Proving a student still needs services

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Sep 3, 2011

    One of my 3rd grade girls is up for re-eval this year. I'm concerned she won't qualify, but I think she definitely needs the services. This student LOVES school and gives 100% on absolutely every assignment. She works harder than anyone I've ever met, and mom helps a lot at home too. Therefore, the student is doing pretty well in classes. She's not quite up to benchmark, but she's not anywhere near "low" enough for what we normally consider to be special ed. We consider benchmark to be the 50th percentile. This student is currently in about the 30th-40th percentile in all subjects. Generally, to qualify students they have to be performing in the bottom 10th percentile. With different circumstances, they might consider someone up to the 25th percentile. If this were a student in RtI, I'd gradually decrease her resource time and continue to progress monitor her to watch if her scores went down with decreased services. However, since she's on an IEP, I legally have to meet the service hours, so I can't gradually decrease them and see how she does. I'm concerned that if she doesn't qualify and we stop everything all together, she'll go way down. Her IQ is low and I know she won't score well on our special ed qualifying assessments, but I'm concerned they'll say her performance is good enough for her to not qualify. Of course we can then put her in RtI, but to me that feels like waiting for her to fail and then starting from square one. I think she needs the extra support and someone to help give her more strategies. I don't want her to be punished for her effort! Just natural ability-wise, she's one of my lowest students. However, she puts in so much effort that she's one of the highest performers. For example, I gave her a list of sight words she still needed to know at the end of the school year. She came back knowing every single one- and told me that she and her mom had practiced them every single day. She also read several books per week, filled out some story element graphic organizers with mom, and practiced the math strategies we'd been working on. On top of that, she handed me several letters she'd written to her pen pal because she was "too excited to wait until school to write her." What can I do for her?
     
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  3. catlover

    catlover Rookie

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    What you're describing reminds me of an article I read in the Wrightslaw newsletter. It went over a policy letter from the U.S. Dept. of Education that clarifies various eligibility factors. Basically, it says that it is appropriate to consider outside tutoring and in-school supports in determining eligibility. Here's a quote from the letter itself:

    "such information may indicate that the child's current educational achievement reflects the service augmentation, not what the child's achievement would be without such help"

    I'm a new member and can't post a link, but you'll find the article if you Google the title: Passing Grades, IQ Scores & Evaluations of Students with Learning Disabilities: / Letter to Lillie/Felton

    Don't know if that will help, but it sounded like it could be relevant. Good luck!
     
  4. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Sep 4, 2011

    Hmm... I know here, if a child has been documented with a specific learning disability, they remain eligible for an IEP regardless of ability level - so I'm a bit baffled that only "low scoring" students are eligible in your area.

    When we do the three year re-eval, if the child is doing well in school, we'll often up their goals. Maybe answer 4/5 reading comprehension question correctly 80% of the time. Or we might decrease the amount of extra time allowed on assignments from 100% to 50%. We can also decrease service time from every day to three days per week or whatever.

    If it's not possible to write the IEP in a way that will continue to qualify her for services, could you put in the meeting notes that the child is doing well but it is suspected to be a direct relationship to services and without them, she will slip? That way, your feelings about dismissing her will be legally documented.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Kate is exactly right. You provide services and accommodations for this child AND Mom is providing services for this child. What else is being done to address the disability in areas of behavior, function, and academics. This is where the "soley the discrepancy model" can't be used. Do teachers see the need for this child to have additional help in class to be where she is academically? Does she need help socially? All this can be taken into consideration. Seems what your school tries to do is just use the discrepancy model in this case.

    Have mom record what she is doing between help with homework and any outside services she is providing via herself or other professionals. Include this in the evaluation. Include all related services this child is currently getting. Bundled together it shows a picture that it is the services being provided that is allowing this student to be where she is right now and removal of those services will not allow this child to progress to grade level.

    What is needed is a picture of a child that still needs the services. However, seems your school doesn't quite understand that (not pointing at you here) and loves the numbers.
     
  6. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Can Mom refused to have her re-evaulated? Then continue to base the IEP off of previous test scores. I was able to do that years ago for my own daughter. She tested out, but still needed services. She still qualified for Speech & Language though. Through a fluke in the system (she was moving to middle school) they were talking about setting up a study skills class. If they did that 6 weeks into the school year we would have had to rewrite the IEP, causing me to miss work. So we wrote those 5 hours in. From then on, any time they wanted to re-evaulate her I refused. She managed to keep her services all through high school. She still struggles. I can't imagine what it would have been like if she hadn't received services through middle school and high school.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Actually I kind of see it as the opposite...right now my school kind of uses both discrepancy and RtI (although they pretend they don't do discrepancy). Basically, we use the RtI system to decide what students should be tested. In my experience, by the time the kids make it through our very rigorous RtI system, they're pretty much really low kids (others who aren't performing quite so poorly never get the okay to move to testing), so they test extremely low as well. I really had to fight to get kids to the testing/referal stage last year (I suspect my district is trying to save money) and for the couple kids that finally made it they psych kept coming back and saying, "wow that's the lowest kid I've ever tested!" They use the discrepancy tests as kind of a reason to "back up" our RtI data. They don't necessarily use the old discrpancy data points...so it's not like a kid who is tested had to be exactly 2 standard deviations below the mean. If they're over that by 2 points or something, we would use the low test score and all the RtI data to still qualify them.

    I'm not concerned about the discrpancy tests, I'm concerned about her progress monitoring/intervention and classroom data. I think she'll still score poorly on the discrepancy tests/IQ measure, because honestly her natural abillities are low and this won't be a test she's been prepared for, given strategies for, or any accommodations or anything. The test will also be given by someone she hasn't met, and we've noted in the past that she does experience some test anxiety. However, her "RtI" (progress monitoring from me and classroom benchmarking) data is good, so I'm concerned the team will say that even though her discrepancy scores are low they don't see an educational impact for her disability. If we were just using the discrepancy model, I think she'd easily qualify, because she'll test low and it wouldn't matter how well she's doing in the classroom. She doesn't need any help socially- she is 100% normal there. I definitely think her teachers agree that her time with me is important and necessary, but on the other hand with her benchmark scores being in the 30%-40% range, there are plenty of other kids in her class performing at the same level who certainly aren't getting IEPs.

    I also have to do through our "culturally and lingusitically diverse" team for her before the re-eval to prove to them that issues aren't due to 2nd language or "cultural diversity", and I'm concerned they'll have issues with her high performance as well. I don't even understand how that's legal...if they say no we can't do the re-eval? Isn't that basically like saying no we already decided you can't have an IEP because your problem is simply that you're hispanic? It's a bunch of hoops to jump through, but they haven't said no to me yet...but all my referrals to them last year were initials with extremely low students. I sort of already have a back up plan for that though. I know on the permission to test if I check the box that says we decided we don't need to do a re-eval, the parent can request a re-eval anyway. So I'd just explain the situation to here and tell her she has the option to still request one, and I'm sure she will.

    Chebrutta, we have to prove an academic impact for any disability. So we might agree that she still has one, but doesn't qualify for special education services because it's not impacting her education. For example, if someone goes out and gets a medical diagnosis of dyslexia but their child is on grade level, there is no educational impact so we still wouldn't give them an IEP. So even with kids that get up to grade level, you keep them on an IEP forever, you never exit anyone? Are Tri-annuals not required in your state? That seems strange to me. I have exited kids before, this student just doesn't seem like someone who should be exited to me. We consider that a huge celebration at my school- if the student got the interventions and has learned to cope on their own, and is on grade level without needing the IEP. We wouldn't continue to label them just because a test says they have a learning disability or an emotional disability if it's not impacting their eduation.

    Kpa- I could be wrong about this (I'll have to ask the psych) but I believe in my state that if mom refuses re-eval that means the student is for sure off of the IEP all together. I believe it's a law that we have to re-eval every 3 years, so if mom says no, that means we can't consider a new IEP either way, since the old scores would be too old to be considered.
     
  8. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Actually, I've never recommended exiting for anyone except Speech students. We do have the tri-annual reviews; but most of the kids who have learned to cope have been exited before they get to us.

    My school is 6-12 and a college-prep school; we have a more challenging curriculum than the other public schools in the county. The main thing for us is guaranteeing the extra time on tests - including the state test, IB exams, etc.

    So this year, for example, I have a brilliant little boy. His test scores put him two grade levels above what I'm doing in class. But he is severely dyslexic and needs to have everything read to him. If we dismissed based on the scores, he'd start flunking immediately.

    I'm just thinking here... we have the ability to make the call based on teacher observations in class, not just grades & scores. There has to be some way you can work around that policy for her...
     
  9. catlover

    catlover Rookie

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    If I understand things, you're talking about this requirement for finding a child eligible because of a LD:

    If you read carefully, the reference to achieving at grade-level has a required context: when provided with a certain type of instruction, i.e., instruction appropriate for a third-grader.

    Is that what you and the mom are giving her? Sounds like the instruction she receives goes far beyond what is appropriate for 3rd graders. If she needs these special supports to be at grade level, then by definition she does NOT achieve adequately when given age-appropriate, grade-appropriate instruction and should be found eligible.

    This is one of the things gone over in the policy letter I mentioned in an earlier post. As part of the re-eval, the team will have to generate a written report that gives evidence for their conclusion on whether or not the child is eligible under LD. The policy letter specifically says that this written report should consider special supports. Here's the whole section that relates to this:

     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Chebrutta, In my state, you can actually get testing accommodations for any student, even if they're not on an IEP or 504. You just have to document that they've used the accommodations for classroom tests all year, and then they can also get them on the state tests. So if I exit a student they can still get any accommodation they need.

    We do use a teacher observation as one piece of the evaluation, but that alone wouldn't trump everything else. This student is also pretty "with it" in class, so I think it will be hard to try to use that piece of evidence as evidence she still needs the services. I was just telling her teacher that you have to really watch her assessments and things to make sure she's really understanding the material, because she's one of those students that will look like she's totally understanding you/getting everything (mostly because she's a people-pleaser, and has sort of learned the "language of school" and what she needs to say/do to act like she's totally with you) when in fact she really doesn't.

    Kate, we must have been posting at the same time! I'll bring that to my team. I feel like they'll say that she will/can acheive without the services though. Even if she were to drop some, they'd still say that wasn't enough to qualify for special ed, and as a gen ed student she could still receive many interventions such as title 1 reading and math. The standard response is that if she suddenly starts dropping, we can simply put her into RtI where she'd receive the services still. While yes, that's true, it seems kind of silly to me to go through that entire (extremely lenghty and tons of hoops to jump through in my district) process when she's already an IEP right now. I also know for a fact the district is trying to save money by using the RtI model to qualify less students and therefore need less teachers. If she were placed back into RtI, she'd still get all the interventions but wouldn't qualify as a student on my caseload since she doesn't have an IEP. If I lose just 2-3 more students (even with the new ones I'm hopefully identifying this year), they could easily make our school only have a .5 special ed teacher rather than a 1.0. I'm going to start looking for a new position at the end of this year anyway, and frankly that'd be a great excuse to leave without any bad feelings toward my individual school at all (since they'd understand I'd have to leave for financial reasons), so that doesn't directly affect me. However, I still don't think it would be in the best interests of this student or others who will likely end up in the same boat.
     
  11. catlover

    catlover Rookie

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    Here's a thought -- mom seems pretty committed. Any way she can take on some of the work of trying to make sure the other team members follow the correct procedure for doing the re-eval? Any chance of hooking her up with a sped advocate?
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    How does one get a sped advocate? It'd also have to be a spanish-speaker (mom's English isn't very good, although she can do enough to help with school assignments), and it'd have to be free of charge as well. I'm also concerned that setting that up myself would make it look like I was going against my school/district. Mom is really involved in helping the child in school, but she doesn't know much about special ed itself (she's from mexico, so little to no background on special ed laws and such here) and she works several jobs, so it's not like she has time to be sitting around googling it. My Spanish isn't that great, so I generally talk to mom through an interpreter. Also, would they have to prove legal status? Many of our immigrant families are illegal...some we know and some we don't. With this family, I'm not positive either way. However, I know at least this student was born in Mexico (the younger children may have been born here) and I would imagine her family wouldn't have the money and resources to jump through all the hoops for the extensive legal process to become citizens.
     
  13. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    In Michigan, I don't know about elsewhere, but every time there is an IEP meeting parents are given a sheet explaining their rights. Included is a list of support groups. Does your school provide anything like that? Or can they?
     
  14. catlover

    catlover Rookie

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    There is a directory of sped advocates available from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA "dot" org -- I still can't post links :)

    An advocate is a lot cheaper than a lawyer, and a lot of them have a sliding scale for low-income parents -- some do a certain amount of pro bono work, but you never know.
     
  15. bros

    bros Phenom

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    If they want to exit the child (and are dead set on it), say that they should implement a consultative IEP for one year instead.
     
  16. bros

    bros Phenom

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    http://www.copaa.org/

    ALso, refer the parent to your state parental advocacy network (SPAN)
     

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