Texas Legislative Update for June 2017

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist,  shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation.  Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.

HB 657 

An ARD committee (IEP team) may promote a student to the next grade level if the committee concludes that the student has made sufficient progress in the measurable academic goals contained in the student’s IEP despite not passing the STAAR.  At the beginning of each school year, a district must inform parents of the options of the ARD committee if the student does not perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument.  Effective immediately

HB 1645 

If a district allows a student to participate in a Special Olympics event, they must allow the student to earn a district letter.  This seems to be addressing a “fairness” or discrimination issue.  Effective immediately

SB 160

TEA may not adopt or implement a performance indicator in any agency monitoring system, including the performance-based monitoring analysis system, that solely measures a school district’s or open-enrollment charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students who receive special education services.  TEA may still collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the state and in the school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.  Effective 5/22/2017

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Facilitated IEPs in Texas

In the last ten years, Texas has taken interest in the growing use of “facilitated IEPs” to assist in dealing with “difficult” IEP meetings and resolving disagreements.  In 2013, the Texas passed legislation addressing facilitated IEPs.  IEP facilitation offered by a school is now an option for resolving disputes.

TAC 89.1196 (a)  – IEP facilitation “refers to a method of alternative dispute resolution that involves the use of a trained facilitator to assist an admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee in developing an IEP for a student with a disability. The facilitator uses facilitation techniques to help the committee members communicate and collaborate effectively. While public schools are not required to offer IEP facilitation as an alternative dispute resolution method, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) encourages the use of IEP facilitation as described in this section.”

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ARD/IEP Committee Decision Making Process

Federal regulations refer to an IEP team.  In Texas, this team is referred to as the Admission, Review, and Dismissal or ARD committee. This committee meets at least once a year to develop, review and/or revise a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

IDEA says that the IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed decisions regarding-

  • The student’s needs and appropriate goals designed to enable them to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum;
  • The extent to which the student will participate in the regular education environment and State and district-wide assessments;
  • The supplementary aids and services needed to support that involvement and participation (including in extracurricular and non-academic settings), and to achieve agreed-upon goals; and
  • The program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the student to advance toward their goals and to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

Parents are considered equal partners with school personnel in making these decisions, and the ARD committee must consider the parents’ concerns and the information that they provide regarding their child.

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Ignoring This Will Derail Your Child’s IEP Goals: An IEP Strategy

Traits, personality traits, or characteristics … no matter what you call them, if ignored, it is almost a guarantee that your child’s IEP goals will fail. What are these traits you ask?  They are the immeasurable qualities that make your child who they are.

Things like:

  • Your child’s learning style
  • Your child’s interests
  • Your child’s anxiety triggers or fears
  • Your child’s view of themselves

Knowing and documenting these characteristics will help everyone on the ARD committee understand how best to provide services to your child. It will also help you determine if a particular intervention or accommodation is right for your child. For example, because my son is a visual learner, with auditory processing and concentration issues, having read-aloud as an accommodation is counter-intuitive. Because I know this, I would ask that the accommodation be adapted (i.e, giving my child a book to follow along with or using turn-taking during read aloud).

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A Seven-Step Process to Creating Standards-based IEPs

This post presents a seven-step process for developing IEPs that are aligned with state academic grade-level content standards. Each step is followed by guiding questions for the ARD committee to consider in making data-based decisions. This process can help school personnel to: (a) consider each student’s strengths and needs to develop goals focused on closing the gaps between the student’s levels of academic achievement and grade-level standards; and (b) use data to make decisions, including selecting the most appropriate assessment option. The goal is to support ARD committees to develop documents that, when implemented, provide access to the general curriculum and enable students to demonstrate academic achievement linked to grade-level content.

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