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Laws & Policy

 

Laws & Policy

As parents, it is essential that you become involved and remain active participants in your child's education, from early childhood to college and career. As the laws and policies change, they will affect the very knowledge that your child will receive and how they receive it. Your role as a guide, mentor, reinforcer and advocate will be tested, tried and verified constantly. The only way to shine is to stay informed, know your child and follow through with these tools.

 

Common Core Curriculum Standards        

Over the past 2 years, the education community began implementation of the Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCCS), known in New York as the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). The initiative was designed to create changes to the existing curriculum that would deepen students core knowledge; change the way information is processed and stored; and most importantly, begin preparing students for college and  careers.  As schools and educators gain momentum in their  implementation of these nationally recognized standards, it is essential that parents understand the course that their student's education is taking and partner with their schools to reinforce the work being done with their children.

 

Here are some links to assist in understanding the concept:

engageNYhttp://engageny.org/parent-guides-to-the-common-core-standards

 

Common Core State Standards Initiative: www.corestandards.org 

 

Common Core Curriculum Standards NJDOEhttp://www.state.nj.us/education/parents/

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Special Education Reform 2012

 

The concept behind this reform is to increase the interaction between special needs students and their general education peers. There has been enormous pressure over the years to decrease the separation and promote inclusion and mainstreaming practices in schools. Special education reform is the result of these pressures. The NYC Dept of Education (June 2012) has noted that the goals of this initiative are to:

 

• "Ensure that every school educates and embraces the overwhelming majority of students with disabilities that they would serve if the students did not have IEPs; 

 

• Hold schools and students with disabilities accountable for standards-based goals that reflect the Common Core standards and long-term educational outcomes;

 

• Leverage the full continuum of services and curricular, instructional and scheduling flexibility needed to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities;

 

• Align school accountability measures, funding formulas and enrollment policies and practices with these principles"

 

While there can be and is room for controversy with this new initiative implemented in September 2012, it is essential that parents  be aware of what their children are entitled to and also what they are facing in addressing their children's needs in the public schools. To read the full summary, visit: 

 

http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/4C52B390-1162-4D9F-8ED0-0D96E21E4B55/0/SpecialEducationReformReferenceGuide060512.pdf

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Navigating the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) Process

There are many questions surrounding the IEP and IFSP process. Some of them are answered here and links to helpful resources are also noted. It is important to note that in each of these processes, the parent is the ultimate decision maker, therefore, it  behooves you to know what is happening around you and your child when the recommendation is made or when you ask for an evaluation. 

Q: What is an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP)? 

A. The IFSP is a comprehensive document that brings together alll stakeholders in a child's life from birth to age 2. These plans are apt to  be more focused on parent involvement, wil include therapists from different disciplines, etc. and are more involved in holitsic planning for the child's success. An IFSP is much more in-depth than an IEP and will document the family's history, the child's current developmental level, identify outcomes for achievements and strategies for achieving these outcomes. (picture courtesy of ed.gov) 

 

Q. How does the IFSP differ from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

A. The difference is in the intensity of the assessment and the focus of the assessment. Where an IFSP is focused on integrating the family, an IEP is strictly an educational plan that outlines the cognitive, behavioral, socio-emotional, speech and language, and/or physical therapy goals and expected outcomes. Most of the time spent in addressing these goals is carried out in school but in some cases, the severity of a child's disorder or behaviors may warrant in-home services. In addition, the IEP, though the parents are aware of the goals set for their child, does not include any family planning or integrative family services in it's process. 

 

Q. At what age can an IEP be created? 

A. IEPs are typically developed for students aged 3-21.

 

Q. Does my child have to be recommended for an evaluation or can I request an evaluation?

A. Evaluations can come about either way. Parents can request (in writing prefereably) a general evaluation which covers all areas including cognition, behavior, affect, socialization, movement, etc. Or they can request an evaluation for a specific area of their child's development. If this is the route that you want to take, it is best that you have information to support your concerns. This can be in the form of video, a journal, pictures, doctor's notes, teacher reports, etc. Another way that an evaluation is made is through teacher request. Again, they would need to have supporting documentation when making this recommendation. Yet it is still the parent who makes the final decision to have it done, either partially, in full or not at all. 

 

Q. A recommendation was made for my child and I have relunctantly agreed. What is the next step in the process?

A. Below are some references that outline the IEP process:

A Guide to the IEP Process (education.com)http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Guide_IEP_Process/

A Parent' s Guide to Understanding the IEP Processhttp://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/7DA1B82B-94EB-4B4B-A134-EA59A9465DEE/0/SpringParentConf2008AGuidetoUnderstandingtheIEPProcess.pdf

 

Q. Why is all of this important?

A. Besides the fact that schools are being held accountable for the education of your child, you need to maintain awareness of what is going on with your child's IEP and their services so that they don't fall through the cracks. Too often, IEPs are written wrong or they are incomplete and the student  become ineligible for services or a para because of this. Their chances of success are then reduced because of these mistakes. As a parent, your job is to know your child. IF you know them, their disorder, their personality and their needs; you will be better able to recognize these issues and address them. If you are unaware of the services put in place, the goals for each section, and/ or are unable to monitor your child's progress (or lack thereof); you will not be able to make a substantial claim as to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of your child's instructional program. Therefore, educators stress parent involvement and welcome your partnership during this process and beyond. 

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, isolated or detached; seek support immediately! Call 646.481.6570 for assistance. 

 

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