Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New State, New Rules

So. Here we are. Week Three. Only 922 hours left to go (give or take).

Not a whole lot has changed since my last post. Things are still relatively slow, but this could also be a result of the shortened weeks I’ve had. Thanks to Labor Day, going back to Boston, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur I have yet to/will not have a full week this month. I know, I live a difficult life :)

Something I have been really trying to sink my teeth into is the differences (and similarities) between my home training state (Massachusetts) and my current internship state (Connecticut). They are two different ways of approaching Response to Intervention (RtI) and special education, but are united by the foundational principles and Federal Laws and Regulations.

Here in CT, IEP meetings are actually called Planning and Placement Team meetings (PPT’s for short). I did some research as to the whole process to understand it from the student support team level to the referral process and special education eligibility.

As in many other states, Connecticut is working to develop a Scientific Research-Based Intervention framework (SRBI aka RtI). SRBI looks just like the mainstream notion of RtI, three tiers and all. As a refresher: Tier One includes universal interventions available to all students; Tier Two includes extra support for students in addition to the general education curriculum; and Tier Three includes more intensive and individualized instruction for children who need more support. The tiers are meant to be fluid, allowing children to move between them as needed. That means schools are NOT to label a child as a “Tier Two kid.” Instead, the child may receive Tier Two support in only math and access the rest of his education as would be expected. Also, Tier Two and Three interventions are meant to be short-term and catch students up in areas they may be falling behind. Constant data collection is essential in order to determine whether or not an intervention is working. Depending on student response to Tier Three interventions, the TEAM determines whether or not the special education evaluation process would be necessary.

(Image from Using Scientific Research-Based Interventions: Improving Education forAll Students)
So, this all sounds familiar, right? Good.
Now its time to trip you up… just a little.

Once a referral gets made, either by the teacher or parent, a PPT is scheduled and notice is given 5 school days prior. But wait! A new special education law in CT mandates that a Pre-PPT meeting be held for initial evaluations to go over the PPT process and parent concerns. This can be held immediately before the referral PPT and can include only the coordinator and/or other key people.

At the referral PPT meeting the TEAM determines whether or not an initial evaluation is necessary. This would be the time to pull out the data you had been collecting during the intervention periods according to SRBI. If the TEAM decides to go forward then the consent is signed at the meeting for the appropriate evaluations (e.g., psychological, educational, speech, etc). At this point in time the school has 30 school days to complete the evaluations. Once the evaluations have been completed within the given time, the PPT will meet again to go over the results. Parents have the right to evaluations two days prior to this meeting. At this PPT meeting the TEAM must decide whether or not the student is eligible for special education, and if so under what disability category. The TEAM will then discuss appropriate goals and service delivery in order to help the student make academic/social/emotional/behavioral progress. It is important that the implementation dates are accurate on the student’s IEP.

After the PPT meeting the IEP must be sent to the parents within 5 school days. The timeline between the completion of the evaluation and the receipt of the IEP is 45 school days. After the receipt of the IEP, parents/guardians have 30 days to respond to either accept or reject the plan in whole or part. Once the parent responds accepting the IEP, the school will implement the proposed services. Based on this timeline it has been recommended that the implementation date be listed as five school days after the meeting date. It is also important to note that the implementation date and end date of services are the same thing. The end date should not be the next meeting date. This allows services from a previous IEP to continue while the school awaits acceptance of the new IEP, thus remaining in compliance.

Now, this isn’t that confusing or different. (Although, the IEPs look incredibly different!). The same premise still exists, as well as all mandated timelines. The major differences between MA and CT process are the Pre-PPT and referral PPT meeting.
(Image from IEP Manuals and Forms)

For more information on the CT Planning and Placement Team process, check out the following resources:

Until next thyme,

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