Friday, June 1, 2012

Special Education Across the United States

Due to their success with addressing the achievement gap, I located the Individual Education Plans of Maryland and Kentucky.  I was amazed at how different the forms were from Iowa. My interest heightened, I could not stop until I had located and reviewed all the state forms could locate on the internet.  All states must follow the IDEA but have the freedom to meet the requirements in their own way. I found sections in many of them that address the needs of the stakeholders in a more efficient and effective manner than the current Iowa IEP. The purpose of this blog is to post my comments about the various forms.  My hope is that this blog will inspire you to review the material on Special Education Across the United States.  Below are my comments:
Meeting Notice:
Iowa requires a notice that specifies the date of the meeting, who has been invited to the meeting, and the type of meeting(review, initial, etc.).  Washington has a Parent Input Form that request the parents answer the following:
What are the strengths of your child?
What motivates your child?
Are there areas of concern regarding your child that we should be aware of:
when he/she is at home?
when he/she is at school?
What techniques have you used to address the concern(s) noted above? Were they successful?
What is/are the most important goal(s) that you would like to see accomplished in the upcoming year?
Is there any other information that we should know that would assist us in developing the IEP?
In addition to the information, the Parent Input Form sets a tone for productive dialogue and facilitates parental involvement.
Strengths, interests and preferences of the individual:
Washington’s Parent Input Form provides the information needed for this section with the exception of preferences.  Iowa requires that strengths, preferences and interest be stated in the student’s voice. Rhode Island's Transition IEP is written in the first person with the student as the author which is an excellent way to encourage self determination and remind the IEP team to listen to the student’s voice.
Delaware’s Transition IEP requires strengths to be listed in the areas of living, learning and working which focuses on strengths rather than just weaknesses.
Parents' concerns regarding their child's education:
Washington’s Parent Input Form is a good start for a discussion that should continue at the meeting.  In addition to being an information tool, The Parent Input Form encourages parents to reflect prior to the meeting and shows value for their opinion.
Illinois requires Documentation of Intervention/Evaluation Results for Specific Learning Disabilities.  While Iowa’s IEP requires comparison with peers annually and progress every 3 years during the reevaluation, Illinois requires an annual evaluation of the intervention and the effects of the intervention on the students progress. Below is an excerpt:
Describe the previous and current intervention plans (core/Tier 1, supplemental/Tier 2, and intensive/Tier 3) including evidence that the intervention is
scientifically based and was implemented with integrity. Attach plan/evidence.
Provide documentation of student progress over time as a result of the intervention. Attach evidence/graphs.
New Jersey requires scores on standard assessments from third grade till most current assessment.  Environmental factors  and motivation can affect summative test scores, therefor it is important to look at the history of scores.

Transition assessments and other information essential for the development of this IEP (address living, learning & working):
Iowa requires that students above 14 be assessed in the areas of living, learning and working.  I have received training that further breaks these areas into 10 domains, however, North Dakota requires assessment in 12 domains which I think encourages the IEP team to evaluate the entire student.
Based on the transition assessments, describe the post-secondary expectations for living, learning, and working.
Iowa requires expectations in the areas of learning, living, and working.  Training is given to make sure current functioning, goals and course of study are aligned.  However, the states of New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia add emphasis to transition by having Post Secondary Goals rather than expectations.
Course of study
Vermont has an Alternative Credit Accrual Plan that must be signed by the Superintendent or their designee.  The column headings are as follows: School Year, Grade Level, Grade Requirements that student can not master, Details as to why the student can not master the requirements, and Alternative Course Or Activity/Credits Given. The Alternative Accrual Plan promotes careful consideration as to why a student can not complete a course required by typical students and mandates that the student be enrolled in a replacement course or activity that will expose them to the competencies deemed important enough to be required for all students.
Special Education Services
Accommodations and Modifications
This is an area in which not enough emphasis is placed and is ripe with confusion.  Students with high incidence disabilities are often not properly prepared for post secondary education because they have been using modifications, which are not allowed at the post secondary level, disguised as accommodations.  Parents, students, administrators and special education teachers are often confused over the difference between modifications and accommodations. Most important, students are not taught how to use appropriate and effective accommodations that remove the barriers of their disabilities.  At the post secondary level, if a student can receive content through audio and/or use dictation to demonstrate their knowledge they can achieve the same degrees of their typical peers.  Students must take ownership of their accommodations.  Nebraska has produced a guide based on the recommendations of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that all stakeholders should read. Maryland requires and tracks accommodations based on the recommendations of the CCSSO. Kentucky’s IEP requires accommodations meet certain conditions and defines common accommodations and verifies their appropriate use. Washington lists accommodations, modifications, and assistive technology with codes to be entered to indicate for which subjects.
Links to Adult Services
New Hampshire’s IEP  requires verification of notification of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for students over 16.
North Dakota’s Adult Education Transition Services program is a joint program of the Department of Public Instruction/Office of Special Education and the Department of Human Services/Divisions of Developmental Disabilities and Vocational Rehabilitation for students aged 18-21 who remain on an IEP.

Pennsylvania’s Reevaluation report contains the following option for a conclusion:The student has a disability but no longer needs specially designed instruction, and no longer is eligible for special education. Too often stakeholders believe that the disability must be eliminated.  Students, who may or may not have shown improvement in standardized scores, should not be eligible for special services if they can be successful with accommodations that can be provided under a 504 plan.  Students with well defined accommodations and self determination skills are prepared for post secondary education.  IEPs are  not available at the post secondary level.

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