Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Part 2

Have you kept up with the article and comments in LTM on the former LCPS Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher? I mentioned this topic in a blog after I attended the last Special Ed Town Hall Mtg in May of 2009.

I find the whole story disturbing, but many of the comments really made me wonder about language and communication. Are deaf/hoh students eligible to receive services through the preschool program to learn ASL/ESL? How do hearing parents communicate with non-hearing children if they don't all learn to sign? Who helps parents decide if their child's first language is ASL or not? With all of the charts that are available for middle and high school students and their families to choose a diploma track, is there a similar chart available for deaf and hard of hearing students and their families to help them choose an academic future?

And aren't all students required to take the writing SOL? With all of the technology we use, the poor written communication skills of some of the posters was very surprising to me.

Do the music, art & PE teachers at this elementary school include these students? What is the least restrictive environment if none of the general education students in the school can communicate the most basic information to their peers?

It will be interesting to see if there are more comments at the next Special Ed Town Hall Mtg this coming April.

Know Your Audience

I got testy at the Special Ed Advisory Committee meeting last night.

First of all, the topic changed at the last minute from Before and After School Activities to Adequate Yearly Progress. I've been all over AYP, including watching the school board meeting where the results were discussed and noting the comment that Students with Disabilities "only" need to improve from a 76% to a 79% pass rate in reading next year to achieve safe harbor and make AYP for the district. The reading target last year for all students was 81%, and the reading target next year for all students is 89%.

Now I really like attending the SEAC meetings; I've learned an awful lot on a variety of topics including Precision Teaching, Differentiation of Instruction and Behavior Intervention Plans. It makes me a better parent and a better IEP team member. It also helped me to be a more effective SEAC PTA representative last year. But did someone expect me to forgot all of that and sit there and play nice?

Last night's presenter was Dr. Stephan Knobloch, Director of Research. I have no doubt that he knows these numbers inside and out. But when you are making a presentation to the parents of the lowest achieving subgroup in the district, you need to modify your remarks from what you would say to the school board. No child left behind is specifically our child - our son or daughter.

To me, when you have a 76% pass rate in reading, that means that almost 25% of students with disabilities are unable to demonstrate that they can read on grade level. Every other subgroup, including those with limited English and the disadvantaged, hit the target of a 81% pass rate. What is going on? And how, specifically, are you going to improve the performance of these students? I've learned how you can do this, but when are you actually going to do it? Or does it not matter unless and until we don't hit our mile marker? We have about 6,000 students with disabilities and a little over half of them took a reading SOL last year - that means that there are about 800 disabled students who failed the reading SOL. Most of these 800 students live with a parent who can read and with at least one sibling who can read.

Teach all of our children to read! You know, use precision teaching, differentiation, Stetson and a well formulated and implemented IEP. You have the tools, and you have gone to pains to let us know that you have the tools - use them!