Special education audit reveals issues
The board of education received distressing news Monday night when Director of Special Education/Student Services Ruth Bland reported on the state assessment of the special education program plan.
The assessment found issues with students with IEPs and specifically, students in self-contained classrooms.
ﾓWe are having a difficult time with students that have IEPs [Individual Education Plan] that are graduating and those that are in separate classes, which are the students that take the Alternate Performance Task Assessment [APTA],ﾔ Bland said. ﾓWe are above the state target for the number of students in self-contained classrooms, so we have to work on trying to get those students reduced from being in separate class and get them out in the regular curriculum.ﾔ
The state requires that all students spend 85 percent of classroom time in the normal ed classes. Bland explained that there are students taking the APTA that do not meet the requirements for the alternative test.
ﾓSelf contained classrooms and the alternate performance test should be for the children that are the most cognitively impaired,ﾔ she said. ﾓWhat is happening, weﾒre having quite a few of those students that are taking that APTA and they should be on the WESTEST.ﾔ
Bland said the if the students took the WESTEST, they would receive poor scores and lower the countyﾒs test scores overall. However, if the students did take the WESTEST, they would have access to the regular curriculum.
The APTA also hinders the students because it puts them on the path to earn a modified diploma. A modified diploma limits opportunities post graduation, Bland said.
ﾓWhen they are coming out with a modified diploma, itﾒs almost telling them that they are not employable because most four year universities do not accept the modified diploma,ﾔ she said. ﾓA limited number of remedial level community college courses are available to students with modified diplomas, but they are not applicable toward the completion of a degree.ﾔ
In similar fashion with the No Child Left Behind Act, which states that by 2014 every child will be on grade level, no matter what their impairment is, the West Virginia department of education has said that every child should be able to go to college.
ﾓTherefore, they have to read on grade level, they have to do math on grade level and there was a significant cut in our vocational programs, so then everybody was on the college track,ﾔ Bland said. ﾓWe know that they are going to have students that do not read at grade level. We donﾒt want the scores in the WESTEST mix, thatﾒs what it adds up to be, which is not fair to those students.ﾔ
Bland said the when the state decided which students would take the alternative performance test, they stated that only one or two percent of the entire population of the state should be eligible for the test. Pocahontas County currently has 17 students, from elementary to high school taking the test.
ﾓStudents with significant impairments of cognitive abilities and adaptive skills may require instruction in the Alternate Academic Achievement Standards, which is substantially different than the standard graduation requirements of students completing the WV Contents Standards and Objectives,ﾔ Bland said.
Some of the students on the alternative assessment are not impaired enough to be on the alternative path, but they also arenﾒt academically able to meet requirements for a regular diploma.
ﾓThe thing that I want to emphasize are the kids that are on alternate assessment, on alternate standards at the high school level, a lot of them are truly vocational kids,ﾔ Bland said. ﾓThey can really work well in a vocational setting. They donﾒt have the reading or writing skills. If they are on a modified diploma, they wonﾒt be able to access those vocational programs after high school.ﾔ
Bland said the IEP team makes the determination if a student should be on the alternate assessment and she is working with them on the assessment to ensure a student isnﾒt put on the wrong path.
ﾓThe only time they should be considered for the alternate curriculum is when it is very, very clear of their disability,ﾔ she said.
The board thanked Bland for her report and said that something needs to be done in order to serve the students properly and prepare them for life after high school.
ﾕ Patricia Collett, of Community Care of West Virginia, reported on the plan for health services in the schools. A plan is in place to have a school-based clinic at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County High School and Marlinton Elementary School.
Collett said Marlinton Middle School will be added later. Currently, a different clinic is assigned to Hillsboro Elementary School, so Community Care will need to get a letter of support before it can offer services there.
The clinics will provide treatment to the students three days a week at each school, as well as immunizations and physicals for students and staff. The services will also include dentist clinics for all schools and pre-natal services at the high school.
Collett said a consent form will be provided to all parents in order to serve the students. If a consent form is not filled out and the student requires care, parents will be contacted before the student is seen by a physician.
The services will be billed to the childﾒs insurance. The clinic also offers WV Connect with a sliding fee of $15 per visit for those without insurance.
The clinics will begin the first day of school with immunization screenings for students that need them.
ﾕ Bland added that the special education program received a $23,398 High Acuity grant. A second grant of the same amount may be awarded in June. Also, all preschool students have been assigned to their schools and have spent a day in the classroom with their teachers.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
ﾕ Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $17,178.06.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
ﾕ Employment of Michael G. Burns as at-risk interventionist at Pocahontas County High School, effective September 4 through May 3, 2013, at $20 per hour, 15 hours per week, as needed, not to exceed $7,500. Schedule to be determined by the principal, but cannot be extended beyond May 3, 2013.
ﾕ Employment of Richard I. Hartzell as softball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2012-2013 season, at a supplement of $1,500.
ﾕ Employment of James L. McCoy, Jr., as baseball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2012-2013 season, at a supplement of $1,500.
ﾕ Employment of Lawrence T. Workman as head boys basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2012-2013 season at a supplement of $1,500.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
ﾕ Travel requests for June 4.
The next board meeting will be June 11 at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.