Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2007
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Rebecca H. Cort
Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Students with Disabilities Implemented in 2006-07
June 13, 2007
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Discussion
Does the Board of Regents concur with the actions identified for continued improvement of the performance of students with disabilities?
Reason for Consideration
Review of Policy
This issue will come before the EMSC-VESID Committee at its June 2007 meeting.
The State Performance Plan (SPP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) reports the State's performance on important measures for students with disabilities and sets measurable and rigorous targets for improvement over a six year period. The SPP, approved by the U.S. Education Department (USED), identifies specific improvement strategies to reach those targets. The State's first Annual Performance Report (APR) was discussed by the Regents in January 2007.
In October 2006, the Regents discussed actions to improve the results for students with disabilities. These actions were approved in November 2006 by the Regents in the P-16 Education: A Plan for Action. This report provides information on specific actions implemented during the 2006-07 school year and next steps for continuing progress in 2007-08.
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 outlined a vision for New York State (NYS) in the November 2006 P-16 Education: A Plan for Action that includes actions to close gaps in achievement along lines of income, race and ethnicity, language, and disability. As identified in the P-16 Report, most students with disabilities do not leave school ready for either postsecondary education or employment. Data from 2005-06 showed that only 37.5 percent of students with disabilities in the State graduated with a Regents or local diploma after four years and almost 22 percent dropped out of school.
Identified actions in the P-16 Education Plan frame the Department’s major activities to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. This report provides information on the Departments implementation of these actions during the 2006-07 school year and proposed next steps.
Action 1. Set annual State targets for improvement, publish performance data and hold low-performing school districts accountable, including redirecting federal Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) funds in low-performing schools to improve performance
- In 2006-07, through increased data collection and monitoring, the State collected results in 14 performance and compliance areas for students with disabilities. Over a six-year period, every school district in the State will be monitored for performance and compliance in each indicator area for students with disabilities.
- In February 2007, the State published its State Performance Plan (SPP) and Annual Performance Report (APR) on the results for students with disabilities based on the 2005-06 data. The SPP identifies the State's targets for improvement in each of the 20 indicators required by the U.S. Education Department (USED).
- VESID will annually publish a special education data profile, which will report on the performance of each school district in the State in relation to the SPP targets for improvement in compliance and performance areas for students with disabilities.
- During the 2006-07 school year, 75 school districts, including NYC, that fell significantly below the State’s baseline average for the performance of students with disabilities in the areas of graduation, drop out, and performance on selected State assessments were identified for a “level of intervention” using 2004-05 school year data. Through a new regional planning effort, VESID focused its monitoring and technical assistance resources on these schools in the 2006-07 school year as follows:
- Focused monitoring reviews were conducted in 47 school districts by VESID's Special Education Quality Assurance (SEQA) staff. Professional development staff of VESID's Special Education Training and Resource Centers (SETRC) participated in these reviews and will provide technical assistance to these districts to implement improvement strategies.
- Twenty-eight (28) school districts were required to obtain technical assistance through SETRC or other technical assistance providers. Over 100 additional districts, many of them at risk for future identification, received such assistance, although it was not a requirement for them this year.
- Thirty-six (36) school districts were required to redirect the use of their IDEA Part B funds to improve their instructional programs and behavioral supports for students with disabilities.
- For the 2007-08 school year, 69 school districts, including NYC, that fell significantly below the State’s baseline average for the performance of students with disabilities in the areas of graduation, drop out, and performance on selected State assessments were identified for a “level of intervention” using 2005-06 school year data.
- Sixty-two (62) school districts have been designated as "in need of assistance" (14 in New York City (NYC) and 48 in the rest of the State) based on 2005-06 school year data. A designation in this category means the school district requires technical assistance in order to improve results for students with disabilities.
- Thirty-nine (39) school districts have been designated as "in need of intervention" (19 in NYC and 20 in the rest of the State). A designation in this category means that a school district's performance is so far below the target that it requires directed assistance or intervention in order to improve performance or compliance.
Following are examples of major interventions initiated in some of the larger school districts in 2006-07 to directly address the performance of students with disabilities:
- The New York City Department of Education’s (NYCDOE) Special Education Plan identifies actions which include:
- establishing a special education Lead Teacher mentor program in 30 schools to provide instructional support in selected new high schools and low performing schools (to begin September 2007);
- increasing team teaching classes to provide greater access to general education learning standards and environments;
- implementing a Response to Intervention (RtI) initiative to be piloted in three selected NYC elementary schools;
- piloting a job-training/work experience transition model with VESID Vocational Rehabilitation (VR);
- establishing Model Transition Programs through VESID grant awards to support school-to-work transition services for students with disabilities in nine NYC schools or consortiums;
- expanding positive behavioral interventions and support programs in selected districts; and
- improving collaboration and communication with parents.
NYCDOE is required to use 15 percent of its IDEA funds to address its disproportionality in the long term suspension of students with disabilities by race/ethnicity.
- The Yonkers City School District has identified actions to improve its graduation and drop out rates. They are:
- To improve transition services, the Yonkers City School District increased guidance staff availability and resources to serve students with disabilities and implemented a computerized assessment of career interests of students with disabilities in each high school.
- To improve academic achievement, the district increased academic intervention services for students with disabilities focused on preparation for Regents examinations; provided in-class coaching of teachers to improve instruction of students with disabilities; introduced a formalized reading instruction program in two high schools; and increased the use of computer assisted instruction in the middle and high schools.
- The Yonkers City School District was required to use 15 percent of its IDEA funds to address issues of disproportionality by race/ethnicity in the long term suspension of students with disabilities. Yonkers obtained technical assistance from the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education of New York University (NYU) to review their special education policies and procedures that may have contributed to the disproportionality.
- The Syracuse City School District has taken steps to address its classification, graduation and drop out rates, including:
- The Syracuse City School District received a grant from VESID/SEQA to assist in developing effective prereferral teams at the middle level in an attempt to address the high classification rate and poor achievement. Syracuse will use these funds to implement an RtI model which targets those students academically at risk.
- The Syracuse City School District, in collaboration with the Midstate Transition Coordination Site, SEQA and SETRC, with funds from VESID, developed a Student Portfolio used to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from middle to high school.
Action 2. Identify instructional practices contributing to poor student performance and help school districts identify and make improvements. Describe and promote effective practices, especially those addressing improved literacy and positive behavioral interventions, through district-to-district assistance.
- VESID developed and implemented a revised quality assurance review process to identify a school district's policies, procedures and practices relating to requirements most directly related to improved instructional practices.
- To ensure that interventions with districts are research-based, consistent and effective, VESID has:
- developed assessment and quality indicator tools to evaluate and guide instructional improvement activities in the areas of literacy, behavioral supports and services and effective delivery of special education services.
- initiated professional development to all SETRC staff in the areas of literacy, behavioral supports and effective special education supports and services. In 2006-07, all SETRC staff were required to participate in Reading First Voyager training on early literacy. At statewide meetings, professional development was provided in the areas of literacy, behavioral intervention and effective specially designed instruction for students with disabilities. This training will enhance the expertise of SETRC staff to improve their technical assistance to schools in these instructional areas.
- introduced and implemented a new Quality Improvement Process (QIP) to be used by SETRC to document the targeted improvement activities and assess progress to improve student outcomes.
Action 3: Direct VESID’s technical assistance resources to school improvements in literacy, behavioral supports and quality delivery of special education services. Improve achievement and reduce disproportionate representation of students of color by preventing inappropriate referrals to special education and by increasing declassification rates. Expand availability and capacity of technical assistance centers to promote training and implementation for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) in the Big 4 and within BOCES.
- In the fall of 2006, SEQA developed regional work plans to direct and deploy regional office and SETRC staff to support school improvement activities in the designated low performing districts. Based on the identification of school districts as needing assistance or intervention, VESID directed school districts to obtain technical assistance through SETRC and/or Transition Coordination Sites (TCS).
- Seventeen (17) school districts identified with significantly high rates in the long term suspension of students with disabilities and 10 school districts with disproportionality by race/ethnicity in the long term suspension of students with disabilities were required to conduct reviews of their related special education policies, procedures and practices.
- Twenty (20) school districts with disproportionality by race/ethnicity in the identification, classification and/or placement of students with disabilities were required to conduct reviews of their related special education policies, procedures and practices and to use 15 percent of their IDEA funds to address the issues of disproportionality.
- VESID has a contract with the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education of NYU to provide a Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality (TAC-D). TAC-D works directly with six school districts and provides technical assistance to VESID funded networks to assist them in their work with districts on issues of disproportionality. Through its contract with VESID, NYU has developed additional professional development resources for school districts, including a web-based clearinghouse and five training modules. NYU plans to make this information available on their web site so it can be accessed by other technical assistance providers and school districts with disproportionality issues.
- In May 2007, VESID, in conjunction with NYU TAC-D, convened a meeting with districts whose data indicated disproportionality to assist them in understanding the required actions and linking them with technical assistance to address the disproportionality issues. Representatives from 11 of the 17 identified school districts participated in this meeting.
- State regulations were revised in January 2007 to establish new, high standards for the development and implementation of functional behavioral assessments and behavioral intervention plans for students with disabilities.
- Assessment and quality indicator guides were developed in the areas of school-wide behavioral interventions. SETRC and SEQA staff received professional development on the use of these quality indicators in working with school districts. Quality indicators for classroom and intensive individual interventions are near completion.
- Currently, 24 of the 75 school districts identified under the SPP as “In Need of Assistance or Intervention” have one or more schools currently implementing PBIS. In NYC, PBIS programs have been initiated in regions 2, 4, 5 and 7 and the expansion of PBIS programs in additional districts is underway. VESID’s planned expansion of PBIS programming includes comprehensive training and development of the regional PBIS Specialists who will then serve as expert trainers to provide a complete range of PBIS training, technical assistance and intervention services.
- The work of the Early Childhood Direction Centers (ECDC) will focus on improving performance on the preschool indicators: timely evaluations; transition from early intervention services to preschool services; services in settings with typically developing peers (least restrictive environment); improved knowledge and skills in the areas of social-emotional skills, early language/communication and early literacy; and behavior.
- In May 2007, VESID announced a new project, Supporting Successful Strategies To Achieve Improved Results for Students with Disabilities), to identify and promote the replication of effective instructional programs and practices for students with disabilities. A request for nominations of schools with effective practice was issued to identify schools with high quality instructional practices with documented results in the areas of reading instruction, behavioral support and provision of special education services and supports to students with disabilities. Districts selected through the review process will receive grant funds to support documentation of their effective practices and to provide technical assistance and peer-to-peer support to assist low performing districts selected by SED to improve their results for students with disabilities.
Action 4: Increase the number of students with disabilities transitioning directly from high schools to vocational rehabilitation training programs, employment and/or college.
- In 2006-07, VESID monitored 108 school districts, including NYC, on the quality of their transition planning for students with disabilities, ages 15 and older. These districts were required to conduct a review of the transition services documented on students' individualized education programs (IEPs). TCS and SETRC staff assisted districts with these reviews.
- TCS staff are focusing their technical assistance to those districts identified in 2006-07 as needing to revise their policies and procedures and those additional school districts that will be monitored in 2007-08.
- VESID VR is funding 60 Model Transition Programs designed to support school-to-work transition services for students with disabilities. Participating schools will work in collaboration with VESID VR counselors and adult service providers in the community to assist students in the transition to employment. Students with disabilities found eligible for VESID VR services may receive a number of VR services beginning two years before exiting high school.
- Based on 2005-06 data, VESID has identified school districts as in need of assistance, in need of intervention, or in need of substantial intervention based on their performance in the areas of graduation, drop out and State assessments for students with disabilities. As a result of this identification, VESID will direct technical assistance resources and identify improvement actions for each of these school districts.
- The website publication of the Special Education School District Data Profiles, which reports on SPP indicators is planned for June 2007. These public reports will track each school district’s progress from year to year against the SPP annual targets for improvement.
- For the 2007-08 school year, VESID will increase the allocation of IDEA discretionary funds to selected SETRC programs that have a demonstrated need because of the number of school districts identified for a level of intervention in their region. The additional funds will allow these programs to hire one additional full-time professional development specialist for provision of specific improvement activities in districts with the poorest performance.
- For 2007-08, VESID will fund a PBIS State Technical Assistance Center to make available comprehensive training and enhanced expertise to regional PBIS Specialists throughout the State.
- VESID will begin its identification of successful schools and districts and promote the sharing and replication of their effective practices.
- VESID will issue a request for proposals to establish a statewide technical assistance center on RtI to assist school districts to develop processes within the early grades to provide screening, increasing levels of support, targeted instruction and progress monitoring to students showing difficulties in the areas of reading. VESID will also issue a request for proposals to individual school districts to establish RtI programs.
- Explore the development of career and technical education program options for students with disabilities to effectively decrease dropout rates.