Charting the course of special education in Texas' Charter Schools.
Amidst the call for school choice and the popularity of charter schools lie the realities of students with disabilities, and federal disability laws designed to ensure those students an appropriate education. Despite state deregulation Deregulation
The reduction or elimination of government power in a particular industry, usually enacted to create more competition within the industry.
Traditional areas that have been deregulated are the telephone and airline industries. , charter schools are subject to all of the mandates of federal disability law, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Some statements may be disputed, incorrect, , biased or otherwise objectionable.
School choice as a movement and public charter schools as a form of choice have proliferated since the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1991 (Nathan, 1996; Parkay & Stanford, 1998). Thirty-eight states have adopted legislation providing for charter schools (Sandham, 2001), which operated in 36 states and the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). during 2002-2003 (Center for Education Reform, 2003). Envisioned to improve education through marketplace accountability and lessened bureaucratic bu·reau·crat
1. An official of a bureaucracy.
2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.
bu controls, these schools vary in mission and appeal. Some target students from specific cultures (Levin, 1999; Rhim & McLaughlin, 1999; Toch, 1998), some reach students at risk of failure or dropout (1) On magnetic media, a bit that has lost its strength due to a surface defect or recording malfunction. If the bit is in an audio or video file, it might be detected by the error correction circuitry and either corrected or not, but if not, it is often not noticed by the human (Estes, 2001), some provide a college preparatory curriculum, and some offer a "back to basics" approach (R. Rothstein, 1998, p. 3). Still others serve students with specific disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 1997).
Amidst the call for school choice and the popularity of charter schools lie the realities of students with disabilities, and federal disability laws designed to ensure those students an appropriate education. Despite state deregulation, charter schools are subject to all of the mandates of federal disability law, including the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Yet, are public charter schools fulfilling these mandates and providing their students with disabilities the education they deserve?
The Texas Charter School Movement
Texas' charter statute, the nation's seventh strongest according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Center for Education Reform (2001), was adopted in 1995. The first 20 schools opened during 1996-97, and by August of 2001, 180 charters were operational (Charter School Resource Center of Texas, 2001). The Texas statute allows for the issuance of charters to four types of sponsoring entities, but the "vast majority have gone to tax-exempt nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.
Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law. corporations with no ties to local school districts" (Charter School Resource Center of Texas, p.4; F. Kemerer, personal communication, June, 1999). Texas' open enrollment charter schools operate as independent local education agencies, and as such are fully responsible for all of the services provided by the larger, more experienced school districts. Under state law, professional certification Professional certification, trade certification, or professional designation, often called simply certification or qualification, is a designation earned by a person to assure that he/she is qualified to perform a job or task. is not a requirement for those who teach in the public charter schools, nor is a college degree [Texas Education Code, Section 12.129, TEA, 2001].
Individuals who desire to open a charter school in Texas must submit an application to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). According to the State Board of Education (2000), The Division of Charter Schools within TEA reviews the application and forwards it to a pool of external reviewers who award points based on plans to provide for innovation, student performance, parental/community support, personnel qualifications, minimal impact on local schools, and finances. Only those applications meeting the board established minimum score of 150 of a possible 200 points are subsequently reviewed by TEA staff representing the divisions of charter schools, school audits, legal services legal services n. the work performed by a lawyer for a client. , student support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services , and "other divisions, as appropriate to determine whether applications meet the statutory requirements and criteria adopted" by the State Board of Education (State Board of Education, p. 9). The board then chooses to conduct public hearings to determine parental and/or community support, or to grant or deny approval for the proposed charter. Section 12.104(F), "Applicability of Title," of the Texas Education Code (TEA, 2001) reminds chartering entities that they must provide special education programs under Subchapter A, Chapter 29 of the code mandating implementation of the IDEA. Although there are no paragraphs specific to charter schools, technical assistance is provided through TEA and the regional education service centers.
Characteristics of Charter Schools
Charter schools are often small and may offer distinctive curricula. Proponents tout Tout
To promote a security in order to attract buyers.
To foster interest in a particular company or security. For example, a broker might tout a security to a client in the hope that the client will purchase the security. them as combining the advantages of public and private schooling by offering reduced student/teacher ratios and innovative practices; yet, they are taxpayer financed (Finn, Bierlein, & Manno, 1996; Nathan, 1996). They may operate in storefronts, office complexes, former homes, detention centers, or hospitals (Estes, 2001), and observers report an unusual degree of parental involvement (Blakemore, 1998; Bomotti, Ginsberg, & Cobb, 1999; Carruthers, 1998; Nathan). Some schools' curricula imposes selectivity selectivity /se·lec·tiv·i·ty/ (se-lek-tiv´i-te) in pharmacology, the degree to which a dose of a drug produces the desired effect in relation to adverse effects.
1. on enrollment. For example, if the purpose of the school is college preparation, schools in some states may require a valid IQ of 130 or better (Estes, 2001; McLaughlin, Henderson, & Ullah, 1996).
Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools
Researchers have found that parents of students with disabilities are seeking choice, and for the same reasons as other parents. Mentioned were characteristics of the school (Carruthers, 1998; Fiore, Harwell, Blackorby, & Finnegan, 2000; Lange & Lehr, 2000; Lange & Ysseldyke, 1998), underlying philosophy of the charter, indicators of school success (Carruthers; Fiore, Harwell, et al.), discipline (Lange & Lehr), support for unique needs, safety, a new teaching staff, a "fresh start," and special services (Fiore, Harwell, et al.; Lange & Ysseldyke). The majority of students with disabilities attending charter schools have specific learning disabilities and/or behavioral concerns (McLaughlin & Henderson, 1998; McLaughlin, Henderson, & Ullah, 1996).
Expertise in special services. If students with disabilities attend charter schools, as reported, they deserve appropriate services. Advocates, educators, and researchers have expressed concerns regarding the provision of special education (e.g., Glascock, Robertson, & Coleman, 1997; Lange, 1997; McLaughlin & Henderson, 1998; Vernal vernal /ver·nal/ (ver´n'l) pertaining to or occurring in the spring. , 1995). An early study by the Education Commission of the States The Education Commission of the States (ECS) was founded as a result of the creation of the Compact for Education, supported by all 50 states and approved by Congress in 1965. The original idea of establishing an interstate compact on education and creating an operational arm to follow up (1995) reported that charter school directors in seven states felt unprepared to accept students with disabilities. Particularly challenging to newly-opened schools were special education forms, funding, and procedures (Education Commission of the States, 1995; Estes, 2001; McLaughlin & Henderson, 1998). Twenty-eight percent of school directors surveyed by the National Education Association (1998) felt unprepared to serve students requiring special services, in 1996, regular classroom teachers were expected to meet the needs of all students, and 5% of those with special needs lacked individualized in·di·vid·u·al·ize
tr.v. in·di·vid·u·al·ized, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·ing, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·es
1. To give individuality to.
2. To consider or treat individually; particularize.
3. education programs (Finn, Manno, & Bierlein, 1996.) Lange (1997) wrote that many charter schools were opening their doors without a formal plan in place to serve students with special needs.
An article appearing in the October 25, 1996 issue of The Special Educator suggested that charter school operators were unaware of their obligations under the law, and that they would continue to be so until litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. or complaints to the Office of Civil Rights focused more attention on special education issues (Charter Schools and Special Ed Law, 1996). Fiore, Warren and Cashman (1999) wrote that because relatively few charter operators are trained educational administrators, they may not be "conversant CONVERSANT. One who is in the habit of being in a particular place, is said to be conversant there. Barnes, 162. with the requirements of IDEA or other federal disability law" (U.S. Department of Education, 1998, p. 2; Vernal, 1995). The technical skills necessary to the implementation of the IDEA are not trivial, and it is critical that states provide sufficient assistance (Blanchette, 1997; Charter Schools and Special Ed Law).
In August of 2000, the results of an informal survey mailed to 30 directors of charter schools in north Texas were published in Education and Treatment of Children. A questionnaire mailed to 30 directors of charter schools in north Texas and based on the 1998-1999 academic year, this survey asked directors nine simple questions: the grade levels served by their schools, the total number of students enrolled, the number of special education students, the number of teachers, the number of certified special educators, the number of other special education personnel (i.e., diagnosticians, speech pathologists, etc.), and the special education eligibility of students. Sixteen charter school directors representing 17 schools and 3700 students responded that at least 280 students with disabilities were enrolled; however, 5 of the schools enrolled fewer than 5 students with special needs. Of 190 total teachers, only 16 were certified special educators. Six schools hired no certified special education teachers; yet at least 50 students with various disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, speech/language impairments, emotional/behavioral disorders, mental retardation mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. , orthopedic disabilities, and other health impairments) were enrolled in those 6 schools. Between 16-20 students with disabilities were reported in 1 of those 6 schools, 25-50 were enrolled in another, and 10 or fewer students with disabilities attended the other 4 schools. The final question posed was, "Do you feel your school was prepared to meet the needs of your special education population?" Ten respondents replied they felt prepared and 5 directors admitted they did not. One school's director did not answer that particular question, and one answering "yes," added, "with reservations" (Estes, 2000).
These results posed additional questions. What percentage of Texas' charter schools were serving students with disabilities, and what percentage of the schools' student bodies were actually students with disabilities? More troubling, since (a) some respondents felt unprepared to serve students with special needs, and (b) six schools had no certified special educators, were those students enrolled educated appropriately, and according to the requirements of the IDEA?
Quantitative Data Collection
The study sought to ascertain the extent to which students with disabilities were accessing Texas' charter schools, and to review service provision based on staff expertise and compliance with law. To determine access, the researcher turned to Texas' Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS PEIMS Public Education Information Management System (State Department of Educaction, Texas) ), a statewide database of information deemed necessary for the legislature and TEA to "perform their legally authorized functions in overseeing public education" (Texas Education Agency, 2000a, p.1). All local education agencies, including charter schools, are required to submit information annually concerning student demographics, academic performance, personnel, finances, and organization to PEIMS (Texas Education Agency).
Two documents were requested and retrieved: (a) Texas Public School Districts including Charter Schools, Disabled Students Receiving Special Education Services by Disability and Age, Fall 1999-2000 PEIMS Data (Texas Education Agency, 2000b), and (b) Texas Public School Districts Including Charter Schools, Student Enrollment by Grade, Sex, and Ethnicity, Fall 1999-2000 PEIMS Data (Texas Education Agency, 2000c). The data, as reported on December 1, 1999, were limited to 142 active schools.
Quantitative analysis Quantitative Analysis
A security analysis that uses financial information derived from company annual reports and income statements to evaluate an investment decision.
Notes: . With these two reports, it was reasoned that a percentage of students with disabilities enrolled in Texas' charter schools could be readily calculated by dividing the number of students with disabilities per school, by the total number of students enrolled. By combining data, it was assumed that regional and statewide percentages could also be derived. The first report, Texas Public School Districts including Charter Schools, Disabled Students Receiving Special Education Services by Disability and Age, Fall 1999-2000 PEIMS Data (Texas Education Agency, 2000b), enumerated This term is often used in law as equivalent to mentioned specifically, designated, or expressly named or granted; as in speaking of enumerated governmental powers, items of property, or articles in a tariff schedule. specific disabilities; thus, the researcher assumed that information would be readily available, as well.
Qualitative Data Collection
To examine expertise in programming and the requirements of law, the researcher conducted six in-depth interviews with charter school administrators. Participants included two special education directors, (one responsible for two campuses, the other for multiple schools), two headmasters, two principals, and one assistant principal/director of special education. One administrator's school was located in a rural locale, two oversaw o·ver·saw
Past tense of oversee. suburban schools, and others worked in urban environments. All of the schools studied were within one hour of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. No schools were specifically chartered to serve students with disabilities, and none had cooperative agreements with local school districts.
The interviews ranged from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes in length. Each was audiotaped and transcribed, and each participant was offered the opportunity to review his/her transcript for accuracy. Two interviewees requested changes to their transcribed remarks.
Participants. The first person interviewed was a university trained former public school administrator who, at the time of the study, was headmaster of a school with two campuses and a combined enrollment of approximately 300 students in suburban Dallas/Fort Worth. One campus served children from relatively affluent homes in grades K-5. The other served urban middle school students (grades 6-9), of white, African-American, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern descent.
The second headmaster had twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. experience in private school education, and was at the time of the interview responsible for a K-6 "academy" that emphasized environmental studies and was located on 20 wooded acres. Most of his approximately 230 students were the children of white urban professionals. This school began as a private school founded by a special educator to serve students with learning disabilities.
Interview three was with the principal of a charter school located in a small town south of Dallas/Fort Worth. Founded and governed by a specific Christian ministry, the school enrolled almost 240 racially diverse students in pre-kindergarten through 10th grade, at least 25% of whom met criteria for "at-risk of dropping out of school," according to the Texas Education Code, Chapter 29, Subchapter C (TEA, 1998).
The fourth interview was held with two individuals, the principal and the assistant principal/special education director of an inner city school. This school's approximately 125 students were 94% African-American and 6% Hispanic. Chartered as an "at-risk school," meaning that at least 75% of students met at-risk criteria, it enrolled students in grades 9-12.
The fifth interview was held with the special education director of an at-risk "dropout recovery" school with two campuses, each with fewer than 200 students. Students on one campus were from predominantly white "working class" homes, and the other campus was largely Hispanic. This school targeted previously unsuccessful secondary-aged students and offered a self-paced curriculum in which students completed course packets to fulfill graduation requirements.
A former public school special educator functioning as special education director for a nonprofit corporation nonprofit corporation n. an organization incorporated under state laws and approved by both the state's Secretary of State and its taxing authority as operating for educational, charitable, social, religious, civic or humanitarian purposes. of 14 charter schools was the last to be interviewed. Her schools included Montessori preschools, hospital schools, schools affiliated with churches, and secondary dropout recovery schools that ranged in enrollment from 10-20 students to over 200.
Procedures. The following research questions attempted to address issues of expertise and compliance with the law: "To what extent are students with disabilities who desire to attend public charter schools in north Texas assured a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment As part of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the least restrictive environment is identified as one of the six principles that govern the education of students with disabilities. ?" "To what extent are appropriate assessments performed?" and "Are appropriate individualized education programs (IEP IEP
In currencies, this is the abbreviation for the Irish Punt.
The currency market, also known as the Foreign Exchange market, is the largest financial market in the world, with a daily average volume of over US $1 trillion. ) developed from those assessments and/or existing records?" To that end, an interview guide was designed that addressed those concerns, and included these specific questions:
1. How well prepared do you feel your school is to serve students with mild disabilities (in terms of facility, personnel, resources)?
2. How prepared is your school to serve students with significant disabilities (e.g. emotional/behavioral, orthopedic, or other disability that might necessitate ne·ces·si·tate
tr.v. ne·ces·si·tat·ed, ne·ces·si·tat·ing, ne·ces·si·tates
1. To make necessary or unavoidable.
2. To require or compel. a self-contained classroom)?
3. In what ways are students served (i.e., by contract personnel, by school personnel, by agreement with the local school district)?
4. How confident do you feel that the services you provide are appropriate as required by federal mandates?
5. Tell me about the continuum of services provided by your school.
6. To whom do you turn for assistance with special education issues?
7. Describe the manner in which students with pre-existing IEPs receive recommended instructional modifications and related services?
8. Describe the pre-referral intervention procedures, referral and assessment procedures, procedures for developing IEPs and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP BIP - An incorrect singular of BIPS. One billion instructions per second is 1 BIPS, not 1 BIP. ).
The researcher utilized an open-ended semi-structured interview format that facilitated the emergence of new avenues of inquiry (see Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996; Glesne, 1999; Mahoney, 1997). "Depth probes" (Frey & Oishi, 1995; Glesne, p. 93; Mahoney) were incorporated that included "Tell me more," or "Anything else?" statements, strategically timed silences, and additional questions arising from participant comments (Frey & Oishi; Glesne, p. 87).
Qualitative analysis Qualitative Analysis
Securities analysis that uses subjective judgment based on nonquantifiable information, such as management expertise, industry cycles, strength of research and development, and labor relations. . The participants' comments were analyzed with dtSearch (1998), available from DT Software, Inc., and recommended for qualitative research Qualitative research
Traditional analysis of firm-specific prospects for future earnings. It may be based on data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections. (Gittelsohn, Pelto, Bentley, Bhattacharyya, & Jensen, 1998). To facilitate data reduction, an index of approximately 4,000 terms was created and scrutinized for relevance. Terms were then categorized cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat to correspond with the research questions. For example, "identify," "assess," "refer" and "IEP," were 4 of 60 terms chosen to correspond with the research questions, "To what extent are appropriate assessments performed?" and "Are appropriate IEPs developed from those assessments and/or existing records?" Concatenated data sets were then compiled by combining the grouped terms and entering them in a series of concept searches. Printing the references and their associated text (within 75 words) in relation to each research question facilitated analysis and the drawing of conclusions.
The researcher planned to answer the question regarding extent of service with data from PEIMS, but surprisingly, the data proved inconclusive INCONCLUSIVE. What does not put an end to a thing. Inconclusive presumptions are those which may be overcome by opposing proof; for example, the law presumes that he who possesses personal property is the owner of it, but evidence is allowed to contradict this presumption, and show who is . Administrators from only 92 of 142 schools reported special education enrollment for 1999-2000 (T. Hitchcock, TEA, personal communication, September 12, 2000). This lack of reporting occurred despite a policy requiring that students with disabilities be reported, and despite a loss of special education funding to those schools that did not report. Further complicating the analysis was an agency policy stipulating that numbers fewer than five be "masked" (dashed lines appeared in the report in place of numerals, indicating students were enrolled but exact numbers were not revealed by the state), to ensure confidentiality. A determination of special education enrollment was particularly problematic, therefore, because a number of small schools (<100 students) enrolled fewer than five students with disabilities. Given the limited data provided to TEA and subsequently to the researcher, however, it was determined that approximately 8.6% of students enrolled in Texas' charter schools during 1999-2000 had identified disabilities. For purposes of comparison, 12.3% of students enrolled in traditional public schools received services under the IDEA.
This figure (8.6%) might be misleading unless one looked closely at individual schools. Of the 92 schools reporting special education students during 1999-2000, 19 reported fewer than 5 students with disabilities, 20 reported fewer than 5% students with disabilities, and 6 schools reported fewer than 2%. Almost 50% of schools reporting served very few students with disabilities. A small number of schools with unusually large numbers skewed skewed
curve of a usually unimodal distribution with one tail drawn out more than the other and the median will lie above or below the mean.
skewed Epidemiology adjective Referring to an asymmetrical distribution of a population or of data the mean percentage; for example, the enrollment of students with disabilities in five charter schools was above 65%, with one school designed for students with hearing impairments enrolling 87.2% students with disabilities.
The policy of masking student counts lower than five also impeded interpretation by disability category. Examination of the data did reveal, however, that charter schools in Texas, as elsewhere (McLaughlin & Henderson, 1998; McLaughlin, Henderson, & Ullah, 1996) primarily served students with learning disabilities during 1999-2000. Also reported were students with emotional disorders, speech impairments, other health impairments, mental retardation, and hearing impairments (in descending order).
Access. In addition to the questions pursuing degrees of expertise and compliance, administrators were asked to describe their schools in terms of student population (e.g., at-risk, minority, gifted, disabled), and to classify their students according to disability category. Students with disabilities were enrolled in all 20 schools represented, and ranged from 6.3% of the student population, as reported by the first headmaster interviewed, to 23% in the former private school for students with learning disabilities. Interestingly, this former private school turned out to be one of the 50 schools statewide that had not reported special education numbers to PEIMS, despite two years of public charter status. Reasons given included a frustration with "bureaucratic red tape," and a hesitancy hes·i·tan·cy
An involuntary delay or inability in starting the urinary stream. to incur the accompanying oversight. Typical of statewide figures, the administrators reported that the vast majority of their special education students had learning disabilities. Other categories mentioned included emotional disorders, speech impairments, and mild mental retardation, but very few students with speech impairments and mental retardation were reported. One administrator mentioned a single student requiring large print textbooks, and the last interviewee stated she had a few "autistic autistic /au·tis·tic/ (aw-tis´tik) characterized by or pertaining to autism. in our hospital settings for very short periods of time." No students used wheelchairs. Unexpectedly, self-paced and self-directed secondary programs reported greater numbers of students with emotional/behavioral disorders than did traditional academic formats. One administrator attributed this to a shortened school day (4 hours in most cases), and a structure providing for little direct student/teacher interaction.
Although the schools enrolled students with significant emotional disorders, none of the schools enrolled students with significant developmental delay. One headmaster admitted that he "didn't know what he would do" if a student with moderate or severe mental retardation were to apply. However, none of the administrators reported they turned students away, and most seemed genuinely willing to accept students with special needs.
Indeed, all interviewees reported they initially accept all applicants; however, 3 of 20 schools were inaccessible to wheelchairs and 3 of 7 administrators expelled students for misbehavior, without providing services. It should be noted here that charter schools in Texas have "permission" to deny enrollment to students with a history of behavior problems (Texas Education Code, Section 12.111, TEA, 1998), and one school's charter provided for that. Because the IDEA as amended in 1997 requires that public schools provide services to students for whom there is a suspected disability (34 C.F.R. ?[subsection] 300.527 [b]), and students with a history of behavioral incidents may be exhibiting symptoms of emotional disorders, this raises serious questions concerning the legality le·gal·i·ty
n. pl. le·gal·i·ties
1. The state or quality of being legal; lawfulness.
2. Adherence to or observance of the law.
3. A requirement enjoined by law. Often used in the plural. of this clause in the Texas statute.
Expertise and compliance. Levels of expertise and compliance were much more difficult to ascertain than levels of access, which involved numbers. All but one administrator asserted they were well prepared to serve students with all levels of disabilities, but most were anxious to present a positive image of their school(s). Answers to specific questions revealed varying levels of knowledge of the law.
Questions of expertise concerned one of the founding principles of the IDEA: a free appropriate public education (FAPE FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education
FAPE Families and Advocates Partnership for Education
FAPE Fund for Assistance to Private Education (Makati City, the Philippines)
FAPE Florida Association of Partners in Education ). Fiedler and Prasse (1996) and the U.S. Department of Education (1997) defined FAPE in terms of a legally designed IEP. In Texas, the IEP meeting is designated an Admission, Review, and Dismissal meeting (ARD Ard (ärd), in the Bible.
1 Son of Benjamin.
2 Benjamite, perhaps the same as (1.) An alternate form is Addar. ). All but one of the administrators indicated that in their school, IEPs were developed within a legally held ARD meeting. The administrator who indicated otherwise was actively recruiting an educational diagnostician to perform and interpret assessments, and reported an inability to proceed with ARD meetings until one was found.
Despite protestations, evidence of a wide variation in expertise emerged in response to particular questions. Two of the administrators were former directors of special education for local public school systems, two were university trained administrators with experience in traditional public schools, one administrator was university trained but had no public school experience prior to being hired by his school, and two were neither university trained nor former educators. As predicted by Fiore, Warren, and Cashman (1999) and Vernal (1995), this proved problematic. Answers to the interview questions convinced the researcher of an association between degree of training and/or experience, and knowledge of special education and federal law. For example, when asked about these components of the assessment/IEP process: pre-referral intervention, referral, assessment, behavior intervention plan, and individualized education program In the United States an Individualized Education Program, commonly referred to as an IEP, is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In Canada an equivalent document is called an Individual Education Plan. , only one interviewee stated without hesitation that pre-referral intervention was performed. Three others asserted the process had been described to their teachers, but implied it was seldom implemented. Two individuals' schools did not attempt pre-referral intervention. In response to the question concerning referral and assessment, all administrators stated students were assessed for special education, but one administrator, whose background was business, acknowledged he lacked an understanding of requirements. Another gentleman was unfamiliar with the term, "behavior intervention plan."
Six administrators asserted that appropriate IEPs were developed and followed, and five of six remarked that behavior intervention plans were prepared and implemented. The administrator who was seeking an assessment specialist reported all referrals were "on hold," and that his teachers would use pre-existing IEPs until one was found. One school had no formal referral process. Table 1 summarizes the findings.
In response to interview questions three through seven, two administrators reported they contracted with private educational diagnosticians and speech and language pathologists to provide some services, but most attempted to meet all programming needs with existing staff. All administrators, except the individual in search of an assessment specialist, alluded to a sense of confidence regarding federal mandates. All reported they occasionally turn to others for assistance or advice, and specifically named private consultants and/or the regional education service centers. All insisted student IEPs were followed as recommended within their schools' format of total inclusion, which all utilized; none provided a continuum of placements. Typically, recommended curricular modifications included shortened assignments, additional time for assignment completion, and reduced amounts of homework.
Discussion and Implications
According to Kemerer and Walsh (1996), least restrictive environment (LRE LRE Long-Reach Ethernet
LRE Least Restrictive Environment
LRE Law-Related Education
LRE Long Range Ethernet (Cisco)
LRE Launch and Recovery Element
LRE Latest Revised Estimate
LRE Lead Responsible Engineer
LRE Low Bit-Rate Encoding ), another cornerstone of the IDEA, requires that the placement of the student allows for interaction with nondisabled peers to the greatest extent appropriate in light of the nature and severity of the disability. IDEA stipulates a full continuum of alternative placements (34 C.F.R.[section]300.551; Fuchs & Fuchs, 1995; Hallahan & Kauffman, 1995; Kauffman, 1997; Lewis & Doorlag, 1999; Maloney, 1995). As mentioned, all twenty schools operated within a full inclusion format and none maintained a continuum, although two directors stated they were prepared to initiate a more restrictive environment if one were "needed." Since all students with special needs interacted with nondisabled students 100% of the day, perhaps it may be assumed that the mandate for LRE was met. Whether the full inclusion model provides a format whereby the mandate for FAPE is possible, however, is open to debate (see Bateman, 1994; Hallahan & Kauffman, 1995; Lerner, 2000). The IDEA calls for the IEP (ARD) committee to consider the needs of the child and make an individualized placement decision based on those needs. Individualized placement decisions can be made only when there is a variety of placement options from which to select (Bateman, 1994; Hallahan & Kauffman, 1995; Lerner, 2000; Morse, 1994; Rimland Rimland is the maritime fringe of a country or continent; in particular, the densely populated western, southern, and eastern edges of the Eurasian continent.
According to Nicholas John Spykman, who revisited Halford Mackinder's concepts of geopolitics, the Rimland is that , 1995).
As discussed, a wide variability in knowledge of special education procedures was revealed through the interviews. As predicted (Blanchette, 1997; Estes, 2000; Fiore, Warren et al., 1999; Vernal, 1995), those with experience in traditional public education felt at ease with IDEA requirements, particularly those with a background in special education, and their answers confirmed that. Other administrators' answers demonstrated they knew little of the law or its requirements.
Associated with questions of expertise are questions of appropriate placement. Many feel that an individualized placement is necessary to the fulfillment of appropriate individualized educational goals (Bateman, 1994; Hallahan & Kauffman, 1995; Lerner, 2000). It must be remembered, however, that charter schools are schools of choice. Presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. , parents enroll their children in these schools because they want them to receive the type of educational programming that is offered. It is my hope that they are fully informed.
Do these findings have applicability beyond Texas? Although most of the schools represented in the interviews were within a 100 mile radius of Dallas/Fort Worth, the concerns discussed were universal, as evidenced by the literature. Seven participants constituted a small sample, yet the nature of qualitative research involves deriving in-depth information from a small number of participants (Silverman, 2001). Rubin and Rubin (1995) wrote that the goal of such a study should not be generalizability, but rather completeness [italics added], in which the work is continued until the necessary information is obtained. "Sometimes interviewing one very well informed person is all that is necessary.... What is important is not how many people you talked to, but whether the answer works" (p. 73). It is the researcher's opinion that the answers obtained to questions concerning compliance with federal law are pertinent to charter schools throughout the country. However, without sufficient information regarding schools and statutes in other states, a convincing case cannot be made for applicability of these results beyond Texas. Therefore, additional research is recommended.
School choice is a reality hailed by parents and policymakers alike. However, if an appropriate education within a choice context is available to some, it must be available to all students. Children and adolescents with special needs and their parents have a right not only to equal access, but also to quality, comprehensive, and effective special education programming within the choice setting.
Table 1 Assessment/IEP Interview Interview Interview Interview 1 2 3 4 Pre-referral intervention * X X Referral X X X Assessment # X X * X BIP X X X IEP ** X X X Interview Interview 5 6 Pre-referral intervention * X * X Referral X X Assessment X X BIP X X IEP X X X Indicates that the interviewee described the process. * Indicates the process has been explained to the teachers, but either has not been imple-mented, or the interviewee admitted it is poorly understood. # Indicates that the headmaster was seeking an educational diagnostician to conduct assessments. ** Indicates that the pre-existing IEP was utilized because there was no assessment specialist available.
Bateman, B. D. (1994). Who, how, and where: Special education's issues in perpetuity Of endless duration; not subject to termination.
The phrase in perpetuity is often used in the grant of an Easement to a utility company.
in perpetuity adj. forever, as in one's right to keep the profits from the land in perpetuity. . The Journal of Special Education, 27, 509-520.
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Funds deposited to regional Federal Reserve Banks by commercial banks, including funds in excess of reserve requirements.
These non-interest bearing deposits are lent out at the Fed funds rate to other banks unable to meet overnight reserve . (Testimony before the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives.) Washington, DC: General Accounting Office. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 414 620)
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The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures.
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Address: Dr. Mary Bailey Mary Bailey may refer to: