District Deeds Sunday Reads – May 19, 2019: Navigating SST’s, IEP’s and 504’s; Teacher “Externships”; Universal Design for Learning

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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…

ENJOY!

Navigating the Special Education Process from Student Study Team Meetings to IEPs and 504 Plans

Quote from Article:

As a parent, it can be scary to have to face the daunting task of asking the school to evaluate your child when you begin to feel that they may be experiencing problems academically, socially or behaviorally in the classroom. But you take that first step and reach out to the school for help. Asking for help is a positive first step. Here’s what you should expect to happen next.

And…

You may be invited to participate in an SST (Student Study Team) Meeting. This may or may not be a good idea. An SST meeting will most likely include the teacher, a resource teacher, an administrator, and of course, the parent. The team will meet to discuss your student’s progress and any gaps or deficits in learning. A decision to move ahead with the student’s educational needs will be made through this process.  

The options are pretty straight forward.  An intervention plan will be developed and implemented to address the needs of the student. Plans vary greatly as they are specifically designed to address the needs of the student. You may decide at this meeting to explore a 504 Plan, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), a BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan), or extended psychological and educational testing. Make sure that you take copious notes in case you want to research something later or have further questions.

And…

A 504 Plan is authorized under the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically Section 504 which states that a “child with a disability has equal ACCESS to an education and that it is comparable to an education provided to those who do not have a disability.”  

While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides the authority and rights through “educational law, a child who receives services under 504 does not benefit from the same mandates as a child who receives special education services under IDEA.”

And…

And…

 

Resources for understanding Special Education:

Understanding Special Education

*Understanding IEP/504 Plans

Civil Rights Project UCLA

Finally, I found this website to be blunt and true. 

6 Reasons to hire a Special Education Advocate:

  • Someone who knows the IEP process better than you, including how to do a thorough record review.
  • A good advocate has connections and knowledge about programs and services in your area that you may not know about.
  • Good advocates will steer you away from Due Process but know their limits. And they’ll know when you have no other choices and will connect you with attorneys.
  • Someone to act as a barrier,  be the proverbial “bad guy” allowing parents to remain more neutral in confrontations.
  • A note taker, bounce around ideas, another set of eyes and ears.
  • Temper the meeting-some staff are more professional with others around.

District Deeds Synopsis:

Having been through numerous SST’s and IEP’s with our own kids and as support for other parents, we were extremely happy to find this comprehensive article regarding the Special Education process,  Although this article was written by a  “Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire”, the process described is identical to what occurs in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

In our experience, it can be very intimidating to go into SST/IEP/504 meetings alone.  As the article says, at least three Special Ed experienced SDUSD employees, a teacher, a resource teacher, and an administrator attend, so you are always outnumbered in attendees and experience.  We have been, as a single Parent, in SST meetings where there were 4 classroom Teachers, a resource Teacher, the Principal, and the head Counselor.

Outnumbered 7 – 1!!!

That is why we believe that the suggestion to bring a “Special Education Advocate” to the meetings is the best suggestion in the article,

We strongly recommend that every SDUSD Stakeholder read the full article and pass it on for reference to any parents they know.

Indiana Teachers Required to Complete Externship to Renew Teaching License

Quote from Article:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Starting this summer, requirements for Indiana teachers to renew their teaching licenses will increase. Completing a 15-hour externship with a company is one of their options for renewal.

This is a mandate included in House Enrolled Act 1002, “Professional Growth Points,” which passed in this spring’s Indiana legislative session. An official memo was sent out to superintendents and principals by the Indiana Department of Education last week.

Holders of Professional Educator Licenses are required to renew their licenses every five years. During this period, they’re required to acquire 90 points according to the DOE’s professional growth plan, or PGP. The PGP has already existed, but legislators are changing the requirements of attaining points.

And…

Starting July 1, 2019, teachers who want to renew their licenses will be required to complete 15 of the 90 PGP points required for renewal in one of three ways.

First, they can complete an externship with a company. They can go to the company or have representatives from the company come to their school to educate them.

Secondly, teachers can participate in professional development provided by the state, a local business, or a community partner that provides opportunities for school and employers to partner in promoting career navigation.

Thirdly, they can participate in professional development that outlines current and future economic needs of the community, state, nation, and globe and how these needs can be disseminated to students. This third option has to receive under the state, a local business, or a community partner.

And…

“For some reason there’s been a gap between what the kids are learning in school and what employers want them to have, as far as skills and knowledge on the job,” he said. “So we want to try and connect those two and teachers is one of the key things to connect to employers so the teacher knows what the employer needs and want, so they can help teach and guide those kids so they can fulfill those job opportunities that are out there.”

And…

President of the Fort Wayne Education Association Julie Hyndman said Fort Wayne Community Schools teachers were blindsided by this law. 

“It’s another opportunity to demoralize public school teachers that the Indiana legislature has continued to do, this year and most years prior,” she said. “This is a complete insult.” 

District Deeds Synopsis:

Having multiple Teachers in our family, we read this article with great interest.  Many of our Teacher family members took jobs during the summer to make ends a few extra dollars.  They typically take a job unrelated to Teaching.

It is also very clear that many Students, including our own, have no idea how the real world of career and employment actually works since curriculums in schools did not align with real world needs.

If this program was implemented in the SDUSD with support and partenership by local industries, the result would be a win for Teacher, the industries and the Students.

Unfortunately the quote by President of the Ft. Wayne Teachers Union calling the legislation “demoralizing” and “an insult” to teachers is probably identical to what the head of the SDEA (SDUSD Teachers Union) would say if the program was implemented in California.

Given the absolute dominance by the SDEA over Elementary School Superintendent Cindy Marten and her five crony Democrat School Board Trustees including Tricky Dick Barrera, there is virtually zero chance this would ever be implemented in the SDUSD.

Political Puppet Superintendent

Political Puppets Board of Education

Is it any wonder that the SDUSD is a dead end for all SDUSD Stakeholders?

Ensuring That Instruction Is Inclusive for Diverse Learners

Using ideas from Universal Design for Learning with all students can make classrooms more welcoming for those with learning disabilities.

Quote from Article:

Humans have a tendency to fall into patterns of behavior. For teachers, that means that if we’re not careful, we begin to teach things the same way every year. This is comfortable for us, but it can result in a rigid curriculum that may not work for all students—and traditional classrooms are curriculum-centered already, not easily adapted to the differing needs of individual students. Instead, students are required to adapt to the curriculum.

And…

Teachers in this situation may become frustrated because trying to accommodate each child individually creates a lot of stress and often an unmanageable workload. Another issue I saw at the middle school level is that despite teachers’ best efforts, students with learning differences often feel singled out, and as they get older they may reject accommodations in order to fit in—even though that means forgoing supports that could help meet their learning needs.

And…

In working together, the general education teacher and I would work out ways to flex and adapt our teaching styles to fit our students’ needs. As a team, we modified our instruction based on what worked and what didn’t. We used what we learned to design instruction that could change based on students’ needs.

All of this work was based on the well-known, flexible model called Universal Design for Learning, which can be used in any classroom to make instruction more accessible.

And…

3 WAYS TO IMPLEMENT UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING

1. Teach content in many ways: In a traditional classroom, planning for the lesson is done with the “typical” student in mind. Often, there is one way for all students to learn the material, such as a lecture or a slide presentation.

Instead, try to plan the lesson with all students in mind. Survey students to find out what they already know and questions they have about the new topic.

2. Provide choices to sustain student engagement: Allow students to choose an activity. For guided practice, they could decide whether to answer questions independently and receive feedback, play a game, do a role play, or practice in a group.

3. Provide accommodations for all students: Instead of providing accommodations only to students with an IEP or a 504 plan, think about accommodations that such students frequently need and make them available to all students.

District Deeds Synopsis:

The primary issue that made this article interesting for us was the collaboration between the general education Teacher and the special education Teacher to “flex and adapt” their teaching styles to meet Student needs.  The mix of consistency, content, choices and accommodation creates the perfect educational combination for all students.

Well worth reading!

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Have a great week!!!

__________________________________________________________

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