Preparing for Battle – Part 4

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So here we are, at the tail end of our long story (there will be one more post after this one with the final conclusion).  I wish I could have done this in one entry, but no one would have read it, and there was no way to make this shorter, at least, not for me.

In the prior post (Part 3) I left out one tiny little tidbit I’d love to share with you.

During one of the breaks, the principal and I were the only ones in the room.  My son and his case manager had run to his classroom to get his snacks out of his bag since he was missing snack time and was getting very hungry.  The principal said he had some serious concerns over my son’s presence in the room.  This was complicated material and he personally did not want my son’s self esteem to be adversely impacted thinking he should be ashamed of his dyslexia or his progress in the classroom.

It took me about 1.5 seconds to process the parent shaming in that statement.  I smiled sweetly and replied, “We are very open and honest with my son about all of his evaluations, his tutoring, his grades, his progress.  We answer his questions and he knows we support him to the best of our ability.  He knows he’s making progress.  He knows he’s doing well.  He’s so proud of himself.  He’s doing amazing.  He’s a rock star and I’m super proud of him!  This is his dyslexia and he does understand and he wants to be here and I support that decision.  I’m not worried about it at all, and while I appreciate your concern, you shouldn’t be worried either.”

Drama!  Drama!  Drama!

By the way, this was me after meeting #2.

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But, we’ve left two meetings behind us now and must move onto meeting number three.

I recall saying to a colleague that meeting 3 was coming up.  He responded that at this point it should be a slam dunk, right?  I said, sadly no.

The reality is while I prepared and served my “dissertation” to the team, I gave them the chance to process and respond hoping they would do the right thing, and I wish I could say that their response was spot on, but the fact of the matter is, it really wasn’t.

Does that fault lie with the team?  I can argue, not really.

If not the team, then where does responsibility lie?

With the district and it’s leadership, and even more with the state education agency.

While the state sets the standards by which each district must operate and ties the funding they provide to those standards, the districts do have a certain amount of autonomy and have the ability to decide for themselves how they want to manage things.  This is why we have school board elections after all.  The boards are supposed to represent the interests of the community, all parents within the community, ensure the superintendent is aligned with those interests, then he is supposed to reflect those interests in the employees who work for that district.

But, I live in a highly corrupt district where our children and the interests of the community as a whole are not represented by our governing body, the school board.  Ever.

Case in point – this series of ARDs.

So, getting back to it all….

So, the PLAAFP, otherwise knows as the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance, was a complete rewrite.  The school took my comment that the data must be mathematically quantifiable quite seriously; sadly, however, they only applied it to half of the document.  Honestly, I think the Compliance Officer wrote it.

I’ll give you a very specific example so you can see what I mean.

As of 03/22/2019:

Reading: Child is receiving 30 minutes a day of in-class support for reading with implemented accommodations, 25 minutes a day of special education resource during extended learning time to address dyslexia intervention, and 30 minutes per day of dyslexia intervention provided by general education. He is reading an F&P level O independent/P instructional, which is on level for 4th grade at this time and his current grade is a 97. His strengths include his ability to count syllables in words; identify the vowel phonemes in one syllables words; and reading 1-2 syllable words in isolation. Child also reads for sustained period of time and can produce evidence of his reading; summarize and sequence a plot’s main events with the ability to explain their influence; and his ability to describe the interactions of characters including their relationships and the changes they undergo. He is mastering his fluency reading goal by reading on average 79 words per minute and he is mastering his on-task independent reading goal at 75% accuracy. Child has some difficulty reading 3-5 syllable words, non-sense words, and segmenting words accurately into syllables when reading and/or spelling accurately. He also struggles to make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fictions/nonfiction/genres in different cultures and/or historical context while providing evidence from the text to support his understanding. Child benefits from in-class support and accommodations to support his learning. A goal should be implemented to increase his ability to segment and decode 2+ syllable words and a goal to increase his comprehension by making inference and drawing conclusions for a variety of text.

Same section as of 04/25/2019:

Child is receiving small group dyslexia intervention 30 minutes/4 days a week with the Campus General Education Campus Dyslexia Teacher utilizing the Phonics Boost Reading. During this time Child receives intervention support in the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, decoding, fluency, and spelling.  According to the Basic Reading Inventory and Decoding Analysis Test (DAT), Child has made significant progress since the beginning of the school year.  Both assessments were given the in the Fall 2018, Winter 2018 and Spring 2019. In Fall, Child struggled to decode words with digraphs, blends, vowel pairs, and diphthongs. By Spring 2019, Child had mastered all subtests on DAT except one – vowel pairs. He scored 9/10 with 10/10 for mastery.

Parent submitted outside testing for Gray Oral Reading Tests (GORT) 4.  GORT is a norm-referenced test which measures rate, accuracy, fluency and comprehension. The results are given in grade equivalent.

GORT

Child has taken GORT-4 each year beginning in first grade (March 2016). In first grade, Child scored ‹1.0 or below first grade in all areas of the assessment. In second and third grades, he made progress in all areas. In 4th grade, Child regressed showing exactly one grade level regression in all areas. He is mastering his timed reading fluency goal of reading on average 79 words per minute. He is also mastering his on-task independent reading goal of 75% accuracy. The middle of year expectation at the 50th percentile is Fall-94, Winter-120, and Spring 133 words correct per minute.

K-5 students in district are given the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) Benchmark Assessment Systems. The assessment identifies the instructional and independent reading levels. The assessments are administered at the Beginning of Year (BOY) and End of Year (EOY). Below is the list of Child ‘s scores from 2nd – 4th grades.

FandP

According to the F&P, Child has made progress each year, however the progress is not aligned to the district expectation for each grade level. At the beginning of the 4th grade, Child was reading at an Independent Level L and Instructional Level M. The beginning of year expectation for 4th grade is Level P and Instructional Level Q. Child was reading below grade level expectation. Will add updated F&P Levels prior to ARD.

Child also receives in-class support 30 minutes per day with accommodations and receives 120 minutes per week (5 days per weeks) of dyslexia intervention during extended learning time in the special education resource setting. Child is receiving small group intervention utilizing the Phonics for Reading program. The Phonics for Reading series is a systematic, research based, instructional program that provides explicit instruction in phonics as well as phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension. Child as of April 2019, is concluding the 3rd of the 3 sequenced booklets. Child has shown progress, for example on the lesson 29, by demonstrating 3/3 picture sequences correctly and 8/8 fill in the blank comprehension piece after reading a 3 part passage On the lesson 29, he demonstrated 25/28 correctly decoding words with digraphs, 2 syllable words, word parts, and sight words independently. 

Data collected from teacher observations, grades, and work samples show Child can identify and count syllables in words; identify vowel phonemes; and read 1-2 syllable words in isolation. When reading text, Child can read for sustained periods of time and provide a summary of text; summarize the plot’s main events in a logical order; and describe characters’ traits.

Child has some difficulty reading multi-syllabic words, decoding unknown words, and segmenting words accurately into syllables when reading and spelling. He also struggles with using textual evidence to make inferences across different genres. Child , a student with dyslexia and weaknesses in Short-Term Memory and Processing Speed, will likely need additional support with reading fluency and decoding grade level text for comprehension.

On Reading DLA 1, Child had a raw score of 10/18 with a 56% – did not meet expectations. He was tested in 3 categories. In Category 1 (Literary and Information Texts) Child scored 50% – campus average 88%. In Reporting Category 2 (Literacy Texts), Child scored 43%— campus average 74%. In Reporting Category 3 (Informational Texts), Child scored 67%— campus average 73%. He ended the 3rd 9 weeks with a 94 in reading.

The rewrite looks impressive, right???

Did you read it?  If you did, did you see the flaws?  There are a few.

I’m not even going to review the first commentary because that one is a moot point.  It never made it into the final IEP document; however, this last one did.

  1. First, they did accept my 4 Lindamood-Bell evaluations as a data point.  Yay, me.
  2. For the district as a whole, they’ve watered down the Fountas and Pinnell grade level equivalents.  O and P are 3rd grade benchmarks, not 4th, and my son is in 4th.  He should be reading on an S by the end of the year, which is in 17 school days.  They did, however, note that as the goal within the second table.  Score 2 for mom.
  3. Who has heard of Phonics Boost?  Yeah, it’s a crap program all the way around.  Everything my district has adopted as an official dyslexia program is a crap program.  It’s really quite disgusting.  So, my feedback was as follows:
    1. Per pages 39-42 of the Texas Dyslexia Handbook specifically the section entitled Standard Protocol Dyslexia Instruction, I require the district to provide me with evidence that Phonics Boost and Phonics for Reading meet all of the detailed criteria required by the Handbook.  I am specifically looking for statements on evidence based and effective for students with dyslexia.
      1. Phonics for Reading, per their own descriptors, refers to itself as based on research based programs, which is not the definition of evidence based.  Additionally, no where on it’s page does it describe itself as a dyslexia program.
      1. Phonics Boost also does not describe itself as a dyslexia program.
    1. Specifics on exactly how the team proposes to support the proposed math goal, i.e. details on what program(s) will be utilized to support this proposed goal.
    1. Specifics on exactly how the team proposes to support the proposed spelling goal, i.e. details on what program(s) will be utilized to support this proposed goal.
    1. While math is not specifically addressed within the Texas Dyslexia Handbook, spelling is specifically called out on page 40, same section as referenced in the opening paragraph, therefore it is also held to the criteria of being evidence based and designed for all students with dyslexia.
  4. This statement, “He is mastering his timed reading fluency goal of reading on average 79 words per minute. He is also mastering his on-task independent reading goal of 75% accuracy.” has issues as well.
    1. This statement, while technically accurate, based on prior goals, is problematic because the goal was problematic.  At 79 wpm and 75% he’s reading at a 1st grade level yet he is in 4th grade.  The benchmark is DIBELS and this must be called out and defined.
  5. And that entire last paragraph.  Vomit.
    1. My comment: While I can appreciate the data point and the attempt to quantify Child‘s progress within the classroom, per the definition you provided, DLAs are STAAR prep only, and not a valid measurement of TEKS; therefore, given our moral and data objections to the STAAR, the DLAs do not and cannot serve as objective measures of understanding for any child within the district.

So, the breakdown.

The head of dyslexic curriculum hoped up and handed me a pretty 2 page print out espousing the glories of Phonics Boost and how the district always meets all criteria of the Texas Dyslexia Handbook.

No, I did not vomit all over her shoes for that incredibly stupid statement.  All I did was make the mental note, thank god I’m recording.  I have big plans there, and it will be fun implementing those plans.

Is DIBELS named?  Nope.

And the DLA is STAAR prep.  We “discussed” this during the ARD.  They insisted that it’s not STAAR prep, that it is actually TEKS measurement.  I said, that may be your opinion, but you’re using STAAR to determine that and STAAR is 2 grade levels ahead.  And their response?  OMG this was awesome!!!

“We choose the grade appropriate questions, not the ones that reflect understanding two years ahead of the grade itself.”

I almost made her repeat herself and I had a death grip on my chair.

Seriously?  How stupid do you really think I am?  Clearly you think I’m Cleatus the Slack Jawed Yokel over here.  Just damn.

However, the massive quantity of humor did not stop there because this is their idea of a good goal.

By February 2020, when given direct instruction, grade level text, an appropriate graphic organizer, and no more than 1 prompt, Child will use textual evidence to make an inference with 80% accuracy on data collected from assignments and/or assessments.

Goal

(Sigh…)

After 60 days, 3 ARDs, and my “dissertation,” this is really and truly where we are?  You really and truly haven’t learned a damned thing have you?!?

So, this is where I turn introspective, and have to start asking the hard questions…of myself.

To be continued….

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