Special education 101
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Special Education 101. Nori Cuellar Mora, Ed.D. ESC2 [email protected] Associate Director of Instructional Services 361-561-8501 December 7, 2007. Introduction. Agenda. IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Disabilities Identification The Principal as ARD Chair

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Special Education 101

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Special Education 101

Nori Cuellar Mora, Ed.D.


[email protected]

Associate Director of Instructional Services


December 7, 2007



  • IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • Disabilities Identification

  • The Principal as ARD Chair

  • State Performance Plan Indicators

  • Final Thoughts


  • Understand the premise of IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • Become familiar with the process for identifying disabilities in order to make appropriate decisions for referring students to special education

  • Practice chairing an Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee: Principal as ARD Chair

  • Become familiar with the State Performance Plan Indicators as to how they relate to the campus plan

  • Think of what you will share at your next staff meeting

Change . . .

Acronym Activity

Sometimes it is all in how you

read something……

Administrative Expectations

What will you be doing????

Here are some assignments as reported by principals currently in the field.

Survey done of 200 principals across the state of Texas reported on how much of a typical day is spent on special education issues:Amount of time/day Up to 25%24.3%26 – 50%21.3%51 – 74%13.5%75% or more38.3%

Dr. Debra Bravenec’s Study for Dissertation

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Special Education

The Child-Centered Process

Definition of Special Education

Special Education:

  • Specially designed instruction,

  • At no cost to the parents,

  • To meet the unique needs of the student

Specially Designed Instruction:

  • Adapting as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible child, the content, methodology or delivery of instruction:

    • To address the unique needs of the child that result from the disability

    • To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum to meet the standards that apply to all children

CFR 300.26

This definition and the laws governing special education in the nation’s schools are outlined by the Federal government.

Special Education

it is: personnel



Special Education

is not a place.

It’s a SERVICE!!

IDEIA says that a school must:

  • find and identify students who may have a disability

  • make sure parents participate in decision making

  • evaluate students in a nondiscriminatory way

  • develop an individualized education plan for each student

  • decide what special instruction and related services the school district will provide;

  • make placement decisions;

  • develop a transition plan for adult activities, including job opportunities;

  • maintain education records/files; and

  • have hearings/appeals for complaints and grievances.



Special Ed.








FIE / Yearly evaluation



Principles of IDEA

Principles of IDEA

  • Identification

  • FAPE: free appropriate public education

  • Due Process

  • Nondiscriminatory evaluation

  • Individualized education program

  • Least restrictive environment

  • Parent/Guardian Surrogate Consultation

  • Personnel Development, Inservice

  • Confidentiality

IDEA Recognized Disabilities

Disability categories in Texas(your students may carry one or more of these labels)







NCEC (Texas only)

  • MR

  • OHI

  • AI

  • VI / Blind

  • AU

  • LD

  • ED

Students served in Texas public schools by disability

  • Learning Disabilities 57.9%---- 46.81% (2007)

  • Speech Impairments15.5%---19.34% (2007)

  • Mental Retardation 5.6%----5.74% (2007)

  • Emotional Disturbance 7.9%---7.16% (2007)

  • Other Health Impaired 7.8%----11.71% (2007)

  • Multiple Disabilities 1%-----1.03% (2007)

  • Autism 1%-----3.88% (2007)

  • Hearing Impaired 1%----1.49% (2007)

  • Orthopedically Impaired 1% ----0.98% (2007)

  • Traumatic Brain Injury Less than 1% (.0018%)----0.27% (2007)

  • Visually Impaired Less than 1% (.005%)----0.72%(2007)

  • Deaf/Blind Less than 1% (.00016%) 0.02% (2007)

What is happening in Special Education?



Do I really HAVE to do this?

Child-Centered Process

How do we get from general education to special education?

Reflect on your campus’ process for referring students to special education.

What does that look like?

Write the major steps down.

Appropriate Curriculum

  • What is the curriculum for Texas schools?

Research tells us that if we intervene at the beginning point of difficulty with intensive, appropriate instruction – special education referrals would be reduced by 50%.



Referral to Special Ed.








FIE / Yearly evaluation







How long?

Response to Intervention Model

Pre-referral Process (Early Intervention Process)

A Sense of Urgency

  • A student in the 10th percentile reads about 60,000 words a year in 5th grade

  • A student at the 50th percentile reads about 900,000 words in a year in 5th grade

  • Average students receive about 15 times as much practice in a year

  • Growth in fluency requires a lot of accurate practice

So, You’re The ARD Chair?

What kind of “Chair” are you?

Think, Share, Pair

What statements should you ALWAYS hear at an ARD?

What statements

should you NEVER

hear at an ARD?

IEPIndividual Educational Program

Background information to strengthen the administrator’s role at ARD meetings!

Who is on the IEP team?

  • Parent(s)

  • Regular Education teacher

  • Special Education teacher

  • Administrator

  • Evaluation personnel

  • Student

  • Others

What would you do?

  • Superintendent calls you to meet with him at 10:00 a.m.

  • You have had a scheduled ARD for over a week on your calendar for the same time.

  • It is 9:45 a.m. and your sped teacher is asking for you to come to the meeting room.

Individualized Educational Program = Appropriate Education

What does the IEP have to have?

  • PLAFP (Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance)

  • Measurable annual goals

  • Special education & related services

  • Accommodations

  • Level of state assessment

  • Dates services are to be provided

  • Participation

    • School activities

  • Transition

  • Progress

  • Age of Majority

What would you do?

  • The ARD meeting is in full swing, and the special education teacher does not review the annual goals for the child and says she will create them later.

Least Restrictive Environment

LRELeast Restrictive Environment

Each state shall establish:

“procedures to assure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled,

and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs

only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes

with the use of supplementary aidsand services

cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

What would you do?

  • The ARD committee begins the meeting by stating that little Joey will be served in the resource room for math because they have a great teacher to meet his needs.

To ensure LRE, the State...

  • Uses a system of placement neutral funding;

  • Performance Based Monitoring and SPP for LRE compliance;

  • Clearer definition for “supplementary aids and services”;

  • Emphasizes the participation of students with disabilities in the general curriculum;

  • May use funds to pay for the costs of special education and related services and supplementary aids and services provided in a regular classroom or other education-related setting ;

  • Students with disabilities be included in statewide assessment (including a statement as to what modifications will be necessary in order for the student to participate).

  • Performance goals which are consistent with goals and standards for other children

Most Important part….

  • Provide students with disabilities an appropriate education. This law has a clear preference for educating them in general education classrooms with their non-disabled peers and removing them from this setting only when an appropriate education there cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Special education is not services based upon administrative convenience. Build for the individual student’s needs – you shouldn’t try to squash the child into an existing program!

Legal Framework:

. . . The answer to most of your questions!!


State Performance Plan:

  • Part of the Accountability System--- why every decision a principal has to make is so important!

Overview of SPP

  • Six year plan submitted to OSEP.

  • Evaluates the state’s efforts to implement IDEA

  • Illustrates how the state will continuously improve

  • Annual Performance Report (APR) shows progress on measurable and rigorous targets and improvement activities

OSEP Determinations for Texas

  • Meets Requirements

  • Needs Assistance = Texas

  • Needs Intervention

  • Needs Substantial Intervention

  • TEA’s Determination Criteria for LEAs

  • Performance on SPP compliance indicators (2008)

  • Whether data submitted by LEAs is valid, reliable, and timely;

  • Uncorrected noncompliance from other sources (complaints resolution, due process, and monitoring ;

  • Any audit findings.

5 Monitoring Priorities20 Indicators (Performance and Compliance)

  • FAPE in the LRE

  • Disproportionality

  • Child Find

  • Transition

  • General Supervision

TEA Public Reporting

  • 1. Graduation2. Dropout3A-C. Adequate Yearly Progress4A-B. Suspension/Expulsion5A-C. Educational Environment, Ages 6-216. Educational Environment, Ages 3-57A-C. Early Childhood Outcomes8. Parent Participation9. Disproportionality in the sped program10. Disproportionality by specific disability11. Child Find12. Early Childhood Transition13. Secondary Transition14. Post-School Outcomes

Why should general education staff be concerned about the SPP?

  • Monitoring will be based on district data

  • Students with disabilities make up a districts’ overall student population

Consider Indicator #1 & #2: Graduation & Dropout

  • Students with disabilities graduate with the same diploma as their non-disabled peers

SO more sped dropout students means higher dropout rate for district and lower grad rate!

Consider Indicators 9, 10, 11:

General education teachers are the first staff members to indicate if students should be referred to special education,

SO if inappropriate referrals are made---

Child Find numbers may create OVERidentification & disproportionality issues

Disproportionalityin Region 2

25 school districts out of 48 were identified as being disproportionate

05-06 data

Baseline Data and Targets

  • We must meet or exceed State Targets for EACH indicator.

  • GENERAL EDUCATION communication is the key to improved results.

    • Referrals

    • Key members at ARDs

    • Inclusion

    • State Assessment knowledge

State targets

What are your district’s targets and how do you compare to the state?


  • Talk with your special education director

  • Have principals well informed about the implications of their ARD Decision-Making

  • Inform all general education staff

Keep Your Eye on Data

  • SPEARS: http://hancock.tea.state.tx.us/tea.spears.web/

a. Child Count

b. Instructional Setting

c. Disproportionality

d. Exit

e. Disciplinary Action

f. Extended School Year

Final Thoughts

What will you take back to your staff meeting?

Fill out a “Next Steps” form.


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