Special Education Terms to Know: Part 3
Woohoo! We have hit the final installment of the special education terms you need to know (according to my FB group)! This final installment will wrap up this series of posts. If you have not read Part 1 and Part 2 you may want to check those posts out too! I truly hope you all have found these posts helpful and something beyond just the standard definitions that can be found most places online.
been around as a concept for a while, but OSEP provided some clear guidance on the topic in 2016 with a Dear College Letter. This letter provides guidance to schools when a child’s behavior is impeding their learning or that of others in the classroom to use positive behavior interventions and supports [34 CFR §§300.324(a)(2)(i) and (b)(2); and 300.320(a)(4)]. Here is part of the letter…
Recent data on short-term disciplinary removals from the current placement strongly suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, in their IEPs. During the 2013-2014 school year, 10 percent of all children with disabilities, ages 3 through 21, were subject to a disciplinary removal of 10 school days or less, with children of color with disabilities facing higher rates of removal. For instance, nineteen percent of black children with disabilities, ages 3 through 21, were subject to a removal of 10 school days or less within a single school year. In light of research about the detrimental impacts of disciplinary removals, including short-term disciplinary removals, the Department is issuing this guidance to clarify that schools, charter schools, and educational programs in juvenile correctional facilities must provide appropriate behavioral supports to children with disabilities who require such supports in order to receive FAPE and placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE). As a practical matter, providing appropriate behavioral supports helps to ensure that children with disabilities are best able to access and benefit from instruction.
The IDEA authorizes school personnel to implement a short-term disciplinary removal from the current placement, such as an out-of-school suspension, for a child with a disability who violates a code of student conduct. 34 CFR §300.530(b)(1). The Department strongly supports child and school safety, and this letter is not intended to limit the appropriate use of disciplinary removals that are necessary to protect children. Rather, the letter is a part of the Department’s broader work to encourage school environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to teaching and learning, where educators actively prevent the need for short-term disciplinary removals by effectively supporting and responding to behavior. In keeping with this goal, this letter serves to remind school personnel that the authority to implement disciplinary removals does not negate their obligation to consider the implications of the child’s behavioral needs, and the effects of the use of suspensions (and other short-term removals) when ensuring the provision of FAPE. Additionally, this letter provides alternatives to disciplinary removal which schools can apply instead of exclusionary disciplinary measures.
We are issuing this guidance to clarify that the failure to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the IEP process is likely to result in a child not receiving a meaningful educational benefit or FAPE. In addition, a failure to make behavioral supports available throughout a continuum of placements, including in a regular education setting, could result in an inappropriately restrictive placement and constitute a denial of placement in the LRE. While such determinations are necessarily individualized, this guidance is intended to focus attention on the need to consider and include evidence-based behavioral supports in IEPs that, when done with fidelity, often serve as effective alternatives to unnecessary disciplinary removals, increase participation in instruction, and may prevent the need for more restrictive placements. This letter is organized into five areas:
IDEA’s procedural requirements regarding evaluations, eligibility determinations, IEPs, and behavioral supports;
IDEA’s IEP content requirements related to behavioral supports;
Circumstances that may indicate potential denials of FAPE or of placement in the LRE;
Implications for short-term disciplinary removals and other exclusionary disciplinary measures;
Conclusion, including additional information for parents and stakeholders.
The IRIS Center is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and located at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, the IRIS Center develops and disseminates free, engaging online resources about evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices to support the education of all students, particularly struggling learners and those with disabilities. These resources, designed to bridge the research-to-practice gap, are intended for use in college teacher preparation programs, in professional development (PD) activities for practicing professionals, and by independent learners. The array of IRIS resources includes modules, case studies, information briefs, course/PD activities, a high-leverage practices alignment tool, and an online glossary of disability-related terms as well as supporting products to enhance their use in coursework and PD activities.
Progress Monitoring: Progress monitoring is what happens during the academic year of an IEP. In the re-authorization of IDEA in 2004, benchmark goals were removed except for children on an alternate aligned achievement program. I am not sure why they were removed, but I was saddened to hear this news. This does not mean there shouldn’t be progress monitoring!
Progress monitoring is a scientifically-based practice used to assess your child’s academic progress and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring tells the teacher what your child has learned and what still needs to be taught.
These progress reports are IMPORTANT! You will want to chart and monitor the data. If you do not see your child making progress, or falling behind, then you will want to call an IEP meeting and bring this up to the team and ask them what they are going to do to help solve the problem.
PWN: I think, universally, I hear people say to me… they have NO IDEA how important Prior Written Notice was in the special education process! It is so important in fact that I previously wrote an entire blog post on PWN. Click on the hyperlink to take you there.
High-quality, scientifically based classroom instruction. All students receive high-quality, research-based instruction in the general education classroom.
Ongoing student assessment. Universal screening and progress monitoring provide information about a student’s learning rate and level of achievement, both individually and in comparison with the peer group. These data are then used when determining which students need closer monitoring or intervention. Throughout the RTI process, student progress is monitored frequently to examine student achievement and gauge the effectiveness of the curriculum. Decisions made regarding students’ instructional needs are based on multiple data points taken in context over time.
Tiered instruction. A multi-tier approach is used to efficiently differentiate instruction for all students. The model incorporates increasing intensities of instruction offering specific, research-based interventions matched to student needs.
Parent involvement. Schools implementing RTI provide parents information about their child’s progress, the instruction and interventions used, the staff who are delivering the instruction, and the academic or behavioral goals for their child.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.
Congress reauthorized the IDEA in 2004 and most recently amended the IDEA through Public Law 114-95, the Every Student Succeeds Act, in December 2015.
Here I should mention I am a legal scholar, I study law, but I am not a lawyer. Though I do think I understand these laws about as well as a layperson can I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel since the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) has an amazing handout comparing ADA, IDEA, and Section 504.
a specific learning disability in reading
(dyslexia), written expression (dysgraphia), and/or math (dyscalculia). SLDs are one of the 13 recognized disability categories under IDEA for eligibility for an IEP. SLDs can also be addressed with a 504 in many instances.
Many people are rather familiar with dyslexia. There is so much information out there that I have not written anything on the topic. I have written blog posts on dysgraphia and dyscalculia and they have been hyperlinked in this section. Often I will hear parents complain school districts will delay testing for SLDs so the child can complete the RTI process. Remember, as I stated earlier, the school cannot delay a timely evaluation of your child if you make the request, in writing, to evaluate your child. This is a memorandum from OSEP concerning this issue. There is also guidance that schools cannot solely use the discrepancy model to determine if a child has a SLD. One last bit of information…if your child misses services by a point or two you will want to make an argument concerning the Confidence Interval (CI) of the evaluation. CI, along with the general preponderance of data, can sometimes be used to get services for your child. CI is a range in which the “true” score is expected to fall:
Because no test is 100% reliable, the “true” score is expected to be within a range
Standard error of measurement (SEM): Amount of error (in standard score units) to be considered in interpreting scores
Used for classification or placement decisions
May be useful in “borderline” cases
Can allow room for clinical judgment
SLPs can address speech issues including social and pragmatic language deficits often seen in children with autism. SLPs can assist in issues where a child has had a hearing loss that has been medically corrected but the child is still having issues with speech. SLPAs are to be used only to supplement—not supplant—the services provided by ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists. SLPAs are not trained for independent practice. So if your child is working with an SLPA at your local school make sure they are meeting with the school district’s SLP and developing a plan as allowed under their professional standards.
SMART Goals: SMART goals are an amazing tool! SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. SMART goals are good goals to set in pretty much any situation. So how do you set a SMART goal? Several years ago I found a template for SMART goals and made a few small modifications. I often post this in my IEP/504 Assistance group as a guide to help parents.
Given_______(condition/materials/setting/accommodation), _______(student name) will _______ (do what measurable/ observable skill/behavior in functional terms), _____(to what extent/how well to determine mastery), ________(# of times/frequency/how consistently), by ________(how often ) evaluated/determined by _____(measure) observed across a variety of settings.
Examples: Given money manipulatives, Student will expressively identify the name and value of nickels, dimes, and quarters with 75% accuracy, on 4 out of 5 opportunities in a variety of 3 different sessions in various settings over a month’s time frame as measured by data collection and teacher observation across a variety of settings.
Given a variety of written prompts, Student will write a 3 to 4 sentence legible paragraph that includes a topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence with 75% accuracy in 4 out of 5 opportunities in a variety of settings as measured by work samples, data collection, and teacher observations across a variety of settings.
I mention the part about “across a variety of settings” because you do not always want a teacher collecting all the data in a quiet setting, away from other students, as that is not the setting you typically have in a general education classroom. If your child is in a general education classroom you will want data collected from that setting too as a child with ADHD can get distracted or confused with the noise and commotion present in that setting. The same goes for children who may have sensory issues, anxiety, depression/(withdrawal, autism, and other learning disabilities. This, again, is something to consider based on your child and their learning disabilities when you are developing SMART goals.
Remember too that PLOPs drive your goals. You CAN have goals based on grade-level standards. You can also have IEP goals for children who are performing well in school. A child can have good grades in school and still need an IEP. This is an important point to make as I often see a school remove a child’s IEP because they start making good grades and move the child to a 504. Sometimes a 504 does not provide enough support for the child and the parent runs into issues trying to get the child’s IEP back. Remember FAPE makes it clear that a child can be moving from grade to grade and still need services.
Please take the time to click on the links in the post as it contains the reference material used to write this post. As always, you are welcome to join us for more discussion on the jargon of special education at our FB group, IEP/504 Assistance for parents of public school students from all over the United States.
AESA also runs a special needs homeschool group, Homeschooling Special (Needs) Kids, and we also have a group for all parents and caregivers of special needs children called Special Needs Parenting Advice and Support where we discuss ALL things related to special needs care and Educating Gifted Children is where we discuss topics concerning gifted children and those that are twice exceptional (2e). I hope to see you there!
CEO of AESA
Michelle Harris, founder, and CEO of Arizona Exceptional Students Association (AESA) has been an educational advocate for over 10 years. She is the mother to six including surviving quadruplets. Her frustration with doctors and educators led her on a quest to learn more about all the facets that touch their lives as children with disabilities. In the process, she realized she had gained a lot of useful information she could share with others so she started a Facebook group focusing on special education advocacy. That group quickly grew to over 6,000+ members. Recognizing the overwhelming need for assistance, she founded a nonprofit, AESA, allowing her to provide support, advice, and advocacy to parents with children who are outside the (Bell) curve.
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