K&J – Interviews Chad McCarthy – Special Ed. in Saranac Lake’s Schools

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires each state to have in place a State Performance Plan (SPP) that evaluates its efforts to implement the requirements and purposes of Part B of IDEA and describes how the state will improve such implementation. The SPP, submitted every six years, includes measurable and rigorous targets for the 20 indicators established under three monitoring priority ares:

  1. Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE);
  2. Disproportionality;
  3. General Supervision Part B, including Child Find, effective transition and effective general supervision.
Today on the K&J show, we’re speaking with Chad McCarthy about Special Education in Saranac Lake. At the district level, Chad’s department services nearly 12% of the students. Chad is the Director of Pupil Personel Services in the Saranac Lake Central School District.

The New York State Education Department elicited broad stakeholder involvement in the development of its SPP in order to set measurable and rigorous annual performance targets. The SPP provides the baseline data, measurable and rigorous targets, improvement activities, timelines and resources established by the State for each indicator.

Recently, the Lake Placid School Board approved a comprehensive improvement plan. That plan became a requirement when the state changed it’s scoring system for Special Education. We asked Mr McCarthy to help us understand the nuances involved in working with special needs children while maintaining the objectives of  the state’s public school system.

Over the years, the regulations and specifications for working with special needs children has seen several revisions. Below we provide a brief history of the State Performance Plan.  A copy of the full State Performance Plan (SPP) is available by following the links below.  The New York State (NYS) Part B State Performance Plan (SPP) for 2005-2012 was developed as follows:

In April 2005, the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) convened a work group to develop the SPP. The workgroup included representatives from the following VESID units: Special Education Policy and Partnerships, Quality Assurance, and Strategic Evaluation, Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting (SEDCAR).  VESID staff developed the SPP in consultation with staff from the Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education (EMSC) responsible for data collection and reporting under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  Data for indicators requiring baselines reported in the 2005-06 SPP were obtained and analyzed to identify trends and related data for establishing targets.  Implementation activities that impacted those trends were also identified.

In August 2005, VESID staff attended the OSEP Summer Institute where the requirements for the SPP were provided to states.

VESID issued a State memorandum in September 2005 to provide information to the field about the requirements for the SPP.

A report was made to the Board of Regents in October 2005 to obtain their input on addressing the issues relating to the development and implementation of the SPP.

Meetings were held with various constituent groups beginning in late September into early November 2005 from a broad spectrum of stakeholders on various stages of the initial development and revisions of the SPP.  Stakeholders provided recommendations for State targets, improvement activities and methods to collect data on new indicators,

Composition of the stakeholder groups

In separate meetings conducted from late September until early November 2005, the following groups provided input into the State’s development of the SPP.  In total, approximately 420 individuals participated in these meetings, providing stakeholder input on the development of the State’s Performance Plan.

  • Regional and Central office special education staff of VESID.
  • Board of Regents, Subcommittee on EMSC and VESID.
  • Statewide meeting of the Special Education Training and Resource Centers (SETRC) and representatives of the statewide network of Regional School Support Centers (RSSC).  After the full group presentation and overview, there were small group discussions on selected indicators and report out to the larger group.  This stakeholder group represented the State’s technical assistance networks for special education and included representatives from every region of the State.
  • Local school district Committee on Special Education (CSE) and Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) directors and chairpersons, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) directors, principals and assistant principals of schools, directors of preschool programs, school psychologists and regional trainers representing public school districts, BOCES and approved private schools and approved preschool programs.
  • Representatives from Parent Training and Information Centers, including representatives from Sinergia, Inc., Parent-to-Parent of NYS, Advocates for Children, Long Island Parent Center, United We Stand of NY, The Advocacy Center and Resources for Children with Special Needs.  This meeting was held in New York City (NYC).
  • Representatives from the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) participated in a meeting held in NYC.  A follow-up telephone conference call was conducted with two Parent Coordinators from the NYCDOE to further obtain input on Indicator 8 (Parent Involvement).
  • To ensure broad representation from stakeholders in a forum that would foster interactive discussion on various indicators from different perspectives, an invitational group was convened, represented by district superintendents, superintendents and assistant superintendents of schools, directors of approved private schools, representatives from institutions of higher education, New York State United Teachers, School Boards Association, NYS Association of Retarded Citizens, Inc. (NYSARC), NYS Parent Teachers Association (NYSPTA), approved preschool programs and NYS legislative staff.
  • Families Together of NYS, an Albany-based parent support and advocacy organization, convened a group of parents from the Capital District.
  • The SPP was discussed with BOCES District Superintendents at statewide meetings held in October and November, and various decision points for the SPP were shared at that time.  Beginning in November 2005, follow-up meetings in each of the supervisory districts were scheduled with school superintendents to review the requirements for data collection, reporting, accountability and school improvement.
  • An all day meeting was held with the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education to review recommendations received to date and to obtain further input on the submission and implementation of the SPP.
  • A meeting was held with the Conference of Big Five School Districts, with representatives participating from the Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and NYC school districts.

How stakeholder input was obtained

The requirements set forth by the U.S. Education Department (USED) for the development of the SPP were shared with each group, including information on measures proposed by the State, current baseline information and proposed strategies.  The meetings with stakeholders generally included an overview presentation, including a discussion of requirements for targets, a presentation of baseline data and included a facilitated discussion of targets, improvement strategies and proposed plans to collect data on new indicators.  Depending on the size of the stakeholder meeting, both large group and small group discussions focused on particular indicators.  Participants were provided with forms with guiding questions to facilitate their input, which could be provided as part of the group process and/or in writing.  Guiding questions included:

  1. What factors should be considered in setting targets for this indicator (e.g., selected improvement activities, trend data, new policies, etc.)?
  2. What targets would you recommend for this indicator?
  3. What issues should be considered in designing a method to collect data for the new indicators?
  4. What methods or strategies would you recommend?
  5. What specific and targeted improvement activities would you recommend the State implement to lead to improved results toward the targets?
  6. What role do you recommend our funded networks (e.g., SETRC, Early Childhood Direction Centers, Transition Coordination Sites) take in implementing the SPP and improving results in the priority areas?

Stakeholder input on SPP revisions

Office of Special Education (OSE)1 staff meet with various constituency groups throughout the year to share and discuss the design and implementation of NYS’ SPP, including, but not limited to, the following groups:

  • Early Childhood Direction Centers
  • Transition Coordination Sites
  • Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers (RSE-TASC) (added 1/10)
  • State and federal funded Special Education Parent Centers
  • Commissioner’s Advisory Panel (CAP) for Special Education
  • Higher Education Support Center and Higher Education Task Force
  • New York University (NYU) Disproportionality Technical Assistance Center
  • District Superintendents
  • Other professional organizations

Annually, OSE staff meets with its State Advisory Panel to specifically obtain input on proposed targets and revisions to the SPP.  The Advisory Panel is continuously kept apprised on an annual basis regarding progress and issues reflected in the SPP in order to obtain their insights and input in determining implementation strategies and need for revisions.

In October 2010, OSE staff met with its State Advisory Panel to establish targets and improvement activities for two additional years (FFY 2011 and 2012).  Throughout the year, OSE staff engaged its funded technical assistance centers to discuss improvement activities in relation to Annual Performance Report data.

Public dissemination plan

The SPP is posted on the Department’s website (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/spp/home.html). An announcement of its availability will be provided annually through the list serve and through a memorandum to school districts, parent organizations and others interested in the education of students with disabilities.  Press announcements are released to newspapers regarding its availability.

Data sources

The following current data collection sources were reviewed in determining how the State will collect baseline and annual data for each of the indicators:

  • System for Tracking Education Performance (STEP)
  • Pupils with Disabilities (PD) data
  • Impartial Hearing Reporting System (IHRS)
  • Quality Assurance Information System (QAIS)
  • Comprehensive Special Education Information System (CSEIS)
  • Basic Educational Data System (BEDS)
  • TransQual
  • New York State Dispute Resolution Association
  • Post School Indicator Longitudinal Study
  • Preschool Longitudinal Study
  • Student Information Repository System (SIRS): NYS will begin to phase in implementation of a statewide SIRS, beginning in the 2005-06 school year for grades 3-8. The new system will be a single system to collect all the required data for NCLB as well as to meet all other State and federal reporting requirements, including data required for the Part B SPP.

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