A new “To The Administrator Addressed Correspondence” letter has been posted on the TEA website:
February 26, 2018
TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: Responsibilities and Timelines Regarding Parent Requests for Special Education Evaluations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Texas Education Code (TEC), and the Texas Administrative Code (TAC).
In late 2016, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) initiated visits to Texas to learn about referral, child find, and evaluation practices within the state’s special education system. On January 11, 2018, OSEP released a final monitoring report detailing its findings1
The purpose of this letter is to:
1. Provide a brief overview of OSEP’s findings
2. Articulate and confirm obligations mandated under IDEA
3. Provide information related to TEA’s next steps
TEA has posted some new documents at https://tea.texas.gov/TexasSPED/ that provide additional information. We have not reviewed it all yet, but would direct your attention first to the presentation to the state special education directors from their recent meeting in Austin – TCASE Special Education Update presented on 2/20/2018. It gives more information on their plans involving ESCs.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has extended the comment deadline for its online survey soliciting feedback on a draft corrective action plan for special education. The online survey period will now run through Tuesday, Feb.20.
At the direction of Governor Greg Abbott, TEA drafted an initial corrective action plan regarding the support and delivery of special education services in the state’s public schools. The initial draft addresses all issues identified in a recent federal monitoring report, including the proper identification of special education students and assuring access to appropriate services at the local level.
The survey, which is available on the TEA website (https://tea.texas.gov/TexasSPED), is open to anyone wishing to provide input on the draft plan. It is one part of TEA’s ongoing outreach effort to hear from special education students, families, educators, advocacy groups, district and school officials, and all others seeking to provide input on the plan.
The survey takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete. To fully understand and effectively respond to the questions in the survey, participants are encouraged to first read TEA’s draft corrective action plan.
Following this initial round of public comments, a revised draft plan will be available in early March. Additional public comment will be accepted through March 31.
To review the draft plan, visit the TEA website at https://tea.texas.gov/TexasSPED.
View the original TEA news release >
Texas Project First has just released the following update:
During the 2016-2017 school year, the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) performed a series of onsite monitoring visits to review Texas’ compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The final report was provided to TEA on January 10, 2018.
The findings from that report require TEA to develop a plan to address four corrective actions. An integral part of the plan development process will be the gathering of input from stakeholders and other interested Texans.
TEA will be conducting a series of focus group meetings targeting district leaders, parents of students with disabilities, teachers and service providers, and students within Region 2. These meetings will be held prior to the final plan being submitted to OSEP on April 18, 2018.
Interested parents are invited to attend the focus group meeting in their area. Each meeting will include up to 25 participants and registration is required.
Frequently, students with disabilities are not able to attend a class (due to doctors or specialists appointments, illness, behavior, tardiness, related services, etc.). Absences affect a student’s ability to learn: the skills, content taught in the class, and restrain the teacher’s ability to measure the student’s learning.
Educators and the Texas Legislature are concerned about attendance and a law was passed to address this issue. The intent is to provide support for students to master the curriculum and be prepared for the next grade or course. The rules on the law are referred to as “the 90% rule”. A student with a disability and their family may be told that the student is or about to be in violation of the 90% rule. On the other hand, schools must establish ways for students to make up work or regain credit or a final grade. If a student misses more than 75% of a class, they might not be allowed to earn credit, so it is important students and parents are aware of this rule and make up work as soon as possible. When students are struggling and feel that they cannot catch up, it is common for many to consider dropping out or to drop out. To help parents and youth understand more the provisions of this rule, let’s consider the details:
Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist, shares excerpts of interest from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook (available online at https://www.region10.org/r10website/assets/File/DHBwithtabs10214.pdf)
“Texas has a long history of supporting the fundamental skill of reading. This history includes a focus on early identification and intervention for children who experience reading difficulties, including dyslexia.” and determining a student’s reading and spelling abilities and difficulties “In Texas, assessment for dyslexia is conducted from kindergarten through grade 12.”(page 6)
Grant programs for students with Autism, and another for students with Dyslexia were approved. $20 million is budgeted to fund ten public or charter schools for each program for two years beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The programs are for children three through eight years of age. Parents must give consent for their child being in the program.
The programs must incorporate: evidence-based and research-based design; the use of empirical data on student achievement and improvement; parental support and collaboration; the use of technology; meaningful inclusion; the ability to replicate the program for students statewide.
REED is an acronym for Review of Existing Evaluation Data. The following information about REEDs is excerpted from the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) webpage Review of Existing Evaluation Data Frequently Asked Questions:
A review of existing evaluation data (REED) is the process of looking at a student’s existing data to determine if additional data are needed as part of an initial evaluation (if appropriate) or as part of a reevaluation. Specifically, the group conducting the REED must determine whether further assessments are required to determine:
- Whether the student has or continues to have a disability;
- Whether the student’s present levels of academic achievement needs and related developmental needs have changed;
- Whether the student needs or continues to need special education and related services; and
- Whether the student needs any additions or modification to the special education and related services to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the individualized education program (IEP) and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum.
The Texas Education Agency and ESC 18 have developed the Timeline Decision Tree: The Child-Centered Special Education Process. This timeline is an interactive tool designed to help users understand the legal requirements of the special education process. Access the Timeline Decision Tree online >
Senate Bill 6 from the 82nd Texas Legislature, First Called Session, 2011, created an instructional materials allotment (IMA) for the purchase of instructional materials, technological equipment, and technology-related services.
Each district and open-enrollment charter school is entitled to an IMA. The amount of the IMA is determined biennially by the commissioner and is based on the legislative appropriation. Districts and open-enrollment charter schools have access to their allotment through the educational materials ordering system known as EMAT.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide accessible versions of instructional materials to students who are blind or otherwise unable to use printed materials. Students with disabilities should receive materials in accessible formats at the same time as their peers receive their textbooks.
State-adopted accessible instructional materials, including braille, large-print, audio, and digital, are provided free of charge to eligible students, and the cost of these state-adopted accessible instructional materials is not deducted from the instructional materials allotment (IMA). However, if a district or open-enrollment charter school chooses to purchase accessible instructional materials that are not state-adopted, they are responsible for the cost of the materials and may use IMA funding to pay for them.