Archives for posts with tag: 504

happy bus Most parents with children in special education are aware that they can request paraprofessionals be placed in their child’s general education classrooms. This accommodation is intended to increase the amount of academic and/or behavioral assistance provided to children. And while many paraprofessionals and general education teachers are excellent at what they do, most do not have the specialized training of a psychologist or a special education teacher. To no fault of their own, even the best teachers might not have ABA training, assistive technology training, or best practices training regarding high-functioning autism, for example. In addition, typically there is not enough time allotted in a teacher’s busy schedule to consult with professionals about the needs of their specific students.

One option to alleviate this dilemma is to request “indirect consultation” for your child and teacher. This would mean that time would be set aside for your child’s teacher to consult with experts about the best way to provide services to your child while in their classroom. For example, if a teacher is unsure how to manage your physically active child in class, an “indirect consultation accommodation” allows the teacher to spend time with an expert on that subject, and together they can arrive at a data-driven solution, rather than the teacher spending time researching, or testing various interventions through trial and error.

Interestingly, studies have found that teachers who received consultation in the form of direct training (i.e., rehearsal or direct feedback) provided the most successful student interventions (Rahn, 2010, Munton, 2004; Sterling-Turner et al, 2002). That is, the most successful teachers received hands-on training from professionals that went above and beyond verbal advice. And who benefits from all of this? Obviously students with special needs, but also their general education peers, their teachers, their paraprofessionals, and finally us, when our children get off the bus smiling, because of a happy and healthy day at school.

confusedWhy in the world are IEPs and 504s so difficult to decipher?  A central purpose of the documents is to broker a mutual understanding of how our children’s needs will be met; shouldn’t we parents be able to understand these documents clearly and easily?  Since 1975, parents have been legally mandated to have an active role in our child’s special education; why isn’t the IEP designed with all stakeholders in mind?  Even the education professionals have problems interpreting their meaning, as much of it is ambiguous, and teachers are left spending more time creating amendments and chasing their tails, rather than teaching children.  It would be a useful study to evaluate how much of a teacher’s time is wasted in data mining and management when the goals and objectives are unclear.

ARPS uses eSped, a web-based application to manage special education data.  Aside from the offensive title, the printed documents from eSped’s user-interface show a lack of any concern for parents, and an exigency of collaboration.  Even in the companies own descriptions of their product, eSped lauds their own capacities for improving data management for teachers, administrators, and even IT professionals, but not parents.  Shouldn’t parents be a priority?  

Research indicates that successful implementation of an IEP is dependent upon all stakeholders’ viewing themselves as valued contributors (Reiman, 2010), but not all contributors have the education required to understand and decipher these eSped documents. How can a parent’s contribution be valued if they are marginalized because they cannot understand the documents?  Not only are parents not considered, there is little to no means within eSped for teachers to communicate with each other.  That is, there is no system for a teacher to share which interventions were successful and which were not, a very simple collaboration that technology can and should serve easily!

If you have felt intimidated to ask questions, you are not alone.  It is difficult to truly understand the ramifications in what is meant by a “5×60” or “5×90 frequency and duration/per cycle”, or the power of the simple word “or”, as in “SE teacher or SE paraprofessional”, y, lo siento si no habla ingles.

SEPAC would like to see changes in the IEP development, benchmarking, and goal writing such that parents are able to truly be team members.  Inthe most recent update from the Administration, the District outlined future trainings to be held on IEP writing.  SEPAC will continue to work with the Administration to bring SEPAC experiences to the forefront of any changes that are made in this area.

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