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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coffee with the Superintendent - Part 3

Last part - I promise.

Q: Olympic View's new Special Ed inclusion program is great. However in one kindergarten class, there are 3 children with behavior challenges. The principal is frazzled from worried parents coming in and asking how all the children are going to learn if the teacher has to direct her attention to those children more often than not. Volunteers can't help because of liability issues. (The parent didn't say if there was an IA but I get the impression there isn't.)
A: We needed to give better service to students with special needs. They have a legal right to be in the class. Teachers need more training and yes the process is hard on parens. We intervene when things aren't working. Talk to the principal about providing resources and intervention but yes, it's about money.

Q: There was a question about a self-contained autism program that had 4 IAs and now has 1. Where to go to troubleshoot this?
A: There's a special ed manager for each region.

Q: We used to have more choice for high schools. We allowed schools to evolve their own way to meet the differing needs/wants of students. Now, with the NSAP, there is worry that your area high school won't have the AP you want for your child or the music choices. Can we modify the NSAP to meet needs of high school students?
A: (My notes here are sketchy but she seemed to throw this one off on the School Board. She said something about developing programs everywhere.)
Q: Right but if a school has concerns over advanced learning classes and orchestra, how do you look at this?
A: 1) choice option of 10% seats 2)on-going discussion.

Q: capacity issues in NE for a long time (a bubble versus a surge). The anomaly the district spoke of is now in third grade (best line of the morning). What is the long-term plan for NE middle school and when will JA get a commitment that we can communicate to parents? What about John Marshall?
A: We probably will need another comprehensive middle school in the NE. Marshall could be considered but there are needs and costs there.

Q: What about Jane Addams tours in January? What do we tell parents?
A: I agree we need to make that decision. There are Work Sessions in December and January on this issue.

Q: MAP and Advanced Learning. You have to get 85% on MAP to get into AL. One, where did that number come from and two, you don't get your MAP score until November and yet the AL deadline is October.
A: MAP is a screening tool to recommend testing.
Q: Our teachers don't recommend students; you have to go to the office to get a packet.
Q: Is it appropriate to use MAP? Will you miss the appeal deadline? We need a timeline for the whole thing to understand how this works. There's an issue of testing environments and kids. MAP should be out of the equation for AL especially for kindergarten.
Q: At our school many Ks had never used a mouse before AND were listening to words in headphones and trying to do what they were directed. It turns it into a high stakes test.
A: I hear your frustration. (These were several parents all chiming in at once.) We'll check on the technical piece. Fill out the application and don't get stuck on the MAP data. I've heard hundreds of conversations, pro and con (really??) But 85% wasn't arbitrary; I'll check where it came from. (She had noted that all questions were being written down by staff.)

Q: What about the website update? We need better communication with parents.
A: We're having that conversation now.

Q: MAP at Wedgwood. 20% of our Ks had never used a computer. They let the kids practice once for 10 minutes. When they started testing, 2 kids started crying. (And honest to God, you could almost feel the clutch in everyone's throat for those kids. We all know how much it would hurt us to know our child was confused and in tears at school over a test.) Other neighborhoods are under-resourced as far as computer access at home. It's a mistake for AL to use MAP like this.

Q: Are you getting rid of Spectrum?
A: Absolutely not true.

Q. At many middle school Spectrum schools, there aren't enough seats.

Q: Olympic View parents want an ALO but the staff is resisting. The principal seems okay but the staff says that it is extra work for them to have to use the AL report card. They try to differentiate teaching but it isn't apparent. Aren't all schools supposed to have ALOs? (The librarian at JA volunteered that her child is at Laurelhurst and gets an AL report card but she doesn't see much difference in what her child gets in an ALO.)
A: It's in the NSAP as part of academic assurances by 2015.
Q: Bryant parent, we knew it was coming and decided to be pro-active in creating ours.

Q: I have proctored MAP tests. You need a consistent proctor if kids ask questions that you can't help with. It seems unfair that the proctor comes out of a school's budget, not the district's budget.

Q: I asked about PTA help being included in a recent budget Work Session.
A: That was around the WSS and that was principals, not the district. (I checked and it came from the WSS Committee which is the district. It is pretty shocking to see PTA considered as part of where revenue comes from.)

Q: What about the alignment of high school science curriculum? Won't we lose science classes if we only create end of course exams for a few classes?
A: We can use other classes for science graduation requirements as long as they meet the standards.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wrapped up with an overview of topics that we discussed including MAP, Special education, NSAP boundaries, communication and ALOs. She circulated a bit and said goodbye to everyone.

Many parents stayed behind to talk. This is one thing I LOVE about going to meetings. You learn the most interesting things. Turns out that JA's librarian had been the MAP proctor last year but they have someone in to do that. She has a portable library cart and goes around to different classes (fun).

I was also told (but am sworn to secrecy) that one middle school LA class, all by themselves, decided to go on strike against MAP. They just sat there (or just put their name in the computer and called it a day). They said the type was too hard to read and it was boring. As you can imagine, not a happy teacher.

One thing that is becoming clear to me is that the pressure is getting greater and greater on schools. It used to be that the WASL was scary because you needed a good school score. Principals and teachers didn't want kids to leave for Spectrum or APP because it would drag their school scores down. Now, it's teacher's evaluations that will drag down if kids don't do well on the HSPE and/or the MAP. Can you imagine how fearful a teacher could get if kids refuse or don't really try? How do you motivate them? What if you are a parent and you find out the MAP stresses your kid out? Will you (can you) opt them out? Do you hurt your child's teacher to protect your child?

I still haven't heard from Dr. Enfield about how to opt-out. I can't imagine why not.

53 comments:

Elizabeth said...

we were told in a pta meeting at bagley elementary by a district data coach doing a presentation on MAP that you write a note to your principal if you want to opt out of the MAP test for your child.

Chris S. said...

I had sort of calculated the bubble/bulge starting being in 2nd grade this year, from my dim memories. What one parent pointed out was that the addition of kindergartens, a trend that has yet to reverse in the NE, started with the class that is now in 6th grade. What we remember is when schools actually ran out of room.

Anyone know how many more MS seats are available at Jane Addams? All comprehensive middle schools north of the ship canal are full. Full being a euphemism for overflowing.

Dorothy Neville said...

Re capacity, bubble vs trend. Rachel Cassidy (did I get her name right?) said at the last school board meeting that Seattle births five years ago (kids starting K in fall 2011) were about 300 more than for the cohort that started K this year. Do I remember correctly that she said it is still trending up in more recent years as well? I think so, but not positive.

(and honestly, good for you Melissa and others who attended this coffee chat. I couldn't make myself go. Thanks for the rest of us.)

wsnorth said...

There are so many interesting and contradictory things in this post. It is like a microcosm of SPS!!

For example:

“… in one kindergarten class, there are 3 children with behavior challenges.”

That's below the district wide Special Ed population rate of %15....where is the support?

“Volunteers can't help because of liability issues.”

SPS is shameless, if there is anything they don't let "volunteers" do, I haven't seen it.

“with NSAP, there is worry that your area high school won't have ....music choices … Orchestra…”

Orchestra? In a previous post we read about the crisis where SPS graduates can't do simple math! White privilege, indeed! I love Orchestra ... I wish we could all have an orchestra, but I wish more that our kids didn't have to go to school in moldy portables with 29-34 other kids.

“What is the long-term plan for NE middle school”

Long term plan? This is SPS. LOL. See next item.

“you don't get your MAP score until November and yet the AL deadline is October”

They can't even SHORT TERM plan, how can they long term plan? Note to district staff, November comes AFTER October.

“When they started testing, 2 kids started crying.”

I've seen kids cry at soccer practice, that doesn't mean they have never kicked a ball (though it is heartbreaking).

“Principals and teachers didn't want kids to leave for Spectrum or APP because it would drag their school scores down.”

Ahem, hence we need a more objective measure, like 85% on MAP scores... or something.

Wow, what a great dialog. Too bad Mao Goodloe Johnson never listens.

Unknown said...

It is clear that we are near a MAP rebellion. The issues are 1) the severe impact of testing on elementary students and the schools, 2) the loss of student access to computers in the lab or on a cart for 9 weeks of the school year, and 3) most importantly, there is no known connection between MAP and the SPS curriculum. In addition, our school didn't have a room for a computer, so we were "forced," as the teachers say, to take a laptop computer cart.
Can someone confirm that Highline or Federal Way, one or the other, discontinued using MAP or reduced the testing periods?

Also, it sounds like Supt. has little faith in her teachers, especially teachers that have no confidence in her. Just imagine if she tried putting TFA teachers at Roosevelt or Laurelhurst. Maybe what SPS needs is a Supt. with only 5 weeks of training.

StepJ said...

2006 was the year that Seattle had a record birth rate.

A year that has not yet reached enrollment age for SPS.

Depending on the month of birth SPS has less than a year, two at most to prepare and accommodate an unprecedented wave of enrollment (just casual observation) in all areas North.

Will SPS listen to us mere parents? Will SPS be ready?

Melissa Westbrook said...

On the volunteers helping with special ed students, I think the issue is if there are behavior issues, the volunteer can't step in even if he/she is the closest (or only one in the room at that moment). That's where the liability is (and yet I wonder how TFA teachers can be allowed to teach special ed students, another mystery).

“Principals and teachers didn't want kids to leave for Spectrum or APP because it would drag their school scores down.”

That quote is strictly MINE. Please do not attribute it to Dr. G-J because this is me speculating on my own.

Save, this is my confusion as well. Why would you put the least trained, least experienced teachers in with the students with the most challenges? It kind of defies logic. Why not move the best teachers to the low-performing schools and put the newbies at Laurelhurst and Roosevelt?

Anonymous said...

"A: We needed to give better service to students with special needs. They have a legal right to be in the class. Teachers need more training and yes the process is hard on parens. We intervene when things aren't working. Talk to the principal about providing resources and intervention but yes, it's about money."

This is shocking: we wait until kids fail, which is against the law, and then we say we can't do anything because of resources, which is also against the law.

"Q: There was a question about a self-contained autism program that had 4 IAs and now has 1. Where to go to troubleshoot this?
A: There's a special ed manager for each region."

Again, shocking. Dr G-J may be the last to know that the level of respect for these sped middle managers is hitting an all time low for teachers and parents. And in relation to her comment about money being the issue, it seems like she is giving responsibility without authority. The whole sped service situation needs to be audited. This is very sickening.

Signed, sickened

StepJ said...

The first big surge of adding classes in the NE was 2008-2009.

Kids now in 2nd grade...moving ever closer to 6th grade.

Jet City mom said...

My D was @ JA @ Summit from 3rd to 8th grade- in 2001 ? we added an extra 6th grade class to cope with overflow from Eckstein. It was meant to be used just for a year or at the most two, but it went on longer.
These students hadn't attended Summit for elementary, weren't interested in the high school, but there wasn't any room elsewhere for middle.

mirmac1 said...

Elizabeth,

I opted my daughter out. At first they said she'd have to sit in the office during the testing period. I needlessly pointed out that this would have a punitive on her for no damn reason. I expressly asked that she do those things that would otherwise be done but for MAP testing. Ended up she is assisting various teachers (she's in 5th grade).

I would love more parents to take control and opt their child out.

Anonymous said...

In relation to strong superintendents- Michelle Rhee is officially out of DC district leadership as of tonight.

She sits on the same Broad board of governance and adheres to the same philosophies as our superintendent.

"Suddenly Hopeful"

Anonymous said...

The supposed issue with special ed students and volunteers is... some special education students have BIPs in their IEPs. That is, they have Behavior Intervention Plans. So, unless you know what the "behavior intervention plan" is, you won't know what to do. And, the BIP is confidential, so you aren't allowed to access that document as a volunteer. As far as I know, there's no reason the teacher can't direct you. EG "If Johnny throws his milk carton, please ignore it." In point of fact, I've never seen a volunteer turned away from a special education student by policy.

WSNorth. The district doesn't have 15% special ed. And, even if it did, having 3 disabled students with behavior issues is beyond the norm. (There are probably 5 more with non-behavioral special education issues.)

But, indeed, (your point, I think) where is the support? This is ICS, remember? That means NO SUPPORT. The SUPPORT was in the "inclusion programs". But, the district will not allow new students to enter the inclusion programs. It's cheaper to do nothing, as the lady said. No admission to inclusion programs unless you're in them already! Good deal.

-- Getting Along

ARB said...

Meg Diaz needs to follow the spec ed funding. my understanding is that significant block of extra funding is provided for ever IEP student, even with mild disabilities. ICS (the new system) should cost even less to the district bc far less support is offered. where is the money?

you should all care about this. unsupported students can impact the entire class.

ttln said...

i think i have a solution for MAP score posting/ALO qualification notice. - at least for MS. idk if it would work in elementaries. i created a column in my grade book to post RIT scores and a note that identifies if the score qualfies for ALO.those scores went home on the midq progress report and are posted to the source.

Laurie said...

The post reads: "Q: I have proctored MAP tests. You need a consistent proctor if kids ask questions that you can't help with. It seems unfair that the proctor comes out of a school's budget, not the district's budget."

Was there a response from the superintendent to this issue (two issues: lack of consistent proctoring and lack of budget). Thank you for posting these reports.

Dorothy Neville said...

I am struck with two questions. First, Melissa, did you say that these were parent volunteers who were proctoring the MAP? If so, wow.

Second. Can someone better versed in Special Ed give a primer as to the old inclusion model and this ICS, please? I understand your frustration, but please, without snark at me for not knowing already?

One of our points over and over with the levy is that the district is moving towards more inclusion for both Special Ed and ELL but, as clearly seen in the CBA, the district is committed to reducing IAs for both. I said that to Lynn Varner and gang yesterday at the our interview, that the district wanting the levy money for this new spending that does not directly support kids while cutting basic classroom supports just makes me ill. I'd like to make sure I understand exactly what the terminology means if asked.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Laurie, no, the Superintendent did not address this problem. I will say that most people accepted the answer they got (except me on TFA and a lot of parents on MAP). Since MAP is a district-wide test and schools must give it, I see it as the district's funding responsibility and not a school's.

Yes, both the people who said they proctored were parents. (The JA librarian was there and said she did last year but they have someone else for this year.)

mirmac1 said...

Done the way the district would like you to THINK it's being done, ICS should in fact cost more.

For disabled children to attend their neighborhood school (eliminating assignments to others schools with programs), that district should be hiring MORE Spec Educators and MORE IAs. They just used the audit and ICS as window dressing so that they could eliminate supports period. They say the Gen Educator serves by differentiating instruction (28 times?!), and the rest is pull-out in resource room.

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks, Mirmac.

So do I have this right? Before, disabled kids would be sent to schools chosen by the district. Some of the programs at these schools were actually quite good inclusion programs, with supports to make inclusion work.

Now we are disbanding that concept and sending kids to their neighborhood schools. So IF they extended the program based inclusion model appropriately, that would have been a win-win, yes? But alas, they used some sort of "logic" based on the audit to place kids in neighborhood schools without appropriate personnel ratios to make it work?

They are doing the same thing with ELL.

Rose M said...

I proctored MAP testing. The classroom teacher was there with me, an administrator was in part of the time too. Kids sometimes needed more scrap paper or help if a computer went down, or mouse stopped responding. I intervened a couple of times to keep kids quietly focused on a book after they finished the test. Logging kids on & off the test is a little time consuming, so it is helpful to have an extra pair of hands.

Teachers were frustrated by kids who blew off the test (a few in each class), but didn't say anything to the kids. One child with autism struggled to stay focused & the teacher would occasionally walk by & put a hand on his shoulder, then the child would refocus. I wondered about what accommodations are available for MAP.

One teacher was wandering around watching what math problems the kids were doing & mentioned that he would need some different materials for kids who already were solving problems they would be learning in his next unit, noting who the kids were.

Most kids finished in under an hour.

One teacher talked enviously of the idea that Cleveland wouldn't need to upset their schedule for testing, with every child having a computer.

I compared the experience to the year I helped with testing in my child's 3rd grade class, which took the DRA, DWA, ITBS & WASL which combined to about 7 weeks of testing including a week and a half of subs for the DRA. I prefer the MAP with all its warts. Though I don't think it is a good measure of teacher efficacy.

Rose M said...

I would really like to better understand special education funding & staffing. How much funding is there & what part of that gets to classrooms vs. admin.

Also how does an individual education plan work in an ICS classroom with no special ed teacher. Is that compliant with highly qualified staff mentioned in IDEA? Shouldn't there be a teacher trained in special education in the classroom at least some of the time?

Anonymous said...

Rose, special ed students are funded by both special ed AND general ed dollars. Since nobody knows where the students are supposed to spend their day, it's impossible to really know the appropriate funding sources for each student.


For example, a special ed teacher who teaches a self-contained classroom where students never go to general education, should be getting ALL the general ed money AND ALL the special ed money allocated for her students. And that is exactly why Meg Diaz, or anybody else, will never be able to "follow the money". The central question would be "How much general ed money should be provided to special education staff?" The only way to know that, is to know how long each students spends OUT of general education settings. To repeat, special ed staff is SUPPOSED to be funded with basic ed money if the students are OUTSIDE of general ed when they are served.

--a basic ed parent, (aren't we all?)

Anonymous said...

Rose, to answer the question about highly qualified special education staff. Absolutely YES. Special education students receiving services in general education have IEPs which state who will deliver their special education. It's a checkbox on the IEP. The progress, at a minimum, MUST be monitored by certified special education teacher. Measures of progress are also on IEPs. So yes, a special education teacher must be present in the classroom at least some of the time. Unfortunately, in SPS... that could be 5 minutes a month. And progress measuring is pretty much nil.

Right Dorothy. The district has lots and lots of inclusion programs, in many schools all over the district: At Schmitz Park, Lafayette, Pathfinder, Gatewood, Graham Hill, Muir, Leschi, John Hay, Lawton, Rogers, North Beach, Broadview Thompson. These programs are great and have served students fairly adequately.

But, now they decided that new kids can't enroll in these programs. They decided that the programs are now just for 2-5, (used to be K-5). Next year, 3-5. etc. And so, they are cancelling these programs and getting rid of their teachers as the students graduate out. John Hay and Montlake have already had programs cancelled, and their staff cut. Maybe other schools have too.

Students however, are still being born disabled. So, you can cancel the program... but the kids will still be sitting in the classroom. I hope they are causing lots of problems and having massive tantrums. That's the only way to get a solution. Somebody has to do it.

The special ed review found that all special ed students should be blended and served cross categorically under ICS. All (and that means truly ALL) current programs should be discontinued and their staff used for ICS. Instead, we see the district just blew out the inclusion programs, the programs with the best results, and cancelled their staffing. Why provide service if you can do nothing? Doing nothing is always cheaper.



special ed parent

Maureen said...

basic ed parent, one of the problems I see at our K-8 is that, since 20% of Level 2 kids' and 100% of Level 4 kids' "credit" for a classroom teacher goes to the special ed teacher, the six basic classroom teachers we need to cover our 180 or so 6th-8th graders are not fully funded even though our class sizes are at or beyond contractual maximums. When our level 4 kids spend part of a day in a general ed classroom the special ed teacher and IA have to stay with the rest of their students and the gen ed teacher goes above the contractual max. The school does its best to teach all of the kids at the highest possible level, but the problem is that the more special ed or bilingual kids a cohort has, the bigger the class size has to be in order to fully fund the gen ed teacher. Before the WSS, basic class sizes could be adjusted downwards to account for the students who spent part of the day in gen ed, but that is no longer true.

Anonymous said...

Special Ed Parent,
Isn't this against the law, not providing adequate educational support for special education students? How can they be in general classroom without IA support? Some of these children are extremely sensitive to sensory stimuli and would have a very difficult time alone in the general classroom. Not to mention the possible bullying/excluding that they might face. Why doesn't someone sue?

Confused parent of developmentally-typical children

Dorothy Neville said...

Special Ed parent, thank you for the clarification. It really makes me ill, how sad and frustrating for parents, teachers and all students.

Maureen, this is precisely the sort of information the board needs but I don't think is fluent in. You had explained this before but I wasn't completely following. Now I think I see the arithmetic. The board WANTS to fix the WSS issues, the board WANTS to fund schools first, so when cuts have to be made they can hit HQ first. But it will take a lot of work for them to get there. It has taken the audits, the no-confidence and the anti-levy campaign to get them this focused. We need to help them maintain their momentum. Maureen, have you explained it this clearly to the board? The finance committee is meeting tomorrow and understanding and stabilizing the WSS is one of their prime objectives moving forward.

What got me angry at the board budget workshop was when a board member asked about IAs, how they were allocated. And Duggan Harman was slick in explaining how it works, by sliding in the phrase "under the old contract" into the explanation. Sure, why explain how it worked under the old contract? Because under the new contract the ratios are worse, much worse!

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I hope they are causing lots of problems and having massive tantrums. That's the only way to get a solution. Somebody has to do it."

As a former special ed parent, that statement makes me so sad. Because it's true but it makes our kids a target. And that all the parent requests in the world won't do the trick - it probably has to be a teacher saying, "Look, I can't do my job and the rest of the class doesn't get what they need."

Anonymous said...

Right Maureen. WSS seems completely broken to me, and illegal. But, that doesn't mean that the school can simply deny access to classrooms for special ed students and/or ELL ed students because of it. Special education and/or ELL students have just as much right to be in a general ed classroom as anyone else. You might look into how schools with inclusion programs staff their general education classrooms. Frankly, I do not know that. For example, Salmon Bay has 16 autistic students, and maybe more. (Very similar to your situation at TOPs, and a similar size.) They are all level 4. And, they are all in 2 grades: 7th and 8th. ALL those students also count against general ed staffing under the WSS. And yet, Salmon Bay doesn't seem to have particularly overloaded classrooms. Something to remember, contractual maximums aren't really maximums... they're suggested maximums. Meaning "We'll do our best to keep the classes under this limit, sorry if it doesn't work out."

B.E.P.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy. I think the board is very fluent WSS issues. The problem is that special ed students and other students count only as a fraction of a person. Autistic students count a 20% of a student. If that isn't evidence of stealing dollars from special education, I don't know what is. (EG. An autistic student sits in general ed all day, but only counts as 20% of a student and only gets 20% of the gen ed dollars accorded others. Why?) So, there is a HUGE bias to keep them out of general ed because the schools are not funded for them in general ed (or funded for them in special ed). It's like they aren't even there. Remember, the district was saying this was all about inclusion. Obviously not. They killed inclusion. They don't even fund special ed students as general ed students with the WSS.

--Confused Parent. IEPs, a student's service contract, are really driven by the district. Right now, the district won't allow IEP teams to write very many goals or write the need for IAs into IEPs despite obvious need. Why doesn't someone sue? It costs around $40,000. And, it's difficult to prove your needs. Courts give great deference to districts. How do you prove that you need an IA? Maybe it's possible after you already failed, but that's many years down the road. It's a lot easier to sue them on technical grounds, like paperwork errors.

Melissa. Right. Teachers need to step up, and state their needs, and state the needs of their students at IEP meetings. If they can't handle their classrooms... demand an IA. If they don't do that, they've got no one to blame but themselves. Teachers are on IEP teams, and they are the ones that allow district dictates to stand. EG. "don't write in any IA support in IEPs" When teachers follow district "policy" limiting IEPs, instead of stating student needs that is actually illegal. IEPs are supposed to be about student needs, not district needs.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

B.E.P.

You might want to take another look at Salmon Bay. SB was once a model of inclusion like you mention. However, SB is not immune from the budget realities that Maureen outlined and SB was forced to dramatically restructure the middle school this last year and so much of what you mentioned is now gone.

-SB parent

Anonymous said...

How many students are in a class at Salmon Bay? I believe the limit is 32 in middle school. Are there more than 32 per class?

BTW. I'm not saying Salmon Bay is a model of inclusion, but it does have 2 inclusion programs full of level 4 students, who are all counted against general ed staffing. That is, those 16 students only count as 3.2 students, even though they sit in 16 chairs. That means a whopping 13 more students must be stuffed into the room to get it to add up. How can any school do that if it isn't funded for those students to be in general ed? There must be some mechanism to get it to work. (Or Eckstein, how does that school get staffing for it's huge number of level 4 students all in general ed?)

BEP

Anonymous said...

BEP -
I wish I had a clue as to how it works (or worked) but I don't. There used to be a 16 student inclusion program that was funded and supported with adequate staff and AFAIK well regarded by both spec ed and gen ed parents.

All I know is that with the Oct numbers, there are 26 in 6th and 25 in 7th and 29 in 8th and there is many fewer adult bodies working the program.

I have no clue how they calculate the staffing, all I know is that there are fewer adults and more need for support services.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/enroll/2010/octp223adj.pdf

SB Parent

Maggie Middle School Teacher said...

The teachers have a choice how they are to be evaluated and most do not use the MAP scores because it is an incredibly inane test. You will not be hurting your teacher if you choose to opt out of MAP. And I think having your child opt out will send the message loud and clear that 4 high-stakes tests every year is too much and that the MSP is all that is needed. Furthermore, the MSP costs nothing while the 3 MAP tests cost 4 million. I salute the middle-schoolers but I bet you money there was a teacher at their school behind the whole thing. The test is a lousy one.

peonypower said...

I just sat through a long department meeting today where I heard several of my colleagues talk about the combination of special ed and regular ed students in their high school science classes. One has 17 IEP students and another has 11 in classes of 32. Support has not been forthcoming, and they are deeply upset at how this affects the structure of the class. In the current contract it states that special education students will be distributed equitably in a building as much as possible. The is hilarious because 3 years ago 23 out of my 76 freshman students had IEP's. I had help for 5 students who were in the Asperger's program for 1 period a day.

3 years ago the district announced that the full inclusion model for all but the most severe special education students would be the model for the district. This plan was enacted with "supports to be phased in over the next 5 years." These supports do not exist. Teachers are begging for help from admin, special ed staff, and counselors, and the reply is there is no money to put someone in the class with you.

Sadly, many of the students I had 3 years ago have now failed at least 1 semester of science and now must take credit recovery classes. The same thing is happening to ELL students and many of those student's parents have no idea how to ask for help for their kids. Full inclusion can work with support, but the district continues to cut funding and support.

Jet City mom said...

A long time Seattle school board director once told me when she asked legal why SPS didn't take more care in addressing the needs of SPED students and was told that even taking into account the lawsuits, it was cheaper ( & I suspect much easier) not to write & administer effective IEPs.

( He( the counsel) is still with the district, he can't exactly go back to WPPSS)
too bad.

Anonymous said...

SB parent. There still are 2 inclusion program at SB, with 2 teachers and at least 4 aides. Those teacher's contractual max is 8 each. (maybe they've got 10 instead of 8) But, there are also lots of other special education students, some in level 2/3, which I heard was a big joke. Special ed for them is "study hall". And there maybe some plain services kids (getting speech only). Special ed for them is 1/2 hour with the speech therapist.

But, that isn't the point Maureen is talking about. We aren't talking about how special ed is resourced or staffed in a building. The question is "How many kids are in each GENERAL ed classes"? Do you know the answer to that? How many students are in each class for your child?

Each of those autistic students gets funded at only 20% for general ed staffing, even though they're all actually IN general ed all day. The state does provide SPS full general ed funding for those autistic students.

BEP

Teachermom said...

"It probably has to be a teacher saying, "Look, I can't do my job and the rest of the class doesn't get what they need."

If only this were close to enough. This does nothing.

"Teachers need to step up, and state their needs, and state the needs of their students at IEP meetings. If they can't handle their classrooms... demand an IA. If they don't do that, they've got no one to blame but themselves."

I think that teachers do state their needs and the needs of their students, but the district makes it clear that if you don't follow their protocol, you will have many administrators working to make your life very difficult on top of the very demanding job you already have. And your students will still not get help.

Maureen said...

Salmon Bay does have 2 inclusion programs full of level 4 students, who are all counted against general ed staffing. That is, those 16 students only count as 3.2 students, even though they sit in 16 chairs. and Each of those autistic students gets funded at only 20% for general ed staffing, even though they're all actually IN general ed all day.

I am confused. If these kids are in an 'inclusion' program and they are "IN general ed all day" then there is no problem with covering the gen ed teacher. That person is their teacher and their 'credit' goes towards the classroom count. There would be no reason to have more than the contractual max in that classroom. In fact, level 4 special ed kids come with more dollars than gen ed kids so if you have 16 of them and they are 'included' in a gen ed class then their extra cash could be used to pay for an aide. (Of course, you might not be able to have all 16 kids in one classroom with the aide and teacher at a time if they are in different grades or have different schedules)

The problem I have seen is when the kids are NOT in an inclusion classroom, but are included in gen ed classrooms while their teacher 'credit' and extra dollars are allocated to the self contained special ed teacher. It seems to me that this problem may be limited to K-8s because there aren't enough kids at any given level there to cover enough aides and/or special ed teachers to split up and go with the kids to a gen ed classroom. It seems that Salmon Bay could be big enough at the Middle School level to work this out, but the structure of the WSS makes it difficult at the smaller K-8s.

I may be misunderstanding the definition of "inclusion." I assume it means that there is no special ed teacher per se. That the kids are in gen ed and might have an aide with them for part of the day. Is that right?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Well Teachermom. You are the one writing the IEP. You are the one responsible for accurately listing your student's needs. You do not work for "district administrators" who have policies against listing actual need. Usually they don't write these policies down, because that would be illegal. Don't you have a "union contract"? If you deny the student's needs by saying the student doesn't really have any extra needs, then you put a HUGE onus on the parents to sue the district against your statement in a legally binding document, the IEP.

--sped parent

Rose M said...

Why are special education students in inclusion classrooms only funded 20%? Are they also funded 100% for special education?

How can that pay for the regular ed teacher and a special ed teacher?

Are these kids receiving services in the classroom? (I thought that's what inclusion meant.) or is this somehow just funding pull outs with no classroom support?

I think I am still confused about what inclusion is & what ICS is.

I appreciate your patience with my lack of understanding Sped Parent.

Anonymous said...

Right Maureen. You are confused. (slightly) Level 4 students are ALL counted as self-contained, even if they're in something called an inclusin program, and they are all funded exactly the same way. There's no extra money going to particular schools for them. There's just the extra special ed staff and some small amount for materials. All district literature refers to inclusion programs as "self-contained". Inclusion students are not "counted" towards general ed even though they sit in and are in general ed. Level 4 students (inclusion or self-contained) are ALL counted in the WSS as 20% general ed, and so they are counted AGAINST general ed seats.

However, the special ed staff in inclusion programs is generally more available to the general ed teachers. They come in the classrooms, they co-teach, the aides are in the general ed classrooms. They work at recess. That is because it is assumed that the students inclusion programs will mostly be in general education. It's only an assumption though.

In point of fact, all students in self-contained programs are supposed to be counted towards general ed too. They are supposed to have access to general education classrooms, and be members in those classrooms.

Rose M. Your confusion is that you think there's something called an "inclusion class". There is NO SUCH THING. Students with IEPs are "general ed students" first. And, they can be in any classroom anywhere. The weighted staffing standard specifies how much money will come to the school on their behalf for general education only. For some students, that is 20% of a person.

--sped parent

Rose M said...

Ah, I understand. My child is in a class that is called by the school, an inclusion class, because it contains, students who have special education services & those who don't as well as some spectrum students. They have 2 teachers, one of which is a certificated special education teacher.

I can see that the class is in fact a general education class, but it is not the same as other general education classes in the school that have only one teacher who is not highly qualified in special education instruction.

ParentofThree said...

What I find interesting after reading all three coffee posts is that many questions were asked, many concerns brought forth and as far as I can tell no answers were given other than to toss it to another staff member (i.e talk to the spec ed director.)


And there is this magical timeframe, December and January, where everything will be resolved.


Also, in regards to spec ed. The problems were pointed out MONTHS ago and I do recall a board meeting where it was acknowledged that the rollout of this new program (such as it is) was rocky.

Here we are in mid-October and it seems like nothing has been addressed and/or resolved.

What gives?

Anonymous said...

The district doesn't want to pay for inclusion programs for high needs students, so it invented ICS (which is the resource room) in order not pay for inclusion. What gives? Nothing. It is working exactly as it was designed to work. ICS = no service = cheap, practically free actually.

Yours Truly,
Watch for Flying Chairs.

Anonymous said...

Rose, maybe your child is in a classroom in a building with an inclusion program. And so, the special ed teacher is available in the classroom. That sounds great and like it could work well. Or maybe resource room teacher is briefly in the classroom to provide some services to the students with disabilities. Another possibility is that the other "teacher" is actually a parapro.

Two things are unlikely. It is unlikely that this "inclusion classroom" (named by your school) has ALL the students with a disability in any given grade. There are simply too many of them. It is also unlikely that the resource room teacher can spend a lot of time in 1 classroom. Her caseload is 22:1. So, her caseload will be spreadout across a whole building.

--sped parent.

OV Parent said...

This is in responce to the comments regarding the kindergarten class at Olympic View. While there are 3 children with behavioral issues which occupy a great deal of the teachers attention, when you factor in the cascade effect this behavior has on other children the amount of actual teaching time is significantly reduced for all the students. How do I know this? I have spent 10-12 hours per week "volunteering" in this classroom.
The teacher in question has 25+ years of experience and is regarded as one of the best in the school. I have 28+ years as a child therapist serving children with behavioral and emotional issues in a variety of settings including numerous school-based programs. It takes all our collecttive expertise, and the help of additional parents, to create a learning environment in this classroom. Without the parent involvment the teacher would be left alone to cope. That will not work.
I find it somewhat ingenuine to suggest that the remedy to this situation is some additional teacher training.
OVParent in the classroom

Teachermom said...

Anonymous Sped Parent,

I am not solely responsible for writing IEPs for my students. The IEP is developed and agreed to by the IEP team, which includes gen. ed. teachers,administrators,related service providers, and parents.

Turning this back in a negative way on special ed teachers will not help this problem. Teachers and parents want the same thing, proper support for the kids, IMO, and we need to unite against district policies (written and unwritten) that do not serve children.

Anonymous said...

Right TeacherMom, you aren't solely responsible. But you are the IEP team manager. And YOU do actually write the IEP. If YOU don't write it in an IEP, it doesn't get written. Parents sign the IEP, they come to the meeting, they give input... but you write it. If you won't speak up, then there's nobody except the parent stuck there. The parent will than have to prove that YOU, in your writing of the IEP, were wrong in your needs assessment. That's a pretty high bar. Would you also deny a student's needs at a due process hearing before a judge? It is YOUR legal obligation to state the needs as you see them. If YOU fail to do that, you are actually breaking the law as the IEP is a legally binding document. Besides, you've got a union protecting you. Why not ask about policies that require you to act illegally and against student interest? We parents have no union.

True, teachers and parents want the same thing, but teachers do the writing of the IEP. We can unite against district policies, but when teachers fail to meet their legal obligations by failing to state the needs of their students as required, why would "uniting against the district" ever work?

I realize these policies put us all in a tough spot. But, the simplest thing is to tell the truth.

Thank you for teaching our kids.

--sped parent

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not killing Spectrum -- I don't believe it.

Having a Spectrum student that is deliberately being paired with a gen ed student in the subjects that he excels at seems more like the child is being co-opted as a teaching assistant. When asked about it, the teacher suggests that re-learning what he already knbows is good pedagogy (but is this how Spectrum is supposed to work?). When the teacher learned of his reading above-grade level books, the teacher frowned that this could cause the student to learn bad habits that would last a lifetime (i.e., trying to figure out hard words from their context) and that it is so much better for a student to re-read stories that have already been mastered. How is this advanced learning?!

At Curriculum Night, it was the first I heard of ICS, and that it meant Sp-Ed students were being placed in the same class -- the so-called Spectrum class. The teacher volunteered that parents with Spectrum kids should be grateful, as if the attitude is 'your kids smart, so what are you complaining about?'

I'm getting tired of the pretense about Advanced Learning. Jane Addams does not do Spectrum. We are voting with our feet and looking for a home in Lake Washington School District.

Spectrum Dad

chunga said...

Thanks for the great write-up Melissa! It's really helpful for us parents who didn't get to attend.

Jan said...

Spectrum Dad: You are right. It is NOT Spectrum (at least not Spectrum as it used to be practiced at Wedgwood -- which is the only experience I have.

I would see if you can visit a Spectrum class in a school that does it well -- observe what they are reading, where they are in math, how they group kids, etc. See if you can use your observations to argue for changes in your child's class -- until you can leave for an environment that truly values, and encourages, advanced learning (either elsewhere in Seattle schools, or outside of them). Also -- if you CAN'T leave as soon as you would like, see if you can transfer your child into a Spectrum program that runs more like the "self-contained" one-year-advanced class that Spectrum is supposed to be.