areas in which the state and districts/charters can continue to improve. In her role as a board member of the Parent Information Center, Appoquinimink parent Verna Hensley hears from parents with varying experiences depending on their location.

“I still see challenges – the uneven implementation of policies that are already in place but may or may not have filtered down to every district and in the district filtered down to the school or classroom,” she said. “I’m optimistic. I see progress, but it has to flow all the way down to the parent and the child’s experience in the classroom.”

Ellen Coulston, a parent in the Brandywine School District, also cited communication as a remaining challenge.

“There is a problem with the communication between the state and the districts,” she said. “There are good things happening. There are good ideas but they are (not all reaching the local level).”

Delaware receiving a poor rating last year was a good thing, she said.

“It raises awareness to all stakeholders and causes people to honestly step back and re-examine how we are impacting students,” Coulston said, noting the greatest need she sees is for better training in teacher pre-service programs including transition planning so all educators in the classroom can lead and better support students toward better outcomes.

“It’s part of Common Core. It’s part of your college and career readiness,” she said.

Brandywine Superintendent Mark Holodick said he’s pleased with the improvements since the report first was issued.

“Response to Intervention, done well, as well as increased efforts around communication can help us continue to see growth in a positive direction,” he said. “Many districts, including Brandywine, have made great strides in strengthening communication, as evidenced by the work done by many district and school administrators, teachers, and educational diagnosticians over the past two years. The communication between district office, schools and families has been a priority for us in Brandywine, and we have made significant progress in meeting the needs of all students. In the past, districts and schools have been very compliance-driven and more focused on meeting requirements. Now, instead of being driven by requirements and regulations, we are ensuring that we meet each student’s individual needs through individualized plans, special services, collaboration with parents and programs that promote inclusion.

“I am very optimistic about this progress and the potential for even greater achievement and success for all students,” he said.

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4000

Where Are The Special Education Ratings For Each State? US DOE & OSEP Dropping The Ball!

Nothing has been released for the 2015 Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) annual report for how the states are doing with special education.  Why is this?  Last year, this information was released on June 23rd.  They did switch how they do things, so this could play a factor.  It used to be a Results Driven Accountability rating, and now it is called the State Systemic Improvement Plan.  So perhaps they are extending the timeline for this.

Last year, California, Texas, Delaware, and Washington D.C. were rated as needs intervention in special education.  For Delaware, this was their 2nd year in a row, and if they hit this mark for a third year, it could have serious consequences for the First State.  From what I could see from Delaware’s submission to OSEP, things aren’t looking much better for special education in Delaware.  With the rise of Smarter Balanced Assessment and Standards-Based IEPs, I can’t see a lot of room for improvement.  As usual, the students suffer…

Meanwhile, the US DOE and OSEP shouldn’t wait too much longer.  States need to plan for school starting in a couple months, and if they don’t know how they might need to improve, it’s like cutting them off at the knees.  Or perhaps the Feds want that.  It’s no wonder so many parents of students with disabilities are saying enough is enough and opting their kids out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the PARCC…

The Lying & Deceitful DOE & Their Manipulative Agendas To Screw Over Students With Disabilities

The Delaware DOE is filled with liars with the sole purpose of misleading the public.  When things like “standards-based IEPs” are introduced, they misinform the public by saying things like “they aren’t about the Common Core” when in reality they are.  I received an email today which was very troubling and confirms my suspicions about Delaware’s standards-based IEPs.  This is what was contained in the email:

Where is this “required”?  My child has an IEP.  How come I received no notice from PIC on this meeting?  The email was originally sent to parents with autistic children.  Where is the state-wide collaboration?  Does it even exist?  If you didn’t know, PIC is a requirement of Federal IDEA law that each state has a parent group.  And guess who gives them their funding? The Delaware DOE!

When I first heard about Standards-Based IEPs, many folks told me I was overreacting and that they were not based on the Common Core and the state assessment.  Some said it was a good thing.  The Exceptional Children Resources Group, led by Maryann Mieczkowski, said they are not solely based on the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I actually wrote about this conversation in an article on the November 20th IEP Task Force meeting.

Celestin said DOE is offering training and coaching.  Denn asked if this is required for districts to implement.  She said standards-based IEPs are not required but it is about standards not standardized.  She said parents and IEP teams have struggles with implementing these kinds of IEPs because they need to help students close achievement gaps.  She said teachers are struggling with this and stressed it is not required.  (as Steve Newton mentioned in an article on these IEPs, the measurement for it is the “fidelity” component of the grant in getting schools trained on it).  She did say through compliance monitoring in the future they will look at things that are part of standards-based IEPs in terms of students needs so they will hold IEPs to a higher standard and best practices.  Matt Denn said this isn’t a subject for the IEP Task Force report, but he is hesitant to make recommendations for  something that isn’t required.

I raised my hand to speak again, and Matt Denn jokingly said something about “or if anyone wants to give second public comment”.  I went up and responded to Sarah’s comment.  I advised I went over the DOE presentation to the GACEC (Gov. Adv. Council For Except. Children), and it absolutely is tying IEPs into standards based on “curriculum” which is code word for those who may not know what Common Core is.  I advised the word “rigor” is used in the document which is used by Common Core proponents all the time.  I said rigor is not a word parents like, especially special needs parents, because the way it is used would indicate students with disabilities need to try harder to get to a regular students level, which completely invalidates the spirit of IDEA.

My commentary on tonight’s meeting: Interesting stuff with these transition services coming in.  All of them said “we need more funding”.  In regards to comments made by DOE employees, I know these folks work very hard at their jobs, and for that, they have my respect.  But if Delaware holds such a higher standard for IEPs, why did you need Federal intervention in Special Education?  Why would you hold a higher standard for something that isn’t even legally required?  Cause you like what you have created?  If they look at best practice, why the hell won’t they look at IEP denials?  Who are they trying to protect? (I already know the answer to that, and they know I know but they don’t care) Sorry Sarah, you can say whatever you want, but any presentation that has the word “rigor” in it, which is one of those words that make opponents of common core flip out, is not going to work for me and many other special needs parents.

I went to go back and listen to the audio recording of this meeting, but the audio recording was cut short and is not able to be downloaded.  Many of the audios from this task force were shortened or aren’t downloadable.  But I did recall the Exceptional Children Resources Group giving a presentation on standards-based IEPs to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.  There was a whole section on this presentation on “de-bunking the myths about standards-based IEPs”.  The main thrust of this section was “The CCSS (Common Core State Standards) are not a menu for special educators to pick and write from,” and “standards-based IEPs focus on the prioritized skills needed for students with disabilities to have ACCESS to the same standards as non-disabled peers.”

They already have access to the state standards.  It’s called going to public school in Delaware.  I have to admit, with all the attention I’ve given to the parent opt-out movement in Delaware, I let this one slip by.

Here’s the facts: Standards-based IEPs are not written in IDEA regulation nor are they written anywhere in Delaware state code.  Matt Denn, the Chair of the IEP Task Force didn’t even want to include standards-based IEPs in the Final Report for this very reason.  There is absolutely nothing written into Senate Bill 33, the legislation coming out of the IEP Task Force about them either.

The standards-based IEP in Delaware is turning into something every parent of a child on an IEP needs to be very afraid of.  It is all designed to address the Smarter Balanced Assessment when all the catchy phrases and jargon come out of the wash.  Last Summer, U.S. Senators blasted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over Federal intrusion with IDEA and special education but nothing came out of it.

Delaware DOE Wants Special Education & Smarter Balanced Results To Have An Unholy Marriage

The Delaware Department of Education presented their State Systemic Improvement Plan for special education to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens on Tuesday evening.  As will all news coming out of the DOE these days, it’s all about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Indicator 17, one of the compliance measures states need to adhere to based on the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), is based on Standards-Based IEPs.  The DOE and the US DOE actually think they can come close to eliminating the proficiency gap between students with disabilities and their regular peers.

This is a foolhardy measure at best, and I have spoken at great length about this in the past.  Fixing special education in Delaware is going to take a lot more than this ridiculous compliance indicator!  I’m all for students with disabilities reading earlier and becoming more fluent in reading, but basing the goal based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is insane.  If the DOE has already said 70% of students won’t reach proficiency for a few years on Smarter Balanced, how the hell do they expect to lower this gap to 49% in three years?  The Delaware DOE needs to be shut down and built up again with actual logic and common sense.

 

 

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!

 

IEP Task Force Meeting #6, Live From Dover, DE **UPDATED**

A week and a day after the last meeting, here we are again.  Back in the conference room we should have been in last week when the DOE hijacked the room from the task force for their town hall meeting.

Matt Denn asked for approval of minutes rom last meeting.  Everyone agreed. He said there are two meetings left before the report is due to Governor Markell on January 1st, 2015.  Denn will recommend to the legislature to continue the task force after that date to go over further issues that have come up.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) representative speaking about significant changes coming to transition through legislation. They serve many adults as well as students. No new funding with these new measures. Every high school in DE has a VR rep in high schools to deal with students in the year prior to their exit year. They have MOUs with every high school in the state. They help students get jobs after secondary schooling. Work with hospitals, such as Bayhealth. Also have program called Early Start to Employment. They have received a lot of good data on that program, including a 95% success rate. However, they had 60 students choose not to participate in the program so they want to get the word out since it is so successful. They are working with DOE on program for students w/learning disabilities and behavioral problems. These are students with a high risk of dropping out and not going to college. They need to get the buy-in from the education system to start this process early.  PETS services helps transition students who may not be a transition youth (need to do some research on this).  Many states don’t have partnerships with their state DOEs so Delaware is ahead of the game with this.  They think with upcoming IDEA reauthorization it will provide more useful language in the law for these kinds of transition matters.  Information on upcoming law will come out in January 2015.  The law is requiring them to be the gatekeepers for sheltered workshops.  They don’t normally do this anyways, but if the IEP states a student wants to attend this kind of program.  Student will need a statement stating they are so disabled they can only work in this type of environment, otherwise they can’t participate.

Matt Denn asked VR rep if transition can be included in IEPs earlier than junior or senior year?  She responded that due to capacity (and funding I’m sure) they don’t have the staff to do that.  They may able to do some consultative work but they can’t attend every IEP meeting.  She agrees transition planning should start at an earlier age.  Through working w/Dale Mitusevich at Delaware DOE, they have been able to work more with juniors in high school than seniors.

A representative named Andrea from In The Works, works w/many agencies including state Medicaid agency on a program called Pathways To Employment for students 14-25 years old.  God bless her, she’s talking very fast and dropping many abbreviations for state agencies.  I may have to go to the audio recording on this part.  Sorry folks.  They want to provide services that are “less like crisis management and more like support management.”

A rep from Division for Visually Impaired spoke about how resources are shifting to an older population in the state.  They provide braille instruction, consultative services, technology, employ child youth counselors, orientation services, assistive technology and an array of service providers.  They are currently serving 250 students across the state.  They are part of the PATHWAYS program.

Bill Doolittle asked how much grant amount might be, VR rep said $1,000,000.00.  Andrea said Pathways to Employment would be eligible for service if they receive Medicaid and meet other criteria.  DVI rep said they get $100-120,000 from DE DOE and $125,000 from other state agencies.

Marissa Band asked if they would work with the DEDisabilityHub website.  VR rep said absolutely, and has worked with Wendy Strauss on matters already.  Liz Toney asked how many teachers they Div. of Visual Impairment employs, rep said 8 out of the 9 employed in the state.  She asked rep if task force is able to acquire additional funding and get more teachers if that would help.  He said they would have to examine other factors since they are not an education agency.

No more questions.

Matt Denn opened the floor to suggestions for issues of transition planning.  Nobody is talking.  Denn looks flustered.  Ruth Lavelle spoke up and wants services to come in at age 14.  She would also like to say large group resources to help get the word out better.  She stated it is a very confusing subject when first introduced.  She said there needs to be a better game plan in the earlier years.  Marissa Band said the transition task force recommended there be transition coordinators in every high school.  Matt Denn asked who those people would be, Band said it would be school district staff.  Said could spread out amongst middle and high schools.  VR rep agreed and said this was an important recommendation coming from that task force.  Dale Mitusevich (sitting in for Mary Ann Mieczkowski from the DOE) said every school district has one transition person assigned to their job duties.  He said DOE has a transition matrix, said it could be a teacher or an educational diagnostician.  He said this is a burden on these individuals.  Pam Atchison said Charleton School hired a transition coordinator, but later added that due to funding she had to pull a teacher from the classroom.

Dale Mitusevich said there was a meeting at DOE about transition today.  He said district reps coming in to transition cadre has to have an administrator on their team.  He said four charters are involed with this.  They have multiple transition training sessions with the charters throughout the year.  Denn said he wants to get a price tag for implementing a resolution to have a coordinator in each high school, independent of other duties.  He said he also wants to enhance abilities of PIC and Community Legal Aid to help parents.

Ruth from VR said career assessments need to be done as early as possible to help in the IEP planning to help people point students in the right direction.  Mitusevich would like to see more reaching out to higher education programs.  He stated transition planning in this group can be confusing due to lack of knowledge.  Ruth from VR said she has worked with the Autism Task Force and DAP has an assessment program that works very well.  Ruth said it doesn’t have to be a certified evaluator to do career assessment, she said it could be a paraprofessional.

Matt Denn thanked the guests, and now he wants to look at the 2nd draft that appears on the IEP Task Force website.  http://ltgov.delaware.gov/taskforces/ieptf/141120/IEPTaskForceReportDraft111714.pdf

Mitusevich said Delaware has a higher standard than many other states.  Marissa Band said she has some issues with language in the draft but she will put in information via email or talk with Kim Siegel.  Matt Denn said there hasn’t been a lot of discussion about what other states are doing in other states with IEPs.  Liz Toney brought up the presentation from the first meeting.  She brought up Wrightslaw as a good resource.

A parent gave public comment thanking the task force for their recommendations for visually impaired students.

I gave public comment about how special needs students at the priority schools and Gateway Lab School are victims of special education games in the state.  I referenced my article from last night about Rodel and Markell and how special needs children have suffered immensely in Delaware.  I also recommended the task force adds the subject of IEP denials if they continue past the Governor’s report.

Sarah Celestin from DOE gave public comment about Standards-Based IEPs, student led IEPs, and translating Behavior Intervention Plans into IEPs.  She said there is training and assistance through University of Delaware.  She said they have been working w/districts on standards-based IEPs (Common Core for the IEP in my opinion).  She said through funds from a Federal grant DOE wants all districts and charters in the state to have these IEP strategies in the next two years.  She asked Mitusevich to talk about student led IEPs.  He spoke about the transition conference at Dover Downs a few weeks ago.  He said there was a big group from DC to speak about these, as well as folks from Virginia, Dr. Jim Martin out of University of Oklahoma on student led IEPs and student active participation in IEP meetings.  He said this means a student doesn’t just read a script and actually participates in the IEP meeting.  Celestin said DOE is offering training and coaching.  Denn asked if this is required for districts to implement.  She said standards-based IEPs are not required but it is about standards not standardized.  She said parents and IEP teams have struggles with implementing these kinds of IEPs because they need to help students close achievement gaps.  She said teachers are struggling with this and stressed it is not required.  (as Steve Newton mentioned in an article on these IEPs, the measurement for it is the “fidelity” component of the grant in getting schools trained on it).  She did say through compliance monitoring in the future they will look at things that are part of standards-based IEPs in terms of students needs so they will hold IEPs to a higher standard and best practices.  Matt Denn said this isn’t a subject for the IEP Task Force report, but he is hesitant to make recommendations for  something that isn’t required.

I raised my hand to speak again, and Matt Denn jokingly said something about “or if anyone wants to give second public comment”.  I went up and responded to Sarah’s comment.  I advised I went over to DOE presentation to the GACEC (Gov. Adv. Council For Except. Children), and it absolutely is tying IEPs into standards based on “curriculum” which is code word for those who may not know what Common Core is.  I advised the word “rigor” is used in the document which is used by Common Core proponents all the time.  I said rigor is not a word parents like, especially special needs parents, because the way it is used would indicate students with disabilities need to try harder to get to a regular students level, which completely invalidates the spirit of IDEA.

My commentary on tonight’s meeting: Interesting stuff with these transition services coming in.  All of them said “we need more funding”.  In regards to comments made by DOE employees, I know these folks work very hard at their jobs, and for that, they have my respect.  But if Delaware holds such a higher standard for IEPs, why did you need Federal intervention in Special Education?  Why would you hold a higher standard for something that isn’t even legally required?  Cause you like what you have created?  If they look at best practice, why the hell won’t they look at IEP denials?  Who are they trying to protect? (I already know the answer to that, and they know I know but they don’t care) Sorry Sarah, you can say whatever you want, but any presentation that has the word “rigor” in it, which is one of those words that make opponents of common core flip out, is not going to work for me and many other special needs parents.

To Be Continued December 3rd…

 

My Public Comment at the 3rd IEP Task Force Meeting and my Message for Governor Markell, the Delaware DOE and Arne Duncan @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @DeDeptofEd @DeStateBoardEd @TNJ-malbright @ArneDuncan @usedgov

 

 

At the third IEP Task Force meeting, I followed tradition and gave the following public comment:

This is the 3rd time I have spoken at the IEP Task Force, I’ve spoken in front of the Delaware Department of Education 3 times, I’ve spoken in front of the Capital School District Board 2 times, and last week I spoke in front of the Christina school board. Every single time I have spoken, it has been with the problems of my son at the forefront of my mind. Behind him are the over 18,000 children with disabilities in this state. This task force has been given a great responsibility. In your hands are the abilities to change over 18,000 lives.

Let me say once again: these children have disabilities they neither asked for nor want. They didn’t choose to have them. They weren’t cursed with them. Most of them were born with them. It was locked into their DNA for whatever reason, and this was how their life had to be. As parents or guardians, it is our job to protect them and make sure they have the best life possible. As educators, teachers, counselors of all shapes and colors, providers and administrators, it is your job to educate them. So my question is this: why do so many of you treat their disabilities as something they are intentionally trying to do? Why do so many teachers think that if you yell at a child or speak down to them that this behavior will change? Why do so many of you think you can sit in an IEP meeting and tell parents “Your child may have a disability but I think they know what they are doing” or “Part of it is their age”. These are children with extremely difficult neurological disabilities. Their brains are not wired the same as you or I. So why would you try to rewire them into a shape that just doesn’t fit? The discipline problems these children face in schools can and should be prevented. Placing any child with disabilities in a class of 30? You’re asking for trouble. Inclusion is required, but that does not mean you put them anywhere. The Least Restrictive Environment is required by IDEA law. It means the child is put into the least restrictive place to obtain a proper education. And in Delaware, that doesn’t mean a Chevrolet, it means a Cadillac. Teachers: Please understand, I know the problems you are facing. I know your evaluations,  as well as your jobs,  are tied to student performance on a once a year test. There are a growing number of regular parents and citizens who recognize and empathize with you. And we are trying to help you as well as our children. But please recognize that we will do anything we can to protect our children, and if that means calling anyone out at a school, teachers included, we will do that.

I think we talk and talk about special education in Delaware, but when it comes time to truly do the right thing for these students, a lot of us drop the ball. It’s not about common core, it’s not about college, it’s not about China, it’s not even about the teachers, or the principals, or even the parents. It’s about them. These precious gifts have been given to us and they have a lot to teach us, but we don’t want to learn. We need to learn to accept them for who they are. Not what we want them to be, but what they are.

In conclusion Lieutenant Governor Denn, if you could please pass the following on to the Delaware Legislature and Governor Markell. We will not accept or allow anyone to change our children into something they are not meant to be. Please tell the Delaware DOE they we don’t want the standards-based IEPs and please ship them back to Arne Duncan at the United States DOE and to leave Delaware’s special needs students alone. It is past time Delaware became its own state and stopped being the education lap dog of the federal government. It is way past time that we stopped letting corporations and education reformers intruding on our children’s lives so they can fill their pockets with profits. There is a lot of that going on and nobody on this task force is talking about that on this task force, and that’s impacting teachers, and how they teach, and how they’re able to deal with these children. That’s a huge aspect and I’m shocked nobody on the task force has brought it up. Thank you.

 

Steve Newton, “DOE: Don’t Hold Us To The Same Standards We Hold The Schools”, The Truth About Standards-Based IEPs in Delaware Revealed @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @TNJ_malbright #netde #eduDE

A big huge thank you to Steve Newton for writing this.  I knew Steve was writing this, which is why I haven’t delved into the standards-based IEP controversy lately.  I also knew Steve could do it greater justice than I ever could.  Upon reading Steve’s post, I’m wondering what it’s really for.  Read on and formulate your own opinion.  After your done, check out some of Steve’s other articles at http://newtonfor22ndstaterep.blogspot.com/2014/10/doe-dont-hold-us-to-same-standards-we.html

DOE: Don’t hold us to the same standards we hold the schools

As Lt. Gov. Matt Denn’s IEP Task Force continues to wade through the morass that is Special Education in Delaware, lost in the shuffle is a particularly blatant and telling piece of DOE sidestepping on so-called “Standards-based” IEPs.

In 2012 DOE applied for a grant to improve Special Education outcomes in Delaware.

What DOE told the Feds was that not enough kids on IEPs were passing DCAS or graduating:

Goal 1: To increase the academic achievement of students with disabilities, through the implementation of sustainable, evidence-based instructional strategies to impact students with the greatest academic needs.

Goal 2: To increase the graduation rates and academic achievement of students most at risk of dropping out of school, through the use of sustainable, evidence-based social and behavioral practices, as well as enhanced professional development to educators and related staff. 

“Academic Achievement” is clearly and unambiguously defined in the grant proposal as scoring a passing grade on state assessments (then DCAS).

What DOE proposed to do (not surprisingly) was double-down on Common Core and High-stakes testing, and require–beginning in pilot districts then later extending to the whole state–that ALL IEPs be directly linked to Common Core standards.

Red Clay was selected as one of these pilot districts, and the special needs teachers there have been literally inundated with “training” in developing and implementing those new IEPs.

I’m going to leave aside for the moment the very real question of whether or not this is a good strategy for improving the education of these kids (it isn’t).  Let’s just assume that, for sake of argument, Standards-Based IEPS are actually going to work as advertised.

That’s what DOE believes, right?  Or else they wouldn’t be putting themselves on the line here to raise test scores for special needs kids, would they?

Well, it turns out that DOE is NOT putting itself on the line, and is in fact holding itself to a FAR LOWER standard than it does, say, the six “Priority” schools, Moyer, or Reach.

You see, DOE has identified the Problem (low Spec Ed test scores) and then identified a strategy to improve those scores (Standards-based IEPS), and that only leaves the ASSESSMENT of how effective the strategy has been, once it has been implemented.

That assessment would logically involve looking to see if test scores actually went up for the students in question, right?

Wrong.

Here’s what DOE is assessing itself on:  Fidelity of Implementation

The project evaluator, working closely with the DE SPDG Management Team, will develop training, coaching, and intervention fidelity instruments during the first two quarters of Year 1. Each intervention fidelity instrument (IEP development, SIM, and communication interventions) will be developed in accordance with the evidence-base it is derived from. IEP training and coaching fidelity protocols will be developed in alignment with the research presented in the Holbrook/Courtade and Browder publications, and reviewed by the authors. SIM fidelity instruments are provided by the University of Kansas. Fidelity protocols established by researchers at U.K. will be used to assess the implementation of communication strategies. Pre/post training assessments will also be developed during this time.

The DE SPDG Management Team will be responsible for overseeing fidelity measurement and reporting. Project evaluators will train and coach the state and LEA coaches on the use of implementation (training and coaching) and intervention (i.e., IEP development, SIM, and communication) fidelity instruments. An easy to use, web-based data management system (using tools such as SurveyMonkey and Microsoft Access) will be developed. 

“Fidelity of Implementation” means whether or not DOE trains teachers as it said it would do, and whether or not the teacher actually employ the new strategies like they are supposed to do.  In other words, DOE is evaluating its success in this grant NOT on whether student test scores actually go up, but just on whether or not they tried real hard according to the model they thought up.

Now you will have to read the entire 103-page grant to assure yourself that what I’m saying next is correct, and encourage you to do so:  DOE never uses data about improvements in student test scores on state testing to determine whether they have done their job.

Do you understand what this means?

To Red Clay, Christina, and the rest of the schools in the State, DOE has repeatedly said that all that matters in determining your effectiveness as educators is how well students do on the State assessments.  If a school does not do well on those assessments, it is failing, plain and simple.

Yet when DOE implements a plan to raise the test scores of a target group of students (in this case special education students), it does not evaluate its own success based on test scores.

Wow.  Just wow.

So while DOE is passing out MOUs on “failing” schools (based entirely on test scores) that empower the State to fire entire faculties and convert public schools involuntarily into charters–again, based entirely on test scores–DOE does not feel it is appropriate to measure the success of its own programs based on test scores.

Here’s a serious suggestion to Red Clay and Christina:  how about when you finally develop those Priority Schools plans, you base success or failure on “fidelity of implementation,” not test scores, and cite as your rationale that this is the standard that DOE applies to its own initiatives?

Here’s the link to the grant application.  Check it out for yourself.

Save The Date: October 9th, Delaware IEP Task Force Meeting #3 @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #edude #edchat

On Thursday, October 9th, the IEP Task Force will reconvene for their 3rd meeting.  This meeting will be VERY interesting.  The first meeting was geared towards parents concerns, and the second was extremely heavy with school members complaining about logistic parts of the IEP process.  The third time is the charm as they say, and I am getting advanced word about a particular guest who may show up.  Some people will NOT be happy about this individual daring to show their face.  But many people will be ecstatic.  Trust me when I say any parent of a special needs child will want to show up for this one!

This will be the meeting where Lieutenant Matt Denn makes his mark, one way or the other.  He will be confronted with the absolute reality behind the IEP process and how he runs with it will define this task force.  Another wild card will be if Governor Markell’s designee deigns to show up.  Brian Touchette is the testing guru at the Delaware Department of Education, the wizard behind the curtain for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The only person who has brought up standards-based IEPs at this point is myself in public comment.  I’ve heard from another source that all the school districts in Delaware are being told to start them immediately, without any type of transition period like the four pilot districts received.  Once again the DOE is inserting itself into matters that are controversial at best.  Will Touchette bother to show up for the third meeting?

The meeting is at 4:30 pm, at the Collette Center in Dover and the Carvel Building in Wilmington.  The center of the action will be in Wilmington for this round, and with this potential surprise guest, you may want to venture up to Wilmington for this one if you don’t live in the area.  Trust me when I say you will want to see this one live.

A Moment Changes Everything, IEP Task Force’s Motivations Questioned #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA @DianeRavitch

You know when someone is rushing to get out of a place, and someone asks them a question, and they give you a very quick response, but it is usually truthful because they are distracted with their need to leave?  I asked Joe Miro a question after the House Rep candidate debate.  Joe Miro is the Republican House Rep for the 22nd district.  He is also the minority house rep IEP task force member.  I went to support Steve Newton (who slammed it, and the other candidates kept saying I agree with Steve).  Afterwards, I saw Miro talking in the lobby with some people, and as he was rushing to leave I went up to him and asked “Mr. Miro, what is the goal of the IEP task force you are on?”  To which he answered, “To get IEPs up to standard, the national standards.”  He then added how he wouldn’t even be at the first meeting tomorrow because of the primary next week.  Then he asked where I was from since we had never met.  I told him Dover, and he said thanks and nearly sprinted away from me.

I thought the goal of the IEP task force was to improve the IEP process and to make it easier for parents.  But yet Mr. Miro states it is to align IEPs with Common Core and standardized testing.  Now this is the same man, during the debate, who explained how his grandson asked him if a math answer was right.  Miro told him it was, but then his grandson wanted him to explain how it was right.  Miro said “It’s the right answer.”  His grandson kept bugging him, and Miro told him to ask his mother.  So I took that as Miro thinks Common Core is just as dumb as the rest of us.  But this same man voted yes for HB 334, which had Smarter Balanced Assessment replace DCAS.  He said the kids were getting tested too much.  So let’s give them a test you don’t even believe in?  Really Joe?

I think parents are going to be VERY upset if they go to this IEP meeting and find out it’s not what they thought it was.  Maybe Miro was mistaken, but I tend to doubt it.  Maybe the goal of the DOE is to have parents bitch so much about the process that they weasel standards-based IEPs into it as a final solution.  Special Needs Parents, you have to come to this.  I would advise against sending the DOE your concerns.  Email them to me, and I will give them to the task force.  I don’t trust the DOE as far as I can throw them.  This is the DOE without an elected board, a special education department that likes to data dive and not get to the root cause of special education problems, and thinks all special education kids can be proficient on statewide, high-risk, money scheme testing.  The only way to stop the DOE and their bizarre mechanizations is to hold them accountable.  It starts now, and we have to take a stand.  You will hear them say at these meetings that standards-based IEPs have been around since 1997, and they are written into law to help children conform to statewide standards for education curriculum.  They will skirt around the fact that the IEP landscape is changing to make more special ed students the same, as opposed to individuals.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this link from the University of Wisconsin addressing Standards-Based IEPs and Common Core:

When IEPs are connected to the standards, the focal point of the IEP team discussion changes to:

1. Identifying the standards that ALL students at a specific grade or age level should “know and be able to do.”
2. Assessing where the student is functioning with regard to the above standards.
3. Determining disability related needs that prevent the student from being proficient on these standards.
4. Developing an Annual Goal to address these needs.

Develop a goal that includes part(s) of the grade-level standard combined with lower grade-level standard for students.  The IEP can focus on lower level skills, but we should always be starting with the grade level and working backwards (i.e., backmap).

And from the Feds, under IDEA regulations:

(1) Section 300.311(a)(5), regarding whether the child does not achieve commensurate with the child’s age, has been modified and expanded to add whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with Sec. 300.309((a)(1), and (A) the child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with Sec. 300.309(a)(2)(i), or (B) the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development consistent with Sec. 300.309(a)(2)(ii).

If you want to know exactly what IDEA says about state assessments, look no further.  Cause here it is:

ASSESSMENTS–STATE and DISTRICT-WIDE
Alternate assessments (see Sec.   300.320 (a)(2)(ii),
(a)(6)(ii))
Performance indicators……………………………….  300.157.

Cornell University has a breakdown of the exact national code this falls under, which is 20 U.S. Code 6311:

“Adequate yearly progress” shall be defined by the State in a manner that—
(i) applies the same high standards of academic achievement to all public elementary school and secondary school students in the State;
(ii) is statistically valid and reliable;
(iii) results in continuous and substantial academic improvement for all students;
(iv) measures the progress of public elementary schools, secondary schools and local educational agencies and the State based primarily on the academic assessments described in paragraph (3);

(v) includes separate measurable annual objectives for continuous and substantial improvement for each of the following:

(I) The achievement of all public elementary school and secondary school students.
(II) The achievement of—

(aa) economically disadvantaged students;
(bb) students from major racial and ethnic groups;
(cc) students with disabilities; and
(dd) students with limited English proficiency;

  except that disaggregation of data under subclause (II) shall not be required in a case in which the number of students in a category is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student (this is how charter schools in Delaware get away with so much.  What causes this is what is called the n number, which is below 15 in Delaware for EACH category of special education in Delaware: Basic, Moderate, Severe, Severely Complex)
This contradicts the IDEA laws which make special education individualized, and this is why there could potentially be severe problems for the US DOE in regards to IEPs and IDEA law.  So be very wary of any changes to your child’s IEP and watch, write down and record as much as possible.  I know these are areas most special needs parents don’t delve into, and some of us aren’t even able to make it through the day much less research IDEA law.  That’s okay, cause many of us are doing that for you.  What we need to you do is email or call your state senators and house reps about these changes taking place in our schools that contradict IDEA law or that the Obama administration and the US DOE are doing without congressional approval.

What Will The Delaware DOE Do WHEN Common Core is Repealed? #netde #eduDE #edchat @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA

UPDATED: Had to change the title to WHEN!

With Common Core slipping in popularity more every single day, many people have been asking what would happen if it does go away. Has the Delaware DOE prepared for such an eventuality? With the way they have been talking at DOE meetings and around the state, it doesn’t look like they are. Everything they have been doing is with Common Core as it’s, well, core. For the DOE, Common Core is the sun giving strength to the whole solar system of education in Delaware. And if Common Core goes supernova, what happens to the aligned with Common Core, the controversial Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Aside from a few politicians and the DOE, I haven’t heard anyone talking positive about it. Once again, this includes charter school teachers who know they would lose their job if they publicly spoke out about it. In fact, most teachers want it to go away. They are very afraid of their jobs being impacted when most students tank the test next Spring. The DOE announced at their board meeting that scores won’t affect teacher performance appraisals until the 2015-2016 school year, but they did not indicate when during the school year that would take place.

Special needs parents are sick of Common Core and how it impacts their children. I am hearing a rising voice speaking up where they all want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is a turning point for these children, and this school year could have a dramatic effect on their future. Parents are dreading IEP meetings this year due to standards-based IEPs as well.

The DOE needs to stop patting itself on the back and get with the program, and fast. When more areas of your state are demanding change and you are moving forward with what the citizens don’t want, you need to open your eyes and take a hard look at what you are doing. Did you hear that Governor Markell and Secretary of Education Murphy? The people don’t want what you have been selling anymore.

Special Education in Capital School District A Hot Issue At Board Meeting #netde #eduDE @Doverpost @TheStateNews

The topic of special education and standardized testing came up in a big way at the monthly Board meeting in the Capital School District.  Here’s where I take my impartial glasses off and announce that I spoke at the meeting.  I gave public comment to the Board concerning my article yesterday about Federal interference with IDEA and Special Education laws.

I read parts of the letter the US Republican Senators sent to the US DOE and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about how the US DOE is potentially breaking the law with results-driven accountability and NAEP testing as a performance indicator for special education students.  I advised that since a national test like NAEP is skirting around IDEA laws, then the state is doing the same with Smarter Balanced Assessments by having it put into Indicator 17 on the new special education audit system the state of Delaware has to give to the Feds.  Because of this, I advised the Board that no child with an IEP should be required to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I also said parent opt-out shouldn’t even be an option, it just shouldn’t happen at all.

Board Vice-President Matthew Lindell also brought up the subject of standards-based IEPs and their impact on Capital School District.  It appeared Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas was going to look into this subject.  I wrote about the standards-based IEPs last week and how the state of Delaware is incorporating Common Core and the controversial results-driven accountability as part of their “counseling” to schools for these new standards. 

Dr. Thomas also briefly discussed the United States Supreme Court decision on Schaffer v. Weast, from 2005.  This decision indicated the burden of proof for due process hearings on special education matters rests with the party initiating the case for the student, usually the parents.  In using this framework, Dr. Thomas had a slide up which wrote: “This creates a number of practical problems and is a significant reason school districts are regularly expending vast amount of public funds to settle what are at time dubious claims.” 

There was not much actual discussion about this matter, but the fact that it was introduced seemed odd.  I am quite sure, speaking from experience, that to parents of special needs children, their claims are not dubious and are a result of months of effort to obtain proper special education for their children.  For more information on the 2005 Supreme Court Ruling, please read here: http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/ussupct.schaffer.weast.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Uh-Oh, Common Core for Special Education. What are Standards-Based IEPs? And which are the Pilot Districts?

That June 14th Annual IDEA Presentation from the Exceptional Children Group of the Delaware DOE to the Delaware Board of Education sure provided a wealth of knowledge. One of the things that was mentioned was standards-based IEPs. From my transcript in an earlier article, this was where Sarah Celestin spoke of this new form of IEP:

“The first standards based IEPs: This is a new initiative that really has just started since January. We’ve been doing some development work since last summer but the training kicked off in late January and early February. The reason we are moving towards standards based IEPs in Delaware is in our compliance monitoring of IEPs we saw that sometimes the rigor, there was a lot of remedial kind of goals and there wasn’t as much focus on how is a student gonna access grade level instruction. And you remember you need an accommodation, you need an accommodation of remediation and access goals and also goals that are gonna help the student really work on grade level skills. And so through standards based IEPs were really addressing that and we’re very fortunate to have instructional coaches that have a strong understanding of the Common Core and that also really understand IEP development and are able to help the teachers. So similar to what Tracy described to you, we have coaches that do not only the training, but go out and do individual and small group coaching with teachers. Right now we’re working with four school districts on that. The plan is that over the next two school years to go to state to scale up state wide with charters and districts.”

In a nutshell, this is adding common core to IEPs. You know, those INDIVIDUALIZED education plans special needs children get. The Delaware DOE found a way, without any focus groups or parental input, to literally CHANGE how an IEP is written. Is it legal? I don’t know, but I will find out.

According to Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the four pilot districts for standards-based IEPs are Woodbridge, Red Clay, Colonial and Brandywine. Once again, no charter schools were chosen for this world-changing special education initiative? I wonder why that is? Maybe because with the exception of Gateway and Positive Outcomes, most of them don’t know how to write the old IEP, much less a new one! And some don’t even know how to GIVE an IEP.

I would love to talk to ANY parent from any of the four districts above to know how their child’s IEP was created with these new common core standards implemented into a federal document. IEP Task Force…you can’t come soon enough!