Special Education Operating Guidelines

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1 Special Education Operating Guidelines Special Education Cooperative Cotulla ISD, Dilley ISD, Pearsall ISD Revised as of June 2011

2 Special Education Operating Guidelines The Special Education Cooperative Serving the Districts of Cotulla ISD, Dilley ISD, and Pearsall ISD Contact Information Mailing address: 318 Berry Ranch Road Pearsall, TX Director of Special Education: Valerie Dykstra Phone: Fax: For Records: Grace Perez Phone: ex: 1132 Copyright 2011 by Special Education Cooperative Designed and Produced By: Lisa Marie Benton Contact Information

3 Special Education Operating Guidelines TABLE OF CONTENTS CATEGORIES OF ELIGIBILITY... 1 LOCATING STUDENTS WHO NEED SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES... 2 CHILD FIND... 2 CHILD FIND DUTY... 2 CONTACT INFORMATION FOR CHILD FIND... 3 PROHIBITION ON MANDATORY MEDICATION... 4 DYSLEXIA SERVICES... 4 RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION... 5 REFERRAL FOR POSSIBLE SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES... 5 FULL AND INDIVIDUAL EVALUATION... 6 REVIEW OF EXISTING EVALUATION DATA (REED)... 6 Aspects of a REED... 6 Requirements If Additional Data Are Not Needed... 7 EVALUATION PROCEDURES... 7 Group of Qualified Professionals... 7 Initial Evaluations... 8 Reevaluations... 8 Other Evaluation Data... 8 ADMISSION, REVIEW AND DISMISSAL (ARD) COMMITTEE ARD COMMITTEE TEAM COMPOSITION ATTENDANCE EXEMPTIONS FOR ARD COMMITTEE MEMBERS PARENT PARTICIPATION WITHIN THE ARD COMMITTEE Conducting an ARD Committee Meeting Without a Parent in Attendance Use of Interpreters INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) COMPONENTS OF THE IEP ADMISSION, REVIEW AND DISMISSAL (ARD) MEETINGS ANNUAL MEETING INITIAL ARD MEETING REVISING THE IEP PARENT REQUEST FOR AN ARD MEETING REACHING CONSENSUS AMENDMENTS TO THE IEP WITHOUT AN ARD MEETING ADMISSION, REVIEW AND DISMISSAL (ARD) DETERMINATIONS DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY PRESENT LEVELS OF THE CHILD Table of Contents

4 Special Education Operating Guidelines ANNUAL GOALS STATE- AND DISTRICT-WIDE ASSESSMENTS Basic Definitions of Services Providing Services Determining an Intensive Program for a child due to State Assessment Results EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) SERVICES Limitations Determining Need for ESY Services LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT FACTORS FOR CONSIDERATION PLACEMENT DETERMINATION CHILDREN RESIDING IN A RESIDENTIAL FACILITY WHEN MAKING A RESIDENTIAL EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENT Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) and Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) Placement PARENT: DEFINITION AND REQUIREMENTS REQUIREMENTS FOR FOSTER PARENT TO SERVE AS A PARENT APPOINTMENT OF A SURROGATE PARENT ADULT STUDENT PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE CONSENT CONSENT FOR INITIAL EVALUATION If Consent is not Obtained, Despite Reasonable Efforts CONSENT FOR INITIATING SERVICES If Consent is not Obtained, Despite Reasonable Efforts If Consent is not Obtained, Despite Reasonable Efforts CONSENT FOR REEVALUATION If Consent is not Obtained, Despite Reasonable Efforts CONSENT TO EXCUSE A MEMBER FROM ATTENDING AN ARD COMMITTEE MEETING CONSENT TO ACCESS PUBLIC BENEFITS CONSENT TO ACCESS PRIVATE INSURANCE CONSENT TO TRANSFER ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVICES If Consent is not Obtained, Despite Reasonable Efforts CONSENT FOR DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION SERVICES BIRTH THROUGH AGE EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTION (ECI) INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICES PLAN (IFSP) TRANSITION FROM ECI TO PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS Table of Contents

5 Special Education Operating Guidelines TRANSITION SERVICES DEVELOPING POSTSECONDARY GOALS DEVELOPING A COORDINATED SET OF ACTIVITIES ASSESSMENTS TRANSITION RESPONSIBILITIES PERSONAL GRADUATION PLAN GRADUATION Graduation Due to Satisfactory Completion of Regular Curriculum and Credit Requirements Graduation Due to Successful Completion of the IEP Graduation Due to Successful Completion of the IEP and No Longer Meeting Age Eligibility Requirements Children Who Have Completed Four Years of High School but Have Not Met Graduation Requirements Senate Bill 673 Graduation Ceremony School District Requirements SUMMARY OF PERFORMANCE DISCIPLINE AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL PERSONNEL Authority to Remove for Less than 10 Consecutive Days Authority to Remove for More than 10 Consecutive Days Limitation on General Authority CHANGE OF PLACEMENT Federal and State Requirements Decision Notification MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION Federal and State Requirements Disciplinary ARD Process Information Requirements Prior to ARD Determination WHEN BEHAVIOR IS A MANIFESTATION WHEN BEHAVIOR IS NOT A MANIFESTATION SERVICES DURING PERIODS OF REMOVAL Removals for 10 or Less Cumulative Days Removals for More than 10 Cumulative Days that are Not a Change of Placement Removals that Are a Change of Placement Special Circumstances RESTRAINT AND TIME-OUT FEDERAL AND STATE REQUIREMENTS Seclusion and Confinement Table of Contents

6 Special Education Operating Guidelines PHYSICAL RESTRAINT Required Documentation TIME-OUT Required Documentation INCARCERATED STUDENTS TRANSFER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS TRANSFER STUDENT WHEN AN EVALUATION IS PENDING INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) FOR TRANSFERS WITHIN THE STATE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) FOR TRANSFERS OUTSIDE THE STATE PRIVATE SCHOOLS CONSULTATIONS RIGHT OF THE PRIVATE SCHOOL OFFICIAL TO COMPLAIN DUAL ENROLLMENT CONTACT INFORMATION MAILING INFORMATION DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL EDUCATION CONTACT PERSON FOR RECORDS Table of Contents

7 Categories of Eligibility Categories of Eligibility The school district is required by law to make a referral to evaluate a student for special education services at any time it suspects that a child has a disability and a need for special education services. A child must be assessed in all areas of suspected disability. There are 13 categories of qualification for special education: Auditory Impairment (from birth) Autism Deaf-Blindness (from birth) Emotional Disturbance Mental Retardation Multiple Disabilities Noncategorical Early Childhood (ages 3-5) Orthopedic Impairment Other Health Impairment Specific Learning Disability Speech or Language Impairment Traumatic Brain Injury Visual Impairment (including blindness) (from birth) From birth means that the school district is responsible for providing services for children with those disabilities from the time the child is born. However, the school district is only responsible for providing services to those who qualify for the other categories after the child turns three years old. For more information on the process of locating and referring children who may be eligible for special education services, see the Child Find section. For more information on the evaluation process, see the section titled Full and Individual Evaluation. 1

8 Full and Individual Evaluation Locating Students Who Need Special Education Services It is the responsibility of the school district to identify children with disabilities in their area who have the need for special education services and would benefit from specially-designed instruction. Child Find Child Find is the system that school districts must follow and implement at a local level to locate children with disabilities in order to provide the services those children qualify for and have a right to receive. It is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening, and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of services. In order to begin to understand this process, it is first important to understand the following two basic definitions of special education. First, special education is specially-designed instruction, delivered at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This may include instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, in physical education, and/or other settings. Second, the phrase child with a disability means a child with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness, serious emotional disturbance (referred to as emotional disturbance ), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities and who, as a result of their disability, needs special education and related services. Child Find Duty All children residing in the state who have disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services must be identified, located, and evaluated. It is the responsibility of the school district to reach out to the community in an effort to identify children with special needs. The school district is required to provide services for some disabilities from a child s time of birth; therefore, schools must be acting proactively to reach these students before they reach school age. The duty extends to children who are homeless, wards of the state, highly mobile (including migrant children), or attending private schools. It also extends to children who are suspected of being in need of special education but who are still advancing from grade to grade. A student is not required to fail a grade level or classes to qualify for special education. 2

9 Full and Individual Evaluation The school district is required to have a system in place to help identify children with disabilities in private elementary and secondary schools as well as to provide them with activities and services similar to those administered for public school children. In order to maintain a system of public awareness of the special education program, the school district is currently implementing a monthly notice in the city newspaper which informs the community on how to help identify if children they know may have disabilities, who to notify for evaluation (in most circumstances, the school district will step in to conduct an evaluation) if a disability is suspected, and the services that may be available to the child if he or she does have a disability. This system of public awareness is largely for helping to identify children who are not yet of school age but who have a disability and are eligible for enrollment in a special education program and the services the program can provide. The school district must comply with Texas s policies and procedures designed to prevent the inappropriate over-identification or disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of children as children with disabilities, including children with disabilities with a particular impairment. Contact Information for Child Find Locating a child with a disability does not have to begin with the actions of a school district. Those closest to the child, often a relative or friend, are usually the first to notice that the child may have a disability. It is important to refer a child who you suspect may have a disability because early identification and intervention can prevent failure and frustration. All individuals develop at their own pace, but some have more difficulty and need more help than others to learn. Special attention to teaching and learning strategies may help individuals overcome barriers that their disabilities can create. Child Find is the process designed to identify, locate, and evaluate individuals (birth through 21 years of age) with disabilities who may need the assistance of special education services. Anyone can start the Child Find process. A parent, doctor, teacher, relative, or even a friend can call the school district s Child Find contact. To make a referral or to ask questions about Child Find, you can contact the Special Education Department by calling (830) and asking for the Special Education Department. If the child is not yet of school age, you can also contact the local Early Childhood Intervention Coordinator and ask for the Disabilities Coordinator. After a child has been referred, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will be contacted by the school district. The parents and the school will decide if an evaluation is 3

10 Full and Individual Evaluation needed. If needed, an evaluation plan will be created to assess the child s individual areas of concern. The actual evaluation process will be conducted by a qualified school district employee or by agency personnel working through the school district. After the evaluation has been conducted, the parents and evaluation personnel will have a meeting to discuss the results and whether or not the child is eligible for special education services or related services. Related services could include services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, or transportation. Important Note: All services are provided at NO cost to the individual or parents. Prohibition on Mandatory Medication School district personnel are prohibited from requiring a child to obtain a prescription for a substance covered by the Controlled Substances Act as a condition of attending school, receiving an evaluation, or receiving services under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, teachers and other school personnel are not prohibited from consulting or sharing classroom-based observations with parents or guardians regarding a child s academic and functional performance, behavior in the classroom or school, or regarding the need for evaluation for special education or related services. Dyslexia Services Dyslexia is defined as a disorder of constitutional origin that manifests as a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity. Related disorders to dyslexia include disorders, such as developmental auditory imperceptions, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability. Children enrolling in public schools must be tested for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the State Board of Education. In accordance with the program approved by the State Board of Education, the board of trustees of each school district must provide for the treatment of any child determined to have dyslexia or a related disorder. The school district has a dyslexia coordinator who handles the dyslexia program. Dyslexia services may include a separate dyslexia teacher or other in-class accommodations. Finding that a child has dyslexia does not qualify the child for special education. There are separate services available through the school district s dyslexia program that will be made available to the child with dyslexia or one of its related disorders. A child can qualify for special education under a different disability and also have 4

11 Full and Individual Evaluation dyslexia, but it is not the dyslexia that qualifies the student for special education services. For example, a student could qualify under a reading disability with dyslexia being a component of that disability. In the case where a student has both a special education qualifying disability and dyslexia, the special education department and dyslexia program will coordinate efforts to best assist the child. Response to Intervention The school district is required to have a system in place to help students who are having academic, behavioral, and/or language difficulties. The system is designed to assist in remediating deficits students are experiencing in these difficulty areas. The intervention is scientifically based, which means it must implement systems and techniques that have already be scientifically proven to be effective. The system includes a team of professionals from the student s campus, known as the Student Assistance Team (SAT). After a student is placed in an intervention system, the SAT monitors the student s progress and adjusts the instruction based on how the student is responding to the interventions. This process of monitoring and adjusting is referred to as the RtI (Response to Intervention) process. This RtI process grows more intense when the student does not respond as expected. Only after this process and its multiple levels are attempted and have been found to be unsuccessful for the student should the SAT make a referral to the Special Education Department for consideration for a special education evaluation. Referral for Possible Special Education Services If a child is continuing to experience difficulty in the general classroom after interventions have been attempted, a full and individual evaluation may be required. A parent of a child, a state agency representative, or a local qualified school district employee may initiate a request for an initial evaluation. Note: The school district must have in place procedures for processing referrals from private schools in their area. For more information, see the Categories of Eligibility section for more details on what qualifies a child for special education services. 5

12 Full and Individual Evaluation Full and Individual Evaluation Review of Existing Evaluation Data (REED) The first step in the full and individual evaluation (FIE) is to review all existing data on the child, if there is any. This includes any evaluation and information provided by the parents of the child, current assessments and classroom-based observations, and observations by teachers and related services providers. This review (REED) must be conducted as part of any reevaluation of the child. It is important to note that a child having been screened by a teacher or other specialist to help determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation is NOT considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services. For example, just the fact that a teacher came up with an adaptation in the classroom to help the student understand the curriculum does not mean that this teacher s evaluation of the situation can serve as an evaluation for eligibility for special education or related services. An FIE and ARD committee determination is needed to determine that a child is eligible for special education and related services. (For more information on the ARD committee, see the ARD Committee section.) Aspects of a REED A review of existing evaluation data (REED) must be conducted by the ARD committee. A REED is required as part of an initial evaluation and, if appropriate, as part of any reevaluation. The ARD committee may conduct this review without a meeting. The ARD committee members must review any existing evaluation data on the child which may include the previous individual family service plan (IFSP), evaluations and information provided by the parents of the child, current classroom-based local or state assessments and classroom-based observations, and observations from teachers and related services providers. After reviewing this data, the ARD committee members determine if any additional information is needed in order to make a determination of whether or not the child is a child with a disability, the educational needs of the child, or (in the case of a reevaluation) whether the child continues to have a disability and his or her educational needs. They must also determine whether the child needs special education and related services or (in the case of a reevaluation) the child needs to continue with special education and related services. The ARD committee will determine the child s present level of academic achievement and any areas of developmental need. The committee will also decide if any additions or modifications to the current services are needed in order to enable the child to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the individualized education program (IEP) of the child and to participate as appropriate in the general 6

13 Full and Individual Evaluation educational curriculum. (For more information on the IEP, see the individualized education program, IEP, section.) The school district must administer any assessments and other evaluation measures that are needed to produce the data identified by the REED. Also, the school district must provide prior written notice as well as obtain consent, when appropriate, for an evaluation to occur. Requirements If Additional Data Are Not Needed If no additional data are needed to determine whether or not the child has a disability or continues to be a child with a disability or to determine their educational needs, the school district must notify the child's parents of the determination and the reasons for that determination. It must also notify the parents of their rights to request an assessment to determine if the child continues to be a child with a disability and to determine the child's educational needs. However, the school district is not required to conduct an assessment unless it is requested by the child's parents. Evaluation Procedures Evaluations are conducted for two main reasons: 1) To determine whether or not the child has a disability, and/or 2) To determine or reevaluate the content of the child s IEP. The determination or reevaluation of the IEP includes analyzing information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress successfully in the general education curriculum or, in the case of preschool children qualifying for the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD), successfully participating in developmentally appropriate activities. (For more information on PPCD, see the Services Birth through Age 5 section.) Group of Qualified Professionals Evaluations must be conducted and evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, including qualified professionals. In most situations, a diagnostician will conduct the evaluation and present the data to the ARD committee. However, in certain situations and with certain disabilities, the evaluation will be conducted by a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP), a certified or licensed practitioner with experience and training in the area of the child s suspected disability, or a certified or licensed professional experienced in the child s suspected area of 7

14 Full and Individual Evaluation eligibility. The assessment personnel are required to consider all data; however, it is up to these professionals to determine which evaluation data will be used to identify a disability. Initial Evaluations The initial evaluation is the first evaluation of the student conducted to determine whether or not a child has a disability and the educational needs of the child. A full and individual evaluation (FIE) must be conducted by the school district before special education and related services can be arranged for a child with a disability. The evaluation must be conducted, and the report must be completed within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation. The exception to this timeline is if the parent of the child repeatedly fails or refuses to produce the child for the evaluation or if the child enrolls in school after the 60 day timeframe has begun. If the enrollment occurs after the 60 day timeframe has begun, the school district must comply with the proper transferring student procedure. Reevaluations A reevaluation is conducted as a reassessment of a child who has already been determined to have a disability and a need for specific educational assistance. A reevaluation may be conducted under the following conditions: If a reevaluation is requested by the child s parents or teacher. If the school district determines the educational or related services needs warrant a reevaluation. This could include reasons like improved academic achievement and functional performance. Before determining that the child is no longer a child with a disability. If a Summary of Performance is needed. (See the Summary of Performance section for more information) Note: A reevaluation is not required before the termination of a child s eligibility if it is due to graduation from secondary school with a regular diploma or due to exceeding the age eligibility for a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Other Evaluation Data The evaluation cannot use only one measure or assessment to determine whether or not the child has a disability or what would be an appropriate educational plan for the child. Assessments and other evaluation material used to assess and determine eligibility and education plans must be provided and administered in the language 8

15 Full and Individual Evaluation most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do (Unless it is not feasible to provide or administer). For example, if the child knows Spanish fluently but struggles to read English, the assessment would be more accurate if provided and conducted in Spanish. This is only for assessments determining eligibility and/or to evaluate the child s learning potential. The assessments must cover all areas of suspected disability. These may include assessments, if appropriate, regarding health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, ability to communicate, and motor abilities. Assessments should be selected and administered based on their ability to measure the specific areas of suspected disability. The assessments should not only provide a single general intelligence quotient, which is the IQ score resulting from a standard IQ test. However, an IQ test may be a valid and informative assessment in conjunction with other assessments. The evaluation must cover all of the suspected areas of need for the child, even if the suspected areas are not commonly associated with the disability category in which the child has been classified. These needs may be special education or related services needs. 9

16 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee The school district is responsible for establishing an admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committee for each eligible child with a disability and for each child who is suspected to have a disability and has an initial Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE) conducted. (See the Full and Individual Evaluation section for more details on the FIE process.) The ARD committee has three main tasks they are responsible for under federal law: 1) Eligibility 2) Individualized Education Program (IEP) 3) Placement ARD Committee Team Composition The ARD Committee is composed of the following individuals: 1) At least one regular education teacher of the child with a disability (if the student is in the general education environment) 2) At least one special education teacher 3) A school district administrator 4) An individual who can interpret the instructional implication of the evaluation data and assessment results (In most cases this will be a diagnostician; although, outside of eligibility determination, it may be one of the other ARD members listed.) 5) The parents of the child (Optional if the student is an adult.) 6) The child with a disability (Whenever appropriate the child must be present for ARD meeting where Transition Services are being considered.) 7) Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, at the discretion of the parent or the district If the child has an auditory impairment, a teacher who is certified in the education of children with auditory impairments must be present. If the child has a visual impairment, a teacher who is certified in the education of child with visual impairments must be present. If the child has limited English proficiency, a member of the language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC) must be present to address the child s language needs when the ARD committee is making a determination on State-wide Assessments. If the ARD committee is meeting to consider initial or continued placement of a child in career and technical education (CTE), a representative from CTE (preferably the CTE teacher) must be present. 10

17 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee The special education teacher will participate in the development, review and revision of the IEP. This includes the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies for the child and supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and supports for school personnel. Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child may include related services personnel, the ECI service coordinator, or other ECI representatives. The ECI representatives may help facilitate transition from Early Childhood Intervention to Preschool Programs. Attendance Exemptions for ARD Committee Members A member does not have to attend an ARD meeting if the parent and school district agree that the member s attendance is not necessary and if the member s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed at the meeting. The parent s agreement to the member s absence must be in writing. If the meeting does involve the member s area of curriculum or related services, the member must submit input into the development of the individualized education program (IEP) to the parent and the ARD committee prior to the meeting. (For more information on the IEP, see the Individualized Education Program section.) The parent and school district must still consent, and the parent s approval must still be in writing. Parent Participation within the ARD Committee The school district must attempt to ensure that the parent of a child with a disability is present at each ARD committee meeting and/or is given the opportunity to participate. If the parent is unable to attend the meeting in person, the parent may participate through telephone or video conferencing during the meeting. In order to insure that the parent has been given a real chance to attend the meeting, prior written notice of at least five school days must be given, notifying the parent of the meeting and attempting to schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed-upon time and place. Any activities that are for the purpose of gathering information and preparing material for the ARD meeting do not qualify as meetings. An ARD meeting does not include any informal or unscheduled conversations involving school district personnel and conversations on issues such as teaching methods, lesson plans, or the coordination of services. Therefore, in these cases, prior written notice and parental attendance are not required. The school district must provide the parent with a copy of the child s IEP at no cost, and if the parent is unable to speak English, a written or audio-taped copy in the parent s native language. If the language is other than English or Spanish, a good 11

18 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee faith effort to provide the written or audio copy of the IEP in the parent s native language must be made. Conducting an ARD Committee Meeting Without a Parent in Attendance The school district may conduct an ARD committee meeting without a parent present if the school district is unable to convince the parent to attend. The school district must keep a record of all attempts to arrange a mutually agreedupon time and place with the parent. Also, the parent may request that the ARD committee proceed without them and to be notified of the decisions made at the meeting instead. Use of Interpreters It is up to the school district to ensure that the parent understands the proceeding of the ARD meeting. This may include steps such as arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is not English. 12

19 Individualized Education Program (IEP) Individualized Education Program (IEP) The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement for each child with a disability that reflects the unique needs of the child. It is developed, reviewed, and revised by the ARD Committee. The creation of an IEP is a combined effort of the child s teachers, parents, school administrators, other appropriate school personnel, related service personnel, and (when appropriate) even the child to analyze and address the needs of the child. Each IEP is written specifically for one child and must be a truly individualized document. Components of the IEP Although the document is unique to each child, the following components must be addressed in each child s IEP. The resulting information contained in each of these sections must reflect the unique, individual needs of the child. 1) Current Performance: The IEP must address how the child is currently doing in school (also known as the present levels of academic and functional performance). It should address how the child s disability is affecting his or her progress in the general curriculum. This current performance information will be drawn from sources such as classroom tests and assignments, observations by parents or school district personnel, and assessments conducted during initial evaluation proceedings and reevaluations. 2) Annual Goals: Annual goals should address what the child is expected to or should be able to accomplish within a year. They may be academic or functional goals for the child. (For more information on annual goals, see the Annual Goals section under ARD committee determinations.) a. Note: Goals must be measurable and based on grade level standards. The IEP must also include information on how the child s progression towards the goals will be measured and how parents will be informed of the progress. 3) Special education and related services: The IEP should contain information detailing the services that will be provided to the child. It must also include any personnel adaptations or training that will be required in order to provide the needed assistance to the child. 4) Schedule of Services: The IEP must state when services will begin, how often and/or when they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last. 5) Participation with nondisabled child: This section involves information on the extent to which the child will not be able to participate with nondisabled children in the general education classroom or other school activities. It should also explain why the child will not be able to participate. 13

20 Individualized Education Program (IEP) a. Note: It is important that a child be placed in the least restrictive environment possible. In other words, the child should be placed with nondisabled students in the general education setting as much as possible. (For more information on this, see the Least Restrictive Environment section.) 6) Participation in state and district-wide test: The IEP must contain information on whether the child will take modified tests and why such modifications, if any, are needed. 7) Transition Services: Starting when the child is age 14, all IEPs must address the courses the student must complete in order to reach the child s determined post-secondary goals. Starting when the child is age 16, the IEPs must also include what transition services will be needed to help the child prepare for leaving school. (For more information, see the Transition section.) 8) Age of Majority: Starting at least one year before the child reaches the age of majority, the IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of the transfer of rights that will take place at the age of majority. (For more information, see the Adult Student section.) For more in-depth information on the IEP and its requirements, visit the U.S. Department of Education s archived Guide to the IEP at 14

21 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Meetings Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Meetings Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings are held for a number of reasons, but all meetings are held to analyze the needs of a child who has or is suspected of having a disability. An ARD meeting is needed for the admission of a child into special education. A meeting is needed to review the child s progress and review the prospect of any changes that may need to be made to the child s IEP. An ARD meeting is also required when a child is dismissed from special education. After a child has been determined to be a child with a disability, an ARD meeting must be conducted at least once a year; however, there may be situations where a child will require additional ARD meetings. Annual Meeting A yearly ARD meeting must be conducted to review the child s individualized education program (IEP). The goal of this meeting is to assess if the student is achieving his or her annual goals or if alterations to the IEP must be made to better reflect the needs of the child. The ARD committee must determine the child s placement at least once a year. The annual meeting is conducted to ensure that the child s IEP and services continue to reflect the unique and often changing needs of the child. Legally, school districts are encouraged to consolidate reevaluations and other ARD committee meetings into one annual meeting as much as possible. However, in some cases, addition meetings may still be needed to ensure the child s needs are being fully met. For example, an additional ARD meeting may be needed if recent, additional assessments reveal new information that the child s IEP should be quickly changed to improve the child s academic success. Initial ARD Meeting The purpose of the child s first ARD meeting is to determine eligibility of the child. If the ARD committee determines that the child is a child with a disability, the committee will need to develop the child s IEP. The ARD committee must consider the child s areas of strength, the concerns of the parents, the initial FIE, additional evaluations, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child. The ARD committee must have an IEP developed by the end of the initial ARD meeting so that services for the child can begin. 15

22 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Meetings For additional information on the IEP, see the Individualized Education Program subsection within the ARD section. For additional information on the FIE, see the Full and Individual Evaluation section. Revising the IEP The ARD committee must meet to revise the IEP when revision is necessary. (Information on the exception to this rule can be found in this ARD Meeting section under the Amendment without a Meeting subsection.) An IEP may need to be revised for a number of reasons including, but not limited to: Lack of expected progress in the classroom, Lack of expected progress towards annual goals, Accomplishing goals sooner than anticipated and new goals need to be determined for the child s continued success, Results of new evaluations, New information provided to or by the parents, The child s anticipated future needs, and/or Child or parental request to resume services for a child who has graduated through completion of an IEP and still meets age eligibility requirements. (For more information, see the Graduation Due to Successful Completion of the IEP subsection within the Graduation section.) Note: The IEP is the map for guiding the child through his or her school years. Revisions to this IEP map should always be for the benefit of the child and reflect the unique needs of the child. Revisions can often go a long way to ensure that the child s IEP grows and changes as the child grows and changes. For example, what worked for the child in previous years may not work now, or there may have been new developments that could help the child more than the old IEP tactics. Parent Request for an ARD Meeting The school district will hold an ARD meeting when the parents request one. A parent may request an ARD meeting at any mutually agreeable time to address specific concerns about his or her child s special education services. It is important to note that many concerns may be addressed without the need for an ARD meeting. Parents should feel free to talk with the child s teachers, special education teachers, a diagnostician, the counselor, the principal, and the special education director when they have concerns. Most concerns can be worked out at these lower levels without the need for the formal meeting. Approaching concerns in this manner can also produce more immediate results because there is no need to wait until a formal ARD meeting can be scheduled and coordinated between the parent and the members of the ARD committee. 16

23 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Meetings Reaching Consensus If at all possible, a decision made by the ARD in respect to the child s IEP must be made by mutual agreement of all required members of the ARD committee. When this mutual agreement is not achieved, the ARD committee must offer the parents or adult student who disagrees a single opportunity to have the committee recess for not more than ten school days. If the parent accepts the decision to recess, the committee must agree on the date, time, and place to reconvene the ARD meeting before the meeting ends and the recess begins; however, if the child s presence on the campus presents a risk of physical harm to the child or others or when the child has committed an offense that could lead to AEP, recess is not an option. During the recess, the committee should consider alternatives, gather additional data, prepare further documentation, and/or obtain additional resource persons (such as experts in the area of conflict) who may be able to aid in reaching agreement. The recess is not simply to take a break; it is for working towards acquiring or compiling additional information to help end the disagreement. In addition to a recess, a written statement must be provided which states the basis for the disagreement. The committee must also offer the members who disagree with the majority the opportunity to write their own statements. If a ten-day recess is taken, and the ARD committee still cannot reach a unanimous agreement, the school district must provide the parent with prior written notice and implement the IEP which it has determined by a majority decision to be appropriate for the child. Amendments to the IEP without an ARD Meeting After the annual ARD meeting has taken place, changes to the IEP may be made without having to have an official ARD meeting. Instead, changes can be made through the amendment process. The changes by amendment are made based on an agreement between the district and the parent. The IEP may be amended instead of requiring the ARD committee to meet and redraft the entire IEP. Amendments may include changes to goals, objectives, accommodations, and modifications. However, for eligibility determinations, changes of placement, and manifestation determination reviews, an ARD meeting must be held. These changes cannot be made through the amendment process. The parent of the child with a disability and the school district must be in agreement to make changes to the IEP without holding an ARD meeting. A written document must be developed containing the amendments to the child s current IEP. When the IEP is changed through this amendment process, all personnel who are responsible for implementing the child s IEP, as well as the parents, must be notified of the 17

24 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Meetings changes. Upon request, a parent will be provided with a revised copy of the IEP containing the new amendments. 18

25 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Determinations Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Determinations As mentioned under the ARD Committee section, the ARD committee has three main tasks for which they are responsible under federal law: 1) Determining Eligibility 2) Creating the Individualized Education Program (IEP) 3) Determining the Child s Placement However, as this section will explain, there are a number of decisions that fall within these categories. This section will explain some of the major ones. (For more information on Placement, see the Least Restrictive Environment section, especially the Placement Determination subsection.) Determination of Eligibility Upon completion of the Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE), the ARD committee must determine whether or not the child has a disability as well as whether or not the child needs special education s specially designed instruction and/or related services. The determination of eligibility must be made by the ARD committee. If a student only needs related services and not special education s specially designed instruction, the student is not considered a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The school district must provide a copy of the evaluation report and the documentation of the determination of eligibility to the parents. If it is determined through an FIE that a child has one or more of the disabilities but only needs a related service and not special education s specially designed instruction, the child is not considered to be a child with a disability qualifying for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The ARD committee would only determine that the child is a child with a disability if the child qualifies under the IDEA definition and, therefore, qualifies for special education. Also, a student must not be determined by the ARD committee to be a child with a disability if the determining factor is limited English proficiency or a lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math. For example, if a child s FIE determines that the child has a disability because the child is progressing unsatisfactorily in the classroom curriculum due to a limited ability to understand English, the child does not qualify as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In this case, the child has a disability but only qualifies for supplementary services such as English as a Secondary Language (ESL) classes; therefore, the ARD committee would determine that the child is not a child with a 19

26 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Determinations disability and does not qualify for special education. The child in this scenario would receive the supplementary service of ESL but not special education services. (For more information regarding the qualifications for Eligibility and the categories that qualify children for special education services, see the section titled Categories of Eligibility.) Present Levels of the Child The ARD committee must provide a statement of the child s present levels of academic and functional performance. According to the Department of Education, academic achievement refers to a child s performance in academic areas (math, language arts, science, history, etc.) and the skills the child has mastered compared to the skills the child is expected to have mastered in these academic subject areas. This examination of a child s academic achievement is unique to each child because the ARD committee must analyze where the child stands academically and how the child s disability uniquely affects the child s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. The term functional performance refers to the routine activities of daily life. (for example: dressing, eating, going to the bathroom, social skills like interacting and communicating with others, behavior skills, and mobility skills like walking around) For a preschool child, the ARD committee s present levels statement will contain information on how the child s disability affects the child s participation in appropriate activities. Appropriate activities refers to the activities that a child at that age is expected to have mastered or be able to perform. Annual Goals The ARD committee must provide a statement of measurable annual academic goals. This is usually done at the annual ARD meeting. (For more information on the annual ARD meeting, see the subsection titled Annual Meeting within the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Meetings section.) The annual goals must be designed to meet the child s needs that result from the child s disability, including the areas where the disability affects the child s progress in the general curriculum. The goals must be based on the child s current grade level s standards. It is important that the goals be measureable so that the child s progress towards accomplishing these goals can be monitored. The ARD committee should also have a plan in place for how the child s progress towards the goals will be measured and how often reports on the child s progress must be provided. (For example, a report might be created after every report card to see how the child is doing and if the child is on track towards accomplishing the annual goals.) 20

27 Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Determinations Example of a measurable goal: Billie is a second grade student. By the end of 36 instructional weeks, Billie will increase his reading fluency from 20 words per minute to 60 words per minute through the use of one-minute timed readings at increasing instructional levels. State- and District-wide Assessments The ARD committee is responsible for determining at what level a child will participate in state- and district-wide assessments. This information should be contained in the child s individualized education program (IEP). In general, all children with disabilities are included in all general state- and district-wide assessment programs; however, appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments may be necessary for some children with disabilities. For example, with the previous TAKS tests, some children with disabilities qualified to take a TAKS-M, which was a modified TAKS test. These assessment determinations can only be made by the ARD committee. Determining Special Education, Related Services, and Supplementary Aids and Services The ARD committee is responsible for determining what services a child needs to reserve. These services may contain any combination of special education, related services, and Supplementary Aids and Services that the ARD committee determines to be necessary. The committee must decide when the services and modifications will begin, how long they will last, and where the services will be take provided. (Unless the IEP requires some other arrangement, the child will be educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled.) If services must be provided away from the school, the site must be as close as possible to the child s home. Special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services should be selected based on peer-reviewed research as much as is practicable. In other words, the ARD committee should try tactics that have been proven to be effective in similar circumstances to the child in question before trying new, non-researched tactics to help a child with a disability. If these widely-practiced, peer-reviewed tactics do not work after they have been given adequate time to stand a chance at succeeding, the ARD committee can then look into new tactics. 21

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