Parent Guide to Special Education
Special Education in APWCSD
The Altmar Parish Williamstown Central School District (APWCSD) is committed to excellence in all of our education programs. It is important to us that we partner with parents, who know their children best, in recommending and providing the highest possible quality of service to our students with disabilities.
As the district moves toward state compliance with state regulations and federal laws, we want to ensure every student’s right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This Parent Guide to Special Education is designed to help parents work with their children’s school staff to promote success in the most appropriate program.
You know your child best. We need your ideas, opinions and input to create the best possible educational plan for him or her. Educators at your child’s school are ready to work together with you to ensure your child receives the services and support he or she needs to succeed in school.
An overview of the special education process is included here. This guide will take parents through each of the steps to help them understand the process.
Special Education in APWCSD
If you believe that your child requires special education services, it helps to start with asking questions of your child’s teacher. Talk to your child’s current teacher to find out if there are supports available within the general education setting at the school that he or she already attends. Those kinds of supports might be all your child needs.
Schools offer supports like Academic Intervention Services (AIS), reading remediation programs, and counseling. It may also be possible to adapt your child’s general education program without special education services.
Some questions you might ask include:
You may think your child needs additional support after talking to your child’s teacher and school. In those circumstances, you (or another individual) may refer your child to be evaluated for special education services. This includes a series of evaluations to determine if your child has a disability. You can make a referral for a special education evaluation at any time.
- What do the grades on my child’s report card mean? Is he/she doing work that is expected of him/her? How will I know?
- What are some math learning activities I can do at home or in the neighborhood?
- How do I know if my child understands what I am reading to him/her?
- What types of questions should I ask my child as we read together?
- How can I help my child if he/she is struggling with math homework?
- How does my child get along with other students in school?
- Does my child have any difficulty following directions or doing what is asked of him or her? What do you do if that happens in class?
- What have you noticed about how my child learns?
- Are there any additional services during school or after school that could help my child? If so, how can we get that extra help for my child?
- What are some things I can do at home to help my child do his/her best in school?
The first step is determining if your child has a disability and requires special education services. You or your school official may start the process with an initial referral, or another individual may make a request for referral. Once you give permission, your child will be evaluated to determine his or her developmental history and behavior, what he or she knows and how he or she learns, and his or her skills, abilities and areas of need.
The Initial Referral Process
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and corresponding New York State Regulations have made significant changes with respect to the initial referral process, including the initial referral source. Only specific people may make a referral for an initial evaluation, while different individuals may make something called a “Request for Initial Evaluation.” This new process is outlined below.
The first step in determining if your child has a disability and if he or she requires special education services is to request an evaluation. This initial referral must be in writing and may be made by you or a designated school district official.
Ways for you to request an initial evaluation for your child:
Who else can make an initial referral?
- Send a letter to the principal at your child’s school or to the office of special education requesting an evaluation;
- Give a written statement to a professional staff member of your child’s school;
- Ask a school professional to assist you in making a referral.
- A school district official, including a principal or intervention team;
- The commissioner or a public agency official who is responsible for the education of your child;
- An official of an education program affiliated with a child-care institution with CSE responsibility.
Who can make a request for initial referral?
A professional staff member of the school district in which your child resides or the public or private school your child legally attends or is eligible to attend;
- A licensed physician;
- A judicial officer;
- A professional staff member of a public agency with responsibility for welfare, health or education of the child;
- A student who is 18 years of age or older, or an emancipated minor.
After the request for initial referral has been made:
Within 10 school days, the school will either:
- Initiate the referral process by sending you a Notice of Referral Letter; or
- Provide you with a copy of the request for referral, inform you that you may refer your child yourself, offer you an opportunity to discuss the request for referral and discuss the availability of appropriate general education support services for your child. The Notice of Request for Initial Referral, which details the process, will be sent to you.
What’s next? When an initial referral has been made:
Once a referral has been made, you will be sent a Notice of Referral Letter, which:
- Explains your rights as a parent;
- Provides the name and telephone number of a person to call if you have any questions; and
- Asks for you to meet with the school social worker at a “social history interview.” During that meeting, all of your rights will be explained to you in your preferred language or mode of communication, with the help of a translator/ interpreter, if necessary.
If your child has never received special education services, you will be asked to sign a Consent for Initial Evaluation form. This gives the district permission to conduct assessments of your child’s strengths and needs.
Even if you made the written referral yourself, you must still consent to the evaluations in order for the process to begin.
If you choose not to sign consent and give permission for evaluation for an initial referral, your child will not be evaluated.
What Will the Initial Evaluation Include?
An initial evaluation to determine if your child has a disability must include:
The evaluations will determine your child’s skills, abilities and areas of need that affect his or her school performance, including involvement in the general education curriculum. You will also be asked to provide the school or office of special education with any recent physical examination reports or relevant medical documentation of your child.
- A comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation that looks at what your child knows and how he or she learns;
- A social history of your child’s developmental and family history, often from birth to present;
- An observation of your child in his or her current educational setting;
- Other tests that may be appropriate for your child, such as speech, language or functional behavior assessments;
- Assessments that include a review of school records, teacher assessments, and parent and student interviews to determine vocational skills and interest for students age 12 and older.
What if Your Child Has Already Been Identified as a Student with a Disability?
After your child has received special education services, a CSE meeting is held annually to review your child’s progress. This is called an Annual Review.
Additionally, he or she may be referred for what is called a “reevaluation.” With your input, the CSE will review current data about your child and determine if new evaluations should be conducted.
The district can request a reevaluation if it determines that the educational or related services need to be reassessed. A reevaluation can be requested by you or school staff but may not be conducted more than one time a year unless you and the district agree otherwise in writing.
A reevaluation must be completed once every three years, unless you and the school district agree in writing that it is not necessary. This is called a “mandated three-year reevaluation” (formerly called a “triennial”). Once the evaluation is completed, all written reports will be shared with you. The reports include your child’s strengths and weaknesses and the supports your child may need in school.
If the CSE determines that new evaluations are needed as part of a reevaluation, you will be asked to provide consent to conduct new tests or assessments. Consent to evaluation means you are giving your permission to proceed with an evaluation to determine continued eligibility.
If this is a reevaluation and the district does not receive a response from you, district staff may proceed with the evaluation after documented attempts to contact you.
In most circumstances, the time frame for completing all necessary assessments and convening Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting is 60 calendar days from the receipt of your permission to initially evaluate your child.
Once your child’s evaluation is completed, you will attend a meeting to discuss your child’s eligibility for special education services and, as needed, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for him or her. Other attendees at this meeting include teachers and other professionals who know your child or have participated in the evaluations, or will likely be providing services to your child.
After the Evaluations Are Completed: The CSE Meeting
Once your child’s evaluation is completed, you will be invited to attend a CSE meeting at a time and date that works for you. This is an important meeting where you will meet with the staff of your child’s school. It is very important that you and the school staff share information and ideas and work together as a team.
You should receive a written invitation in your preferred language at least five days before the meeting. If you cannot attend the meeting, you must contact the school or office of special education and ask to change the date. It is very important that you attend CSE meetings so that you will be able to participate in a final decision that will be made about your child’s eligibility for special education services and programs.
All evaluations, records and reports that were used to assess your child should be provided to you before the CSE meeting and must be explained in your preferred language or mode of communication. In some instances, it may be preferable for you to pick up the reports prior to the day of the CSE meeting rather than to have them mailed so that any immediate concerns may be addressed. If you choose to pick up the evaluations, the social worker will provide you with contact information to arrange a time to pick up the evaluations and discuss and/or review the evaluations.
You also have the right to request that evaluations and reports be translated into your preferred language. If necessary, an interpreter will be provided for you at the CSE meeting. Your observations and opinions are valuable and must be considered at the meeting.
CSE meetings will be held at your child’s school if your child attends a public school. If your child is not attending, or attending a non-public or charter school, the CSE meeting will be held at the Office of special education or at the non-public or charter school, if possible.
Each team member brings important information to the CSE meeting. At the CSE meeting, members share information and work together to determine whether your child has a disability and requires special education services. You are a member of the CSE, and your input is important.
How to Participate in the CSE Meeting
You are an important part of the CSE meeting and your input is valuable. At the CSE meeting, you should:
- Offer insight into how your child learns, what his or her interests and strengths are, and share other things about your child that only you as his or her parent could know;
- Listen to what other team members think your child needs to work on at school and share suggestions about how to proceed;
- Share concerns you may have regarding your child’s progress or how you can help your child at home;
- Report on whether the skills your child is learning at school are being used at home;
- Ask questions of all team members and participants at the meeting.
Summary of CSE Members’ Expected Contribution
Teachers are vital participants in the CSE meeting. If your child is or may be participating in the general education environment, at least one of your child’s general education teachers must attend the CSE meeting. The teacher is expected to present information about your child’s performance in the general education class and to help the CSE make decisions about participation in the general education curriculum and other school activities.
General Education Teacher
- Describes the general education curriculum in the general education classroom;
- Determines, with the special education teacher, appropriate supplementary aids and services (e.g., behavior interventions or support plans, curriculum accommodations, curriculum modifications, individualized supports) or changes to the educational program that will help your child learn and achieve;
- Helps to develop appropriate behavioral interventions if behavior is an issue;
- Might discuss supports for school personnel that are necessary for the student to participate in the general education curriculum.
Special Education Teacher and /or Related Service Provider
These members contribute important information and experience about how to educate children with disabilities. Because of his or her training in special education, he or she can:
- Discuss your child’s present level of educational performance, including progress toward IEP goals, if your child is presently receiving special education services;
- Describe your child’s learning style, behavior and attendance;
- Make recommendations regarding the supports and services that will allow your child to succeed in the least restrictive environment;
- Ensure that the priority for your child will be to achieve success in school;
- Explain how to modify the general education curriculum, if necessary, to help your child learn.
The District Representative
The District Representative chairs the CSE meeting and facilitates open discussion among all participants regarding student eligibility and the development of the IEP. He or she ensures that you are a meaningful participant and encourages you to raise concerns you may have about your child’s education.
The CSE Chair also:
- Provides information regarding the continuum of services, meaning special education programs and supports, which are available in your child’s school and in other schools in the district;
- Ensures that all program and service options are considered;
- Explains to you that children with disabilities must be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. Additionally, he or she will explain to you that the CSE must consider whether your child can satisfactorily progress in the general education setting before recommending other programs.
The school psychologist must be in attendance whenever a new psycho-educational evaluation is reviewed or a change to the student’s special education services with a more intensive staff-to-student ratio is being considered. The school social worker may be in attendance if she or he is involved in the evaluation process. If the school psychologist and/or social worker are in attendance, they will share critical information with the team obtained through evaluations/observations and review of information. Their expertise is important to the process, and you should ask them questions if you do not understand what they are reviewing or discussing.
Additional Individuals and/or Experts
The CSE may also include additional individuals with knowledge or special expertise about your child.
You may, for example, invite:
- A professional with special expertise about your child and his or her disability;
- Others who can talk about your child’s strengths and/or needs.
The district may invite one or more individuals who can offer special expertise or knowledge about the child, such as a teaching aide or assistant or related services professional.
The Members of the CSE:
- You, the parent (s) or persons in a parental relationship with your child.
- At least one general education teacher of the student whenever your child is or may be participating in the general education environment.
- One special education teacher. For initial referrals, one of the school’s special education teachers serves as the special education representative on the team. If a child is already receiving special education services, one of the child’s special education teachers must participate. If your child receives only related services (i.e., Speech Therapy), the related service provider of your child may serve in this role.
- A school psychologist must participate in CSE meetings whenever a new psycho- educational evaluation is reviewed or a change to special education services that includes a more intensive staff-to-student ratio is considered.
- An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results. This individual may be a member of the CSE who is also fulfilling another role, such as general education teacher, special education teacher, special education provider, or school psychologist. This individual will talk about how the evaluation results may affect instruction.
- A District Representative. This person must be qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education services and is also knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and the availability of district resources. The district representative is the school principal or director of special education. This person’s role is to facilitate group consensus on all matters related to the development of the IEP.
- An additional parent member. This is a parent of a student with a disability residing in the school district or a neighboring school district and who may be required to attend. A parent may decline the participation of the parent member.
- Other persons having knowledge or special expertise regarding your child, including related services personnel as appropriate, as the school district or the parent(s) designate.
- Your child (the student), if appropriate.
Questions to Ask at the CSE Meeting
- How has the teacher accommodated my child’s learning and behavioral needs in the classroom?
- Are there things I can do at home to support the IEP goals?
- What type of learner is my child? Does the teacher attempt to use my child’s strengths while teaching him or her?
- How frequently is my child’s progress monitored? What are the best ways for me to stay in touch with my child’s teachers to be informed of academic or behavioral progress?
- Is my child making progress towards his or her IEP goals?
- If a service is not working, how can I work with my child’s instructional team to explore better services for him or her?
- What sorts of programs or other supports might help my child? How can we get those?
- What are the promotion criteria for my child? How will he or she be evaluated according to grade level?
- In high school, what are the graduation requirements for my child? What are the diploma objectives for my child? What progress has he or she made towards those objectives? (Specifically, how many credits does my child have, how many RCT or Regents’ tests has he or she passed, or what kind of progress has my child made toward the C-DOS credential?)
The Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The CSE is to document your child’s current skills and abilities, establish educational goals and determine what special education supports and services will be provided for him or her. The committee documents this information in the IEP.
The IEP: The IEP is about your child and how to meet his or her needs.
- Documents your child’s eligibility for special education services; and
- Formalizes, in writing, the Department of Education’s plan for providing your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. The “least restrictive environment” means that your child will be educated alongside his or her non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible and will attend the school he or she would attend if not disabled.
You will hear the term “eligibility” discussed. The CSE will decide whether your child is eligible for special education services. A school-age student is eligible for special education services if the student:
If the student does not meet the criteria for one or more of the disability classifications that follow, the school-age student is not eligible for special education services. Additionally, a student is not eligible even if he or she meets the criteria of one of the classifications listed, but does not require special education services and programs, based on:
- Meets the criteria for one or more of the disability classifications; and
- The student requires approved special education services and programs.
The CSE, with your participation, may determine that your child is not disabled and does not need special education services. In this case, an IEP will not be developed. Information gathered from the evaluations will be given to the principal of your child’s school, and the principal will work with the appropriate professionals in the school to help your child.
- A lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency (including oral reading skills) and reading comprehension strategies; or
- A lack of appropriate instruction in math; or
- Limited English proficiency.
If the CSE, based upon the evaluation(s), determines that your child has a disability and that special education services are necessary,
an IEP will be developed at the CSE meeting. The IEP outlines the special education programs and/or services your child will receive and the goals your child should be working toward.
Below is a list of classifiable disabilities:
- Emotional Disturbance
- Hearing Impairment
- Learning Disability
- Mental Retardation
- Multiple Disabilities
- orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impairment
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment
The Contents of the IEP
The IEP must contain information about your child and the educational program designed to meet his or her unique needs. This information includes:
Current Performance — The IEP must indicate how your child is currently doing in school (known as present levels of academic achievement and functional performance as well as social/emotional performance). This information usually comes from evaluation results such as classroom tests and assignments, individual tests given to decide eligibility for services or during reevaluation and observations made by parents, teachers, related service providers and other school staff. The IEP should detail the source of the levels listed on the IEP as current performance levels. Current performance includes how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.
Annual Goals — These are goals that your child can reasonably accomplish in a school year. Goals may be academic, address social or behavioral needs, relate to physical needs or address other educational needs. The goals must be “measurable,” meaning it must be possible to measure whether the student has achieved the goals. For students participating in alternate assessment, the goals are broken down into short-term objectives or benchmarks.
Special Education and Related Services — The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to your child or on behalf of your child.
Participation with Non-Disabled Children — The IEP must explain the extent to which your child will participate with non-disabled children in the general education class and other school activities. If a child is not permitted to attend lunch, school trips or assemblies with the rest of the school, it must be noted on the IEP.
Participation in State and Citywide Tests — The IEP must indicate whether your child will participate in state and citywide assessments and what accommodations, if any, your child will need during the administration of these tests.
If your child will not participate in state and citywide assessments, the IEP must state how your child’s progress will be measured, including participation in the New York State alternate assessment program.
Please be aware that students who are participating in alternate assessment are not eligible to receive a Local or Regents diploma.
Diploma Objective — Students with disabilities receiving special education services are eligible to receive a Regents diploma or a Local diploma. They are awarded to students who successfully complete the educational requirements for either the Regents diploma or the Local diploma.
Dates and Places — The IEP must indicate when services will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided (in the classroom or some other school location) and how long they will last.
Measuring Progress — The IEP must indicate how your child’s progress will be measured and how you will be informed of that progress.
Language of Instruction — If your child is an English Language Learner and requires English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or bilingual services, a recommendation will be made regarding his or her language of instruction. The language of the service will be specified in the IEP.
Transition Services are a coordinated set of activities that assist students moving from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, competitive employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation. The coordinated set of activities must be individualized for your child and will take into account his or her strengths, preferences and interests. Transition services may focus on the following areas:
- Instructional activities that will be provided to your child to help him or her achieve the stated transition outcome (e.g., general and special education course instruction including counseling, etc.);
- The development of employment and other post-school adult living skills;
- Community integration;
- The development of daily living skills for students who require this kind of assistance.
When your child turns 15 years old, Transition Services must be part of his or her IEP. Your child and, if you provide written consent, a representative of the agencies likely to be responsible for providing or paying for Transition Services must
be invited to the CSE meeting to discuss Transition Services. At this meeting, the following will be considered:
? Regardless of whether your child attends the CSE meeting, the CSE must ensure that his or her preferences and interests are considered; and
? Regardless of whether an agency invited a representative, steps to involve the agency in the planning of any transition services must be taken.
The CSE will first consider whether your child’s needs may be met in a general education class with supports, aids and services provided to your child.
If it is determined that your child cannot participate in general education classes, even with appropriate Supplementary Aids and Services, Special Education Teacher Support Services, Related Services or in an Integrated Co-Teaching class, other settings such as Special Classes or special schools will be considered.
This means that the CSE, of which you are a member, must consider how special education services can be provided to your child that will allow him or her to be educated with children who do not have disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate.
Keep in mind:
- Your child should be provided the opportunity to participate in extracurricular and non- academic activities (e.g., physical education, recess, after-school activities) with non-disabled children, unless his or her disability makes such participation inappropriate;
- Your child should be educated in the school that he or she would attend if not disabled, unless the IEP requires that other arrangements are made.
Program Options for Students with Disabilities
By design, the continuum of services includes a variety of service delivery models that provide instruction along a continuum of least restrictive environments. From special class setting of 6, 8, 12, or 15 students to every one teacher and teaching assistant, to direct and indirect consultant teaching services, to resource instruction and related services, the continuum provides more or less intensive services based on individual student’s disabilities and needs.
The New York State Continuum of Services:
Related Services are developmental or corrective, and include other supportive services that are required to assist a child with a disability so that he or she benefits from an instructional program. Your child’s related services may change from pre-school to school-age as his or her needs change with age. Related Services may be the only special education service given to your child, or they may be provided along with other special education services, such as special class services. The following related services might be recommended:
Counseling — These services are designed to improve social and emotional functioning in the areas of appropriate school behavior, discipline, self-control, conflict resolution if your child is experiencing difficulty interacting appropriately with adults or peers, withdrawal or acting out, low self-esteem or poor coping skills that significantly interfere with learning. If your child requires services from a particular provider (e.g., guidance counselor, school psychologist or social worker), it must be outlined in the IEP.
Hearing Education Services — Services designed to provide instruction in speech, reading, auditory training and language development to enhance the growth of receptive/expressive communication skills.
Speech/Language Therapy — These services help in the way your child understands sounds and language (called auditory processing), with articulation or phonological skills, comprehension, use of syntax, pragmatics, voice production and fluency.
Occupational Therapy — This will help your child maintain, improve or restore adaptive and functional skills, including fine motor skills and oral motor skills in all educational activities.
Orientation and Mobility Services — These services are designed to improve your child’s understanding of spatial and environmental concepts and us of information he or she receives through the senses (e.g., sound, temperature, vibrations) for establishing, maintaining and regaining orientation and line of travel. They are provided to students with visual impairments.
Physical Therapy — Uses activities to maintain, improve or restore your child’s functioning, including gross motor development, ambulation, balance and coordination in various settings, including but not limited to the classroom, gym, bathroom, playground, staircase and transitions between classes.
School Health Services — A school nurse or paraprofessional provides services that are designed to address your child’s specific health needs, as documented by his or her physician, to ensure a safe educational environment.
Vision Education Services — These services are designed to provide instruction for your child if he or she is visually impaired. They utilize Braille, Nemeth Code, large print, optical and non-optical low-vision devices and other skills necessary to attain academic, social, vocational and life adjustment skills, literacy and acquisition of information using tactile, visual and auditory strategies.
Any related services that are recommended for your child will be indicated on the IEP. The IEP provides the number of times a week or month your child should receive the service (this is called the “frequency”) and the length of the session (this is called the “duration”), the maximum group size (if your child can be provided services in a group), the language in which the service must be provided and whether the service will be provided in your child’s classroom or in a separate room outside of the classroom (this is the “location”).
Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT)
Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms include students with disabilities and non-disabled students educated together with two teachers, a general education teacher and a special education teacher, who work together and collaborate throughout the day. These teachers work together to adapt and modify instruction for your child and make sure the entire class has access to the general education curriculum.
Children receiving ICT may also receive related services, assistive technology, teaching aide or assistant services or other supplementary aids and services necessary. While ICT may be provided on a full-time or part-time basis, part-time is more typically recommended in departmentalized school programs where classes change on a subject-by-subject basis. If it is provided part-time, that must be specifically indicated on your child’s IEP, along with the number of periods each day he or she will receive the services clearly stated. The area of instruction (for example, mathematics) for which your child will be receiving ICT must also be indicated.
Special Class Services
Special Class Services are services provided for children with disabilities in a self-contained classroom. They serve children whose needs cannot be met within the general education classroom, even with Special Education Teacher Support Services, Related Services or participation in a ICT class. Special Class Services may be provided on a full-time or part-time basis.
In self-contained special classes, students must be grouped by similarity of educational needs. Classes may contain students with the same disability or with different disabilities as long as they have similar levels of academic and learning characteristics, levels of social development, levels of physical development and management needs.
Special classes offer different levels of staffing intensity depending upon your child’s academic and/or management needs. This is called the Staffing Ratio. These classes may range from six to a maximum of fifteen students. Staffing for special classes includes one special education teacher and may have up to four teaching assistants. If your child requires more intensive and constant adult supervision in order to learn, he or she will be recommended for a more intensive student-to-staff ratio. The CSE will determine your child’s staffing ratio and indicate it clearly in his or her IEP.
New York State Education Department Approved Non-Public Schools (Residential)
Residential schools are settings that provide intensive programming in the classroom and a structured living environment on school grounds on a 24-hour-a-day basis. This program is for children whose educational needs are so intensive as to require 24-hour attention. Residential schools that are approved by the New York State Education Department are located in New York State and in other nearby states. If it is determined that a residential setting is appropriate, the district is required to first consider in-state residential settings before considering an out-of-state school.
Home and Hospital Instruction
These are educational services provided to children with disabilities who are unable to attend school for an extended period of time. They are typically only provided until the child is able to return to school or, in the case of hospital instruction, until he or she is discharged from the hospital. These services might be recommended for a child with severe medical or emotional problems that prevent him or her from attending school until the problems are resolved. They might also be recommended for a child who is waiting for an approved, non-public school that is not yet available to him or her.
Your child is entitled to a minimum of two hours a day of Home and Hospital Instruction for high school students and one hour a day for all other students. The number of hours, length of session and number of times a week are determined by the CSE and must be based on your child’s individual needs.
Supplementary Aids and Services
These are services and other supports that are provided in both general education classes or other settings that are more restrictive. Supplementary Aids and Services may include, but are not limited to, the following materials, devices and adaptations:
Functional Behavioral Assessment — A functional behavioral assessment is conducted for any student whose behavior impedes his or her learning or the learning of other students. It is the process of determining the purpose that a behavior serves for a student and is accomplished by careful assessment of the situations that lead to certain behaviors and the consequences that result. The results of the functional behavioral assessment are incorporated into a behavioral intervention plan, which provides intervention strategies to address the behavior.
Curriculum Accommodations — Accommodations change how a student accesses information and demonstrates that he/she has learned the information. They may include the use of audiotapes instead of books, large-print books, Braille materials, use of a calculator for math or use of a word processor instead of handwriting.
Curriculum Modifications — Modifications change the way the curriculum is delivered and the instructional level, but the subject matter itself remains the same. Examples of modifications include redesigning the size or focus of the assignment.
Individualized Supports — Examples of supports include rephrasing of questions and instructions, additional time to move between classes, special seating arrangements, testing accommodations such as questions being read or re-read aloud, additional time, etc., curricular aids such as high-lighted reading materials, main idea summaries, organizational aids, pre written notes or study guides.
Supplementary Aids and Services may also include the services of various personnel, such as related service providers, special education teachers and teaching aides or assistants, and they may be combined in different ways to meet the individual needs of your child.
General Education with Declassification Services
If your child has been declassified from special education, there are services that may be provided to him or her (i.e., what is called “direct” instruction), and to his or her teacher (i.e., what is called “indirect” instruction) to help your child make the transition to general education.
These services can include instructional support, remediation, instructional modifications or individual and/or group speech or counseling. A student may only be decertified after a reevaluation.
If your child has been declassified, the CSE will define what services, if any, your child will need during his or her first year in a full-time general education classroom in order to help him or her make a successful transition.
Specialized Transportation Accommodations
When your child is initially referred, the CSE must inform you that medical documentation is required for any Specialized Transportation Accommodations.
Requests for Specialized Transportation
Accommodations require current medical documentation from a physician that clearly states what your child’s medical condition is and why he or she requires the accommodation. For example, if you request a limited bus run or an air-conditioned bus, the request must include a description of your child’s medical condition and an explanation of why he or she requires that kind of service. Your child’s doctor must provide this documentation on an annual basis during your child’s annual review or mandated three-year evaluation in order for the accommodation to be approved.
All recommendations for limited-time travel, bus aides, nurses, and medically-related accommodations will be reviewed by a doctor. Based on the review, the doctor will make a recommendation to the CSE prior to the CSE meeting. The doctor may recommend alterations to the original medical recommendation.
If the CSE determines that your child requires Specialized Transportation, the type of accommodation(s) required must be added to his or her IEP.
Additional Special Education Services
Teaching aide or assistant Services — Some children with disabilities may require the support service of a teaching aide or assistant for all or a portion of the school day to address their management needs and to allow them to benefit from instruction. Among other things, a paraprofessional can be assigned:
- to assist your child with his/her behavior if it is dangerous to him/her or others;
- to assist your child as he/she awaits placement in a more restrictive setting;
- if your child’s behavior on the bus to and from school presents a danger to him/her or others.
Teaching aides and assistants can also be assigned as sign language interpreters, oral interpreters or cued speech translators, for orientation and mobility, health services or toileting, or for other reasons.
Support from a teaching aide or assistant assigned to the general education classroom may be necessary for your child to help adapt tasks and assignments and provide reinforcement and small group instruction. The same level of support may not be necessary in all situations for your child. For example, he or she may need support in math class but no additional support during the rest of the day. Teaching aide or assistant support as a supplementary aid and service in the general education classroom must be indicated in your child’s IEP, and the IEP must specify the number of periods a day or week the support is required. For children at the middle or high school level, the IEP must specify during what subject area(s) teaching assistant support is necessary.
Assistive Technology Devices and Services — Assistive Technology is any piece of equipment, product or system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability (e.g., a communication device, FM unit, computer access). An Assistive Technology Service is any service that directly helps a child with a disability select, acquire, or use an assistive technology device. Any Assistive Technology or Services your child requires must be listed in his or her IEP. If you think your child needs assistive technology, you may request an assistive technology evaluation.
Adapted Physical Education — Adapted Physical Education is a specially designed program of developmental activities, games, sports and rhythms suited to the interests, capabilities and limitations of individual children who may not safely or successfully participate in the activities of a regular physical education program. Your child may be recommended for adapted physical education when his or her disabilities interfere with his or her ability to perform activities involved in a regular physical education program.
Twelve-Month School Year Services — If your child requires his or her education to continue during the summer in order to prevent significant regression, Twelve-Month School Year Services may be provided.
Toilet Training — Toilet Training is a short-term instructional service to help prepare your child for independence in toileting. It is provided by a paraprofessional who schedules, instructs and assists the student.
Parent Counseling and Training — If you, the parent, need some help understanding the special needs of your child, Parent Counseling and Training can provide you with information about your child’s development. Parent Counseling and Training is typically provided as part of the program if your child is in special classes with staffing ratios of 8:1:1, 6:1:1 and 12:1:4. These are not adult counseling services and are not intended to meet your personal or educational needs.
Travel Training — Travel Training services are short-term, comprehensive and specially designed instruction that teach high school students with disabilities other than blindness or visual impairments to negotiate public transportation vehicles and facilities safely and independently as they travel between home and a specific destination (usually school or the workplace).
Transitional Support Services — Transitional support services, such as consultation and/or training, may be provided for a short period of time to staff members working with your child as he or she moves from self-contained special classes to general education classes or less restrictive classrooms.
Withdrawing Consent for Special Education Services
Anytime after consenting to special education services, you may withdraw your consent for the special education services specified in your child’s IEP. The request must be in writing. When consent is withdrawn, it is for all special education and related services specified in your child’s IEP.
This includes recommendations for specialized transportation, assistive technology, program modifications, testing accommodations and the need for modified promotion criteria. Children who have been recommended to participate in alternate assessments are no longer eligible to participate in the alternate assessment program. You may not withdraw consent for only a portion of the special education and related services. In situations where you disagree with only some of the IEP recommendations, a CSE meeting can be arranged to review the student’s IEP.
Within ten calendar days of receipt of written notice from you that withdraws consent for special education services, the school or the office of special education must send you a completed Notice of Termination of Special Education Services Due to Parental Withdrawal of Consent. The notice must be in your preferred language. This notice outlines the IEP- recommended special education services your child has most recently received and will no longer be receiving. The notice indicates the general education placement that your child will attend, and explains to you that your child will be considered a general education student at all times, including in any discipline/suspension procedures, and that CSE meetings will no longer be held for your child. The notice also provides the name of a contact person in the event you have questions or concerns.
When a parent withdraws consent for special education services, the school or the Office of special education is not required to convene a CSE meeting or develop an IEP for your child. In addition, the school or the Office of special education is not required to amend your child’s education records to remove any references to his or her receipt of special education and related services because of the withdrawal of consent.
Confidentiality of Records
At the time of consent for evaluation, you will be asked to sign a release of records form that authorizes the CSE to obtain reports from outside agencies or medical reports from physicians that may be important to your child’s evaluation. While you are not required to sign this release form, the district asks that you consider allowing the CSE to have access to records from outside agencies or physicians that may help the CSE members better understand your child’s needs.
All evaluations are written and placed in an official file that is kept in your child’s public school and at the Office of special education. The information in the file is confidential and will not be given to any outside agency or individual without your consent or unless a court orders the release of your child’s records. Only school staff who work with your child have access to these records.
Access to Records
You should receive a copy of any evaluations or reports that will be considered at CSE meetings for your child. Additionally, you have the right to request copies of any evaluations or reports that have been written and placed in your child’s file. This can be done by making a request to the school or the special education office. Sometimes parents disagree with statements made in their child’s record. If this is the case, you can request, in writing, to meet with the school or the director of special education to discuss the area(s) of disagreement.
Plan for Graduation: High School Diploma Options and Post-Secondary Planning
Preparing for high school graduation requires that students and parents know the requirements and take all necessary steps to support students
in achieving their goals. New York State provides students with the following diploma options:
- Advanced Regents Diploma
- Regents Diploma
- Local Diploma
- C-DOS Credential
Transition Services and Post-Secondary Options
Transition Services are a coordinated set of activities that assist students moving from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, competitive employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation. The coordinated set of activities must be individualized for your child and will take into account his or her strengths, preferences and interests. The goal is to establish a communication process that focuses on the student’s strengths, interests and abilities. This information is the planning foundation so that students are well prepared for the movement from secondary school and have as many options as possible once they leave.
When your child turns 15 years old, Transition Services must be part of his or her IEP. This will be updated every year after that as part of the annual review CSE meeting.
Transition Services may focus on the following areas:
- Instructional activities that will be provided to your child to help him or her achieve the stated transition outcome;
- The development of employment and other post-school adult living skills;
- Community integration;
- The development of daily living skills for students who require this kind of assistance.
Transition Services aim to meet the following criteria:
- They are designed to be results-oriented;
- They help focus staff on improving academic and functional achievement of students and are based on the individual student needs;
- They take into account the student’s strengths, preferences and interests;
- They are integrated services that touch upon various aspects of the school experience and include responsibilities shared by multiple members of the school community.
Your child and, if you provide written consent, a representative of the agencies likely to be responsible for providing or paying for Transition Services must be invited to the IEP meeting to discuss Transition Services. At this meeting to discuss Transition Services, the following will be considered:
? Regardless of whether your child attends the CSE meeting, the CSE must ensure that his or her preferences and interests are considered; and
? Regardless of whether an agency invited a representative, steps to involve the agency in the planning of any transition.
Graduation Requirementsàdirect to APW Guidance Department Diploma Requirements
What Should Be Discussed at the Last Transition Meeting Before the Student Graduates?
The discussion at the last CSE meeting before the student graduates should include, among other things:
- Plans for schooling/training, living arrangements, travel and finances;
- Paperwork and documents necessary for post-secondary plans;
- Whether student and/or parent/guardian has copies of all the paperwork and documents;
- Whether the student and/or parent/guardian has names, addresses, phone numbers and names of contacts at the various agencies.
Additionally, schools are required to provide a Student Exit Summary for:
- All students with disabilities attending public school and non-public schools; and
- Students with disabilities for whom special education services will terminate in the current year because he or she will receive a Regents or Local Diploma or C-DOS Credential; or
- Students who will reach the age of 21.
The Summary should provide a meaningful picture of your child’s strengths, abilities, skills, functional and academic levels, needs, limitations, necessary accommodations and recommendations that will support his or her goals after leaving Altmar Parish Williamstown Central School District. The Summary will assist your child in establishing eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in post-secondary education, the workplace and the community.
Glossary of Terms
Accommodations: Tools and procedures that provide equal access to instruction and assessment for students with disabilities. Designed to “level
the playing field” for students with disabilities, accommodations are generally grouped into the following categories:
? Presentation (e.g., repeating directions, reading aloud, using larger bubbles on answer sheets, etc.);
? Response (e.g., marking answers in book, using reference aids, pointing, using a computer, etc.);
? Timing/Scheduling (e.g., extended time, frequent breaks, etc.);
? Setting (e.g., study carrel, special lighting, separate room, etc.).
Adapted Physical Education (APE): A specialized physical education program for children with disabilities who may not safely or successfully participate in the regular physical education program.
Alternative, or intervention/ prevention services): Services provided to general education students who are having difficulty in school. These services are an alternative to special education for students who are not classified as disabled or prior to a referral for a special education evaluation. Alternatives to special education may include reading and math remediation programs, guidance services and speech and language therapy that are provided within the school prior to referral for a special education evaluation.
Annual Goals: Goals written on the IEP that describe what the child is expected to achieve in the disability related area(s) over a one-year period.
Annual Review: A review of a disabled student’s special education services and progress that is completed at least once each school year by the student’s teacher(s) at a CSE meeting. Changes in special education services may or may not be recommended at this time.
Articulation: A process that begins each spring to determine a student’s movement from elementary to middle or from middle to high school within the same program.
Assessment: The process of collecting information about a student’s strengths and weaknesses to improve his or her educational program. The information collected through tests, observations and interviews will assist the team in determining the child’s levels of functioning and educational needs.
Assistive Technology Devices and Services: An Assistive Technology Device is any piece of equipment, product or system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability (e.g., a communication device, FM unit, computer access). An Assistive Technology Service is any service that directly helps a child with a disability select, acquire or use an assistive technology device. Any assistive technology or services your child requires must be listed in his or her IEP. If you think your child needs assistive technology, you may request an assistive technology evaluation.
Audiological Evaluation: A specialized hearing assessment conducted to determine whether or not a student has a significant hearing loss.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): A plan to address problem behavior that includes, as appropriate, positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports, program modifications and supplementary aids and services that may be required to address the problem behavior.
Child Find: Ongoing activities undertaken by states and local school districts to locate, identify and evaluate all children residing in the city who are suspected of having disabilities so that a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) can be made available to all eligible children, including all children in public, private and parochial schools.
Class Size: The maximum number of students permitted in the recommended services and/or class. This is indicated in the IEP.
Classification: This term is taken from New York State law and refers to types of disabilities.
Classroom Observation: The process of observing a student during the school day in the classroom and other school settings to see how learning occurs and what behaviors are exhibited.
Commissioner’s Regulations: State Education Department guidelines based on Federal and State education laws that specify, among other things, the steps school districts must follow in the special education referral, evaluation and placement process.
Confidentiality: The obligation of the Department of Education to maintain the student’s special education records in a manner that assures that only appropriate staff has access to the student’s IEP and records.
Consent: Consent must be “informed,” which requires more than obtaining a parental signature. The following steps are taken for informed consent to be obtained:
? You must be fully informed, in your preferred language or other mode of communication, of all information relevant to the activity for which
consent is sought. Also, you must be notified of the records of your child that will be released and to whom they will be released. This includes providing you with information about what testing will be completed, if any, and where the testing will take place;
? You must understand and agree in writing to the activity for which consent is sought; and
? You must be made aware that the consent on your part is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. However, if you revoke consent, understand that revocation is not retroactive, meaning that it does not negate an action that has occurred after you gave consent and before the consent was revoked.
Continuum: The range of education services in the school district to support educating children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment.
Deaf-Blindness: A student with both hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.
Deafness: A student with a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects the student’s educational performance.
Declassification: A CSE determination that a student no longer needs special education services.
Declassification Support Services: Services to support a decertified student to make the transition back to general education classes with no special education services. Declassification services may be provided for up to one year from the date of decertification and may include instructional supports and modifications, speech and language services, counseling services, etc.
Due Process: The provision in law that guarantees and protects the rights of parents, students and the district during the referral, evaluation and placement process.
Emotional Disturbance: A student who exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects the student’s educational performance:
? An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;
? An inability to build or maintain satisfactory inter- personal relationships with peers and teachers;
? Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
? A generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
? A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
The term “emotional disturbance” includes schizophrenia. It does not apply to students who are socially maladjusted unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
English Language Learner (ELL) (formerly students with limited English proficiency): A student who speaks a language other than English at home and scores below a state- designated level of proficiency in English upon entering the public school system.
English as a Second Language (ESL): A teaching approach and methodology used by trained English-speaking teachers for ELLs who are acquiring English-language skills.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge to the parent.
Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA): A problem-solving process for addressing student problem behavior. FBA relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the reasons for a specific behavior and to help CSEs select interventions that directly address the problem behavior.
General Education Curriculum: The body of knowledge and range of skills that all students, including students with disabilities, are expected to master.
Hearing Impairment: An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects the student’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of Deafness.
Health Services: A type of related services provided to students who are identified as having medical and/or health needs that require the assistance of a nurse or health paraprofessional during the school day. Examples of this service may be feeding, ambulation, suctioning or catheterization.
High School Diploma: Given to students who have successfully completed either Regents exams or competency tests and course credit requirements as prescribed by regulation.
Home Instruction as a program recommendation on the student’s IEP: Home instruction may be recommended by the relevant CSE for students with disabilities who have a medical or psychological illness which prevents the student from attending a public or private facility for an extended period of time (i.e., one year or longer).
Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS): A parent questionnaire to determine whether or not a language other than English is spoken in the student’s home.
Hospital Instruction: An educational service provided on a temporary basis to students who are hospitalized for medical conditions that prevent them from attending school.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA): A Federal law that gives students with disabilities the right to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment from age 3 to the year the student turns 21 years or graduates with a high school diploma.
Interpreter/Translator: A person who speaks the parent’s preferred language/mode of communication or the child’s language and interprets meetings for the parent and/or assessments for the student.
Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R): A test given to determine a student’s level of proficiency in English and need for bilingual ESL instructional services.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): “Least Restrictive Environment” means that placement of students with disabilities in special classes, separate schools or other removal from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.
Limited Mobility: Students who have specific mobility impairments, whether physical or sensory, for whom the design of buildings may pose barriers and who, therefore, must be offered access to programs to the extent required by law.
Management Needs: The amount of adult supervision and any necessary environmental modifications required to meet a student’s needs. This must be indicated in the IEP.
Mediation: A confidential, voluntary process that allows parties to resolve disputes without a formal due process hearing. An impartial mediator helps the parties to express their views and positions and to understand the other’s views and positions. The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussion and help parties reach an agreement, not to recommend solutions or take positions or sides. If parties reach agreement, that agreement is binding and may not be appealed.
Medical Examination: A doctor’s report on a student’s physical and medical condition that is taken into consideration during the CSE meeting.
Modifications: Describes a change in the curriculum. While accommodations are changes in formats or procedures that enable students to participate readily rather than be limited by disabilities, modifications are more extensive changes of both difficulty level and/or content quantity. Modifications are made for students with disabilities who are unable to comprehend all of the content an instructor is teaching. For example, assignments might be reduced in number and modified significantly for an elementary school student with cognitive impairments that limit his or her ability to understand the content in the general education class in which they are included.
Multidisciplinary Evaluation: The complete assessment of students by the evaluation team to determine if the student is disabled and requires special education services. This is also called a Multidisciplinary Assessment.
Neurological Evaluation: A specialized assessment conducted by a neurologist to determine if the student exhibits signs of a brain dysfunction that may affect learning.
New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT): The NYSESLAT is taken by English Language Learners (ELLs) in kindergarten through grade 12 who have been placed in ESL, bilingual or Dual Language classes. They will continue to receive ESL and bilingual services until their scores on the NYSESLAT indicate that they have gained sufficient proficiency in English to fully participate in an English-only program.
Non-Disabled: A student who is not classified as having a disability and receives no special education services.
Notice of Referral: A letter sent to parents in their preferred language, if known, no more than five days after the receipt of a referral.
Other Support Services: Related services provided to students who require developmental or corrective
assistance to be maintained in their current educational programs.
Parent Member: A parent of a child with a disability in the school district who participates in CSE meetings and assists a parent of a child with a known or suspected disability in making educational decisions for his or her child. Parents have the right to decline participation of the Parent Member at CSE meetings.
Psychiatric Evaluation: A specialized assessment conducted by a psychiatrist to determine a student’s ability to relate to the environment and the level to which emotional problems interfere with learning.
Psychological Evaluation: An assessment conducted by a licensed psychologist to measure a student’s strengths and weaknesses in overall learning abilities and how he/she relates to other children and adults.
Recommendation: A determination of the provision of special education services made at a CSE meeting.
Reevaluation: An updated evaluation(s) for a student with a disability. A request for reevaluation can be made by the student’s teacher, parent or school district. Additionally, students with disabilities must be reevaluated once every three years, except when the district and parent agree in writing that a reevaluation is not necessary. A reevaluation may not be conducted more than once a year unless the school and the parent agree otherwise.
Referral: A referral begins the evaluation and placement process to determine whether the student has a disability and requires special education services.
Related Services: Services that may be given to special education students to help support and assist their participation in their school program. These services must be recommended on the IEP and are provided either individually or in groups of no more than five. Services include: counseling, school health services, hearing education services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/ language therapy, vision education services, orientation and mobility services and “other support” services.
Requested Review: A CSE meeting to review the child’s IEP to determine if it continues to meet his or her needs. This review may be requested at any time by a parent, a teacher or other school staff member.
Social History: An interview with parents concerning a student’s health, family and school background, including social relationships, that is used as part of a student’s evaluation.
Special Class: Special Class Services are services provided for children with disabilities in a self-contained classroom. They serve children whose needs cannot be met within the general education classroom, even with the use of supplementary aids and services. Classes may contain students with the same disability or with different disabilities as long as they have similar levels of academic and learning characteristics, levels of social development, levels of physical development and management needs.
Special classes offer different levels of staffing intensity depending upon the student’s academic and/or management needs.
Specially Designed Instruction: Ways that special education professionals adapt the content, methodology (approaches to teaching certain grade-level content), or the delivery of instruction
to address the unique needs that result from the child’s disability. Specially designed instruction should also ensure that the eligible child has access to the general curriculum so that he or she can meet the educational standards of the school district that apply to all children.
Speech or Language Impairment: A student with a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or a voice impairment, that adversely affects the student’s educational performance.
Transition Services: A coordinated set of activities that:
? Improves the academic and functional skills of the student in order to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities such as post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation;
? Is based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account his or her strengths, preferences and interests, and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and, when appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
Transitional Support Services: Transitional support services, such as consultation and/or training, may be provided to staff (generally for 30 days) who work with children with disabilities as they move into less restrictive settings. Although transitional support services are provided to teachers, the benefit extends to the child with a disability.
Travel Training: A service that teaches high school-aged students to travel to and from school or to and from the work-study site safely and independently.
Twelve-Month School Year Services (also known as extended school year services): Twelve-Month School Year Services are provided to students with severe disabilities who require the continuity of education in order to prevent substantial regression in their developmental levels during July and August. This must be recommended by the CSE and indicated on the IEP. Parents must consent to extended school year services.
Vocational Assessment: Tests for secondary students to measure their interest and abilities in job-related areas. This assessment helps the CSE, the parent and the student to plan for the student’s transition from school to post-school activities, including future career and job possibilities.
Work-Study: Opportunities for secondary students to participate in educational, vocational and work-related experiences in preparation for the adult world.