Oct. 29, 2014 Special Ed. Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Special Education Subcommittee
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 6:00 pm
Coddington Building 

  1. Special Education Program Improvement Plan Presentation - Ms. Todd

  2. Aspen Special Education Module Update - Ms. Todd

  3. QPAC Update - Ms. Nabstedt
    * 2014-15 Goals Update
    * Upcoming Events
    * QPS/QPAC Collaboration
    * General Parent Concerns

  4. Next Special Education Subcommittee Meeting: January 21, 2015

  5. Adjournment/Thank You!


Quincy School Committee
Special Education Subcommittee Meeting
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A meeting of the Special Education Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6:00 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Noel DiBona, Mr. Dave McCarthy, and Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Mrs. Catherine Carey, Mrs. Donna Cunningham, Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Mr. Richard Kelly, Ms. Madeline Roy; Ms. Judy Todd; Quincy Parent Advisory Council to Special Education Board Members Ms. Beck, Ms. Campbell, Ms. Gichuhi, Ms. Hurld, Ms. Nabstedt; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mrs. Mahoney called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. Ms. Todd reviewed the Coordinated Program Review process that just concluded. A self-study was completed and then many weeks of preparation for the file review. Over 80 people were interviewed and observations were conducted at various school locations.

For the 2014-2015 Program Improvement Plan, Ms. Todd reviewed that the mission of the Special Education Department is to provide specially designed instruction and/or related services. The program builds on individual strengths and abilities, meeting the diverse academic, emotional, and social needs of all students. Professional development last year included curriculum alignment, creating District-Determined Measures, pacing guides, and alternative strategies for Math Reteach. Elementary resource room teachers worked on identifying progress monitoring.

In reflecting on last year's goals, the middle school MCAS Math goal was achieved with scores showing an improvement of 1% on Number System for Grade 7 and 3% for Grade 8. The reteach model has been consistently implemented at every middle school. Teachers reteach using alternative strategies, supported by professional development and common planning time. System-wide professional development included special education and regular education teachers.

The goal of Grade 3 students increasing their word recognition level by 17 words was exceeded and the third goal of creating an informational presentation for general education teachers to inform them of their responsibilities to students with disabilities was also completed.

Special Education Goals for 2014-2015 are: (1) During the 2014-2014 school year, all students with Math goals in their IEPs in Grades 7 and 8, will increase their total Math MCAS percent correct by 1%. (2) The average gain for word reading, as assessed by DIBELS Next was 25.35 words by 2014. By June 2015, the average word gain will be 30. (3) Through the Coordinated Program Review selfassessment, two areas, bullying and autism questions were not consistently applied. In 2014-2015, Quincy Public Schools will demonstrate 100% compliance.

Special Education Team goals are: Occupational Therapy: develop and implement new treatment activities for visual tracking. Speech Team: Create a form to track the number and type of prompts needed for children to execute multi-step directions. Language Development Team: Develop a consistent approach to writing. Positive Academic and Social Skills (PASS) Team: Increase student understanding of the benefits of anxiety and depression management. CARES Team: Identify and Implement appropriate curriculum-based assessment tools to monitor student progress. Elementary Resource Room Team: Increase average gain in word reading by 30 words. Middle School Math: Increase total math MCAS average percent correct by 1%.

QPAC’s goals for 2014-2015 are: (1) Increase participation in QPAC; (2) communicate with the citywide community, specifically to work with the YMCA to implement social groups and share information with principals and teachers through school newsletters; and (3) Share resources with parents, teachers, and others by creating an information packet for parents, hosting a resource fair, and hosting multiple presentations of special education-related topics.

Ms. Todd concluded her presentation with an analysis of school demographic changes over time.

Mr. McCarthy thanked Ms. Todd for her presentation, much work goes into the Program Improvement Plan and the student achievement gains are great to see. Mr. McCarthy asked about outside placements and whether that population is growing. Ms. Todd said there has been a slight increase in recent years.

Ms. Gichuhi asked for more specifics on the presentation that was created for special education teachers. It reviews basic information, the referral process, the student support team, and emphasized consistent service delivery.

Mrs. Mahoney thanked Ms. Todd for highlighting the student demographics. She asked for more detail about the outside placements and what types of schools. Mrs. Mahoney asked about transitioning back to Quincy Public Schools, most students typically transition at the end of the year. Mr. Kelly said that a small percentage of students transition back. The largest population attends the South Shore Educational Collaborative. Mrs. Mahoney asked about Carroll School, which is phasing out the program over the next five years. The Landmark School will become the program of choice for students with these program needs. Mrs. Mahoney asked if we would consider having this program in Quincy Public Schools and what are the cost ramifications. Mr. Kelley said other schools may take the opportunity to expand their programs.

Dr. DeCristofaro thanked the Special Education Team Administrators and Ms. Todd for her management of the Special Education program.

Mr. McCarthy made a motion to approve the Special Education Program Improvement Plan. Mr. DiBona seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.

Ms. Todd gave a brief update on the Aspen Special Education module implementation. A project team is being formed to plan the transition to Aspen. Beginning in September 2015, IEPs will be entered into Aspen and progress reports will be able to be shared by teachers. Ms. Hurld asked whether students who are out of district will be on Aspen, but their schools’ systems may or may not be compatible. This is something to assess during the planning process. Mrs. Mahoney asked if this can be followed and compatibility assessed.

Mr. DiBona asked whether substitute teachers will have access to accommodation data and they will under Aspen. He also asked whether parents know if a substitute is in the classroom that day but this is not part of the notifications. Mr. McCarthy said that sometimes the fact a substitute is there might be enough to disrupt a Special Education student's routine. Ms. Hurld said that is always a Special Education concern, so there was a student information sheet developed for inclusion in substitute folders. Ms. Beck said that for some parents, it is a huge concern since it can trigger a crisis. Ms. Todd said that for students with communication books as part of their accommodation plan, this information would be noted. Mrs. Mahoney said this comes down to the detail of the IEP, students who have these needs should have this accommodation.

For the QPAC Update, Ms. Nabstedt reviewed that the Rights and Responsibilities training was held last week for parents. For goals, communication is managed through social media and email, press releases to the Quincy Sun and Patriot Ledger, the QPS website, and Instant Alert. Concerns were expressed about the accuracy of the Instant Alert group. Upcoming events include the November 4 General Meeting; November 13 is the next workshop on Understanding Educational Evaluations.

In terms of QPS/QPAC Collaboration, Ms. Gichuhi said that in past years, there has been consistent collaboration, equipment, postage, financial support, and use of the Quincy High School Resource Room. Accessing PTOs has been an issue, and QPAC is asking for assistance from the Superintendent. QPAC would like to collaborate on bringing in outside presentations, through writing grants or sharing costs. For the QPAC website, would it be possible host on the city server or for QPS to cover the $50 annual fee. QPAC cannot have a bank account, per DESE guidelines.

Dr. DeCristofaro said that Ms. Todd and other members of the Superintendent’s Leadership can assist with working on Principal collaboration and outside presentations. Dr. DeCristofaro suggested a planning meeting and including Mr. Mullaney for the financial questions. Ms. Gichuhi and Ms. Nabstedt thanked School Committee and Superintendent for their continuing collaboration.

General Parent Concerns: At the high school level, confusion about whether there is one or two Parent Conferences per year. Dr. DeCristofaro will follow up with the information. Concerns have been shared about the availability of Occupational Therapy and Ms. Todd asked for individual parents to contact her about their concerns.

Ms. Nabstedt asked about the meeting dates for the 2014-2015 school year. At the Special Meeting on September 17, the dates of January 21, 2015; March 25, 2015; and May 27, 2015 were planned.

Mr. McCarthy made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:00 pm. Mr. DiBona seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.