EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE STATE OF
Rebecca H. Cort
Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Students with
September 6, 2006
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Discussion
Does the Board of Regents concur with the actions identified to implement the proposed strategies to improve the performance of students with disabilities?
Review of Policy
This question will come before the EMSC-VESID Committee at its September 2006 meeting.
The Regents have received and discussed proposed strategies to close the gap in high schools and to improve the performance of students with disabilities and English language learners. The Regents have expressed their concern with the continued unacceptable performance of students with disabilities. This report identifies specific actions to improve performance for students with disabilities beginning with the 2006-07 school year.
The performance of students with disabilities in some New York State (NYS) school districts clearly demonstrates the need for a restructured approach to improve results for students with disabilities. Based on results of the 2001 cohort, the statewide percentage of students with disabilities who graduate with a regular diploma in four years is only 37.3 percent and the statewide percentage of students with disabilities that drop out of school after four years is 18.9 percent.
The State Performance Plan (SPP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identifies the State’s baseline performance for students with disabilities in a number of areas and establishes rigorous targets for improvement over a six-year period of time. The Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) is tracking the performance of all school districts in these performance and compliance areas and, for the 2006-07 school year, will identify and target interventions to those school districts with the lowest performance for students with disabilities.
VESID has focused its resources to provide the identified school districts with improvement strategies, consultants and assistance and, in some cases, grant funds to improve outcomes for students with disabilities and to help school districts achieve their goals under IDEA and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This memorandum describes the interventions VESID will implement in 2006-07 to assist school districts to improve their results for students with disabilities. These interventions include:
1. Tracking performance and compliance data for all school districts.
2. Setting annual State targets for improvement in important outcome areas for students with disabilities.
3. Issuing public reports on State and individual school district performance in relation to the State targets.
4. Using performance data on graduation and drop-out rates and performance on State assessments to identify school districts with the poorest performance for assistance or intervention.
5. Reviewing the instructional practices of the school districts with the poorest performance to identify the instructional issues impacting on poor student performance and assisting schools to identify specific improvement activities.
6. Directing VESID's technical assistance resources such as Special Education Training and Resource Center (SETRC) professional development specialists to guide the school's improvement activities in areas most directly relating to instruction such as literacy, behavioral supports and services and quality delivery of special education services.
7. Identifying successful schools and districts and facilitating the replication of effective practices.
8. Directing school districts to spend its IDEA funds on specific improvement activities when a school district's performance data is significantly below the State targets.
specific interventions for
We recommend that the Regents support the proposed actions.
Timetable for Implementation
CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP:
STRATEGIES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
The Board of Regents has long supported the kind of accountability for results that are now reflected in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). Both NCLB and IDEA share the goals of improving achievement through high expectations and high-quality education programs and both laws require the State to establish targets for improvement of student performance each year. IDEA requires the State to monitor school districts using quantifiable and qualitative indicators of performance and to take specific enforcement actions as necessary to ensure compliance and improve results for students with disabilities. In addition, the Regents have expressed their concern with the continued unacceptable performance of students with disabilities.
The performance of students with disabilities in some New York State (NYS) school districts clearly demonstrates the need for the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) to restructure and focus its actions to directly impact on instructional practices to improve results. The 2004-05 data shows:
The statewide percentage of the 2001 whole cohort
of students with disabilities who graduate with a regular diploma in four years
is only 37.3 percent. There are 45 school districts, including
· The statewide percentage of the 2001 whole cohort of students with disabilities who drop out of school after four years is 18.9 percent. There are 40 school districts, including New York City, whose drop-out rates for students with disabilities are 20 percent or higher.
are 49 school districts, including
VESID has restructured its monitoring, technical assistance and compliance enforcement methods to provide school districts with strategies, consultants and assistance to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Following is an outline of this new approach.
1. Tracking performance and compliance data for all school districts
2. Setting annual State targets for improvement
· VESID has established a long-range graduation target for students with disabilities of 80 percent.
· NYS's IDEA State Performance Plan (SPP) for 2005-2011 establishes targets for improvement in important outcome areas for students with disabilities. For example, the State's six-year targets are to:
o improve the State’s four-year graduation rate of students with disabilities from 37.3 percent to 52 percent by 2011; and
o decrease the State’s four-year drop-out rate of students with disabilities from 18.9 percent to 15 percent by 2011.
· VESID will annually track school district performance in reaching those State targets each year and use these data to identify school districts needing assistance or intervention in order to improve performance.
3. Public Reporting of Data
· VESID will publish its report on the State's performance toward reaching the State's targets beginning in February 2007.
· VESID will issue an annual public report on each school district's performance relative to the State's targets beginning in the spring 2007.
· These reports will track the State’s and each school district's progress from year to year.
4. Designation of
· School districts that fall significantly below the State's targets each year will be designated as either a "district in need of assistance;" a "district in need of intervention;" or a "district in need of substantial intervention."
o For the 2006-07 school year, school districts with the poorest performance data relating to graduation and drop out rates and performance of students with disabilities on the 4th and 8th grade State assessments in math and English language arts (ELA) will be identified.
· Districts in Need of Assistance
o A designation of “in need of assistance” indicates that a school district requires technical assistance in order to improve performance.
o For the 2006-2007 school year, school districts received this designation if:
o Graduation rates were higher than 18.5 percent and less than or equal to 35 percent; and/or
o Drop out rates were at least 20 percent but less than 33 percent; and/or
o Districts failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the subgroup of students with disabilities and performance on the 4th and/or 8th grade assessments was below the statewide average performance index in two or three areas; or
o For school districts with less than 30 students enrolled in grades 4 or 8 in the 2004-05 school year whose combined three-year performance of the percent of students with disabilities at levels 2, 3 or 4 on the 4th and 8th grade ELA and math assessments was significantly below the statewide average performance in two or three areas.
o A school district identified as "in need of assistance" might, for example, be required to work with the Special Education Training and Resource Center (SETRC) to evaluate and improve its instructional programs, particularly in the areas of reading, behavioral supports and delivery of special education services and/or use a portion of its IDEA Part B funds to obtain technical assistance in the areas in which the district needs assistance.
o The criteria for designation will become more rigorous each year corresponding to the State's yearly performance target for that indicator. A school district’s performance and progress in relation to the State’s targets will be reviewed annually to determine whether a school district continues to meet the State’s criteria in a designated year.
· District in Need of Intervention
o A designation of “in need of intervention” means that a school district’s performance is so far below the target that it requires more direct State involvement and oversight of its improvement activities.
o For the 2006-2007 school year, school districts received this designation if:
o Graduation rates were 18.5 percent or less; and/or
o Drop out rates were 33 percent or higher; and/or
o Districts failed to make AYP for the subgroup of students with disabilities and performance on the 4th and/or 8th grade assessments was below the statewide average performance in all four areas; or
o For school districts with less than 30 students enrolled in grades 4 or 8 in the 2004-05 school year whose combined three-year performance of the percent of students with disabilities at levels 2, 3 or 4 on the 4th and 8th grade ELA and math assessments was significantly below the statewide average performance in all four areas.
o A school district identified as "in need of intervention" by the State could, for example, be required to participate in a VESID, Special Education Quality Assurance (SEQA) review of its instructional practices and enter into a corrective action plan to address issues of regulatory noncompliance and to improve weak instructional practices. The State may also redirect or withhold a portion of the school district’s IDEA funds until the State determines the district has sufficiently addressed the areas in which it needs intervention.
o A school district’s performance and progress in relation to the State’s targets will be reviewed annually to determine whether a school district continues to meet the State’s criteria for a district “in need of intervention” in a designated year.
· District in Need of Substantial Intervention
° A designation of “in need of substantial intervention” means the district has a history of chronic noncompliance or continued and substantial failure to achieve progress in a particular area. State actions for a school district identified as “in need of substantial intervention” could, for example, include withholding a portion of IDEA funds. At this time, no school districts are being designated as “in need of substantial intervention.”
· The SEQA Regional Office will determine, with input from the District Superintendents and others, the technical assistance and/or enforcement actions for each school district based on those designations.
· Any school district identified as "in need of assistance" or "in need of intervention" will receive notification from the Deputy Commissioner indicating its status and the resulting required actions.
· VESID will increase levels of consequences and interventions (e.g., mandated professional development, directing or withholding of federal IDEA funds) if substantial progress to meet targets is not achieved.
· For the 2006-07 school year, VESID will identify school districts “in need of assistance” or “in need of intervention” based on their 2004-2005 performance data.
5. Monitoring reviews of a school district's instructional programs
· For school districts identified as "in need of assistance" or "in need of intervention", VESID will conduct reviews of their instructional practices determined to be most related to their performance outcomes.
· The breadth and scope of the monitoring reviews have been narrowed to facilitate a more efficient assessment of a district’s instructional and compliance issues.
· A streamlined monitoring protocol has been developed to allow an assessment of a school district's policies, procedures and practices for special education that are most directly related to effective instructional practices for students with disabilities. An improvement and/or compliance plan will be developed to address these issues. We will be focusing our review of the school district's practices on three important areas: literacy instruction for students with disabilities, behavioral supports and services and the delivery of special education services.
· School districts will receive a grant from IDEA discretionary funds to support the implementation of their improvement plans.
· In some cases, school districts will conduct self-reviews using State-developed monitoring protocols, with SETRC technical assistance. This past year, districts were required to conduct self-reviews based on performance data relating to transition services, suspension rates for students with disabilities and disproportionality data based on race/ethnicity relating to the suspension, identification, classification and/or placement of students with disabilities. The results from these reviews will be available in the fall. VESID will track the correction of noncompliance identified through these reviews.
6. Technical Assistance
· Each SEQA regional office is directing its regional technical assistance resources, such as SETRC, to school districts with the poorest performance.
· SETRC's technical assistance will focus primarily on areas most directly related to instruction.
· SETRC will use newly developed research-based protocols to assess and remediate a district’s instructional practices.
7. Effective Practices
· VESID will use data and program reviews to identify successful schools and districts and promote the sharing and replication of their effective practices, particularly in the identified areas of literacy instruction, behavioral supports and services and delivery of special education services.
· VESID will offer professional development and assistance to districts in implementing demonstrated effective practices, such as:
o research-based reading instruction which includes continuous progress monitoring of student performance and which is delivered with increasing intensity if adequate progress is not demonstrated (“response-to-intervention” approach).
o schoolwide systems of positive behavioral supports and interventions designed to address a range of intensity of student needs.
o instructional interventions to ensure student access to the general education curriculum, including collaboration between general and special education teachers, specially-designed instruction aligned with the learning standards in content area subjects, and individualized student supports and accommodations.
o in-service training and supports that are classroom-based, provide on-going interactions with teachers, and measure the impact of the implementation
· VESID has applied for a federal grant to support these efforts. If awarded, VESID will use regional facilitators and partnerships with institutions of higher education to promote replication of research/evidence-based practices through mentoring, district-to-district technical assistance and professional development.
8. Directing a school district's use of IDEA funds
· Eighty-eight (88) percent of the State's IDEA funds are provided to school districts through IDEA Part B grants. In cases where school districts are in need of assistance or intervention, the State will exercise its authority to redirect and, in extreme situations of noncompliance, withhold a school district's IDEA funds.
While the above strategies will be deployed statewide, VESID recognizes the need for special focus in NYC. VESID’s ongoing oversight of NYC and the review and report on special education by Dr. Thomas Hehir have identified a range of issues contributing to the poor performance of many of NYC’s students with disabilities and have led to multiple initiatives on the part of the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) to improve student performance. NYCDOE and VESID have agreed on the components of an expanded plan to improve results. Key aspects of the plan include:
· Expanding the Collaborative Team Teaching Model (special education teachers and general education teachers working together in the same class) for the 2006-07 school year by more than 300 classrooms throughout elementary, middle and high school-level programs to increase access to general education curriculum, improve instruction and serve more students with disabilities in integrated settings.
· Increasing the number of staff to provide direct instructional support and mentoring to teachers instructing students with disabilities with a primary focus on literacy and access to the general curriculum in the lowest performing schools. This initiative will ensure quality implementation of the extensive professional development being provided by NYCDOE.
· Expanding the number of schools in NYC implementing the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. PBIS is a school-wide system of support that includes proactive strategies to teach and support appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. The additional schools to include PBIS will be those schools where behavioral issues have been determined to be particularly problematic and impeding instruction.
· Initiating increasing levels of instruction and support to struggling readers in general education classes (i.e., a response-to-intervention approach to reading) in certain low-performing schools to ensure that students are receiving research-based instruction in reading with ongoing assessment and monitoring prior to the referral for special education.
· Improving communication and collaboration with parents of students with disabilities at both the schools and the Regional Committees on Special Education.
· Initiating a pilot project in collaboration with VESID’s Vocational Rehabilitation District Offices that will provide joint funding for career and technical education training experiences for approximately 100 over-age/under credited students preparing to transition from the school system into employment.
These initiatives represent a commitment by NYCDOE to improve results for students with disabilities and call for NYCDOE to redirect certain federal IDEA flowthrough funds to support this plan. VESID will provide consistent and ongoing oversight of the implementation of this plan.