Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Special Education Programs Next Year

From comments made by AutismMom on a previous thread:

"Special education has been treated pretty equitably by the closure process. The only problem I saw, which has been raised, was that of the EBD dispersal. Minor and Meany EBD students shouldn't have been dispersed. That seems unfair to a historically and grossly underserved population, overwhelmingly minority.

BUT!!!!! I did attend the special education ptsa meeting Thursday night along with around 200 others. MGJ was there as a "guest speaker"... but said practically nothing. She simply pointed at people asking questions, selecting people for Fred Rowe to answer. Her child was there running around. While cute at first, many people thought her lack of ANY participation and the fact that she brought her child... represented a lack of serious attention to special education. Would she have done that at ANY other meeting?

(edited 1/31 per AutismMom's request) The big news dropped here was that Fred said "NO SPED PROGRAMS starting next year". !!!! Wow. Next year? That is huge. In fact, you just use regular enrollment and sign up where ever you want. (or so they say) West Seattle autism parents wanted to know if their request for an inclusion middle school program had gone through? SPS says, "NO MORE PROGRAMS... get it? Go sign up at Madison, there's a self-contained program there now, it will be gone, and they will do it for you. We're now serving everyone from everywhere." Hmmm. How will a program and school dedicated to self-containment (and lack of service) suddenly be willing to provide service? It has never been able to do that before? Seems unlikely. In any case, general education should be expecting severely disabled students starting NEXT year. (high time in my opinion, but they are not ready)

Also notable, was the blended K's weren't going to be able to kick out all their graduates. Good. High time the McGilvra's and the Bryant's started pulling their weights. (The district did say they might kick out some.. if they were too difficult. A bit of a contradiction if "everyone can be served everywhere" isn't it).

So now, nobody knows which way is up. Anybody can sign up for any school???... any school is supposed to serve you...but no guarantees... you could be arbitrarily sent anywhere. Where are there going to be sped teachers and aides? And how many? It seems more problematic now. In fact, parents have already tried to use the enrollment center for pre-registration... multiple times... only to be kicked out. "no you can't use it" "computer bombed" etc. So these families, with siblings, have NO working enrollment process.

As to the Lowell sped issue. Indeed there are people VERY dissastisfied with the exclusionary nature of the school. Very highly disabled Lowell students want significant inclusion... eg. 1/2 day or so.... but are offered nearly nothing. 20 minutes twice a week as a bone. And the "social inclusion" is also grossly inappropriate: "food prep" for kids using a feeding tube is meaningless. When you actually talk to the families, you understand what they need. Evidently, the district does have a valid point with LRE... BUT, these families also noted that the other options were actually less inclusive. This just shows how far we have to go.

So, the big promise? The promise is... "SPS will give disabled students the support they need, without participation in programs. The programs had provided a "critical mass". Now there will be no critical mass... so likely much more expense OR reduction in service. All students will be included in general education. Disabled students, currently self-contained, will have a better experience without a 'self-contained program', even if they get a lot of 1 on 1 and small group instruction." That's the promise."

To clarify, they say aren't adding NEW programs, and the OLD programs aren't going to be considered programs. So, anybody can sign up for that building and be served if they are assigned... (presumably by the staff now teaching in the programs. EG. Presumably IDP will get different disabilities in... over time.).

So, for those OLD programs in closed schools, the staff and students, they will indeed be moving as advertised. And as to Summit IDP, that's great they have a successful program... but other families have felt Summit was very exclusionary to other disabilities and was intransigent about adding other programs, and serving students inclusively. You're either an "inclusive" school or you're not... cherry picking indicates not. And to clarify, NO people don't have to move out of their program.... in fact, they are guaranteed a spot in their school (without transportation) if their OLD program age range ends, at least for the blended K's. I'm not sure about the other dead-end programs, it wasn't mentioned. But, the blended K families have been very vocal and angry about getting booted out of schools they were forced into.

That's what Fred said, in any case. BUT, so far the enrollment center hasn't worked the way it is supposed to.(that is, people have been turned back, computer has dumped their request, etc) Nobody's actually been enrolled using the enrollment center, but they've gotten a word of mouth from and ed director that "Yes, you're enrolled" in some cases, but without paperwork confirming it.

Also, Fred did leave the district an out. He said, "We'll make sure you can be served at your assigned school IF WE CAN". Well, that's a pretty big hole. And IF THEY CAN'T, it would seem more problematic, because they haven't said where or how they would serve those others.

BTW. This could be great, it all depends on whether or not the services are really provided.

No, the program (teachers, aides, and students) at John Hay will not end. But, anyone in the reference area can sign up for John Hay, and be served by the program. They will not be denied access. So, lots of new and different students may be showing up next year to John Hay.

Yes, the program was specifically designed as "autism inclusion", and now it is specifically being undesigned. This is not a bad thing, unless there isn't enough staff. Will there be?

Did you noticed no disabled students families have attended disability K tours? That is because preschools weren't told of the transition plans. Fred also mentioned that people should just go on regular tours to check out the schools. No special tours.


And this from a comment by TeacherMom

"Well, they haven't told special education staff about any of this yet......if that's any indication. I have heard vague references about it indirectly from three non-special ed staff. I am still waiting for some kind of introduction to our "new" interim director.

There has also been no real training for special education teachers in the district for at least two years, other than an introduction to IEP writing and non-violent behavior intervention.I would guess that rolling this out will require some excellent staff development for principals, classroom teachers, and specialists. We can use the extra money in the budget for that.I agree that this is long overdue, Autismmom, but if it is not done planfully, it will not be good for kids.

Maybe there will be a design team miracle. We will also need additional special ed staff to carry this out, and there have consistently been 12-20 open special ed teacher positions throughout the school year for the 10 years I have been following SPS' career opportunities website. Additional aide support will be needed for the various levels of inclusion at each school as well...........and we may need a full-time special ed director."


Maureen said...

I can't quite imagine how this will work. I'm somewhat limited in my thinking by the current setup at my kid's school, but I think our issues could apply at other schools as well. (eg, sub Autism for DHH)

We currently have about 10 special ed staff members (not sure of their FTEs, also don't know if resource room teachers count). Six of them are specialized Deaf/Hard of Hearing teachers and IAs. Two of them have been in a MS self contained 'generic' classroom. Two are resource room teachers.

The way I read Autism Mom's post, it sounds like those six DHH staff (and the four other general staff) will be responsible to work with whatever kids show up in the building next year who might need extra help in the gen ed classrooms. Also, DHH kids coming in to the system may or may not be assigned to our school. This seems like an inefficient use of very specialized services (I.e., fluency in sign language and familiarity with cochlear implants). Of course, DHH familes will probably be more likely to choose our school because of the current program, but it sounds like they wouldn't be guaranteed admission. I suppose over time our DHH staff would be dispersed to where ever the kids were, but since we currently have two teachers and four IAs, some of the IAs will be on their own and not part of a team. Actually we'll need to keep all six--just so we have one in each K-5 classroom for translation (and if some of the kids stay for middle school... ? )

Is this the type of thing that will happen? I can't see how it will function without a tremendous increase in staffing. Is that what all of the closures were about--freeing up cash for more specialists? And if (as Teachermom points out) we have many open positions even now, where are the specialists going to come from?

dan dempsey said...

I've had concerns about SPED direction since the initial introductory speech that MG-J gave during the interview process.

My wife teaches primary school children with multiple handicaps. We raised 4 sons, three are dyslexic. We are well aware of the push for inclusion. When the "least restrictive" environment becomes the least effective environment, mainstreaming needs a critical eye.

I am wary of MG-J's push for uniformity as students are not uniform. If this "No SPED programs post" is accurate, transparency and community input have again been largely non-existent because they are unwanted.
From the post:
All students will be included in general education. Disabled students, currently self-contained, will have a better experience without a 'self-contained program', even if they get a lot of 1 on 1 and small group instruction." That's the promise."

Did you noticed no disabled students families have attended disability K tours? That is because preschools weren't told of the transition plans.

"Well, they haven't told special education staff about any of this yet......

There has also been no real training for special education teachers in the district for at least two years, other than an introduction to IEP writing and non-violent behavior intervention.I would guess that rolling this out will require some excellent staff development for principals, classroom teachers, and specialists. We can use the extra money in the budget for that.

Does this seem like a plan to meet the needs of each child?

Hopefully with this MG-J can fulfill all the performance bonuses with this plan so she can raise her salary.

Does this look like teaching in the SPS environment is becoming a more reasonable undertaking?

Did the SPED vacancies of the past influence this design? One size fits all is ..... a recipe for economical operation with very little quality. Certainly makes one want to investigate private schools.

Are there really no exceptions to the following?
Disabled students, currently self-contained, will have a better experience without a 'self-contained program'
Who did the research on the above statement ... sounds very similar to Carla Santorno's statements about Everyday Math.

Let me get my head around our current situation ... Most elementary school teachers are math content deficient ... but they are all equipped to be good special ed teachers. That statement makes as much sense as the initial school closure list ... but it seems the public gets no input on this SPED edict.

dan dempsey said...

In considering the child and the teacher in the General Education classroom please think about the following in the "new" All inclusion model of SPS.

For those trained in special ed, direct instruction is the method for focusing an episodic learner. If the thinking is already scattered, which it usually is with special ed kids, you don't put the learner on "many paths" to figure out an answer.

However, episodic learners aren't just in special ed. we're getting classrooms loaded with them. This is the result of the cultural move toward "multi-tasking" and non-parenting of organizational skills from early childhood on. Even many upper income people don't teach their children about organizational skills/thinking because the parents too often "do" everything for the child. (It's easier and faster.) Many lower income folks have few such skills themselves-- goal setting and how to get there-- and don't teach their children what they don't know themselves. The reformists belief that intellectual development "builds on the child's experiences" is thus bogus.

Direct instruction is the fastest way to impart information, which some think makes it teacher driven and therefore not child driven.
Best of Luck to all the General Education Classroom teachers, it appears they will really need it.

As for the students ... best wishes.

Beth Bakeman said...

Dan, I am frequently accused of being naive and too much of an optimist. But what if instead of assuming the worst about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her motives for making these changes, we assumed the best?

Maria Goodloe-Johnson began her career teaching special education.

She also has been quoted as saying "I believe that in order to be a successful superintendent, you must not fear challenge or change—you must have the courage and strength to advocate for equity and excellence for all children. To be a successful urban superintendent, you must be intolerant of excuses for why ‘those children’ can't learn."

She has commented to Board members that Seattle is 20 years behind the rest of the country in special education.

So what if we take her quote, her background in special education, and her comment to Board members to mean that she really wants to improve special education in Seattle and believes the changes she is making are the right ones?

That doesn't mean we give her a "free pass" and let her plans for this major change go forward without questioning and scrutiny. But what if we assumed the best instead of the worst?

I believe that assuming good motivation on her part will lead to us providing more targeted, constructive criticism of her plan and a better chance that she and others will listen to us.

anonymous said...

Autism mom, you do not have your facts straight. I am a SEAAC member and have been involved with the Sped PTSA all year. There were no "bombs" dropped for those that have been tracking this all year. They have been talking about this since September when Carla Santorno presented at the Special Ed PTSA meeting. They are following the recommendations of the sped audit that was performed a year ago. From the beginning, district SPED has said, "we are not talking about taking away self contained programs."

Here is what is happening before you get everyone up in arms: We are moving from a "program model" to a "service delivery model" which means our kids will be served in a much better way. Rather than trying to get into the few "spots" open in a program, our children will be served at the closest school possible to their home and will be served according to their IEP. There will still be the self contained programs offered for those that need it. The goal is to have integrated service models offered at every school, however the timeline for this is 5 years+. For the fall, there will be several schools offering integrated services (what we used to call inclusion programs).

What I heard at the meeting this week was good new to me. They are going to have sped kids enroll in a gen ed seat, in order to get a seat at their school (last year sped kids were placed last). This is something we have been asking for in SEAAC. They listened. They will then be looking at the demands and deciding which schools will offer integrated services. This is good news. They are not saying that self contained kids will be asked to filter into gen ed classrooms. The self contained programs will still be offered for those that need it. They are saying self contained will be offered in every cluster.

If you look at EVERY district surrounding us, they are using an integrated service delivery model. SPS has been way behind the curve on this, and it time for us to change it. I have personally been involved in meetings that they have offered all year for parents with Fred Row and Carla Santorno - and they are taking the sped community very seriously and listening. What more could we ask for? AND Fred Row has a long track record of doing amazing things in Northshore and Renton Districts. We are lucky to have him for now. The Superintendent was referring to him, because he is the expert. I think it totally appropriate for to do so. I think at this point its clear we need some kind of written statement for special ed parents, so the plan for next year can be clarified for many.

Melissa 'Liss' Cain said...

anonymous: It would also be helpful to get out more information about what's going on and on meetings to people like me. I'm a parent of a special ed student who hadn't heard anything about any of this until after I became involved in the Jane Addams re-purposing discussion and started spending time at the JSCEE.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had a child who was briefly part of Special Ed so I cannot say anything authoritative. It just seems kind of ...random. You sign up for a school, the school is notified your child is coming and has this kind of need and it will be taken care of? Do the principals know this? How do you plan for what kind of kids will be in your building if you are a principal?

I see the yin and yang of programs in certain schools versus providing services whereever the student is. But it always seemed to me you could concentrate resources and services with a program rather than school by school (but only if the program didn't get flipped in and out of schools).

But this seems like a lot to do. Will these children get watered down services as schools struggle to use their dollars wisely?

Unknown said...

So let me get this straight: we pick a school for our child and then that school will accommodate his needs as per his IEP? Any school we pick will be capable of doing so? It seems dependent on getting a critical mass of special ed students within a given school to have an effective inclusion program, don't you think?

I have both an APP student and a special ed student. I've been growing a beard to make up for all the hair I've torn out over all the proposed changes.

AutismMom said...

Sorry Anonymous, yes "bombs" was a poor choice and I would have liked to edit it to something like "dropped the big news". Beth can you change it to something less inflammatory on the main post? I regret my word choice. The big news is really that they are making this change NOW, and all at once... though the impact will be slow because people take many years to transfer.

Look, we can quibble over wording, and integrated service delivery model mean "services" NOT "programs". We were definitely told not "to think of things as programs". OK, we won't. We were told there would be availability at ALL schools IF POSSIBLE (that isn't a few schools, that's ALL schools, and that could be great). There will definitely be changes in self-contained programs because they have said that these will also not be narrowly tailored, not so dense, and not sent in from all over the city. If they can pull it off, it will be a huge benefit.

And to my mind, the biggest benefit may be a HUGE reduction in the constant "change of placement" threat.

AutismMom said...

From Dan: Are there really no exceptions to the following?
Disabled students, currently self-contained, will have a better experience without a 'self-contained program'
Who did the research on the above statement

We don't need fear-mongering.

We know from ALL objective data that our huge reliance on ultra self-containment has produced next to nothing. Go look at any "low incidence" self-contained program. Middle schoolers (all in 1 class for 3 years) are all doing the same kindergarten work.... maybe occasionally breaking into the first grade level. If we have some doubt about a less restrictive education, there's no doubt about the unbelievably low expectations in these self-contained programs. Frankly, I don't see how changing that could make it any worse. And of course self-containment will still be offered, but not called a "program" and not as "limited" as now. SPS is required to provide "a continuum of services". Self-containment is in the continuum.

As to "direct instruction" being the 1 true way. Not really. My kid has done that. That too gets you to around first grade level and then peters out. The fact is, the world doesn't work like that. No real school would use it. Kids NEED enrichment, they need complexity, they need real language, they NEED to be distracted and challenged along multiple axis... direct instruction offers none of that. Same goes with EDM and TERC etc... They're not ALL bad. My child excelled with both. You CAN teach and learn with them...

north seattle mom said...

Melissa, Here is the link to the Seattle Special Ed PTSA to learn more about their meetings

I also get SPS school beat newsletter to keep up on meeting announcements.

seattle citizen said...

Skimming all this, did I miss some more information about how Gen Ed educators are being prepared for this major transition?

I agree that there are too many ways to isolate students from the "mainstream", and it's too tempting to do this. Educators might not WANT to get rid of any child who is outside the norm (discipline-wise, SpEd, altnerative... etc) but since it makes their job easier to teach towards a more homogenous population, there is less resistance, perhaps, when a child is un-necessarily given a more restrictive environment.

Gen Ed educators might be in for a big surprise, given this information. How are they being prepared? What resources (PD, IAs, specialized FTE cert assistance in the classroom...) are they preparing to work with?

With the reconfiguration of the so-called "safety net" "programs" (is THIS still a "program"?) the old ways were streamlined, consolidated, and there were good plans laid out for "case management" of "safety net" students in the sending (gen ed) schools: rather than send the kid out, suspend, expell, try to deal with them after they've gone truant...ALL the schools would be working to retain these students and give them more "mainstreamed" (sort of the least restrictive environment idea) educations.


Has this happened? It's been a year and half since that initiative; what's the status?

1) prepare gen ed for the good work of inclusion when possible;
2) provide and organize the necessary peripheral support staff;
3) lots of training on differentiation
4) a rethinking of the question:
"what is a classroom FOR?"

dan dempsey said...


MG-J said:

"You must have the courage and strength to advocate for equity and excellence for all children."

No quarrel with that.... but I see plenty of evidence that we are not headed there (not confining this to just SPED direction).

I've always advocated for a blended approach. No one true way.

Again my questioning of the thrust to treat all children uniformly is not in anyway meant to advocate for increasing or even maintaining the number of students currently in self-contained classrooms. It depends on what works for the child and that is hardly the same for all.

I used a variety of materials and strategies in a cross-graded inclusion model classroom for 7th and 8th graders with good results. I certainly am not advocating for 100% direct instruction. I only point out that it does have a place.

While some children are thought to have done well with TERC and EDM, the trend in the SPS over the last decade and in the state hardly shows them to be reasonable choices for children expecting to become architects, engineers, or physical or computer scientists.

Equity and excellence for all children in math will not be happening with EDM and TERC as the source for every child's k-5 math base.

Schools should attempt to be educating each child to their fullest potential. Too often it looks like the goal is to provide the same instructional situation for all.

AutismMom said...

Dan, as a professional in science and engineering, and as someone who has shipped math software that has been used by literally 100's of millions of people, I assure you EDM and TERC are absolutely FINE as educational bases for the sciences. Perhaps there are better, but the reality is, it's all about the teaching.

I am glad you advocate for a variety.

Rose M said...

What support will be provided in each building for the newly dispersed children. For buildings that have not been serving level 3 & 4 IEPs, I don't think classroom teachers have the training to make that successful. Will extra staff be provided to those schools? Will it just be a beefed up resource room that occasionally interacts with a student or will special ed certified aids be in integrated classrooms all day? Or will special ed certified teachers replace teachers without that certification in classrooms?

Schools are giving tours now. What should they say about current blended kindergartens or contained programs.

Schools are preparing budgets next month.

We should know how the model will look in each building before the budget process starts. Where is the plan?

North End Mom said...

I, too, am wondering about the plan for implementation of the service delivery model for special ed. Also about the timing of all this.

First, I think this will be a great way to implement special ed, once there is the structure to implement it in place. I was under the impression that a service delivery model was going to begin with the implementation of the new student assignment plan, although I did hear Harium make reference to it in regards to the special ed component at the Jane Addams building. It is surprising to hear that it will begin as early as next fall.

Schools ARE planning and/or conducting tours now, including those schools with established inclusion and/or special ed programs. With no formal announcement of what to expect next fall, it is difficult to convey to prospective parents the offerings at these schools. More importantly, any programatic changes will likely affect staffing at these schools, and how the needs of children currently enrolled in inclusion and special ed programs are met.

What, exactly, is the "integrated services model?" How many autism-spectrum students are in each gen ed classroom? Is it more or less than typically dispersed in the current inclusion setting? How many support staff (special ed teachers and aides) will be allocated per student or unit of students at each school? How does this compare with current ratios for inclusion (don't quote me, but I believe this is currently one inclusion teacher and two inclusion aides per every 8 inclusion kids). From what I've seen, this level of staffing is necessary.

A concern for me is that the Functional Capacity numbers that just came out are now effectively useless, as they do not take additional special ed classrooms into consideration. Both self-contained and inclusion/"integration" services require additional space. The space needs are obvious for self-contained, but not so obvious for inclusion. Inclusion students are not just served in the classroom, they need space for pull-out/one-on-one tutoring.

What will be the pull-out space requirements for an integrated services model? How will the space requirements be met at schools already at or beyond their functional capacities (and in some cases, already "functioning" with less PCP space than they are due)? Hopefully, the District realizes that hallways are not appropriate places for one-on-one tutoring of autistic children (nor should it be for any child, though it seems to be the norm at many schools).

Current inclusion models seem to work pretty well, for both the gen ed and special ed populations at the schools that have them, but they do require adequate staffing and space. I understand that the frustration for many with the current system is the lack of availability of service. As long as there is adequate staffing and space considerations in place, then the service delivery model should work, but it will need to be implemented very carefully.

Sorry for all the questions/comments. I hope there is some clarification provided soon.

AutismMom said...

Maureen, it's pretty obvious that some specialty programs will need to remain. Perhaps DHH is one of them, as deaf students have amongst the most truly special requirements. "Generic self-contained" would be something that might become something like "generic special education". Lots of people have complained about "generic self contained" have 0 access to gen ed on one hand, and yet refuse to serve more severe students on the other.

Mark, yes that is the current word. At least for middle schools, because "Will there be an inclusion program at Madison Middle?" was directly asked. "No we're not having programs any more, but you can enroll at Madison Middle via regular enrollment like everyone else. There's a self-contained program there now, but it won't be the same and you can be included in gen ed moving forward." was the answer. Clarification was "Go on regular tours and enroll." Developmental preschools have not been told of any program descriptions for elementary schools. This is way overdue from past years. Maybe they're going to actually end up sending students schools with level 3+ programs, since that is where the staff currently is. I asked my consulting teacher why she was at my school for a tour, when she hadn't told any of the preschools about the program? Why did she expect to see anyone? She stared at me, but had no answer. Well, 2 parents in the know showed up.... usually there's a big crowd on "sped day".

North End Mom, yes all good points. Firstly, they aren't moving existing students around. It's all about having enough staff for the density of student need... and how will that be managed? And who knows if people actually sign up for Bryant, Laurelhurst, View Ridge, ... all inclusion deserts and/or sped deserts... will people actually get enrolled there? Or will they just say, sorry no room or no service available, as per usual. Students in the blended K's were told they can stay at Bryant, and that the blended K's aren't going to continue.

Anonymous. I never said they were doing away with self-containment. Obviously they can't. They are required to provide a continuum of service, and self-containment is on the continuum. We can only hope they improve it. And sure, they said ALL districts around us have an "integrated service delivery" model. But it isn't strictly true. Shoreline, for one, definintely does NOT have that. They have even more restrictive settings, and is very discriminatory. People move to Seattle to get away from Shoreline. If you follow FEAT or AutismKingCounty, you will note the constant struggle people face getting the support they need in these other districts. I'm not saying "integrated services" are bad, but we will need to be able articulate every need of our child moving forward, and be prepared to ask for it forcefully. Did you really think MGJ was in fine form? I notice she was able to find child-care for the school board meeting. "Annies Nannies" can always provide childcare at a high price on short notice. Many people commented on her complete lack of engagement, so I posted that. No, simply deferring at every point to Fred isn't appropriate. By contrast, I think everyone is really impressed with both Fred and Carla, and the level of engagement and leadership they have provided. Last time, MGJ simply differed to Colleen and Michelle Corker. She either has an opinion or she doesn't. It seems like she is there for the appearance only.

Charlie Mas said...

Has there been any official District announcement about this huge change in practice? Or was this bomb only dropped at the Special Ed PTSA meeting?

dj said...

I find this all interesting because I thought that one "good" thing that came out of the Lowell decision was that the special education students were able to stay put. My understanding was that the district looked into relocation and decided it was too expensive. Is that just short term?

Charlie Mas said...

Even if the District were to mainstream a lot of the students with IEPs and disperse them to schools all across the district, there will continue to be some who need specialized equipment or support that cannot be re-created at numerous schools. The low-incidence and medically fragile will probably still have to be gathered together into programs to save the District the expense of duplicating the occupational therapy and physical therapy equipment and all of the rest.

TechyMom said...

the blended Ks are going away? Is that true? Does that mean that those seats are now general we seats, subject to sibling, reference area, distance, lottery tie-breakers, and that special ed kids don't have priority for them? Am I correct that these seats were we aside before? Isn't that going to mean fewer special ed kids at places like mcgilvra and bryant?

Btw, I love that my phone corrects "special ed" to "special we.". How very inclusive...

Rose M said...

I thought that the goal was to disperse spec ed children to their neighborhood schools instead of concentrating them in certain schools that have 'programs'.

Parents I have talked with resent not being able to attend their neighborhood school. Some posters on this blog have stated a goal of having every school serve the same percentage of special needs children. At as assignment plan meeting it was mentioned as a way to cut transportation costs.

So why would children not be encouraged to move to their neighborhood schools once they are no longer restricted to programs? And what services will they find there if they move?

Is there an assignment map special ed children by reference area & where they are currently assigned?

anonymous said...

Why offer any programs at any schools? Why offer APP? Why offer Spectrum? Why SBOC? Why ELL? Why the homeless program at BF Day? Why safety net schools? If every school should meet every child's need then we should have no use for any of these "programs" should we?

north seattle mom said...

The Blended K question is a great one. I imagine that the current class will roll up. I am certain the goal was that there would be a full K-5 program at both Byrant and McGilvra. However, the reason there wasn't a K-5 program before is that those schools are both very over-crowded.

I imagine the only way to make it work for roll up would be to completely restrict incoming transfers for first grade and hope that there is enough natural attrition from the K classes to collapse the classrooms.

I would suspect that to then continue this program they would further restrict incoming K enrollment to more manageable levels so that there can be a planned rollup.

For example, Bryant typically has 4 K classrooms and 1 first to make this rollup work long term they would need to go to 3 K classrooms.

Can anyone from Bryant or McGilvra comment on this?

Anonymous said...

I have a child in the Bryant blended K this year, but she's not on an IEP, so I'm certainly no expert on special ed issues. But, here's my understanding of how's it works.

Right now, Bryant has 5 K classes. Four of them have 25 kids/each, and the blended class has 15 kids (115 kindergartners in total). Historically, a maximum of 7 seats in the blended class are reserved for children with IEPs. The other 10 seats are for "typically developing" kids, who can opt in to the class after receiving an assignment to Bryant. This year, two families who were on the class list did not show up, thus there are 15 kids this year. Don't know if those two open seats are gen ed seats or not. But, right now, we know there are at least 5 children on IEPs in the blended class this year, but no more than 7.

I've been told that in the past, about half the children on IEPs end up staying at Bryant beyond Kindergarten. So, of 7 kids, maybe 3-4 stay for 1st grade.

I guess I don't understand what the roll-up proposition means. Bryant has to accomodate at least 108-112 kids for 1st grade next year. If all the children from the blended class were to stay, then the number is 115 first graders. Given overenrollment issues, how/why would they lower the number of Kindergarten classes next year to somehow affect the school's ability to handle a few more children with IEPs?

We have not been told what is going to happen next year yet. I suspect/hope that the plan is to have 5 first grades and go back to 4 K classes because some cluster capacity will go to the new Jane Addams K-8 program, but I don't assume anything at this point! But it is difficult for me to imagine a blended program with a max of 17 children continuing through 5th grade when there are so many children in this age cohort already at Bryant and no physical space left to create new classrooms.

AutismMom said...

Techymom + LAK, The word is that ALL blended K's will be discontinued. That was directly stated. That is, no special small classes. Students will be served naturally in their classrooms with supports required on their IEP's: in class support, pullout, etc (presumably like an inclusion program). Maybe at Bryant that will mean more people can enroll, since there won't be a K class of 17... it can have 32. And that's 15 more available seats. Yipee! Students currently enrolled will "rollup" if possible, but without out of cluster transportation. That issue was also directly addressed. Some of those blended K graduates may elect to return to their neighborhood or choose something else. BUT, presumably there will be disabled Kindergarteners in the reference areas of those schools will now have access which was denied before.

I guess, I would expect McGilvra to have more availablility next year for the average person, but not a full 10 seats extra.

If we move to a neighborhood based assignment, Bryant on average will be serving more disabled students (and students with more needs). It currently only serves 7, and it ships out more than that. McGilvra on the other hand, serves an adequate number, but only serves them in kindergarten. We would expect that service to span the grade range if we had natural ratios and natural assignment.

Rose M said...

If Bryant has 1st grade classes of 28 then the 4 current 1st grade classrooms could accommodate 112 kids. I think you could expect 5 kids to move. Bryant also is required to hold seats for ELL transfers midyear. The classes can get bigger than 28 with some additional teacher compensation & no added staff.

Is there some requirement of class size for children on level 3 iep's that would affect the general ed classes they move into after blended K? Were blended K's required to keep class size down? Why were they only 17 students?

AutismMom said...

Charlie, the "special equipment" is a real issue, but applies to very few students. OT/PT/speech are all availabe everywhere. And there actually is a lot of equipment everywhere too. Medically fragile of course would be hard to decluster... and a few others: Deaf/Hard of Hearing, maybe IDP. Low incidence was directly addressed as something that we could expect to be vastly reduced or eliminated. One parent asked about it. Fred said that the The low standards, low expectation, and low achievement from these programs were due to their highly restricted nature. And they don't represent best practice or the sped audit recommendations. The district was looking to correct that over time, and that those very specialized classes would be discontinued over 5 years." I thought that was very courageous stand on his part. Because it is SO obviously true, no matter how ingrained they are in people's minds. Getting rid of those programs doesn't mean the students will just be in gen-ed, it should mean access to a much bigger pond.

Here's a list of programs (and this is really something ONLY Seattle has). In fact, I think there's actually more than this. This is what they're at least trying to reduce:

Blended K
Blended Social Skills K
Transitional K
Behavior K
Resource Room
Low Incidence Inclusion
Low Incidence A self contained
Low Incidence B self contained
ADHD self contained
Behavior Intervention Program
Academically Behaviorally Challe
Autism Inclusion
Autism Self-contained
Deaf Hard of Hearing
Low Grouping Self-Contained
ADHD inclusion
Internalizing Behavior Disorder
Medically Fragile