The Roles of the Child Study Team and the IEP Process

Many teachers and administrators are unclear as to the roles of the Child Study Team and the IEP process. As the state and the country move more and more forward with inclusion, student growth objectives and other data driven initiatives for all students, it is critical that all pertinent personnel understand the special education process.

In order to understand the special education process one first must gain clarity with regard to the roles and responsibilities of the Child Study Team itself. According to N.J. Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter 14 (12/2010) the Child Study Team consists of 3 primary members. The primary members include the social worker, school psychologist and the learning disabilities teacher consultant. (p. 43) Secondary members may include the related service providers, the speech-language therapist, occupational therapist and the physical therapist. Each member has its own role and responsibility. In addition, the social worker, school psychologist and learning disability teacher consultant may also be case managers.

The function of the school social worker is to complete the social history and possibly adaptive functioning assessment, during an evaluation or re-evaluation. This includes a review of student records, parent interview and developmental history. In some districts, the social worker may also counsel students. The social worker on the child study team is usually a case manager and will coordinate services, create and manage the IEP. One important note is that it is not required for the social worker to have any classroom experience. Most often social workers have no classroom or educational experience.

The role of the school psychologist includes case management, cognitive assessment or intellectual functioning, administration of data collection for executive functioning and attention and adaptive functioning assessments. These measures commonly include the Wechsler Intelligence test(WISC), The Woodcock Johnson cognitive assessment, The Behavior Assessment System for Children(adaptive skills), and the Conner’s Scale (attention). The school psychologist is also not required to have any classroom experience and most frequently does not.

The learning disabilities teacher consultant functions as a case manager and conducts the academic achievement testing. This testing identifies strengths, needs, learning styles and where the student academically performs compared to same age or same grade students. Some of these assessments include the Woodcock – Johnson academic battery, The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Gray oral reading, Key Math and the Brigance amongst many others. The Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant also develops instructional strategies, goals and objectives. The important distinction with the role and responsibility of the LDT-C is that they must have at least 5 years of classroom experience. The LDT-C is the only member of the Child Study Team who must have classroom experience -usually the only who does have classroom/academic experience.

The three primary child study team members are also case managers. Each student who is classified for special education and related services has a case manager. According to N.J. Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter 14 (12/2010) the case manager must:

1. Be knowledgeable about the student’s educational needs and their educational program;

2. Be knowledgeable about special education procedures and procedural safeguards;

3. Have an apportioned amount of time for case management responsibilities; and

4. Be responsible for transition planning. (p.44)

Additionally, they coordinate the development of the IEP, monitor and evaluate its effectiveness, facilitate communication between school and home and coordinate the annual review and re-evaluation.

The special education process begins with a referral to the Child Study Team. A referral may come directly from the parents or other personnel. In order for a parent to refer a child for evaluation a letter must be written to the administration with the request. A teacher, administrator of state agency may also refer a student to the child study team. Most often the teacher first brings the student to the Intervention & Referral Services team so strategies may be devised and implemented within the general education setting. According to The Special Education Process Companion, “The staff of the general education program shall maintain written documentation, including data setting forth the type of interventions utilized, the frequency and duration of each intervention, and the effectiveness of each intervention.” (p. 2) Once the Intervention & Referral Services team determines that an evaluation may be needed, a referral would be made. It must be noted that many parents confuse the Intervention & Referral Services meeting with a Child Study Team meeting. It is important to clearly define these meetings to the parents.

Once the referral is received, regardless of who makes the referral, a meeting must be held to determine whether an evaluation is needed. This meeting must be held within 20 calendar days of receipt of the referral (excluding holidays but not summer vacation). The participants of this meeting include the child study team, the speech and language therapist if indicated, the general education teacher and the parents. During this meeting the student’s progress, interventions and needs are discussed. The team then determines whether an evaluation is needed and the scope of the evaluation. Should an evaluation not be warranted the code states that:

Within 15 calendar days of the meeting, the parent is provided with:

Written notice of the determination that the evaluation is not warranted and:

A copy of the short procedural safeguards statement; and

Copies of the special education rules (N.J.A.C. 6A:14)

and the due process hearing rules (N.J.A.C. 1:6A)

In addition, should the parent disagree with the determination not to evaluate they have the right to a due process hearing to dispute the determination. However, common practice is such that it is not prudent to spend the time and money to go to due process, and the student would tend to be evaluated as requested by the parent. If it has been determined that an evaluation is warranted the procedure continues.

One element which it is critical to follow is obtaining signed consent by the parent when needed. Once it has been determined that an evaluation is needed and the elements of the evaluation delineated, signed parental consent must be obtained. This is the first of many times throughout the special education process that consent must be obtained. According to the administrative code 6A:14 -2.3, “Consent shall be obtained prior to implementation of the initial IEP, prior to conducting a reevaluation, prior to the release of student records, each time a board of education seeks to access private insurance, whenever a child study team member is excused from a meeting, whenever an IEP is amended and whenever a waiver for reevaluation is obtained.” (p.13)

The next step in the process is the evaluation. According to the Administrative Code, “students must be administered a multidisciplinary evaluation consisting of at least 2 evaluations from child study team members and be evaluated in any area of suspected disability.” (p.50) In addition it must be, “sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related service needs, whether or not commonly linked to the suspected eligibility category.” (p.24)

At this point the Child Study Team has 90 days to evaluate, determine eligibility and create the program if needed. However, should a parent fail to produce a child numerous times this timeline does not need to be followed. During the evaluation period it is customary that the student is given some type of cognitive evaluation which determines cognitive strengths, weaknesses and overall potential. Usually a full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ) is determined. An academic achievement evaluation is conducted as well. This determines the level of learning achieved by the student based on comparison to same age or grade peers and achievement strengths and weaknesses. Most districts also conduct a social history, which is conducted by parent questionnaire or interview. The social history gives valuable information regarding prenatal and birth history, milestones and emotional/social issues or concerns. Once the evaluations are completed they are sent to the parents at least 10 days in advance of the eligibility meeting.

According to the N.J. Administrative Code, “Any eligibility meeting for students classified shall include the following participants:

1. The parent;

2. A teacher who is knowledgeable about the student’s educational performance:

3. The student, where appropriate:

4. At least one child study team member who participated in the evaluation:

5. The case manager:

6. Other appropriate individuals at the discretion of the parent or school district:

7. For an initial eligibility meeting, certified school personnel referring the student for services or the principal.”(p. 17)

This team is known as the IEP team. It is called upon to convene many times throughout the special education process.

In New Jersey a student may be found eligible for special education and related services in different ways depending upon the disability category. The most common category is specific learning disability, “which is comprised of;

1. Oral expression;

2. Listening comprehension;

3. Written expression;

4. Basic reading skills;

5. Reading fluency;

6. Reading comprehension;

7. Mathematics calculation;

8. Mathematics problem solving.” (p.53)

The two methods used to determine eligibility for this category include the discrepancy method and response to intervention. When using the discrepancy method, “a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement that is not correctable without special education and related services” is needed. (p.52) Common practice dictates that a “severe discrepancy” is present if there is a 1.5 or 1 standard deviation between the two areas. This translates to a 15-22 point discrepancy when using standard scores. The second method that may be used is response to intervention. According to the Administrative code 6A:14.-3.4, 6

“When a response to scientifically based intervention methodology is utilized to make the determination of whether the student has a specific learning disability, the district board of education shall:

i. Ensure that such methodology includes scientifically based instruction by highly qualified instructors, and that multiple assessments of students progress are included in the evaluation of the student;

ii. Not be required to include more than one assessment conducted pursuant to the district’s response to scientifically based intervention methodology in the evaluation of the student; and

iii. If the parent consents in writing extend as necessary, the time to complete an evaluation.” (p.53)

“Other disability categories include:

1. Auditorily impaired, which means an inability to hear within normal limits due to physical impairment or dysfunction. An audiological evaluation and a speech and language evaluation are required.

2. Autistic which means a pervasive developmental disability which significantly impacts verbal, nonverbal and social interaction that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. An assessment by a speech and language therapist and a physician trained in Neuro-develomental assessment are required.

3. Cognitively impaired which means a disability that is characterized by significantly below average general cognitive functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior. This category is broken into three areas including mild, moderate and severe.

4. Communication impaired which means a language disorder in the areas of morphology, syntax, semantics, and/or pragmatics which adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The problem shall be demonstrated through functional assessment of language in other than a testing situation and performance below 1.5 standards deviations, or the 10th percentile on at least two standardized language tests, where such tests are appropriate one of which shall be a comprehensive test of both receptive and expressive language.

5. Emotionally disturbed which means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects and student’s educational performance due to:

i. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;

ii. An inability to maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;

iii. In appropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances;

iv. A general pervasive mood or unhappiness or depression; or

v. A tendency to develop physical symptoms of fears associated with personal or school problems.

6. Multiply disabled which means the presence of two or more disabling

conditions, the combination of which causes severe educational needs.

7.Deaf/Blindness which means concomitant hearing and visual impairments.

8 Orthopedically impaired which means a disability characterized by a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A medical assessment documenting the orthopedic condition is required.

9 Other Health Impaired which means a disability characterized by having limited strength, vitality or alertness, included heightened alertness with respect to the educational environment, due to chronic or acute health problems, such as attention deficit disorder, heart condition or tuberculosis. A medical assessment documenting the health problem is required.

10 Preschool child with a disability means a child between the ages of 3 and 5 experiencing developmental delay as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more areas and requires special education and related services.

11 Social maladjustment means a consistent inability to conform to the standards of behavior established by the school.

12 Specific learning disabled as described above.

13 Traumatic brain injury which means an acquired injury to the brain caused by external force or insult to the brain resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment.

14 Visual impairment means impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects the student’s educational performance. An assessment by a specialist qualified to determine visual disability is required. Students with visual impairments shall be reported to the Commission for the Blind and Visually impaired. (p. 54-60)

Once eligibility has been determined and the parent has signed consent an Individualized Education Program may be written. The case manager comes to the meeting with a draft document and the specifics are discussed and created with the IEP team. The parent may sign consent at this point or wait up to 15 days to sign consent or disagree with the IEP. Signed consent is needed to implement the first IEP after eligibility is determined.

Once the IEP is created and consent is obtained the program may begin. The modifications, accommodations, program, goals and objectives must be adhered to by all personnel who interact with the student. The IEP is a legal binding document. However, it may be amended as needed.

Other points within the special education process include the annual review and triennial reevaluation. It is mandated that each IEP is reviewed annual. Progress is determined and changes are made as needed. Additionally, every three years a student is reevaluated to determine continued elgibility. If eligibility is clear or no further information is needed then the reevaluation may be waived.

In summary, the special education process in New Jersey is a very specific process as mandated by legal code. The entire process is spelled out in the New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A, Chapter 14. All districts must be in compliance with this code. Non-public schools have specific requirements to follow as well. Timelines, signed consent, the specific elements found within the IEP and program adherence are critical features of the special education process. Failure to follow these provisions will render a district, “out of compliance,” which comes with sanctions by the department of education.

Works Cited

New Jersey Department of Education. New Jersey Administrative Code Title 6A Chapter

14. N.P.: New Jersey Department of Education, 2010. Print.

New Jersey Office of Special Education. Special Education Process: From Child-Find, Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility to IEP Development, Annual Review and Reevaluation. N.P.: New Jersey Office of Special Education, 2007. Print.

Benefits and Importance of Preschool Education for Kids

Preschool is where the child for the first time gets to step out of the comfort zone. This is when for the first time they have to stay away from their parents. A preschool is designed to make the children ready for the future. A playschool should be a place where the child feels like home. There are several preschool activities that help in making the children feel secure and be comfortable.

The preschool is the place where the children learn to make friends and communicate easily with people. It helps in developing the child’s foundation that will help the child to succeed in life. Children who have attended preschool are seen to have better self-confidence. The preschool learning activities help in improving the child’s social skill and get better grades.

Preschool provides an opportunity to the kids to learn in a playful environment. Let’s have a look at all the benefits of preschool education for the kids.

Provides a good head start to the children for Kindergarten –

kindergarten is where the child learns the basics. Children here are taught in a fun way through preschool worksheets that aid in learning as well as their development.

Children get to develop their social and communication skills –

The kids get to interact with children of their age and with the teachers in a structured environment. The kids learn to make friends and play with them.

Provides the opportunity to the children to take care of themselves –

Children get to learn the importance of time and the things that should be done on time. Children are taught how to wash their hands, keep their toys in a proper place after playing. In some schools, children are toilet trained too.

Provides an opportunity for advancement –

preschool provides the children the opportunity to learn to follow instructions and even learn to share. The teachers help the children in understanding what they will learn in kindergarten with the help of kindergarten worksheets.

Helps in development of literacy and mathematical skills –

Young children are very observant and curious. By encouraging children to sing an alphabet song or by playing counting and matching games with the children you can boost a child’s mathematical and literacy skills. Preschools engage the children in such activities that will help them learn and grow. Providing activities for kids, will help in challenging a child’s mind and wrack their brains to get the answers.

Preschool provides the children to enhance their motor skills –

Several activities performed by the children under the supervision of teachers help in the development of a child’s fine motor and gross motor skills. Children are encouraged to run, play games or climb. Children are also taught to balance and are even asked to thread beads that help in hand-eye coordination.

Preschools make sure that your child is making friends and enjoying all the fun activities that will aid in their social, emotional and personal growth. Preschools will help in providing a way in which the child will be able to learn what he or she is going to learn in future. For instance, by providing worksheets for kids, the child will get an idea of what will be taught in future in a fun way.

Where Did the High School Go? How School Stole Young People Dreams

Despite more than two decades of reform initiatives, we still do not know how to provide effective schools for millions of poor and disadvantaged students. The increasing number of high school dropouts is a tragic portrait of our school system. It really is extraordinary that after all these years, educationists have still failed to devise what steps should be taken to turn the tide of the current crisis of education. Surely, it is necessary an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students who drop out high school. Why do young people drop out in such large numbers? To approach the problem, I think we should ask ourselves where the story really starts.

Today, the moment a child begins school, he enters a world that lacks moral leadership. The system lowers the standards of teaching, for it deprives the teacher of all freedom. The lack of discipline and social interaction in team sports and other activities indicate where the problem begins. Part of this may have been the result of the adoption of progressive educational theories. The system doesn’t emphasize the importance of learning, of developing a person’s true ability and aptitude, of developing empathy in students and the respect for the basic human values.

Public school’s requirements for graduating are easy. Students do little or no homework each week. Students don’t work harder, because of the lack of challenge. Surely, if schools do not provide the necessary support for students and do not demand more of them, this will increase their risk of dropping out. The low expectations for the students or for the teachers are in stark contrast to high expectations they have in private schools. The consequences are tragic. Our communities also suffer due to the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with health care and social services.

Unfortunately, educators, policymakers and leaders do not speak the same language. A good education must be a priority in our society. We need to invest our time in public forums in schools and communities in which the problem is severe for a better understanding of the problem and so common solutions could be undertaken. In all cases, the voices of students who dropped out of high school should be heard. What are the essential components of high school reforms? Acknowledging the efforts that exist, it is necessary to design a comprehensive approach that address the illiteracy and focus on reading readiness in our poor communities.

A Teacher’s Philosophy of Education

Who are you? Where are you going? Is it a noble journey? These questions are posed at all times, in my classroom and out, since that classroom is a training ground for the real world. My purpose is to help equip people to answer these questions for themselves; it is also to fight a daily battle against ignorance and mindlessness, to lead people out of the dark of meaninglessness, purposelessness, drift, and over-indulgence… up a hazardous mountain where there can be gained the truth that makes them free.

My name is Hunter… Lebensjaeger: life-hunter, and Liebensjaeger: love-hunter (in the universal sense). I know who and what I am; I know where I am going; the journey, though one of great risks and pitfalls, is well worth the effort. I work to survive and flourish in a hostile and challenging environment, remaining enthusiastic and energetic ( most of the time). It is my chosen work to teach the individual how to teach himself/herself, to provide an environment in which to help the individual to do good work and widen his range of wholesome options in the present and future.

Enabling people of all ages and circumstances to discover themselves and their place in the world, and to assimilate growth skills that are useful and satisfying… is what I do as a teacher, guide, and change agent. By creating an environment (often under alien conditions) in which an individual feels comfortable, accepted, and willing to stretch and grow… by exercising my self as a wholesome and viable example, I set the tone for the joy of learning, for each individual. I show others how to teach themselves, and others, such that they can produce good work, become self-reliant and learn how those three questions apply to each of them within the group… as individuals.

Each person’s strength and ultimate survival depend not upon an ability to manipulate and control, but upon an ability to harmonize with nature as an integral part of the holistic system of life. There is a law of nature that causes all things to be balanced; it says that nothing comes free, that all things must be paid for, that all wrongs must be made right.

Attitudes create atmospheres. A practiced instructor can create a tangible atmosphere of confidence in a classroom through direct outward projection from his own mind… of a conscious state of clarity and a feeling of calm. The current systems often work to negate the elucidative effect of such effort, unfortunately… just as an unresponsive and inanely resisting person can do… by projecting a state of confusion and unnecessary control. Without autonomy… it does become a battle. However, out of a good teacher’s perception, an unusual sense of communication, and a straight and simple manner, come words and gestures and expression superbly suited to creating a strong feeling of confidence and an attitude of cooperation.

Once an individual recognizes and accepts the inherent valuable possibilities that can be achieved by doing good work (and you can not force someone to do this, nor can it be done through fear of authority or punishment), then one begins to establish his own clear sense of himself, his direction, and his value. He/she can then align himself with his own identity, and with the will and energy of his present life within a larger picture. He can then become aware of those with whom he has already associated and with those who are now a part of his life and work. It can then achieve a good change in one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. They can only be shown; they can not be forced.

At that point, the individual can answer these questions and become totally free. All apprehension and anxiety are gone. One loses a sense of “importance”. There is nothing to be driven to do, or even to succeed in. I have not yet reached this point entirely… but I am going in the right direction.

PART TWO

There are three things healthy people most need (and want) to do, and education ought to prepare them for those things:

To act as spiritual beings, that is to say, to act in accordance with moral impulses… man as a divine being.

To act as neighbors, to render service (through good work) to his fellows… man as a social being.

To act as persons, as autonomous centers of power and responsibility, that is, to be creatively engaged, using and developing the gifts that we have been blessed with… man himself and herself.

In the fulfillment of the human being’s three fundamental needs lies happiness. In their unfulfillment, their frustration, lies unhappiness.

I often have my students respond to introspective and philosophical statements; it is one of our daily thinking and writing exercises they enjoy most, because they are challenged and invited to think, to consider, to relate, to communicate clearly their response, through language skills. They are offered a knowledge of the tools with which to respond, and the freedom and opportunities to use those tools.

The choice is theirs, and the capability is theirs (once they realize it, and are willing to work and exercise these skills).

Ponder these statements:

There can be no joy of life without joy of work.

Laziness is the sadness of the soul.

Just watch a bit; if you get too many useful machines, you will get too many useless people.

So how do we prepare young people for the future world of work? First, we must prepare them to be able to distinguish between good work and bad work, and encourage them not to accept the latter. In other words, they should be encouraged to reject meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-wracking work in which a man or woman is made the servant of a machine or system. They should be taught that work is the joy of life and is needed for our development, but that meaningless work is an abomination.

What about a person’s soul and spirit, in addition to the nourishment and good health of his body? How much of educational thought goes into the development of his soul and spirit? Education for the sake of leading them out of the dark wood of egocentricity, pettiness, and worldly ignorance. Call me a fanciful dreamer, but I have thirty-four plus years of effectiveness to prove otherwise; the working person needs work for the development and perfection of his soul… his spirit, his energies. “It is not as if the artist were a special kind of man; every man is a special kind of artist.” This is the essence of good work. It is my chosen direction to help others recognize this fact, and activate it in their own lives, often against great odds.

Traditionally, our ancestors knew the wisdom of good work, but our materialistic scientism/ technology look at this concept with contempt. Who can afford to do good work now? Modern systems leave no room for spiritual guidance or design, thus wantonly creating conflicts and confusion in all people so conditioned.

Education for good work, then, can begin with a systematic study of traditional wisdom (not pap or pedantic, boring, useless dogma), but the source from which are to be found the answers to the questions “what is a man? Where does he come from? What is the purpose of his life?” The goal then emerges and there is indeed a path to the goal; in fact, there are many paths. The goal is described as “perfection, wisdom, understanding, fulfillment, happiness, enlightenment, harmony, balance”, and so forth. And the path to the goal? Good Work! “Work out your salvation with diligence.” It’s so simple and pure in its essence that it is also exciting and motivating. This is what individuals need… a wholesome sense of exciting, motivating possibilities that will lead them to personal fulfillment in life. That’s what I offer, and work for. And it is good work for Hunter; it works for me!

“Invitation”

Give to me a moment

Of your time, dear kindred soul,

And I will show you mysteries

Of life as they unfold… An invitation granted

From the messengers of light,

Where man is but a welcome guest

Evolving while in flight.

Explaining the CE Requirements for LMFTs in California

Mandatory Courses for California MFT Continuing Education for the First License Renewal Period

The total MFT continuing education requirements in California are 36 hours for license renewal. 13 of these hours are in mandated areas for the first license renewal while the other courses may choose according to the MFT’s practice or areas of interest.

  • At least six hours of the MFT CEUs accrued during a two-year cycle must focus on law and ethics applicable to the family and marriage therapist, according to the licensing board in the state of California.
  • The HIV and Aids requirement is 7 hours and applicable to all MFTs who are applying for their initial license renewal.

Mandatory Courses for California MFT Continuing Education after the First License Renewal Period

MFT CEU requirements for all subsequent renewals will require 36 hours of CE, including 6 hours of Laws and Ethics. The 6 hours of Laws and Ethics will be required for every renewal period. The other 30 hours of MFT continuing education courses can focus upon areas applicable to the therapist’s own practice.

A professional who has survived the educational requirements to become a licensed MFT in the state of California will often be involved in a private practice and taking time for formal on-site classes may be an issue. The demands of their client schedule as well as their personal life may leave little time for continuing education even though the necessity is acknowledged. There are multiple ways to satisfy the California MFT continuing education requirements and these methods are as varied as the therapists who practice in the state.

An individual teaching continuing education courses may claim MFT CEUs if the course is approved for CE by the State of California. Each course, although taught several times during a renewal period, can be claimed only once. Additionally work experience may apply toward MFT CEUs especially those required for the initial renewal period. However, the six hours of Laws and Ethics can’t be claimed by work experience. Although MFT CE documentation doesn’t have to be submitted with the license renewal application form, the applicant must keep documentation for a period of at least 4 years in case of an audit. In the case of an audit, the professional will be required to submit documentation of MFT continuing education courses.

Distance Learning For MFT CE in California

All 36 hours of MFT CEUs may be satisfied by state approved online coursework which is interactive or where the coursework online contains videos. Online coursework that is taken at the MFT’s leisure and where the MFT has to mail in their exam for manual processing is allowable as well but only 18 hours of the MFT continuing education requirements may be satisfied in that fashion if the interactive or video viewing requirements are not met. Even though somewhat limiting this is an improvement for the busy professional who may not have the hours to devote to structured classes at set times at set locations.

When choosing a MFT CE provider it is important to verify that these providers display a PCE number. The PCE number validates their approval by the state of California as a CE Provider for CA MFTs. Educational providers who do not have a PCE number may not have allowable courses that count toward the continuing education requirements for MFTs in the state of California. When required to submit documentation as for an audit by the licensing board, the MFT should include the course work, certificate as well as the PCE number of the provider. Online providers are mandated to issue certificates of completion for each course passed successfully. Although some providers will maintain these certificates on file, it is up to the individual MFT to keep copies of any and all documents issued so they can be provided in case of an audit.