Special Education & Pupil Services Updates

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    Dear RPS Families,

    Greetings! I hope this letter finds you well! In my previous memorandum, I shared with you the following and I would like to provide you some updates:

    1. Results of the TFM (Tiered Focused Monitoring) from the DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) – On March 18, 2019, the DESE Office of Public School Monitoring (PSM) conducted a Tiered Focused Monitoring review of the district. Based from this review, I am proud to share with you that the RPS Special Education Department was found to have partial implementation on only one special education criterion (SE #55: Special Education Facilities and Classrooms) which is specific to the location of our substantially separate classrooms at Randolph High School. Together with the Randolph High school administrators and teachers, we are working on an action plan that will satisfy full implementation of this special education criterion.

    2. Program Evaluation Results - for the past few years, Randolph Public Schools have been collaborating with outside agencies and consultants to determine areas of strengths and opportunities for growth in some of our special education programs. Recently, we have completed the following program evaluations (please see program evaluation information on the RPS website), and we would like for all of you to have an understanding of these programs evaluations and the recommendations for RPS to implement further improvement to our special education services next year:

    Anne Donovan from ACCEPT Collaborative conducted the following program evaluations:

     PreK Program Evaluation, Spring 2018
     RISE (formerly CLC), Spring 2017
     GROW (formerly DLC), Spring 2018

    Margaret Reed conducted the following program evaluations:

     Randolph High School, Spring 2018
     Randolph Community Middle School, Winter 2019

    There will be an opportunity for us to share this information through a public presentation next year. In the meantime, please review these program evaluations.

    3. Updated Program Descriptions – as a result of these program evaluations, you will also find the updated program descriptions on the following special education programs:

     INTEGRATED PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM
    The Integrated Pre-Kindergarten Program is designed to promote a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development and provide an environment in which children with identified disabilities may learn both with and from peers with typical abilities in an inclusive setting. Although primarily provided to serve children with special needs, the Integrated Pre-Kindergarten Program features a comprehensive language-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood curriculum designed to meet the needs of a variety of learners. In those classrooms, children from the community presenting with typical abilities are invited to join as Peer Partners to work, talk, and play alongside children with special needs. This partnership enhances the social, language, and overall academic development of all.

     RISE PROGRAM
    The RISE Program is designed to meet the learning needs of students who require significant behavioral, social, communication, and/or academic supports based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in order to access the curriculum. This program primarily serves students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Social-Communication Disorder, or related developmental disabilities who require individualized instruction tailored to their unique needs using a developmentally- appropriate, multi-sensory approach. Students are generally working below grade-level expectations on at least one core academic area (e.g. reading, written expression, math) and require substantial curriculum modifications and/or supplemental and alternative curricula in order to meet their learning needs. Instructional approaches may include discrete trial teaching for students who are working on foundational skills and direct instruction in core academic areas. All students also participate in social skills groups that follow specific curricula designed for students with social pragmatic needs (e.g. Social Thinking, etc.), facilitated by the classroom teacher and Speech-Language Pathologist, with ongoing instruction in social communication skills embedded into the classroom throughout the day to help students with generalization. Data collection is an important aspect of the program and is utilized on an ongoing basis to closely monitor students’ progress towards individualized goals and curriculum standards.

    Inclusion opportunities are provided for all students on an individualized determination focusing on the child’s specific strengths, and may include participation in the general education classroom for academics (e.g. math, science), specials, lunch and recess. The goal of inclusion is to support students in generalizing their skills with same-age peers and to foster connections between students and the larger school community.

    The RISE Program is staffed by a certified special education teacher in each classroom and paraprofessionals who provide support to students both in the RISE classroom and during inclusion opportunities within the general education classroom. Consultation from a Board Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) is provided to the team for all students in the program. Individual therapies provided by a Speech-Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and School Adjustment Counselor are also delivered in the context of this program as deemed appropriate on an individualized basis.

     LANGUAGE BASED CLASS

    The Language Based Program is designed for students with language-based learning disabilities (SLD). The program provides students with the language and literacy skills, learning strategies and tools to become independent learners and achieve success in school. Students in this program are working below grade level in a range of academic subject areas and generally display significantly reduced decoding, fluency, comprehension and written and verbal language skills and require a structured, sequential, small group supported approach to learning. Specially designed instruction provided within the context of this program includes direct instruction in an evidence-based phonics program designed for students with disabilities (e.g. Wilson), and explicit instruction in reading comprehension and written expression skills. Students receive embedded supports from a Speech Language Pathologist several times per week within a co-treat model with a focus on targeting vocabulary, language comprehension, and written expression skills.

    Access to appropriate inclusion opportunities is encouraged for all students in the LB Program. Students participate in general education classes, as deemed appropriate on an individualized basis, such as Math taught by a dual-certified teacher. Additionally, students participate in a co-taught inclusive Science and Social Studies classes with their peers.

     GROW PROGRAM
    The GROW Program is designed to meet the needs of students who require significant specialized instruction in academics and embedded opportunities to practice functional communication, self-help, and social-emotional skills in order to address their complex learning needs. This program primarily serves students with a primary disability category of Intellectual Impairment or Developmental Delay who require targeted instruction tailored to their unique needs using a developmentally-appropriate, multi-sensory approach. Eligibility for the GROW program is determined on an individualized basis by the IEP Team using objective data from student assessments and progress reports when a student has not shown academic growth with other intensive supports in place using a tiered systems of support model. Students in the program require substantial curriculum modifications and/or supplemental and alternative curricula and are generally working on standards at the “access skills” or “entry points” level on at least two core academic areas (e.g. reading, written expression, math). All students also participate in activities of daily living (ADLs) with ongoing instruction in self-help skills and functional communication skills embedded into the classroom throughout the day to help students gain independence.

    Inclusion opportunities are provided for all students on an individualized determination focusing on the child’s specific strengths, and may include participation in the general education classroom for academics (e.g. science), specials, lunch and recess. The goal of inclusion is to support students in generalizing their skills with same-age peers and to foster connections between students and the larger school community.

    The GROW Program is staffed by a certified special education teacher in each classroom and paraprofessionals who provide support to students both in the GROW classroom and during inclusion opportunities within the general education classroom. Individual therapies provided by a Speech-Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and Physical Therapist are delivered in the context of this program as deemed appropriate on an individualized basis. Consultation from the district’s Board Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) is also available to the team for students in the program.

    4. School-to-Career Program – we are continuing our partnership with the Triangle, Inc for our post-graduate students next year. In addition, we are in the initial planning stages of adding our very own transition program for our students at Randolph High School to increase their community, vocational and transitional skills. You will hear more of the progress of this program next year.

    UPDATES:

    1. Administrator positions – there are two open positions for this department: SPED Coordinator and Student Services Coordinator. The SPED Coordinator job will oversee the out-of-district placement and overall coordination of our special education services across the district. The Student Services Coordinator job will help us develop a stronger curriculum, programs and services targeting the needs of our students and staff on SEL (social emotional learning), trauma sensitivity and wrap around services. This position will also oversee our guidance/counseling department, nursing services, McKinney-Vento and school psychologists.

    With these two administrator’s positions, it is my hope that we will be able to provide better services and programs for our students who require more intensive supports. As we finalize the hiring process this week, I am confident that you will meet them in the summer!

    2. Pre-K Peer Partners – if you or you know someone who has a preschool aged child/children, we want them in our amazing Pre-K program next year as a peer partner! There are tremendous benefits for being a peer partner on top of its cost-effective tuition! Please see the Pre-K Peer partners brochure on the RPS website for more details.

    3. Accomplishments – I am absolutely proud of the work that our RPS educators have done this year. So allow me to brag a little bit about the accomplishments that our teachers, staff and administrators have made this year:

    Pre-K Program Implementation: Our Pre-K teachers and staff have been working hard in increasing inclusive opportunities and strengthening

    Planning year to overhaul model; will begin new model in September, that includes a full continuum of full inclusion, partial inclusion, & sub-separate classrooms
     Reduction of substantially separate classrooms from 4 rooms to 1 room
     All students with special needs will receive equitable access to instructional hours as peer partners
     Emphasis on implementing high quality assessments, data-based decision making for programmatic placement, and strengthening evidence-based inclusive practices

    GROW Program Implementation:

     Updated program description and eligibility criteria (please see attached new program description)
     Creation of GROW IEP Guidelines
    - Streamlined practices that align with quality indicators for students with Intellectual Impairments
    - Emphasis on both academic & functional skill needs
     New evidence-based curricula that meets the needs of students with Intellectual Impairments

    Elementary Language-Based Program Implementation:

     Creation of new program model to meet the needs of students with language-based learning disabilities that had formerly been serviced in CLC Program (please see attached new program description)
    - Also will include students who have not made academic progress in full inclusion need more specialized instruction
    - Emphasis on partial inclusion: marketing as a continuum of “Language-based services” vs. “language-based program” to move away from substantially separate program mindset
     Development of program description/eligibility criteria
     Observation & coordination with Milford Public Schools
     Program will begin in September

    Professional Development:

    RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for Paraprofessionals - RPS provided training to our paraprofessionals on registered behavior technician to better understand basic concepts and principles of Applied Behavior Analysis as they relate to children and adolescents, with an emphasis on students with Autism and related developmental disabilities. Through this training that will continue this summer, our staff will become knowledgeable about evidence-based interventions, based on the principles of behavior, for intervening on behalf of students within the public school setting.
    AAC (Augmentative/Alternative Communication) training – RPS provided the initial training for all our speech and language pathologists SLP staff in integrating the use of AAC to our qualified students who require an AAC device.
    Safety Care Trainings - RPS provided the initial training for newer staff on May 3, 2019 and another refresher training for RISE staff at JFK on April 23, 2019. Safety Care training has excellent de-escalation techniques that we believe is beneficial to all our students who may have some behavioral challenges. You can learn more about safety care here: https://www.qbscompanies.com/restraint-reduction-behavioral-training

    I hope you enjoy your summer with your son/daughter and see you next school year!

    Sincerely,
    Alpha Sanford, M.Ed, CAGS
    Director of Special Education and Pupil Services



    EVENTS:

    1. ESY DATES (Extended School Year) runs from July 8 to August 8, 2019 – Ms. Katy Sleczkowski (ESY K-Post Grad Coordinator) and Ms. Danielle Galvin (ESY PK Coordinator) are running the Extended School Year Program. If you have any questions about the ESY program including hours, program details, etc you may contact them at galvind@randolph.k12.ma.us and sleczkowskik@randolph.k12.ma.us

    2. Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, at the RICC (Community Center located at 128 Pleasant St) “Education Takes a Village Special Education Resource Fair” – Autism Sprinter, a local organization founded by Yahaira Lopez will be sponsoring this event to provide resources to families who have children with autism. Please email autismsprinter@gmail.com and visit https://specialeducationresourcefairas.eventbrite.com for more details .

    3. POTENTIAL TOPICS for SEPAC next school year
    September – How does Inclusive Programming Looks like at the Integrated Preschool at JFK; New Programs: GROW, RISE, TLC,;
    October – Pyramid Model PBS for Preschool
    November – ABA techniques for Parents
    December – Behavior Management for Parents
    January – Transition Workshop for Students age 22
    February – Social Emotional Learning and Play Skills for Early Childhood
    March – Social Media Dangers (Family First): Parenting during the Digital Age;
    April – Power of Optimism (The Good Life Foundation)
    May – Mental Health First Aid for Adults (Saturday)
    June – Social Emotional Learning: Calming Corners, Meditation and Mindfulness

    4. Message from SEPAC President, Keith Wortzman
    I would like to personally welcome Mrs. Sanford back to Randolph. Mrs. Sanford is deeply committed to working with the SEPAC in Randolph and helping us grow.
    Thus far the SEPAC has hosted numerous educational workshops throughout the academic year. We have had the pleasure of having the Federation for Children with Special Needs, as they presented on the topic of ‘Basic Rights. ‘ We had the Old Colony YMCA, present about their ‘Y Abilities’ program; a program for students with Autism and other cognitive disabilities.

    In late March, we hosted a local Mental Health Clinician, business owner and Randolph Public Schools Alum, who talked to parents and the community about ‘ways to reduce stress and anxiety in children’.

    The SEPAC needs parents to become involved and to take leadership roles. We encourage potential leaders to join us for our monthly SEPAC meetings and help organize meeting topics workshops, events.

    Those who are interested in talking a leadership role should email: randolphsepac@gmail.com

    SAVE THE DATE: Please keep in mind that the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) will hold its rescheduled ELECTION on September 25, 2019 (placeholder). This is an important time for all of you to come and be part of this council. We need parents like you to help us build partnerships together.