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What's Happening in TESD; A Conversation with Individual Student Services

BUILD co-leaders discussed the following topics with Dr. Groppe & Lisa Snyder of TESD’s Individual Student Services on May 22, 2020. We submitted our topics and questions for discussion. You can see Dr. Groppe’s and Lisa Snyder’s responses in blue below.


What are the anticipated ESY plans?

Lisa Snyder said schedules will come out to families.

  • How will instruction be delivered?

  • Instruction will continue to be delivered virtually (synchronous and asynchronous) for ESY

  • Will ESY determination include regression for students who have had significant struggles during this distance learning period?

  • (Students will receive progress monitoring, if possible?). Yes, the District is not just looking at the period before school closure to make ESY determination.


Camps for struggling students; reading camp and a new “Aspire” math camp This was referenced as a pilot program if we want to add that:

  • Reading & Math Camps - how will the instruction be delivered?

  • Camp instruction will be delivered virtually.

  • Will progress be monitored, if yes, how?

  • BUILD is unclear about progress monitoring to determine effectiveness.

  • Is there a decision tree for how kids will be identified? There may be more kids with need due to closures.

  • We asked how students would be identified, if there was a decision tree, but it is unclear how students will be identified for both camps besides teacher recommendation. Chris Groppe said that if parents have questions about whether they will be offered it, to contact their teachers and principals.

  • Dr. Wendy Towle mentioned parents being able to request participation in math camp. How will parents know that is an option?

  • If you have concerns about your child’s progress, please reach out to their teacher, principal or Dr. Groppe.

  • BUILD requested that the District let all families know these programs exist in case they believe this may support their child. Dr. Groppe said there were no plans to do that at this time but he will share this suggestion with Dr. Towle.


Notifications to families “HEALTH AND SAFETY EMERGENCY FLEXIBLE IEP IMPLEMENTATION PLAN”

  • We think it is important to explicitly tell families they have an opportunity to participate in the creation of this plan. We heard from families that they did not understand the language “ with parental participation, if possible” means the district would hold an IEP meeting with the parents and discuss flexible options to support the child. Would you be able to send a message to families?

  • Please note that if you received a document with this heading, it is a notice of your opportunity to participate in the creation of your child’s IEP implementation during school closures/remote learning. Dr. Groppe said the district would try to be more clear and direct if they need to communicate something similar in the future. He said this was good feedback.

  • BUILD recommended that the District try to use “plain English” versus legalese for future notifications to families.


Meeting platforms - Audio vs. Video

  • Many families have expressed that video via Teams facilitates better communication between the team members because you can see facial expressions, and through that, understand each other better. Can you tell us why the administration has chosen to only allow audio so far? Are there exceptions? Will that be changing soon?

  • IEPs will continue to meet virtually via audio only this year. Dr. Groppe said they decided to do audio only for the emergency distance learning phase. They will make a decision on doing both audio and video in the fall. He said that parents might have issues about using video. May reassess whether they will allow video for fall virtual meetings, if virtual meetings are still needed.


Assessment:

  • What is the assessment plan for the end of the year? How will you be administering k-5 reading benchmarks? We know that many districts are administering these benchmarks so that they can determine the effect of distance learning on progress and hope that TESD will do so. We are looking into ways to administer benchmarks to parents who want them.

  • The Spring English Language Arts (reading) benchmarks will not be given in Elementary School. (note: there are not any benchmarks to assess reading or math in middle school, even though TESD middle school technically covers elementary grades 5 and 6.)

  • What is the assessment plan for next year? We are officially requesting that you continue to administer the ERB so that you can determine the effect of distance learning and so that you can appropriately plan for instruction. On the Education Committee call on 5/14, we heard it’s a $80K savings but we don’t think classroom observations, ELA assessments from the new Wonders framework, or looking back at prior ERB’s or Keystones are going to be meaningful substitutes. We need ERB’s to be done in order to get an honest apples to apples comparison and understand the impact of distance learning.

  • Administration recommended that ERB assessments that are normally given to all students in grades 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 be skipped in the fall as a budget strategy; this will save $23 per student. The board is expected to approve the removal of ERBs in the budget.

  • (Note: this was not a listed agenda item for Education Committee, even though the Board agreed at Finance Committee to discuss it at Education Committee. )

  • Dr. Groppe said that he will share our concerns with his colleagues.

Survey:

  • Will the district be surveying all families for how Phase 2 instruction worked/didn’t work for their students?

  • Will the district be surveying all families to understand technology needs in the community?

  • Will the survey be anonymous?

  • The district is developing a survey for families to be sent in June. The survey likely won’t cover technology needs - but there will be a place for an open-ended response. The survey will not be anonymous.


Gifted Students:

  • How will first grade students be assessed for gifted eligibility next year?

  • The SAGES screener typically given at the end of 1st Grade will be given to 2nd grade students in the fall, if possible. Then student’s who meet the expectation for screening will be invited to have a Gifted Evaluation performed by the District.

Post Secondary Transition Parent Training - Dr. Groppe said this event will be rescheduled.


Evaluations and Reevaluations

  • How will the District determine which student’s evaluation or reevaluation gets to be completed first in the fall? There will be a backlog. What criteria will you be using? Oldest eval from the winter/spring? Most urgent? Who signs and returns their new PTA first in the fall?

  • To prevent the big backlog, why can’t the District perform standardized testing and the assessor simply make a note that it was performed in unstandardized conditions due to school closure? The more the District does now, the less of an avalanche upon the return of schools opening.

  • How are you handling students moving into the district from other schools and/or out-of-state who have IEPs? (Child Find)

  • The District is still required to meet deadlines so they are looking at short-term contracted support for the fall.

  • It is unclear what the process (priority order - for instance, which eval gets finished first, second, etc.) will be for students whose evaluations were unable to be completed since there will be a backlog. They will be completed when the reopening allows.

  • Currently, they are hopeful that they may be able to do some face to face evaluations over the summer while we are in the yellow phase, if permitted.

  • TESD is not doing virtual evaluations because they are following the guidelines of the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania.


Make-up Learning/Missed Instruction

How are you thinking about making up for learning?

  • This is still being formulated by teachers and principals in the schools.


Data Collection

Will you be offering training to parents on collecting data on their child(s) during this distance learning period?

  • Dr. Groppe said that training parents for data collection is not in the emergency plan.


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