SES Spring 2014 - Spotlight on Practice: Promotion, Retention, Grading and Graduation of Students with Disabilities

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  • 1. 1 Spotlight On Practice Promotion, Retention, Grading and Graduation of Students with Disabilities
  • 2. 2 What We’ll Cover . . .  Promotion and Retention Decisions  Grades, Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities  Graduation of Students with Disabilities
  • 3. 3 1. Promotion and Retention Decisions
  • 4. 4 General Requirements  District’s Pupil Promotion and Retention (PPR) Policy sets criteria for promotion/retention  Must include criteria at specified grade levels  Between 2nd and 3rd grades  Between 3rd and 4th grades  Between 4th and 5th grades  Between elementary school and middle school  Between middle school and high school (Ed. Code,§48070.5)
  • 5. 5 Retention Decisions  Identification of students who should be retained or at risk of being retained  Primarily based on proficiency in reading between 2nd and 3rd and 3rd and 4th grades  For remaining grades, based on proficiency in reading, English-language arts and mathematics  District policy, not Education Code, determines if students may be retained multiple times (Ed. Code,§48070.5)
  • 6. 6 Retention of Students with Disabilities  Governing board promotion/retention standards apply to students with disabilities  IEP teams may develop individualized standards based on student’s needs
  • 7. 7 IEP Team Guidelines  If Student fails to meet board-adopted or individualized promotion standards, IEP team should reconvene to consider:  Is current IEP appropriate?  Is manner of assessments appropriate (accommodations/modifications)?  Were services appropriately identified/received?  Were promotion standards appropriate and clarified in IEP?
  • 8. 8 IEP Team Guidelines  If questions answered “yes,” but Student still failed to meet standards:  Student should participate in intensive supplemental instruction  If Student still does not meet standards, IEP team should meet to develop an appropriate plan to support progress
  • 9. 9 IEP Team Guidelines  If questions answered “no,” IEP team should:  Determine why adequate supports were not provided  Develop alternate plan  Amend IEP  Provide intensive supplemental instruction  Consider not retaining Student because District did not provide necessary supports/services (CDE, Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Pupil Promotion and Retention)
  • 10. 10 OAH Standards  For OAH to consider a claim involving retention/promotion of a student with a disability, it must involve the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a FAPE  Otherwise, no jurisdiction over issues related to promotion and retention (34 C.F.R. §300.507; Ed. Code,§56501)
  • 11. 11 OAH Standards  Case example: Student v. Montecito Elementary School Dist. (OAH 2011)  Parent challenged decision to promote Student with autism to junior high; claimed it would be “detrimental”  IEP team applied District criteria for promotion  OAH did not have jurisdiction to review the promotion decision on the basis of whether or not District criteria for promotion were met  Also no FAPE denial; Student succeeded in sixth grade and no reason not to promote him with his same-age peers (Student v. Montecito Elem. School. Dist. (OAH 2011) No. 2010011031)
  • 12. 12 2. Grades, Report Cards and Transcripts
  • 13. 13 Grading Students with Disabilities  Grades reflecting classroom accommodations  Accommodation = Change in course standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, response, etc.  Accommodation does not fundamentally alter or lower standard of expectation for course or test  Physical or environmental change (e.g., agenda checks, preferential seating, extra time on tests)  Student’s grade should not reflect that accommodations have been made (CDE, Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Pupil Promotion and Retention)
  • 14. 14 Grading Students with Disabilities  Grades reflecting classroom modifications  Modifications also are changes in course standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, response, etc.  But: Modification does fundamentally alter or lower standard of expectation for course or test  Instruction and assessment change (e.g., reduction of classwork, omission of story problems, tests written at lower level of understanding)  Student’s grade should reflect Student’s achievement in the modified curriculum
  • 15. 15 Class Rankings and Honor Roll  May not disregard or exclude grades earned by students with disabilities in determining GPA for honor roll or class rank, even if grades earned with the support of special education services  But may develop weighted grade system based on objective criteria (e.g., higher points earned for advanced algebra class than for basic arithmetic) or require completion of core courses (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 16. 16 Miscellaneous Grading Issues  Pass/fail grading is OK if voluntary and available to all students  Must meet student’s needs and be documented in IEP  Classes for no credit as part of IEP (e.g., for learning social skills) may be graded on IEP criteria  Collaborative grading effort between special ed and gen ed teachers is acceptable (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 17. 17 Report Cards: IDEA Requirements  All IEPs must describe:  How Student’s progress toward annual goals will be measured  When periodic reports on progress toward annual goals will be provided  IDEA does not require report cards as the means of measuring progress toward IEP goals  Failure to provide period reports may be substantive or procedural violation of FAPE (34 C.F.R.§300.320(a)(3))
  • 18. 18 Discrimination in Issuing Report Cards Districts must provide parents of students with disabilities with reporting system that is at least as effective as that provided to parents of nondisabled students  Students with severe disabilities: Alternative form of report card may be more effective in measuring progress, but must provide parents with equivalent evaluative information (Saddleback Valley (CA) Unified School Dist. (OCR 1990) 17 IDELR 251; Montebello (CA) Unified School Dist. (OCR 1993) 20 IDELR 388)
  • 19. 19 References to Special Ed Status  Report card may indicate Student is receiving special ed or related services, provided it informs Parents about Student’s progress/level of achievement  Card may refer to IEP or Section 504 plan in order to report on progress (Q&A on Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR 2008) 51 IDELR 50)
  • 20. 20 References to Special Ed Status  But mere designation that Student has an IEP, without meaningful explanation of progress (such as a grade or other evaluation standard), violates Section 504  Why? Because report card is not as informative and effective as that provided to nondisabled students (Q&A on Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR 2008) 51 IDELR 50)
  • 21. 21 Special Symbols, Notations, Asterisks  Symbol or code may be used to indicate Student has modified curriculum in the gen ed classroom  Coding should not be used exclusively for students with disabilities  Use similar coding distinctions for advance placement or honors classes
  • 22. 22 Special Symbols, Notations, Asterisks  Example:  IEP calls for modified literature curriculum for high school student  District may indicate that progress is measured based on modified curriculum  Use asterisk or other symbol  Asterisk or symbol to indicate accommodation also is permissible (Q&A on Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR 2008) 51 IDELR 50)
  • 23. 23 Transcripts  Rules more stringent than for report cards  Why?  Report cards designed to inform parents of progress  Transcripts intended to inform postsecondary institution or prospective employer of Student’s academic credentials  Information that Student has disability or received special education is not information about academic credentials
  • 24. 24 Transcripts  Notations used to identify Student as having a disability or to identify education programs solely for students with disabilities violate Section 504  OCR views this a disclosure of disability status, constituting different treatment on the basis of disability (Q&A on Report Cards and Transcripts for Students with Disabilities (OCR 2008) 51 IDELR 50)
  • 25. 25 Transcripts: Course Designations  If course designation suggests course is only provided to students with disabilities, it might violate Section 504; if it has a more general connotation, it might not (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 26. 26 Transcripts: Course Designations  Examples of suspect transcript labels:  “L.C.” [learning center]  “H.B.” [homebound instruction]  “Resource room”  “P.E. requirement waived”  “PF” [peer facilitator used] (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 27. 27 Transcripts: Modified Curriculum  Acceptable for transcript to indicate that Student took classes with modified or alternate education curriculum  Consistent with similar transcript designations for advanced placement and honors  Can use symbols, but must not disclose student has a disability or identify programs for students with disabilities (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 28. 28 Transcripts: Accommodations  Not acceptable for transcript to indicate that Student received accommodations in any classes  Identifies student as having a disability  Example: Notation indicating use of Braille materials is not related to whether Student succeeded in literature class; sole purpose is identifying Student as having a visual impairment (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 29. 29 Transcripts: Diplomas  Transcript may indicate Student achieved certificate of achievement rather than regular diploma only if:  Does not disclose Student received special ed  Does not disclose that Student has disability (if certificates also available to nondisabled students)  Is not used to identify programs for students with disabilities  Is consistent with transcript purpose of providing information about academic credentials (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 30. 30 Grades, Report Cards and Transcripts Practice Pointer  Understand the difference between an accommodation and a modification and that: Grade should not reflect accommodations Grade should reflect achievement in modified curriculum.  While report cards may disclose a student's disability status, the disclosure standards for academic transcripts are considerably stricter
  • 31. 31 3. Graduation
  • 32. 32 Graduation: IDEA Requirements  IEP Content  Specific graduation plan/criteria may be included at team’s discretion  Typically, IEP teams discuss graduation date and receipt of diploma or certificate  IEP Meeting  Required to discuss graduation requirements and completion of goals/objectives (Letter to Anonymous (OSEP 1994) 22 IDELR 456; Letter to Richards (OSEP 1990) 17 IDELR 288)
  • 33. 33 Graduation: IDEA Requirements  Evaluation  Not required prior to termination of services (aging-out or graduating with regular high school diploma)  Summary of Performance  Required for students graduating with regular diploma  Include recommendations for meeting postsecondary goals (34 C.F.R. §300.305(e))
  • 34. 34 Graduation: IDEA Requirements  Graduation with regular high school diploma is a change of placement  Terminates eligibility  Triggers procedural safeguards (34 C.F.R. §300.102(a)(3))
  • 35. 35 Graduation with Regular Diploma  Regular high school diploma  Signifies completion of District course of study and that Student met District proficiency standards  Does not include: Alternative degree not aligned with state academic standards, such as certificate or GED (34 C.F.R. §300.102(a)(3); Ed. Code,§56026.1)
  • 36. 36 Graduation with Regular Diploma  California High School Exit Examination  Exemption for Students with IEP or Section 504 plan  Exemption extended until June 30, 2015  Exemption should be noted in IEP  Students still must take CAHSEE in grade 10 (Ed. Code,§60852.3)
  • 37. 37 Graduation with Regular Diploma  Termination of Eligibility  Parents cannot withhold consent to IEP merely to extend Student’s special ed services beyond point of completion of prescribed course of study  Case example: Student v. Newport-Mesa USD  Parent claimed decision to award diploma was a denial of FAPE because Student’s academic levels were not up to 12th-grade proficiency  ALJ: Allowed graduation; 12th-grade proficiency is not required by law and Student met all requirements (Student v. Newport-Mesa Unified School Dist. (OAH 2010) 110 LRP 73203)
  • 38. 38 Graduation with Regular Diploma  However . . .  ALJs may rescind diploma if adequate services, including transition services, have not been provided  Case example: Student v. Livermore Valley JUSD  District ordered to rescind diploma and reinstate services  Student left school being unable to communicate with others at level necessary to function in post-school locations identified in transition plan (Student v. Livermore Valley Joint Unified School Dist. (SEHO 2000) 33 IDELR 288)
  • 39. 39 Graduation with Regular Diploma  Post-Graduation Remedies for Denial of FAPE  Available even after eligibility terminates by graduation  Usually in form of compensatory services to assist Student in furthering education, obtaining employment and/or living independently  Graduation is not per se indication that Student has received FAPE (Letter to Riffel (OSEP 2000) 34 IDELR 292)
  • 40. 40 Certificate of Achievement  If Student does not meet requirements for diploma, District may award certificate of educational achievement if Student:  Completed prescribed approved alternative courses of study; or  Satisfactorily met all IEP goals/objectives; or  Satisfactorily attended high school, participated in instruction per IEP and met objective of transition services (Ed. Code, §56390)
  • 41. 41 Certificate of Achievement  Graduation with certificate does not terminate FAPE eligibility  Continuing obligation on District to provide FAPE under the IDEA  Completion of any one of the requirements for certificate makes Student eligible to participate in graduation ceremony (Ed. Code, §56391)
  • 42. 42 Graduation Ceremonies  Students with disabilities who have met graduation requirements are eligible to participate in same ceremony in same manner as nondisabled students (Letter to Runkel (OCR 1996) 25 IDELR 387)
  • 43. 43 Graduation Ceremonies  Exceptions:  Can prohibit participation for disability-related misconduct if Student poses safety threat  But decision must be made by IEP team and based on current information  Can segregate students with disabilities at ceremony only if legitimate nondiscriminatory reason and difference in treatment is minimal  Example: Group of students with hearing impairments seated in front row to see sign language interpreter (Capistrano (CA) Unified School Dist. (OCR 2002) 38 IDELR 136; Modesto (CA) Unified School Dist. (OCR 2004) 43 IDELR 43)
  • 44. 44 Graduation Practice Pointer  Follow all procedural requirements prior to graduation, including:  Convening IEP meeting to discuss progress on goals and ensure graduation criteria will be met  Providing Summary of Performance  Ensure that the venue for graduation ceremony is accessible to students with disabilities
  • 45. 45 Information in this presentation, including but not limited to PowerPoint handouts and the presenters' comments, is summary only and not legal advice. We advise you to consult with legal counsel to determine how this information may apply to your specific facts and circumstances .
  • 46. 46 Information in this presentation, including but not limited to PowerPoint handouts and the presenters' comments, is summary only and not legal advice. We advise you to consult with legal counsel to determine how this information may apply to your specific facts and circumstances .