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Cap on special ed classes?


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Joined: Oct 02, 2006
Posts: 172
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Posted Apr 19, 2008 at 1:32:41 AM
Subject: Cap on special ed classes?

Does anyone know if there is a cap on class size for self contained special day classes?

I asked our program specialist about this at our IEP meeting last November. She dodged my question 4 times! She kept saying things like "Well, we try to keep it under 12" finally (4th time) I said "Ok, I get it that you try to keep it under 12, but what if you have 12 students in the class and another child NEEDS a spot???" and her eventual answer to me was "well, eventually we have to open up another classroom" but I heard from one of the SDC teachers in our district that she had 16 in her class last year. Ours had 15 last year. Our SDC preschool is at 17 this year. I'm sure they could have opened up another class last year, but they didn't, so not sure if there really is a cap or if it's more of a "we try to..."

Kathryn

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:May 03, 2008 10:51:56 AM

Kathryn, without question, the state regulations control the caseload maximimums for local school districts inthe various states. Some states base this on a severity weighting scale whereby a child is counted as a "2" and a lesser disabled child is counted as a "1". The 2's and the ones's add up to a "magic number that derives the required standard for a caseload. You also have configurations in states where if classes have aides the there is a larger number permitted in caseloads. Finally, states vary about what is defined as a child who receives less than 50 % of services to more than 50% of services. This is referred to as a child who is resource or self contained.

For any teacher to have 15 children is not so bad. However, if this same teacher has these children for greater than 50 % of the day, that number is excessive and requires an aide. So to give me a little better understanding of how this teachers class is, please share. How many students assigned to her receive less than and more than 50 % of services.

Finally as you live in California, refer to the California Department of Education for their standards for caseload sizes by disability categories.

DRHD

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Jul 20, 2008 7:43:18 AM

Kathryn, are you still checking in on this forum? I have been unable to be on some time.

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Kathryn
Joined Oct 02, 2006
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Posted:Jul 24, 2008 9:29:26 PM

Hi,

Yes, I am here today. I have been away from this site because I found another site which is much more active. Parents read and respond all day long so it is much quicker than here.

I'm sorry I did not read your response to my post until today. The point is moot since we are not going to move our daughter into a special day class.

These classes are generally 1 teacher and 2 aids. The kids are considered mild to moderate and the classroom is "non-categorical" which to me means there is no guarantee of who will be in the classroom with her. My daughter is very sensitive to abnormal behavior and is quite often upset when people don't act appropriately. My son was acting strange the other night (he was just being silly walking REALLY slowly back to the table after getting a new fork) and she told him "Ryan, that's not appropriate". The kids in the class I observed were getting up and wandering around the room and had to keep being brought back to their seats by the teacher and the aids. It would not be a good environment for her. Their speech is as bad as hers, so there would be no benefit to her in terms of having peer models. The only benefit would have been small group instruction, except that she spends 2 hrs/day either in the resource room or with an aid in the general ed classroom. For that she gets even smaller group instruction. In a class of 15:1 teacher and 2 aids, it would most likely be a ratio of 5:1. In the resource room she gets either 1:1 or 2:1 with one of her friends. She would have been mainstreamed for part of the day too, so really, we're talking about replacing her 2:1 rsp time with 5:1 SDC time and in the meantime she would have been devastated to be away from her friends.

She will continue with her program as it is and I am happy with it.

Oh, one more note, the RSP is one of the only people in our district who is certified in the Lindamood Bell V&V program. She is using it with my daughter and she is doing wonderfully with it. She gained 10 levels of reading comprehension after starting that program. In the SDC when I asked the teacher about the V & V the only thing she could say was "we don't do that here" and legally I could not force them anyway. When I asked what they do for reading comprehension, the teacher told me "usually the kids who are higher level readers and working on comprehension are mainstreamed for reading. Otherwise we just use high interest books and I check back with them at the end of the day to see if they remember what they read." That sounded extremely weak to me.

I guess the point is, I'm happy, my daughter is happy, so why disturb that? I would have no guarantee of moving her back to her program if we "gave it a try". I would be at the mercy of the IEP team to change her placement back to the RSP program at our school.

Kathryn

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Jul 27, 2008 10:13:08 AM

Kathryn,

Thank you for responding to my message. I am very glad that your child is doing so well. The Lindamood method is an excellent alternative of intervention. You have chosen wisely.

DRHD

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Kathryn
Joined Oct 02, 2006
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Posted:Jul 29, 2008 3:41:22 PM

Thank you. The private SLP we are working with is doing visualization for auditory language comprehension. Michelle listens to a short story and draws on paper after about every 2-3 sentences she listens to. After she's all done and retells the story, they turn the picture over and she accesses the picture in her head and retells the story.

I am taking the V&V training next week for 2 days and I'm not 100% sure, but I think her teacher that she will have in the fall is going with me. I gave her the information and she was very interested and then I heard through another teacher that she is planning to take the class with me. It's not confirmed yet, but that would be a bonus although not required since the RSP and the private SLP are using the program with her and I will be able to use it as well.

Kathryn

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
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Posted:Jul 29, 2008 8:41:45 PM

Kathryn,

As a parent you have made so many correct choices for your child. It is such a shame that the public schools have simply fallen short by not being rsponsive to the breadth and depth of knowledge of your child. I commend you for your decisivness and certainty of what is in the best interests of your child. You have made parental choices for all the right reasons.

As for Lindamood, I think the intervention methodology work well by its' intensive attention to the perceptual elements of "cracking" the reading code. Their research is extensive and quite good. Phonics in the public schools has taken a back seat in favor of meeting federal and state performance standards. I find the same phenomena taking place with mathematics and the weaknesses of students in application and computational skills. This has been disappointing. All states are on the federal timeline of 100% proficiency standards by 2014. It is now 2008 and there is quite a bit of variance among states in where they are in attaining federal standards of 100%.

In sum, I have become your biggest fan in the short time I have read your responses and your sincerity in how you advocate for doing the right thing. The judicial wisdom has not defined appropriateness as a public school classroom but it does give deference to giving the public schools the opportunity to demonstrate they cannot.

Good job Kathryn.

DRHD

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Kathryn
Joined Oct 02, 2006
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Posted:Jul 30, 2008 12:00:47 AM

Thank you for your post. You are very kind.

I really feel our situation is unique. I am of the belief that it is a parents right AND responsibility to educate their children. Most choose to use the public school system as a means of educating their children and for most children that is a fine way to do it. Others choose to home school. That is also a fine way. For us, it appears that we need to do both. My daughter LOVES to go to school for social reasons. She loves to be around kids her age. She loves to feel normal and when she can play with friends she feels normal. To home school her would be difficult because she would feel isolated. On the flip side, the school is not equipped, like I said. There are budgetary restraints as we all know. We can't do anything about that. If we force the schools to pay for something special for my child, that takes away from the general population since the pie is only so big. They have to dig their heels in to protect the general education budget. I'm not saying there isn't wasteful spending (as was evident at our recent IEP meeting with extremely useless people sitting at the table). I know there is, but like I said, it is what it is and we have to work with what we've got if my daughter wants to stay in school with her friends.

As to the Lindamood Bell program, they are using the V&V with her and it is working quite well. But as you said, not so much with the phonics. Here is a classic example in our school. My daughter did the zoo-phonics program in her K&1 classes (same teacher for 2 years). Then off to 2nd grade she went. As a special needs child I simply suggested that the 2nd grade teacher make use of this program that was so helpful for her in 1st grade. All I suggested was that she say to her "remember your zoo-phonics". The 2nd grade teacher said to me "2nd grade is too old for zoo-phonics" and that was the end of that conversation. Later, I happened to be in the 1st grade classroom talking to the teacher and a 3rd grade teacher walked in and requested zoo-phonics material saying "some of my students don't know their vowel partners." It occurred to me that the students he was talking about were those that did not get to those phonics lessons in 1st grade. Maybe they were in a lower level group. Well, clearly the 2nd grade teacher doesn't teach zoo-phonics, but the question in my mind was "is she teaching ANY phonics?" I didn't think so. I asked the 1st grade teacher for some phonics work so I could work with her at home. We spent a good 8 months on an at home phonics program she gave us. Well, as of 3rd grade, she was at "near grade level" on decoding. I know in my heart that it's all those painstaking days we sat at home working on phonics sheets, practicing phonics, etc... Now it is her strength. But as you know, as reading levels progress, comprehension takes a front row seat. I think they are working so hard on comprehension with her that phonics is not even on the radar. We are working at home on it, however, with the help of the private SLP. She has given us some guidance so that we can continue.

Our system is one that is working well for us, so I don't want to mess with it. It's a good formula and everyone is happy.... except those special ed staff that don't agree with me. LOL!! I sometimes wonder if they are resenting us because we are successful without them. The special ed director pointed to the "other side of the table" at our last meeting and said "her successes are due to the hard work of this team at our school." and almost intentionally left me out. Again, I just have to ignore these comments, as hard as it is.

I wanted to comment on the math comment. Our school has chosen a "math focus" and I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it's what I have heard since we started there. My older daughter (no LDs) scored a perfect 600 on her state testing in math at the end of 4th grade. I have not received her 5th grade scores yet, so I don't know if she did it again. I told her not to hold herself to such high standards because I didn't want her to feel stress about it. I'm sure she scored high again and of course we are so proud of all our kids for their hard work, but I know that she rarely (if ever) asked me for help with homework, so most likely it is due to the teaching she has gotten at school AND the fact that she got her mother's "math mojo" as she calls it. I have a BA in Math (& Liberal Studies for Elementary School Teaching and an MBA in Finance). Probably where she does well in math. Inherited left brain dominant. My husband is a computer geek so she could have gotten it from both sides.

Thanks again for your post.

Kathryn

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