March 19, 2020 | Barry Lee

KY-SPIN is proud to hose this webinar on Referrals and Evaluations for Special Education and Related Services -2020.

Presented By: Barry Lee, Director of Special Education Casey County Schools

Stella Beard : [00:00:00] Well, good afternoon everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for our lunch shop. We are going to be talking about referrals and evaluations, special education, and related services. I do have a little bit of housekeeping I want to go over with everyone. I am Stella Beard. I am the assistant director for Kentucky SPIN, and we are so very happy that you have joined us today....

Stella Beard : [00:00:00] Well, good afternoon everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for our lunch shop. We are going to be talking about referrals and evaluations, special education, and related services. I do have a little bit of housekeeping I want to go over with everyone. I am Stella Beard. I am the assistant director for Kentucky SPIN, and we are so very happy that you have joined us today. I know this is going to be a wonderful webinar.

I would just like to tell you a little bit about Kentucky SPIN before we get started, a little bit of housekeeping things though. You do have handouts available to you for download under the handouts tab. You’ll [00:01:00] have the PowerPoint for today. And then we have four additional handouts that we think will be perfect for this presentation. I will leave the webinar up for a little while following our session, so you can download them. But also, everyone that is on the webinar today will get a copy through email of the PowerPoint and all of the handouts available. So, I wanted to let you know that in case you don’t get to download them during the presentation, you will get them via email following the presentation today.

Also, if you have a question throughout the presentation, there is a box where you can type in your question. I am going to be moderating those why Mr. Lee is doing the presentation. So, if you do have a question, you can raise your hand. That will let me know that you have typed a question in, and we will go over those questions a couple of times throughout the presentation for Mr. Lee to answer for you.

First of all, I want to tell you a little bit about Kentucky SPIN. Kentucky SPIN actually stands for Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network. We are the parent training and information center for the state of Kentucky. Every state has one, and Kentucky SPIN is the one for Kentucky. We are funded by the US Department of Education under IDEA since 1988, and that’s when Kentucky first received a parent training and information center. So, Kentucky [00:02:00] SPIN has been the only parent training and information center for the state of Kentucky.

We provide training information and support for children and youth with all types of disabilities, birth through age 26. And I can promise you we work with families, even who have children beyond the age of 26, but we work with parents, families, and professionals.

About Kentucky SPIN, one thing we do not do is we do not act as attorneys. What we do help families with is we empower families to effectively advocate for their children. We provide peer support and help families access needed information and resources. And more than anything, we lend a listening ear. And during these times right now that we’re going through, we’re finding we’re doing a lot more of that right now, because parents are very confused and not sure what to do.

And I’m so excited for our speaker today, because Mr. Lee, he is the director of Special Education for Casey County Schools. [00:03:00] He has been the director of Special Education for eight years in two districts in Kentucky, so he comes with a wealth of knowledge today in this subject.

In his early years of education, he was a middle school special education teacher, and also served as a high school principal. He is also a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches introduction to special education topics. He is also a past president of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, and he served as the chairperson for two  years for the State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children. He also serves a multiple-boards for Southeast/South Central Education Cooperative and the Kentucky Council for Administrators of Special Education. He does that to support progress for special education programs for all students.

So, I am very happy today to have Mr. Lee, who I will give you a little information, was also a former [00:04:00] boss of mine. I used to work for him for Casey County School. So, as you know, I am very excited to have him here, and his a knowledge on the topic of evaluations.

So, at this time, Mr. Lee, can you hear me? Are you ready to go? Looks like he might be muted, so let me see if I can unmute him. Mr. Lee, it looks like you’re muted on your end. Would you be able to unmute yourself? There we go. Can you hear me now?

Barry Lee: [00:04:44] Yeah, how about now.

Stella Beard : [00:04:45] All right, turn up your volume just a little bit, or speak a little closer to the mic. And we’ve already done your introduction, so we’re ready for you to take off.

Barry Lee: [00:04:55] All right. Thank you all so much for being on the Webinar today, and also Thank you Stella for the [00:05:00] invite to go over this really important topic. And I appreciate all those who are attending the webinar today.

First, I think just you being a part of the webinar shows that if you’re serving as a parent or even a teacher or no matter what role that you play, that you’re doing the important part of being an advocate for students with disabilities, especially when it comes into the school setting. And really, one of the easiest ways that you can advocate for students,  whether you have a child with a disability or you’re trying to help other individuals, or other parents, or colleagues maneuver the world of special education is understanding the process when it comes to eligibility. It’s pretty essential, and there’s a lot to it. And sometimes, even as a director, I remind our staff. We do this every day, and sometimes it seems like we’re speaking a foreign language, because we have so many acronyms and so [00:06:00] many regulations and procedures in place that sometimes we’re speaking a language that a lot of parents and a lot of individuals are just not used to hearing. So, sometimes, we have to slow down and back up, and make sure that we’re not getting stuck in our world, and remembering to provide more support to you. So, I do thank you for being here, and trying to learn more about the process.

As Stella mentioned, if you have questions as we go through, feel free to ask. And I can definitely stop, and try to answer some of your questions. If your questions are based on an individual situation, I do ask if you could keep names and things for privacy, and maybe we can follow up afterwards to give you some additional guidance as well.

Again, I’m not an attorney. I’ve been a director for eight years now, and also embedded in the world of special education, and just continue to support schools and families when it comes to providing services for students with disabilities.

[00:07:00] So, when we start talking about the referral process, that is really the first step when it comes to helping schools and families identify that there’s additional services needed. You’re going to hear me say LEA several times. I’ll try to refer to that just basically to your local school, or your local school district. When it comes to the referral process, that’s really the first step in the world of special education, but actually prior to that, there’s an avenue  of response to intervention or RTI that we typically need to ensure that’s being put in place before we even think about moving into the world of special education.

The referral system is actually mandated through IDEA and also through state regulations. And you see the regulation here on your screen. And probably one of the biggest and in key components that often times, if you look at section [00:08:00] A, is basically stating that the LEA shall ensure that prior to, or as part of the referral process, the child is provided appropriate relevant research-based interventions or instruction. And the key to this rig is really the component of prior to. The first thing that we want to do as a school system is to rule out any and all areas of concern before we move to a referral.

And you will hear me mention several times at the webinar today, I’ve had many conversations with parents who have some concerns, but often times, it may not lead to special education. And typically, we can look at those processes through the RTR, the response to intervention prior to referral. And this is where we’re trying to provide additional supports to the student, whether it be concerns in reading, concerns in math, concerns in behavior, writing, social, emotional. The list can go on and on and the supports that we’re trying to [00:09:00] provide for our students. We want to make sure that we’re intervening first.

Even though IDEA was established to ensure that we’re identifying all students with disabilities, one thing that we want to ensure that we’re not doing is trying to overidentify students. There’s sometimes in a school and education setting that some students may just struggle. That does not mean that they are eligible for special education in a public-school setting, and that’s where the interventions can really guide us and lead us.

Throughout the webinar  today, we’ll talk about the categories of eligibility. And the referral process really allows us not to go on a fishing expedition. I like to explain to my staff, we’re not going fishing, throwing out a lure, and just hoping that a disability pops up. We want to know specifically what we’re trying to target when it comes to an evaluation. And the referral system can really lead us in trying to identify that specifically.

[00:10:00] So, when we talk about the referral process, this can actually be done from many different sources. Parents can make a referral for special education. Teachers can make a referral. But when it comes to the eyes of parents making a referral, I’m often pretty adamant with my staff, that we should register that there’s a concern most of the time before a parent registers that there’s a concern. this could be a little bit different if we’re talking about smaller students, students coming in from preschool or kindergarten. And the parent knows the child from an academic standpoint better than we do when it comes to the instructional piece. But when that referral is submitted to us, the referral is completed in writing by any source really. Anyone can make a referral.

Sometimes, we have agencies that contact us, and they say, “I think I may need to [00:11:00] make a referral.” And we go to the process at that point of contacting the parents, and making sure that those students have been in the intervention process, and ensuring that we’re making the best decisions for the student and the family. But typically when we have that completed within 15 days, we will try to set up what’s called a referral meeting. And again, prior to that, we’re going to ensure that we’re providing appropriate instruction, and that the interventions are in place. And really, the reason we want to go  to this intervention process is we want to rule out, is there a hearing concern, is there a vision concern, are there speech, motor concerns. What are the areas that we’re trying to intervene that could eventually lead to an eligibility in a school setting, to where we can provide support for students with disabilities?

Throughout the referral process and really [00:12:00] prior, once we go through the multi-tiered systems of support, what we call RTI, there’s really three levels before you get to what we feel needs to be a referral. You’re going to go through tier one, and that’s instruction in the classroom. And tier two is going to bring additional supports. And then tier three is at that point where we realize there may not be a rate of improvement that we need when we talk about being commensurate with peers. And again, at that point, we’re going to start to determine what area of concern or eligibility could this student really benefit from from the services of special education. But we want to show that we’re providing screenings, and we do speech screenings and hearing screenings often throughout the school year. This does not require parent consent, but typically we’ll do those screenings for all students, and then notify the parents if there’s any form of concern, again, whether it be in relation to speech, hearing, vision, academics. [00:13:00] But again, at that point, that screening will kind of guide us to what are some of the interventions. It may be a legitimate screen that all students are completing, or it could be an example of something in kindergarten, like a Brigance screen, that again, we’re going to do the screen on all students, and then we can use that data to determine, okay, when we do a comparison of typical-age peers, most students are in this area. So, at that point we can start to see, are there concerns and things that we can intervene  and try to port. Maybe you can use the term catch up. Can we help some students ketchup in some of the areas of deficiency, or do we see that this needs to move further to some interventions, and possibly a referral?

So, again, we want our parents to have a lot of input on that. If you get to a referral meeting, and you’ve not had conversation with your school, that’s typically a breakdown in the intervention process. And [00:14:00] we really emphasize, we need parents to be a part of the intervention process.

So, when we’re looking at this intervention, we’re really trying to identify, has the school really address some concerns. Have we used some research-based interventions prior to this referral and even during this referral? Did the student receive these interventions? Was it high quality instruction? Do we have the data?

I’ve got several little cartoons that I show my staff often, no data, no meeting. Basically, don’t talk to us about the concerns if you don’t have the data to back it up, because again, when we’re talking about an evaluation, there’s a lot of components that go into that evaluation. We’re talking about observations. We’re talking about active skills, cognitive skills, achievement skills, multiple people coming in to intervene [00:15:00] with that child. So, it’s really a very important process in the referral to eligibility step that we want to make sure that we have the data, and we’re not just evaluating students because someone feels like there’s a concern. We want to be cognizant of the emotional piece when students are struggling, but I’ve had conversations where parents talk about their students struggling maybe in reading, but it doesn’t constitute an eligibility inside a school system,  but it did allow us to guide the student to more interventions. Then on the flipside, we’ve had in the past, you’ll hear of parents and teachers, maybe the students struggled and no one ever mentioned it. And we go a few years, and then we finally decide to refer the student, and the student’s eligible for a reading disability or a math disability.

In reality, if we’re monitoring the data and the [00:16:00] interventions, we’re going to be able to see if a student will eventually need our support in the world of special education. And we’re looking for progress. Is that student progressing? A student can progress, but are they progressing at the rate of improvement that they would eventually meet up with their peers? And if we see there’s a huge discrepancy between the work that their peers do and what they’re doing, again, that’s also a good indication that there could be a suspected disability here that could lead to an eligibility in a school setting.

And while she’s changing the slide, that’s one thing that I will mention is there’s a difference between a disability and an eligibility, and we’ll hit some of those as we go through the webinar. We have a lot of individuals in our school system and in society that have a disability, but it may not constitute an eligibility in a school setting for one of the 14 categories. And again, we’ll hit those key [00:17:00] points in just a moment.

So, was the information shared with a child’s parent? That’s the last thing I advise my staff, and we do this across the state. We don’t want parents coming to a referral meeting not knowing that their child is being referred. We want to make sure that parents have been informed to the intervention process, that they’ve had an opportunity to voice their concerns. My child is struggling in this. What are you doing to help my child in these areas?

Have we completed all the appropriate screenings? We want to rule out, make sure  it’s not vision concern, or a hearing concern, or a motor, communication.

Is it the lack of instruction in reading or math? That’s why attendance is so important for students, especially in early childhood, all the way through school, they’re really important those first three to four years of school. We do get several referrals of students that they may suspect a disability in reading and math, or a mild mental disability, but then we go back and look at their [00:18:00] attendance, and the students have missed more than half the days of school. They show up to school after 10:00 every day, and they’ve missed the key reading instruction. At that point, an evaluation would not confirm that the child has a disability. It could be from just simple lack of instruction, so that’s why attendance is so important when it comes to working with all students.

We also want to ensure that we’re not allowing limited English proficiency to be a factor, and a child being eligible. We do not want to overidentify students just because they cannot speak the language. That is the area where you live typically here in Kentucky, it’s going to be English. But just because a student could not speak English does not mean that they have a disability, nor does it mean they’re eligible for special education services. So, we’ve got to rule that factor out as well.

When [00:19:00] we look at the referral, and we go to referral meeting, and we have all these data pieces and these components, there could be times that we look and say, “You know, the students are performing in the 50th percentile in reading, the 60th percentile in math.” They’re not making Straight A’s and B’s. They may be a C student. But at this point, there’s not enough evidence to show that it would meet one of the criterias for  an eligibility in Kentucky. At that point, the ARC is probably going to say that we don’t have enough evidence or information to support a suspected disability. And again, what we can do through the ARC process, we can continue to monitor that student, but it doesn’t mean we can go forward with the evaluation.

There may be times that we determined that there may be a need for a 504 plan. We do see that a lot when it comes to students [00:20:00] with ADHD. They may have a medical diagnosis of ADHD, but it may not be enough information to warrant an eligibility on other health impairment, which is one of the 14 categories of eligibility. So, at that point, we may decide that we do have a noted disability of ADHD, but at this time, we’re going to provide a 504 plan. And a 504 plan can carry with the student through their entire life. If they go onto college, inside the workplace, they can get some accommodations and support, versus special education, it’s only going to be ages 3 to 21, and then those services and supports stop after a student leaves the educational setting.

So, when we’re looking at the referral of the students, and we’re trying to identify that the information supports the suspected disability, we’re trying to determine what is that disability. And then we’re going to plan an [00:21:00] evaluation, and there’s a lot of components to the evaluation. Most of this is organized regulations, meaning once we suspect that there’s a disability, we’re going to ensure that we assess the student. We’re going to ensure that evaluation is comprehensive, and it helps us identify one of the 14 categories of special education, but also related services. And related services can be occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy.  Can also lead to special transportation. And so, that evaluation is going to be comprehensive, and tell us a lot of the components that we can use as an ARC, or admissions release committee to determine what benefit it can we help, or what benefits can we provide to our students in the school setting.

So, when you look at the categories of disabilities, [00:22:00] you’re going to see some that had the little star, the little asterisk, and those are typically we’re going to have a diagnosis from a doctor. And one thing that we really like to remind parents is schools do not diagnose disabilities. We are not in the diagnosing business. We leave that up to the medical teams. What we are in the business of of establishing eligibility of one of these 14 categories. So, in the areas of autism, oftentimes, we have parents that brought in a medical statement, medical evaluation saying their child has autism. That does not always mean that the child will be eligible for special education. Maybe the student has autism, and they only need the support of a 504 plan. And again, when we look at the spectrum of autism, we know that it’s very broad, so we have an extreme range of abilities between all of our students. And so, we want to make sure that we’re providing those students the support that they need, but oftentimes when it comes to autism, deaf, blind, hearing impairment, and some of the other [00:23:00] areas, OHR, other health impairment, we’re going to ensure that we have that medical diagnosis of a disability. And that will help guide the ARC, along with the other evaluation components that we’re looking at.

Developmental delay, this is typical. We’re going to see this in the preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade setting, and oftentimes, we’re looking at the five areas of self-help and back, motor, cognition, communication, social, emotional. And we’re trying to help  build up this delay to where the students would no longer need our services. But once they turn age nine, we have to look at some of the other areas of eligibility to determine can they still benefit from our services. We have a lot of students that what we call age-out, meaning at age nine, they may no longer need those services, especially when it comes to communication, behavior. A lot of [00:24:00] students being engrossed in that school setting can benefit from a lot of these interventions that we have in place in the school setting.

We provide services in a public-school setting for emotional behavior disability, hearing impaired, functional mental disability. When we talk about functional mental disability, typically we’re looking at cognition and adaptive skills. And we’re looking at three standard deviations when it comes to these areas, especially when we talk about IQ. So, when we talk about the mean of 100 for an IQ, a student would have to be three standard deviations below. That means 55 or lower to have the services under functional mental disability.

Some of the other categories that we’re looking at is mild mental disability. So, we just talk about functional. Mild mental disability is going to be students that have cognitive and [00:25:00] adaptive skills in between the range of 55 and 70. And we’re not just looking at those scores, but those scores were very important when it comes to the eligibility. We’re also looking at observations. We’re looking at classroom progress data. Try to do a triangulation of saying, yes, the student has this disability, because we want to make sure, number one, that we get it right, but number two, that we’re providing the appropriate support to our students.

Students could be eligible under  IDEA in a public school setting for multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment. Typically in school setting, student served under OHI, it’s going to fall in the category of ADHD at a significant level. And again, there’s some others that can fall into that, but I would say 90% of students served in OHI, it’s because of ADHD.

[00:26:00] Specific learning disability, this is an area that is oftentimes of concern. Unfortunately, if you have a specific learning disability, sometimes we call this the wait-to-fail disability, because you may not be able to see it early on, and typically that’s because if you’re looking from preschool to third, fourth grade, especially in the areas of reading, from preschool to third or fourth grade, students are learning to read. After that point, they read to learn, and so, that’s when we really start seeing some discrepancies when it comes to student’s aptitude and achievement that we may start seeing a disability in a specific area. Same with math. They’re learning to count. Eventually they’re going to use counting to learn to do math when it comes to adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplication. And at that point, we’re going to [00:27:00] start seeing some discrepancies. So, an SLD may not show up to a student until a student gets older.

We provide services for speech language and public-school setting. This is considered a communication only disability, but oftentimes students with other eligibilities can also receive speech services. And at that point, we call it a related service.

We’re looking for medical diagnosis and information for students that have traumatic brain injury, visual impairment. And the last few disabilities  – no, that was all the disabilities at this time. So, there’s 14 in Kentucky. Thirteen when we look at it from a national level, but in Kentucky, we take intellectual disability, and we separate it into mild mental disability and functional mental disability. And so, you’re going to see in Kentucky that we have, again, it’s kind of that extra area of eligibility that we pinpoint that’s [00:28:00] typically not going to be in the rig when it comes to IDEA.

So, why do we want to have the evaluation? The evaluation process is going to help us establish the foundation for developing appropriate education program. This evaluation is going to guide the ARC, which you are a member of, as a parent, or a related service provider, or a teacher. And it’s going to give us the best opportunity to identify a plan for the student.

So, we’re trying to ask or answer some questions that an ARC is asking, and you may not be asking these, saying these questions, but these are really the questions that we’re trying to identify when it comes to establishing eligibility in a school setting. Does the student have a disability, number one? Do they meet the criteria for one of the 14 categories that we just talked about? But not only that, does this disability have an adverse effect on a student? We have seen at times, students [00:29:00] may have a medical diagnosis of ADHD, but it does not have an adverse effect on that student’s performance in the school setting, so that student would not be eligible for special education. Now, they may be eligible for a 504 at that time for supports. But then there’s another question you have to answer. Does the student need specially designed instruction? And that really means do we need specially designed instruction from a special education teacher, a speech language therapist, an occupational therapist, physical therapist. Do we need specially designed instruction for this student to be successful when it comes to the general curriculum? And so, really the first three questions are what we’re trying to identify as an ARC, as that committee saying, “Does the student meet this eligibility, and then what program can we provide, and what’s the present level?” What’s the academic and functional performance of a student? And this is typically going to [00:30:00] be when we start looking at the individual education plan, IEP, and that’s where we’re going to look at present levels of performance, and say, “This is where the student’s at, now where do we go?” Are their deficiencies that we can improve upon? Are there abilities that can help offset some of the other areas of concern? And so, when we look at those present levels, it’s telling us and guiding us of what’s the next step or the action we need to take for our students. And again, do they need special education and related services? And if so, what services do they need?

Again, if you guys have any questions throughout the webinar, just type them in, and Ms. Stella will be glad to assist us in reading those, and then trying to get you in a response.

So, when we look at adverse effect, we’re trying to determine, does the progress of the child is it impeded by this disability. [00:31:00] Is it significantly and consistently below the level of same-age peers? We want to make sure if it is then we know that there’s an adverse

effect. So, we’re looking at academic skills, but it’s just not academic skills. We’re looking at social skills. Is it to the point it’s affecting? Is behavior affecting a child? We have some students, academically, they’ll pass any test that you give them. They are at grade level when it comes to  any academic standards, but maybe it’s their behavior that’s impeding their learning. Maybe there’s impulsive actions that just really hinder their educational progress, and so they may need support behaviorally, but not academically.

So, when we talk about the responsibilities of the evaluation personnel, number one, we’re trying to [00:32:00] identify individuals that can complete the assessments. We’re trying to talk with our teachers to know what’s going on academically. We’re talking with our psychologist who can complete some of the assessments. We’re looking at individuals that can really bring their expertise when it comes to interpreting tests and procedures, trying to say, “Okay, I’ve got all this information, let’s put it into a report, and now this is what’s going on.” These are the areas of concern. These are the positive areas that we see with our students. And again typically, in a school setting, that’s going to be a school psychologist. You may have a diagnostician within your school district that can provide this service. And again, they’re going to rely on other individuals or the ARC to help complete the evaluation to ensure that we’re giving it and providing to the parents in a timely manner.

So, when we look at the assessment tools and [00:33:00] strategies that we’re going to use, we’re going to look at that relevant information, and make sure that it’s helping us determine the needs of the child. As ARC, we’re going to sit down, and say, “What pieces do we need to help us?” We have some academic data, but do we need to look at IQ? Do we need to look at their achievement when it comes to reading, writing, and math? Do we need to look at their behavior reports? So, when we talked about the evaluation, we’re at every area that we can bring in. Do we need to get some information on a social developmental history? Do we want to know  information of how the student has developed from birth to now? How’s the student progressed over the last few years when it comes to our reeval? So, just a lot of information that we try to take and put into a report for parents and for the ARC team.

So, when we try to determine eligibility, we’re not looking at a single [00:34:00] piece of evidence. And this is hard sometimes when it comes to evaluations, especially for students that are right at the cutoff, what we call that gray area when it comes to IQ and adaptive skills. So, they may not meet that three standard deviation cutoff or functional mental disability or the two standard deviation for a mild mental disability, but what we can do at that point, if they’re right at that cut off, then what we can do is look at other areas. We can look at observations. We can look at classroom data, teacher input. We’re trying to not just say, “Okay, we’re looking at one score, they didn’t need it, but that score is also very important to determine eligibility.” But again, when we’re determining eligibility, we’re trying to look at every and any piece of evidence that will help us identify whether a student need support or whether they do not.

Stella Beard : [00:35:02] [00:35:00] Mr. Lee, I have a question for you.

Barry Lee: [00:35:06] Okay, go ahead.

Stella Beard : [00:35:07] The question is what if I request an evaluation for my child, but I’ve been told the school is doing RTI right now, and an evaluation is not needed?

Barry Lee: [00:35:18] Well, typically that’s where you want to sit down, and sometimes we call those pre-referral meetings. Now, the regulation state that we can’t use interventions to delay an evaluation, but you really want to sit down and have conversations with the school,  why are they choosing not to move forward. Do they have enough evidence to say this is not going to go anywhere? Yes, that’s the ARC’s decision, but if they just started the RTI process – now again, it’s the end of the school year. They probably should have intervened prior to this point. But if this was August, and it’s the second week of school, and this child’s in the third grade, and you have a lot of concerns, [00:36:00] at that point, you may want to give the school some time to implement some of those interventions to get through the transition phase of school starting. But if you’ve expressed your concern multiple times, and you feel it’s just not moving forward, at that point, you probably should contact the director of special education.

And again, sometimes students may get stuck in that RTI process to where they’re progressing, but it’s not to the point that they would ever as – if I had a diagram, I could show you where they’re not going to catch up. But even if they’re not going to catch up with their peers, if you want to use that term, it doesn’t mean that they would be eligible, but we would probably want to rule out that they’re not eligible.

So, again, this time of year – and again, I don’t know the specifics of it, but if you’ve asked for an evaluation, and they say they’re in RTI, then you need to have a face-to-face meeting, and look at some of that data. You [00:37:00] want to be saying, “Okay, if your concerns in reading, show me where my child is when it comes to reading, show me where my child is when it comes to math.” And that’s a great question, but you don’t want to allow that to go on too long, because if it goes on too long, then if that student is eligible that’s just that time that was lost when that student could have been receiving services in special education. So, great question.

Stella Beard : [00:37:24] So, just to clarify and add to that, parents, a lot of times, say, “I don’t like data,”  but really data needs to be their friend, correct?

Barry Lee: [00:37:36] It does. You really need to have the data, because again, you may think your child is struggling in reading, and they may be, but it may not be to the point that it would warrant special education services.

So again, I’ll just throw out an example. A lot of schools in the State of Kentucky use map data, and you may have heard of, well, the student is in this percentile. Well, [00:38:00] if a child is performing at the 35th percentile, okay, we may think that sounds low, but in reality, the 50th percentile is the norm. So, even though we think it’s low and we think my child’s got a reading issue or reading disability, I need to refer them, well, we have enough data to say a child reading in 36th percentile would never qualify for reading disability. So, maybe it’s a situation where the student could be a struggling reader, but it would not warrant special education. They may need additional interventions that need additional tutoring, but again, the ultimate goal of this evaluation and referral process is to determine eligibility for one of the 14 categories. And sometimes, students may struggle in an area, but it does not mean that they would be eligible for those services.

But you do want to make sure you’re looking at that data and someone is explaining it to [00:39:00] you, because again, we see it every day, so it becomes very common for us. But if you’re coming into this and you’ve never experienced this before, a lot of times, it can be overwhelming. And we’re going to say terms that sometimes – again, sometimes we need to back up and remember this is not the world that a lot of people live in, so we have to be very cautious that we’re not throwing things at parents and getting them lost in the fog  of the world of special education. But if you’re looking at that data, it can tell a lot, and they can give you visual charts. They can show you if your child is progressing. They can’t just hand you numbers. You want to see it in a chart from August to September, to October has my child improve? And they should have those data points to show if your child is progressing or not.

So, when we look at the evaluation process, we’re going to [00:40:00] look at observations. We don’t want to just look at test data. We want to go into the classroom or into the area of concern, and we want to see how that student’s performing, so we’re going to do some observation. We required to complete at least two observations. If your child is struggling in math, we don’t want an observation in PE. We want an observation in math. If your child is struggling in reading, we want those observations to take place in reading. We want to see how is your child reacting to reading instruction. Did they just turn off the switch when it comes to reading instruction? Are they just ignoring it because they’re struggling? If it comes to grades, is the student just bored? We’ve seen that the student has horrible grades in reading, but they have great assessment data, and it comes down to sometimes maybe they just don’t like the way the instruction is being provided. So, we want to ensure, again, we’re looking at every area. We’re going to look at testing data. We’re going to look at observations to [00:41:00] try to help us identify if the student is eligible for one of the 14 categories.

So, when we look at these observations, again, they played a key role in helping us. We’re going to look over time [inaudible] just walk into a classroom one time, and say, “Okay the student was really struggling today, this is going to help us meet eligibility.” We want to ensure that this is over time, that it’s happening day by day, different  instruction opportunities.” We’re going to record those behaviors. We’re going to try to make sure it’s observable and measurable. If it comes to behavior issues, is the student hitting, spitting? Did the student raise their hand and ask for support? Was the student upset, they just lay their head down?

And again, for ADHD and ADD, it’s going to take more than two observations. It’s going to take several [00:42:00] observations over time for the ARC to determine is this behavior really impeding the students learn.

So, the evaluation observations, again, they’re going to include documentation of behaviors that we see. We’re going to talk about the setting that is completed, the length and time of the observation, the criteria, and again collecting that data over time. Just trying to give us a visual stat shot of what does it look like in that student’s typical time frame in the area that we’re focusing on.

Once we have all the pieces together, the ARC – during the referral meeting, we determine that we’re going to make a referral. And then the ARC says, “This is the area of concerns, this is what we’re going to do the evaluation on.” We want cognition. We want to achievement. We want behavior observations. We want to OTPT report. Then at that point, the school psychologist or the [00:43:00] diagnostician is going to take all this information, and provide it into one report, summarizes the entire process. And then we’re going to provide that to the parent.

And then at that point, we’re going to use this written report to determine is there eligibility, and then the appropriate program. And typically, if we do establish eligibility, that’s where we’re going to generate an IEP, an individual education plan.

We do have strong RTI components emplace that really stop us from completing a lot of evaluations that’s not necessary, but sometimes we do have reports that come back and show it’s not an adverse effect, so the student is not going to be eligible. So, again, at that point, the student may remain in intervention tiers, either tier three or tier two. But for students who are found eligible, at that point, we’re going to create the IEP for the child.

So, [00:44:00] we’ve established eligibility. We’ve created an IEP. Now, at this point, every three years, we’re going to come back and reevaluate a child. Every three years, it’s require for the school system. We want to update those present levels. We’re going to continue providing those services throughout the reevaluation process. And once found eligible, a student will continue to receive those services until they are found no longer eligible. So, even if an IEP timeline runs out, a school cannot stop providing those services, but we are mandated once found eligible that we meet with parents at least one time per year to update the IEP. Then at that point, we come back, and it’s really we’re kind of starting the process over, even though we have a lot more evidence now because the students been receiving special education services. So, every three years, we’re going to reevaluate and redetermine the needs of a student.

[00:45:00] And through that re-evaluation, we can look at it from a formal evaluation, like the first evaluation it was completed, or we can just do a review of records. And again, is there a continuing eligibility for special ed services? Do we need to release the student from special education and related services, or is a student exiting out? Are they leaving high school? What additional pieces  do we need to help us answer what services does the student continue to need, and that’s what the re-evaluation is really doing for us.

So, if the school district decides through the process after the three-year eval, the ARC may determine, you know what, we got so much evidence, we don’t need a formal evaluation. We can look at a review of all this [00:46:00] data, and we can say this student is still demonstrating the eligibility for the eligibility components. So, at that point, you’re going to determine that re-eval is not necessary. And again, this helps the process of not completing evaluations just to say we’re completing them. But again, we want the parents to be a part of that process, but we can look at a record review, and that’s where we’re reviewing all the data. But anytime that a parent request, we’re going to sit down with that parent, and say, “If you think we need, well, we can move forward, but here’s the evidence of why we don’t think we need to move forward with another evaluation.” They’re still going to receive their services. They’re still eligible for special education.

And again, [00:47:00] these couple slides kind of tie in with this. The ARC is not required, but they can conduct a re-eval when a student graduates, and moving on, whether it into the workforce, whether it be into higher ed, whether it be into some other [inaudible] . Sometimes, we may want to get a new evaluation. We see this for some of our students with IEPs that may decide to go to college. Sometimes, we want to get that another evaluation to show their cognitive skills, and it may help them with additional supports in college. Or when they turn 21, and the student is aging out, and they can no longer receive services within a public school setting, at that point, we may determine we’re going to do another evaluation or just review the records. See if that student needs any additional supports outside the school setting.

[00:48:00] So, prior to the meeting to discuss the re-eval, again, we’re going to gather all this information that we have, and we’re going to present it. We’re going to present the current goals of the IEP. We’re going to present the current benchmark data that we have on all of our students, whether they’d be general or special education, in special education. And we’re just going to review the records. And at that point, again, that’s going to tell us, do we need to move forward with an evaluation or not.

So, when we do this review of records, again, it’s a lot of information. We’re still looking at a minimum of two classroom observations, whether it be formal or informal. We’re more of the current classroom-based assessments. We may be using I-Ready, MAP, there’s so many programs that allow schools to collect the data that they could present at an ARC meeting, again, to help us determine is this review of records going to be enough to say [00:49:00] we don’t need to evaluate the student.

For the revaluation purpose, we just pinpoint in the classroom observations. Again, we’re looking at least two forms of current informal teacher observation. We can’t basically just look at the data. We still want to see how that student is performing in that setting. We’re going to talk about their notes. And again, this can be a combination of formal or informal.

 If ARC determines that a formal observation is needed, at that point, we need parent consent. And a formal observation is going to be setting a specific time going and completing an official observation document that each district has, versus just teachers giving some evidence in general. A recall, they’re recalling. Well, last week, Johnny was doing this, this, and [00:50:00] this. That’s informal, versus I’m coming to the classroom tomorrow, I’m going to observe Johnny from 10:00 to 10:30, because that’s when math instruction occurs. That’s going to be the formal observation, and we must have consent from a parent to do that.

Now, for eligibility, we are required to do formal observations. For other eligibilities, that could be informal when it comes to the re-evaluation process.

So, on the basis of the review, the ARC shall identify what additional data is needed. Again, at that point, we can say, “Do we need additional components?” The student has been receiving special education services for three years. Do we have enough evidence? And again, we’re trying to determine, does the students still need special education services, or do we need to modify that.

And after review, if we have sufficient [00:51:00] data, we’re going to summarize that data in the conference summary. And again, we want the parents to be a part of that conference summary. We’re going to notify them that you can actually ask for a formal evaluation. The ARC may say, “Well, this time, we’re just going to do a record review, but you have a right to a formal evaluation. And sometimes, parents may have a reason, they want an official formal eval. And again, we want to respect those parents’ wishes when it comes to reevaluation process,  but oftentimes we have so much data, it’s not needed. We have more data on our students that we’ve ever had.

I remember when I first started 18 years ago, I would recommend that we do the re-eval, because it gave us that official report. But nowadays, we have so much data on our students that can help guide us in the decision-making process. Sometimes a review is all that we need.

[00:52:00] So, again, if we’re able to answer all the questions, then we’re not required to do that full evaluation like we did up on initial eligibility, going back to when we went to the referral to the eligibility. And again, if a parent request it, then we’ll be forward with, and we’ll have that conversation at the ARC meeting.

If additional data is needed, so we’ve determined that we’ve got a lot of information, but we still can’t answer the question does the student still show evidence that they would be eligible, then again, we’re going to identify areas where we need further assessments. We’re going to complete the re-evaluation planning form. We’re going to ask for consent from our parents. We cannot complete the evaluation without the consent of a parent. That’s upon initial evaluation [00:53:00] and re-evaluation. We have to have written consent from parents, then we can move forward with the evaluation. And at that point, we don’t have to re-evaluate every area if the data shows that we have enough. There may be only a few areas that we need to look at.

If evaluation data reveals that there’s an area of disability other than what was suspected, so if a child was being served for a mild mental disability, and we ask for additional data,  and it comes back showing there’s another concern, we can’t find that student eligible unless there was interventions in place. So, if the student was being served for ADHD, and we re-evaluated and we asked for achievement and cognition, and now we’re showing that the student may have a specific learning disability in reading, we cannot change that student’s eligibility to SLD and [00:54:00] reading unless there were interventions in place. Typically, there’s going to be. We just want to make sure that it’s specific toward the area of reading, or math, whatever area of concern was noted for the child.

So, when we’re looking at re-administering the cognitive assessments, again, we’re looking to determine, do we have a consistent snapshot of the student. And typically, if we have two IQ scores at or after age nine, then we’re pretty good. That IQ is not going to fluctuate or change that much, unless there’s been some major factors take place. So, other than these two conditions, if we have two consistent scores, then the ARC may decide they no longer need to look at another cognitive or [00:55:00] IQ assessment.

And we get that question a lot, especially for our older students, maybe aging out or graduating. Parents may say, “Well, I just want one more IQ to make sure.” Well, if we got two consistent IQs, so at age nine or 10, we had an IQ of 76, and then at age 14, 15, we had another IQ of 76, 77, that’s pretty consistent. The IQ is not going to fluctuate that much. So, at that time, we’re probably not going to need to look at the IQ score again.  But again, if the parents request it, we’re probably going to support that parent.

So, we’re looking at the categories of mental disabilities. Sometimes, we can look at the standard error of measurement. So again, if we’re looking at a mild mental disability, the criteria for determining that’s going to be a 70 IQ or lower. Well, what if the student score is 71? [00:56:00] We can look at that standard error of measurement. But upon re-eval, we’re going to, at that time, want to ask for another cognitive IQ score, because we use that standard error of measure up on the first evaluation to provide services, so we’re going to make sure it’s consistent again. And that can kind of get a little confusing at times, but again, if there’s additional questions about that, I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

We look at our rating scales. We have different rating skills, depending on what we’re looking at. When it comes to behavior or social skills, we’re looking at things like a BASC or an ABAS. Some of you, if you’ve been to the process, you’re probably familiar with some of these rating scales. And at this point, we’re trying to get specifics of certain behaviors. Guesses don’t help us, and there’s actually [00:57:00] systems emplace within those rating scales to help us identify if guessing is taking place again. Those are researched-based rating scales, so it’s really helping us identify certain behaviors for our students.

The protocols are expensive. You’re talking $3 to $4 a piece for each one of those, so we always ask parents not to lose it. Oftentimes now, we’re asking past to complete those while they’re at the school setting, and that helps us  help parents, because sometimes they can be kind of confusing the way some of the questions are worded, and we want to make sure we’re getting a true snapshot of the student as well.

So, timelines, so upon initial, so it’s back all the way to the beginning, students gone through the referral. The ARC’s determined that a student needs to be referred for services. We have consent from the parent, so we’ll [00:58:00] complete the evaluation. We have 60 school days to complete that. Most schools will try to have it done within the first 45 days, and that allows an additional 15 days to set the ARC, and also with the students eligible to get an IEP developed.

Stella Beard : [00:58:17] Mr. Lee?

Barry Lee: [00:58:19] Yes.

Stella Beard : [00:58:19] what about right now with the schools not being in session, and let’s say a student was in the middle of an evaluation process, how is that working?

Barry Lee: [00:58:32] We’ve had a webinar today. We’ve got one this afternoon. We know that in a situation like we’re in now with all the schools in Kentucky being out, we’re not going to meet those 60-day timelines. So, an example, let’s say you’re on day 30, and we had two classroom observations, but the school district had not completed the [inaudible] . There’s no way, unless we’re able to work it out with the parents to bring the student [00:59:00] in, but we’re being advised not to bring students back onto campuses, so we’re not going to meet those 60-day timelines. Now, that’s monitored by the State of Kentucky, and they know that we’ll probably not going to meet those. But what we’re doing is we’re going to hit the ground running soon as this is over. And we pray that it ends soon. But we know when it comes to the 60-day timeline, that there’s going to be struggles.

Now our school district dismissed,  and we had several reports where we had all the pieces, we just did not have the report. We’re still moving forward with those ARCs. We’re doing a lot of telephone ARCs, because we want to ensure the parent that we’re moving forward. But there’s going to be some that are due probably the first two weeks of April, we do not have those components. And most districts are in the same boat, and the state is aware of that. We’re just trying to work with our families [01:00:00] until again we can get the norm when it comes to the school setting back in place. Good question. Any other questions?

Stella Beard : [01:00:11] Just one more. We noticed that there has been the – I can’t think of his name right now, but the gentleman who created Zoom has given free Zoom for all the schools to use during this period. Is your district utilizing that, and for ARC meetings for that parent that maybe just wants that face to face?

Barry Lee: [01:00:40] We’ve not had any parent requests that, but they do know at this point they are allowed to use that if they want to see that face to face. In fact, that were in ARC yesterday with eight different individuals, just on a phone conference, but none of them were face-to-face. We’re trying to use any and all methods. We’re on day four, [01:01:00] so it seems like this has been going on forever, but in reality, it’s just been four days. Well, I guess we could take last Friday, so now it would be five school days that we’ve not been in session. But Zoom can be used. We do run into some areas, especially in our part of the state, to where there may be limited Wi-Fi. There may be limited cell phone access in some of the remote areas of the community. And we see that  in different parts of the state. But I think we’re going to accommodate parents to the best of our ability, and we’re going to look at things that we’ve never looked at before, trying to ensure that we’re keeping parents and students a part of the educational process while we go through this Coronavirus episode in our lifetime.

So, moving on with the webinar, when we look at the practices noted [01:02:00] for photo reviews, again, these are just some of the areas of concern that the state will release after they complete reviews. Maybe they did an evaluation, but it didn’t specifically pinpoint at disability. We should be focusing on one disability, should be focusing on five different disabilities, trying to hopefully we catch one to serve our student.

Moving the child from one eligibility to another without the appropriate data. One piece of evidence to determine eligibility for OHI. So, maybe just looking at a doctor statement, but we did not have the classroom evidence to show that there was other health impairment cause of the ADHD. And we do get that sometimes, parents will say, “Well, I’ve got a medical diagnosis for ADHD.” That’s one prong of the evaluation. We want to use that and help parents at that point to determine do we need to move forward with the evaluation. So, [01:03:00] sometimes, the states, when they do their photo reviews, they see that as a major area, because we can establish [inaudible] top of a doctor statement. We kind of have an understanding doctors can’t prescribe IEPs. That’s not part of IDEA. It’s not mandated that they can prescribe an IEP.

Sometimes, the states are seeing that there’s not enough adaptive behavior scores, or information that’s being inputted. Maybe  the district is always using the standard error of measure. Maybe they found 20 students eligible for mild mental disability by using that. Well, we don’t want to do that. We want to make sure that we have procedures in place to help, that we’re not overidentifying.

One of the key factors in this is also helping to ensure we’re not overidentifying is determining students that [01:04:00] are limited to English proficiency, that we’re not overidentifying the students just because they’re not speaking English. In our area of the state again, it’s typically going to be English and Spanish speaking students, but then you move to other areas of the state like Warren, you’re talking about 10 to 15 different languages being spoken within the school system. And we want to ensure that that alarm is not constituting a student to receive special education services.

So, I’ve gone through that pretty quick. There’s a lot of components. We talked about establishing eligibility from referral, to eligibility, to re-evaluate, but hopefully that kind of gives you an understanding. You’ve got several handouts that you can review. And again, I’m always willing to help. You could contact Stella through Kentucky SPIN, and I would be glad to assist in any way that I [01:05:00] can.

Stella Beard : [01:05:01] Wonderful. Thank you so much Mr. Lee. I think that was a very informative webinar today, and I hope everyone that was on with us feels the same.

We do have an evaluation. If you would please complete at the end of the webinar. It will pop up when you log out. That really helps us plan for future webinars, and lets us know what you thought about this one. Again, you have great handouts available to you that you can download.

And I have one more question  we want to get. Somebody just said, “Thank you very much, very informative,” so that’s wonderful. That’s what we want, is we want to provide these especially right now during this time that is so critical right now with our families of uncertainty, and just knowing what to do, and that’s what we want to provide. We will be having many many more of these in the near future now, so be on the lookout for that.

Also, on our [01:06:00] website, we do have some wonderful information about the Coronavirus, and also some guidance from the US Department of Education on there of what they are saying, some fact sheets, and addressing the risks that are associated, especially with our kids with disabilities who are considered a lot of times in that vulnerable population.

So, we really appreciate you being on here today. Again. Thank you Mr. Lee for being here with us. We really appreciate it. And we hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Barry Lee: [01:06:32] Thank you.

Stella Beard : [01:06:32] Thank you.