Texas Special Education Camera Law Just Got a Lot Broader

There has been an update to the interpretation of the Special Education Camera Law. An article in Education Week tries to explain what law makers meant when the law was passed and then in a letter they wrote last year after the camera law was passed. There is definitely a difference in the interpretation of the law between law makers and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Law makers interpretation-School districts in Texas have been interpreting the law to mean that if parents or teachers make a request, a camera would be installed in their children’s classrooms or in the classrooms in which they teach. The legislators who drafted the bill said that was what they meant, as well, according to a letter they wrote last year after the camera bill passed. Attorney General’s interpretation-But the Texas attorney general has said that his interpretation is that a single request means that cameras have to be installed in special education classrooms districtwide. Complying with such a request might cost school districts millions—and Texas education officials have already said that this is a cost that must be borne by districts alone. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2016/09/texas_special_ed_camera_law_ge.html

How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education

This is a very interesting and informative article on how thousands of students are being denied Special Education services in Texas. You can see how the percentage of Special Education students has changed in your district since 2004.  Simply choose or search for your district from the drop down menu under the section titled Search Your School District. Once the bar graph appears hoover your mouse over each bar (each bar represents a year from 2004-2015) in the bar graph to see the percentage of Special Education students in the district for that particular year. Nearly all school districts have decreased the percentage of Special Education students receiving services therefore dramatically increases the number of students who are denied and not receiving services needed for them to have access to a free and appropriate education under IDEA. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/denied/

New online STAAR Guidelines

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has shared information on the new online version of STAAR that will be available beginning in March 2017.  STAAR A (STAAR Accommodated) and STAAR L (linguistically accommodated English version of the STAAR) will no longer be used as the online version will take their place.  What we know is limited to the communication from State Assessment  Divison: The new version will have embedded accommodations, accessibility feature, and non-embedded accommodations (not in the platform) There will be embedded accommodations for text to speech, language and vocabulary supports, and content supports Accessibility features will be included (TBD) Accommodations students use during STAAR administration will be selected on the basis of documentation in the IEP of current instructional accommodations, routinely and effectively used in the classroom; students will receive only the specific accommodations he or she uses If students’ ARDs or Section 504 committees had selected STAAR A assessments for Spring 2017, IEP/504 plan will need to be updated to reflect each assessment the student will take and the specific embedded accommodations and non-embedded accommodations (i.e., supports that are not part of the technology platform) that the student requires during testing.  It will be a case by case decision as to update through an ARD or through an IEP amendment. The accessibility features that are available to all students in the online version of STAAR do not need to be listed in a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan, unless the student’s ARD or Section 504 committee wants to ensure that the student uses a certain feature.