Showing posts with label law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law. Show all posts

The Ongoing Journey: Problem Solving in Special Education with iReady Insights

The need for continuous improvement is not just something providers need to pay attention to. It also applies to our students as well. It doesn't matter if they are just starting their journey in RTI/MTSS or have been receiving special education services for some time.  

The point of Response to Intervention is to prevent students from becoming special education students. And if they are on an IEP, the point is to get them off it. It was never meant to be a life sentence. 

But what do you do once you have them. How do you know what you have created is working? How do you prove it to parents or administrators or yourself?  

This goes beyond progress monitoring. What if the student is just spinning? Or you're tapped out and need help?? What if you don't know what questions to ask because it's not your job or your thing or just don't know where to start????

Let me walk you through a problem-solving method that puts (in many different ways) problem-solving on its head.

But first some background--
In my building, iReady is a pretty good predictor of how our 3-6 students will do on the state assessment. (And if you want all my objections and the things I like, you can read them here.)

I'm fortunate enough to have most of my students for more than a year, so I can use iReady as my big assessment to see if what has been taught is rolling over on a larger scale. 

The data above is the averages for my group as 2nd graders and 3rd graders and school-wide for the just concluded school year.  And the last 4 slides that about how my student did over the two years.
Data | Vocabulary Project Blogpost by Alison Whiteley


My state and building use iReady diagnostics three times a year for READ Plans and intervention data. (more on come on iReady-both loves and dislikes)

As a special education teacher, I only use this data to compare students to their peer group and see their gains over the year. 

I look at the overall gains my students make on the five categories assessed each time. This year, I made a huge shift to building and creating a solid foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics.  

How am I going to track these changes to know the outcome to make meaningful changes in my instruction? 

Out of all the ways I could track this decision, I went with a RIOT/ICEL.

What is RIOT/ICEL and what does it have to do with my vocabulary project??

It is a problem-solving matrix.  It's a different way to look at students. It can be used for RTI/MTSS. My state suggests this method of problem-solving for SLD.

When I get stuck working out why students' down move, I turn the equation on its head to look at the problem differently. RIOT/ICEL does that in a framework that doesn't let me stray from the heart of the matter.  Need a copy grab it here. 

How it all works?

It is one tool that can help school teams sample information from abroad range of sources and investigate all likely explanations for academic or behavioral problems. This matrix helps schools to work efficiently and quickly to decide what relevant information to collect on academic performance and behavior—and also how to organize that information to identify probable reasons why the student groups are not experiencing academic or behavioral success.

The ICEL/RIOT matrix is not itself a data collection instrument. Instead, it is an organizing framework that increases schools’ confidence both in the quality of the data that they collect and the findings that emerge from the data. The leftmost vertical column of the ICEL/RIOT table includes four key domains of learning to be assessed: Instruction, Curriculum, Environment, and Learner (ICEL). 

A common mistake that schools often make is to assume that student learning problems exist primarily in the learner and to underestimate the degree to which teacher instructional strategies,  curriculum demands, and environmental influences impact the learner’s academic performance. The ICEL helps ensure the whole child is looked at holistically.

The top horizontal row of the ICEL/RIOT table includes four potential sources of student information: Review, Interview, Observation, and Test (RIOT). Teams should attempt to collect information from a range of sources to control for potential bias from any one source.

The power of the ICEL/RIOT matrix lies in its use as a cognitive strategy, one that helps educators to verify that they have asked the right questions and sampled from a sufficiently broad range of data sources to increase the probability that they will correctly understand the student’s presenting concern(s). Viewed in this way, the matrix is not a rigid approach but rather serves as a flexible framework for exploratory problem-solving.

RIOT: (Review, Interview, Observation, Test)

Review--This category consists of past or present records collected on the student. Obvious examples include report cards, office disciplinary referral data, state test results, and attendance records. Less obvious examples include student work samples, physical products of teacher interventions (e.g., a sticker chart used to reward positive student behaviors), and emails sent by a teacher to a parent detailing concerns about a student’s study and organizational skills.

Interview--Interviews can be conducted face-to-face, via telephone, or even through email correspondence. Interviews can also be structured (that is, using a pre-determined series of questions) or follow an open-ended format, with questions guided by information supplied by the respondent. Interview targets can include teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and support staff in the school setting who have worked with or had interactions with the student in the present or past. Prospective interview candidates can also consist of parents and other relatives of the student as well as the student himself or herself. 

Observation--Direct observation of the student’s academic skills, study and organizational strategies, degree of attentional focus, and general conduct can be a useful channel of information. Observations can be more structured (e.g., tallying the frequency of call-outs or calculating the percentage of on-task intervals during a class period) or less structured (e.g., observing a student and writing a running narrative of the observed events). Obvious examples of observation include a teacher keeping a frequency count of the times that she redirects an inattentive student to task during a class period and a school psychologist observing the number of intervals that a student talks with peers during independent seatwork Less obvious examples of observation include having a student periodically rate her own academic engagement on a 3-point scale (self-evaluation) and encouraging a parent to send to school narrative observations of her son’s typical routine for completing homework.

Test--Testing can be thought of as a structured and standardized observation of the student that is intended to test certain hypotheses about why the student might be struggling and what school supports would logically benefit the student (Christ, 2008). Obvious examples of testing include a curriculum-based measurement Oral Reading Fluency probe administered to determine a student’s accuracy and fluency when reading grade-level texts and a state English Language Arts test that evaluates students’ mastery of state literacy standards. A less obvious example of testing might be a teacher who teases out information about the student’s skills and motivation on an academic task by having that student complete two equivalent timed worksheets under identical conditions—except that the student is offered an incentive for improved performance on the second worksheet but not on the first (‘Can’t Do/Won’t Do Assessment’). Another less obvious example of testing might be a student who has developed the capacity to take chapter pre-tests in her math book, to self-grade the test, and to write down questions and areas of confusion revealed by that test for later review with the math Instructor.

ICEL–Instruction, Curriculum, Environment, and Learner

Instruction--The purpose of investigating the ‘instruction’ domain is to uncover any instructional practices that either help the student to learn more effectively or interfere with that student’s learning. More obvious instructional questions to investigate would be whether specific teaching strategies for activating prior knowledge better prepare the student to master new information or whether a student benefits optimally from the large-group lecture format that is often used in a classroom. A less obvious example of an instructional question would be whether a particular student learns better through teacher-delivered or self-directed, computer-administered instruction.

Curriculum--‘Curriculum’ represents the full set of academic skills that a student is expected to have mastered in a specific academic area at a given point in time. To adequately evaluate a student’s acquisition of academic skills, of course, the educator must (1) know the school’s curriculum (and related state academic performance standards), (2) be able to inventory the specific academic skills that the student currently possesses, and then (3) identify gaps between curriculum expectations and actual student skills. (This process of uncovering student academic skill gaps is sometimes referred to as an ‘instructional’ or ‘analytic’ assessment.) More obvious examples of curriculum questions include checking whether a student knows how to computer a multiplication problem with double-digit terms and regrouping or whether that student knows key facts about the Civil War. A less obvious curriculum-related question might be whether a student possesses the full range of essential academic vocabulary (e.g., terms such as ‘hypothesis’) required for success in the grade 10 curriculum.

Environment--The ‘environment’ includes any factors in students’ school, community, or home surroundings that can directly enable their academic success or hinder that success. Obvious questions about environmental factors that impact learning include whether a student’s educational performance is better or worse in the presence of certain peers and whether having additional adult supervision during a study hall results in higher student work productivity. Less obvious questions about the learning environment include whether a student has a setting at home that is conducive to completing homework or whether chaotic hallway conditions are delaying that student’s transitioning between classes and therefore reducing available learning time.

Learner--While the student is at the center of any questions of instruction, curriculum, and [learning] environment, the ‘learner’ domain includes those qualities of the student that represent their unique capacities and traits. More obvious examples of questions that relate to the learner include investigating whether a student has stable and high rates of inattention across different classrooms or evaluating the efficiency of a student’s study habits and test-taking skills. A less obvious example of a question that relates to the learner is whether a student harbors a low sense of self-efficacy in mathematics that is interfering with that learner’s willingness to put appropriate effort into math courses.

Integrating the RIOT/ICEL Matrix into a Building’s Problem-Solving. The power of the RIOT/ICEL matrix lies in its use as a cognitive strategy, one that helps educators verify that they have asked the right questions and sampled from a sufficiently broad range of data sources to increase the probability that they will correctly understand the student’s presenting concern(s). Viewed in this way, the matrix is not a rigid approach but rather serves as a flexible heuristic for exploratory problem-solving. 

Yes, it is time-consuming but asking all the right questions is what needs to happen to plan the right interventions for students and to make sure IEP teams know what assessments need to be given if the student has been referred for formal testing. 

I like this method when I'm stuck and feel a student's IEP team is missing something to move the needle for a student.  It's great for collaboration and looking at the whole student. And with students whose primary language is not English, you are not always seeing everything because of the language barrier. 

Stay tuned to learn how my team comes together to support ESL students using this method. Make sure to grab your freebie to help support your learners. 

Chat Soon-






PS: Here's a handout to help you complete a RIOT/ICEL.



Part 3: Planning a Comprehensive Evaluation - Parent Input

Welcome back to learning about what is needed to complete a Comprehensive Special Education evaluation. In part 2, I talked about the importance of planning comprehensive special education evaluations is emphasized. The process involves a collaborative approach among educators, specialists, and parents to ensure each child’s unique needs are accurately identified and met. It covers the key steps and considerations, including reviewing existing data, conducting new assessments, and integrating parental input. The post also highlights the necessity of adhering to legal requirements and timelines, particularly those specified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Effective planning and execution of these evaluations are crucial for developing appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that support student success.  Read it here.

Not going to lie here-getting parent input is hard. And sometimes really hard. But you need it. Like legally need it. You must have the parent's voice throughout the whole process not just the IEP but also the evaluation. Colorado's Dispute and Complaint Office has shared that if that it's the first thing they look for when looking at an IEP or evaluation. 

Notice of start of evaluation or reevaluation and appointment of IEP team

Determine who the IEP team participants are with collective expertise about areas of student strength and need, age and grade level standards and expectations, disability category criteria, and state and federal evaluation process requirements. In an Initial IEP use the RTI/MTSS data. If a three-year reevaluation, use the current IEP to drive what needs to be done. 

Remember, parents are part of the team. Ask them! 

Make sure if additional specialists are needed on the team to provide expertise about concerns representing particular areas of need such as specific medical, health concerns, or behavior. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) emphasizes the importance of parental input in the special education process. Several sections of the law highlight the critical role that parents play in developing and implementing their child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Parental Input in the IEP Process

IDEA say --

34 CFR § 300.322 Parent participation:

  • (a) Public agency responsibility—general. Each public agency must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, including—
    • (1) Notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and
    • (2) Scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place.
      • (b) Information provided to parents.
    • (1) The notice required under paragraph (a)(1) of this section must—
        • (i) Indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance; and
        • (ii) Inform the parents of the provisions in § 300.321(a)(6) and (c) (relating to the participation of other individuals on the IEP Team who have knowledge or special expertise about the child), and § 300.321(f) (relating to the participation of the Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system at the initial IEP Team meeting for a child previously served under Part C of the Act).
    • (2) For a child with a disability beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, the notice also must—
      • (i) Indicate—
        • (A) That a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the child, in accordance with § 300.320(b); and
        • (B) That the agency will invite the student; and
      • (ii) Identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative.
34 CFR § 300.324 Development, review, and revision of IEP:
  • (a) Development of IEP—
    • (1) General. In developing each child’s IEP, the IEP Team must consider—
      • (i)The strengths of the child;
      • (ii) The concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child;
      • (iii) The results of the initial or most recent evaluation of the child; and
      • (iv) The academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child.
  • (b) Review and revision of IEPs—
    • (1) General. Each public agency must ensure that, subject to paragraphs (b)(2) and 
      • (b)(3) of this section, the IEP Team—
      • (i) Reviews the child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved; and
      • (ii) Revises the IEP, as appropriate, to address—
        • (A) Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals described in § 300.320(a)(2), and in the general education curriculum, if appropriate;
        • (B) The results of any reevaluation conducted under § 300.303;
        • (C) Information about the child provided to, or by, the parents, as described in § 300.305(a)(2);
        • (D) The child’s anticipated needs; or
        • (E) Other matters.

But Amanda J. v. Clark County School District 267 F.3rd 877 also states “Parents not only represent the best interests of their child in the IEP development process, they also provide information about the child critical to developing a comprehensive IEP and which only they are in a position to know.” 

These sections of IDEA emphasize that parents must be included in the IEP team meetings, their input must be considered in the development of the IEP, and they have the right to be informed and participate actively in the decision-making process regarding their child's education. If a complaint is filed this will be the first thing the state will look for. 

Plan the Evaluation - Review of Existing Data and determine if additional assessment is needed

Create student-specific developmentally and educationally relevant questions using either the student’s RTI/MTSS data or the current IEP and its data.  Make sure you are looking across all domains to assess the whole child: academic, cognitive learning, communication, independence and self-determination, social and emotional, physical, and health. 

Ask any needed clarifying questions around suspected areas of need as well as related concerns of those who interact with the student in and out of school by asking developmentally and educationally relevant questions.

Identify existing functional, developmental, and academic information about student access, engagement, and progress in general education curriculum, instruction, and other school activities, and environments. Review and refine educationally relevant questions as needed to ensure nothing will be missed. Within the RTI/MTSS system these questions, concerns, and data should be already documented.

Consider potential disability categories that should be considered so sufficient information will be available to apply initial or reevaluation disability category criteria. Make sure the IEP team includes individuals with expertise in the category(ies) of disability that may be considered. Ask hard questions like, “Do we have cognitive concerns?, Do we suspect Autism?, Do we suspect Dyslexia?”

Decide what, if any, additional data or other assessment information is needed to explore all areas of suspected academic and functional skill concern, areas of student strengths and assets, and to apply anticipated disability category criteria. A comprehensive evaluation includes a mix of formal and informal testing to answer the team's questions.

Use a problem-solving framework (e.g., RIOT/ICEL) to guide the review of existing data and maintain focus on the whole student. Consider information about instruction, curriculum, learning environments, and the student. I have shared this before, this is the form my building uses for all RTI/MTSS student concerns. 

Notice and Consent - Need to Conduct Additional Assessment

Before moving forward, ensure data and information that will be used to make evaluation decisions comes from multiple sources and is collected using a variety of assessment tools and methods such as record reviews, observations, interviews, curriculum-based evaluation, and norm-referenced standardized tests; and includes information gathered in the student’s natural learning environments. (formal and informal assessment data points)

Document review of existing data and decision about additional assessment or other information needed.

Communicate with the family and others to clearly explain who will administer assessments and collect other information, the types of assessments that will be implemented, and the tools used to collect other information, and clarify any questions that family members or others may have.


Chat Soon-





References:

About idea. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2024, March 27). https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/

Statute and regulations. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2024b, January 26). https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statuteregulations/ https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statuteregulations/ 


PS: Introducing "A Guide to Special Education for Parents and Teachers," a comprehensive resource available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This guide provides valuable insights and practical strategies for navigating the special education process. Designed for both parents and educators, it covers essential topics such as the Individualized Education Program (IEP), legal rights, assessment procedures, and effective communication techniques. With clear explanations and actionable advice, this guide empowers stakeholders to collaborate effectively, ensuring that students with special needs receive the support and services they deserve. Ideal for those seeking to enhance their understanding and advocacy in the realm of special education.



PSS: Parent Input Freebie




Part 2: Planning a Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation

I work on a HUGE special education team. This year it is 15 members. Getting everyone on the same page for a student evaluation is hard. It's hard on a good day but out of everything, I deal with as a special education teacher, case manager, and one who completes 98% of all academic testing for students starting their special education journey. This post will walk you through what IDEA tells us what we have to do.

In case you missed the first post in this series here's a quick snippet.  Comprehensive special education evaluations are crucial for accurately identifying a child’s unique needs and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. These evaluations go beyond academics to assess cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development. They involve multiple methods and sources, such as observations, standardized tests, and input from parents and teachers. A thorough evaluation provides a detailed understanding of a child's strengths and weaknesses, which is essential for creating an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Read it here.

What does IDEA say?


IEP teams follow these steps when conducting comprehensive special education evaluations. The Evaluation Process Chart outlines required IDEA timeline procedures and describes recommended actions for each step. These procedures fall within the needed timeline for evaluation. 

According to IDEA, evaluations must be conducted within 60 calendar days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation. This timeline can vary if the state has established its own timeframe, but the federal requirement is 60 days.
The relevant section of IDEA is found in 34 CFR § 300.301(c), which states:

(a) General. A public agency must ensure that a reevaluation of each child with a disability is conducted

  • (1) If the public agency determines that the educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, of the child warrant a reevaluation; or
  • (2) If the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.

(b) Limitation. A reevaluation conducted under paragraph (a) of this section—

  • (1) May occur not more than once a year, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise; and
  • (2) Must occur at least once every 3 years, unless the parent and the public agency agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

Start the Evaluation: Initial or Reevaluation

Initial Evaluation: A special education referral starts the initial special education evaluation process. The referral describes why the person making the referral believes the student is a “child with a disability” who needs special education.


Reevaluation: A reevaluation is started when the LEA (Local Educational Agency–most of the time will be the school your child attends) decides a student’s disability-related needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, warrant a reevaluation; or if the student’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.


The relevant sections from IDEA are 34 CFR § 300.303 and 34 CFR § 300.305.

Definition and Timing of Reevaluations from 34 CFR § 300.303 Reevaluations:

  • (a) General. A public agency must ensure that a reevaluation of each child with a disability is conducted—
    • (1) If the public agency determines that the educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, of the child warrant a reevaluation; or
    • (2) If the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.
  • (b) Limitation. A reevaluation conducted under paragraph (a) of this section—
    • (1) May occur not more than once a year, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise; and
    • (2) Must occur at least once every 3 years, unless the parent and the public agency agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

Evaluation Procedures

34 CFR § 300.305 Additional requirements for evaluations and reevaluations:

  • (a) Review of existing evaluation data. As part of an initial evaluation (if appropriate) and as part of any reevaluation under this part, the IEP Team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, must—
    • (1) Review existing evaluation data on the child, including—
      • (i) Evaluations and information provided by the parents of the child;
      • (ii) Current classroom-based, local, or State assessments, and classroom-based observations; and
      • (iii) Observations by teachers and related service providers; and
  • (2) On the basis of that review, and input from the child’s parents, identify what additional data, if any, are needed to determine—
      • (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability, as defined in §300.8, and the educational needs of the child; or, in case of a reevaluation of a child, whether the child continues to have such a disability, and the educational needs of the child;
      • (ii) The present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the child;
      • (iii) Whether the child needs special education and related services; or, in the case of a reevaluation of a child, whether the child continues to need special education and related services; and
      • (iv) Whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the child to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the IEP of the child and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum.
Coming soon more on parent input and implementing the IEP. This process is hard. It takes time and team communication with each other. The Law is here to help us with what we need to so we do our jobs right and not miss students who need the support but also make sure that those who don't need us get the correct support.

Chat Soon-





References:

About idea. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2024, March 27). https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/

Statute and regulations. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (2024b, January 26). https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statuteregulations/ https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statuteregulations/ 



PS: Introducing "A Guide to Special Education for Parents and Teachers," a comprehensive resource
available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This guide provides valuable insights and practical strategies for navigating the special education process. Designed for both parents and educators, it covers essential topics such as the Individualized Education Program (IEP), legal rights, assessment procedures, and effective communication techniques. With clear explanations and actionable advice, this guide empowers stakeholders to collaborate effectively, ensuring that students with special needs receive the support and services they deserve. Ideal for those seeking to enhance their understanding and advocacy in the realm of special education.





About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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