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Winfree Academy Response January 2012

Winfree Academy Response January 2012

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Published by Brandon Cooper

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Published by: Brandon Cooper on Jan 06, 2013
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 As described in the Preliminary Report to which this Response is directed, Winfree Academy Charter Schools (“WACS” or “the School”) was selected by the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”) for  participation in the 2009–2010 monitoring process at a Stage 4 level of intervention for the School’sBilingual Education/English as a Second Language and special education programs. WACS was alsoselected for participation at a Stage 4 level of intervention in the Data Validation Monitoring(“DVM”) System for Student Assessment Records. WACS was additionally selected for a Stage 4level of intervention in the 2008–2009 Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) program, as well asin the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 DVM System for Student Leaver Records.As a result of the School’s selection for participation in the Stage 4 level of intervention, the TEAconducted on-site investigations during February 9–13, 2009 and March 8–12, 2010. These on-sitevisits were conducted to examine the origins of the School’s “low performance,” review programeffectiveness concerns, and review and validate data reporting. The on-site visits consisted of focusgroup discussions and interviews with individual WACS personnel, classroom observations,document reviews, and student data reviews.Part I of the Preliminary Report is the result of the on-site visits conducted by the TEA. These resultsare grouped into six sections identifying areas for suggested improvement, reporting on specificissues and trends identified, and prescribe “Required Actions” to be taken by the School:
Section 1: Special Education Preliminary On-Site Findings;
Section 2: Bilingual Education/English as a Second Language Preliminary On-Site Findings;
Section 3: Career and Technical Education Preliminary On-Site Findings;
Section 4: Data Validation Monitoring for Student Assessment Records Preliminary On-SiteFindings;
Section 5: Data Validation Monitoring for Student Leaver Records Preliminary On-SiteFindings; and
Section 6: Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program Access Review (PAR)Preliminary On-Site Report.The following is the School’s response to Sections 1–5 of Part I of the Preliminary Report.
The School submitted its response to Part I, Section 6 of the Preliminary Report to Eugene Sekula on October 27, 2011.
1: S
Part I, Section 1 of the Preliminary Report addresses the results of a March 8–12, 2010 on-siteinvestigation by the TEA into the School’s special education program. After conducting their on-siteinvestigation and performing a longitudinal review of the School’s Performance-Based MonitoringAnalysis System (“PBMAS”) data, the TEA Team identified six areas of the School’s specialeducation program that are alleged to be in need of improvement, and prescribed 27 RequiredActions for the School to develop and implement. Each of these 27 Required Actions and their related Findings are discussed below.
The Preliminary Report begins by noting:A longitudinal review of [PBMAS] data for the [School] indicates that the TexasAssessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) passing rates in mathematics andscience for special education students have remained significantly below the state passing standard over a four-year period, and passing rates in reading/Englishlanguage arts (ELA) have remained below the state passing standard over a three-year  period . . . .The Preliminary Report then identifies eight Required Actions structured to assist the School inincreasing TAKS passage rates for its special education students. These eight required Actions andthe School’s response to each follow.
Training on ARD Committee Decision-Making
The first Required Action requires the School to “[p]rovide ongoing training to all campus staff inadmission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee decision-making processes related to rationalefor each type of state assessment [and] [r]evise [its] continuous improvement plan (CIP) to includethis activity.”
As noted in the Preliminary Report, the TEA Team was informed during theMarch 2010 on-site visit that the School’s ARD coordinators “receive training from the ESC annuallyon the ARD decision-making process related to state assessments.” The ARD coordinators also“reported that they provided the training to all special education staff on each campus.” Furthermore,the general education teacher interviewed by the TEA Team indicated that “they have receivedtraining from ARD coordinators.” The TEA Team also learned that “on several campuses, specialeducation teachers have provided training to general education teachers on the ARD committeedecision-making process.” The School’s special education teachers also informed the TEA Teamthat “the ARD coordinators facilitate and direct the discussion related to state assessment decisions inthe ARD process.” Thus, the TEA Team has acknowledged in the Preliminary Report that the Schoolhas a system in place for training all campus staff on the ARD committee decision-making processrelated to state assessments.
The School also squarely addressed this matter in a CIP submitted to the TEA on January 14, 2011.Through this CIP, the School developed a strategy to “[p]rovide ongoing training to all campus staff on ARD committee decision-making processes related to state assessment[s]” by analyzing “TAKS,TAKS-Accom., and TAKS-M test data and conduct[ing] ARD folder reviews to determine if appropriate rationale was selected based on [the] type of instruction that the student is receiving.”
Exhibit 1.1.1 (January 14, 2011 CIP). The CIP also incorporates several sources from which theSchool develops its training strategy, including an ARD Committee Decision-Making ProcessManual, TAKS Accommodation Manual, ESC trainings, and guidance from the TEA.
 Exhibit 1.1.1 (January 14, 2011 CIP).As demonstrated in the CIP, the School has completed all Required Actions under this topic.Accordingly, we ask that this Required Action on training for ARD committee decision-making beomitted from the Final Report or, in the alternative, an acknowledgment that the School has properlyaddressed this concern.
Training on Use of Performance Level Data and the Alignment of Accommodations
The TEA Team cites to folder reviews for two students with disabilities to conclude that, with regardto those two folders, “the TAKS participation decisions documented in the ARD did not includeconsideration of the students’ present level of performance” as required by 34 CFR§ 300.324(a)(1).The Preliminary Report also states that the TEA Team “found through folder reviews that for twostudents with disabilities, accommodations for assessments were not routinely provided duringclassroom instruction,” as required by 34 CFR § 300.320(a)(6)(i) and 19 TAC § 89.1055(b).As such, the Preliminary Report then requires the School to “[p]rovide training to all specialeducation teachers related to the required use of present levels of performance data and the alignmentof instructional accommodations and testing accommodations when making state assessmentdecisions.”
The School recognizes that IEP and ARD documentation must reflect aconsideration of a student’s present level of performance.
34 CFR § 300.320(a)(1).
Thisrequirement is present in the forms used by the School’s ARD committees when reviewing studentIEPs.
Exhibit 1.1.2 (2009–2010 ARD Committee IEP Report); Exhibit 1.1.3 (2010–2011/2011– 2012 ARD Committee IEP Report). Unfortunately, WACS must agree that two of the foldersreviewed by the TEA Team did not reflect this consideration.The School’s January 14, 2011 CIP addressed this concern by requiring the School to “[p]rovidetraining to all ARD Coordinators and special education teachers related to the use of present levels of  performance data and the alignment of instruction accommodations and testing accommodations.”
Exhibit 1.1.1 (January 14, 2011 CIP). As shown by the training agendas, sign-in sheets, training presentations, and Regional Service Center training certificates provided with this Response, theSchool provides regular training to special education teachers on the ARD decision-making process,
It appears that the TEA Team inadvertently cited 34 CFR § 300.324(a)(1) as the legal basis for the consideration of  present level of performance. However, § 300.324(a)(1) requires an IEP Team to consider the “strengths of the child”when developing an IEP, while 34 CFR § 300.320(a)(1) references “the child’s present levels of academic achievementand functional performance.”

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