Tag Archives: goals

Science-Based Decision-Making in Special Ed

Last month, I wrote an article for Special Education Advisor, a blog operated by some folks located in Chatsworth, CA who are?dedicated to helping parents of children with special needs. You can see the article by clicking here.

The title of the article is “Tying the Science of Special Education to the Law.” Both science and law are fact-based disciplines (or are supposed to be), so this is a big issue for KPS4Parents, these days.?I’m not going to repeat the whole thing here. You can link to it to see what I wrote.

The point is that there is a huge disconnect between the science of special education and the law of special education. As KPS4Parents approaches its 10th year of operation, we are looking at how best to focus our efforts based on what we’ve learned so far and this seems to be the critical nexus where our attention should be focused.

Somebody scientific informed the development of the IDEA. Congress couldn’t have come up with language like “measurable annual goals” and “present levels of performance” without someone who understands the science of it all chipping in.

One of the issues we’re looking to combat on a systemic level is the watering down of the term “measurable” by the public education system. There is only one definition of “measurable” and it doesn’t include ballpark estimations framed as percentages of accuracy. Real percentages are calculated from measurable data. IEPs are required to be reasonably calculated to render meaningful educational benefit, which, again, means using reliable empiricism.

School districts try to argue that they are not bound by the same degree of rigor as scientific research, but the term “measurable” comes from the use of empirical methods ??la science. Hello!!!!!

It has always killed me that our public schools expect 3rd graders to produce science fair exhibits that include a hypothesis, methods (including for measurement), and results in a manner consistent with scientific method but the same school districts that teach this will do everything they can to exempt themselves from the same standards of accuracy when it comes to their duties to educate children with disabilities. Why specialists with advanced degrees think they are?held to a lower standard of technical accuracy than the average 3rd grader is beyond me.

In any event, this is going to be something to which I’ll be devoting a lot of attention. I’ll be doing a lot of research and posting my findings as I go along. I may also be assisting in the development of a legal treatise on the subject, which could be constructive in preventing and resolving special education legal disputes in which measurability is at issue.

If you have any background knowledge on how the scientific terminology of the IDEA ended up in the regulations, please share! You can post your feedback below.

“Velcro® Aide” vs. Learning Facilitator

Click here to download the podcast version of this article.

There is a realm of conflict surrounding the use of 1:1 aides in special education and many local education agencies (“LEAs”) have developed their own assessment protocols to determine when a child really needs an aide to try and rein in this issue.

Sometimes these assessments just turn into a means of justifying to the parents a decision against aide support that was actually made by the LEA for fiscal reasons, so there are still issues with these types of aide assessments that need to be worked out.

Because these are LEA-made evaluations that are not bound by regulation and they aren’t scientifically validated standardized tests, LEAs can make them up however they want and some are better at researching best practices than others. But, even if it’s the best aide assessment in the world, none of that makes any difference if the aide support a child is given isn’t used well.

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Eligibility Categories vs. Educational Needs

Click here to download the podcast version of this article.

In our label-driven society, we tend to get caught up in what things are called and why they have happened rather than what needs to be done to solve problems.

Granted, in many instances, the source of a problem is a determining factor in how that problem is solved, but too much emphasis on cause and not enough emphasis on remedy can leave people stuck in a stalemate forever. Such is often the case with special education eligibility categories and people’s perceptions of them.

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Corrective Actions Ordered for Schools in California’s DJJ Facilities

On August 26, 2010, an investigation was opened by the California Department of Education (“CDE”) into allegations of procedural non-compliance that I made in my capacities as both a volunteer surrogate parent and advocate for KPS4Parents on behalf of two incarcerated youth at the Ventura Correctional Facility in Camarillo, CA. Both youth are eligible to receive special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).

You can download a PDF of the investigation findings by clicking here.  The personally identifying information of the students on whose behalf these complaints were filed has been redacted to preserve their confidentiality.

The nature of the complaint was that many, if not most, of the special education students attending Mary B. Perry High School, which is located within the facility, were compromised by systemic failures of the Department of Juvenile Justice (“DJJ”) and its internal public education system, the California Education Authority (“CEA”). The two students named individually in the complaint were compromised by these systemic violations and represented the class of students within the CEA who have been similarly compromised.

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Extended School Year – What It Is and Isn’t

Click here to download the podcast version of this article.

At this time of year, a lot of kids on IEPs are attending or getting ready to attend Extended School Year.  In California, where I’m located, it seems to be standard operating procedure for school districts to designate a set number of days in pre-defined classes for ESY, usually 20 days at 4 hours each in an SDC, often with a reduction in related services.  This appears to be done this way based on the availability of teaching staff and the willingness of individual districts to finance these classrooms over the summer months.

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Achieving Wisdom from the Special Ed Process

The 2009-2010 school year has come to an end for most families whose schools follow a traditional calendar.  I’m taking a big, deep sigh of relief myself as I wrap up all of the paperwork generated by the flurry of activity that always happens right before the end of the year as everybody tries to cram in as much as they can at the last minute. Continue reading