Proposal of a new model for Child Development Services (CDS)

Child Development Services (CDS) is currently responsible for the state-wide administration of special education services for children with disabilities who are birth to 5 years (or in the school age range) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Recently, the Department of Education has developed a new model for providing these services, the intent of which is to move the provision of children with disabilities ages 3 years to school age range from current State run programming to the public schools systems. Under this model, all aspects of special education services for this age group would become the responsibility of the local district. This includes case management, child find, evaluation, eligibility determination, IEP development, and the provision of special education and related services.

The impetus for this change is to transform the current model to better address the needs of children with disabilities by decreasing their transitions between programs at an early age, providing more frequent, appropriate and timely services closer to home, and introducing an earlier integration into their local schools.

At this point in time, Maine is one of the only states in which the public school does not assume responsibility for eligible children upon their 3rd birthday.

Under the current model, flat state funding, rising costs in special education and inadequate management of resources have caused not only a multimillion dollar deficit within the CDS program, but also a shortage in state level special education service which has impacted hundreds of Maine children who are currently not receiving the services they need.

Also under the current model, children and families experience two transitions within the State’s CDS program: the first from CDS’ early Intervention program to CDS’ program for children ages 3 to 5/school age range, and then another transition to the public school system. Under the legislation, children and families would experience only one transition – from CDS’ early intervention program to the public school system. Also, unlike the current model, eligible children will have the opportunity to attend their local, neighborhood school rather than being transported, sometimes significant distances, to attend out-of-district, center-based programs.

The transformation is anticipated to address these issues by providing earlier integration into local districts, and by better use of resources already in place within districts, including existing district-employed special education teachers, therapists, human resource and finance staff, and transportation infrastructure.

The Department recognizes that the proposed transition presents a significant paradigm shift, and that there is a need for a measured, tiered implementation, as well as ongoing fiscal and technical support including direct state funding to local districts.

As part of a working plan to create a smooth transition for local districts, the Department is currently working with one district that is planning to pilot a program that will offer special education services for children ages 3 to school age in their district. A number of other districts have approached the Department eager to take on the responsibility as well. The transition process is expected to take a couple of years.

Department is gathering questions and information from local districts and other stakeholders. Further communications will be available to help answer to frequently asked questions and this information will be used to help inform the process. In addition, a stakeholder group, including district leaders and parents will be formed to advise the proposed legislation and transition plan.

The proposal will be reflected in proposed departmental legislation submitted for the Legislature’s consideration during the 2018 short session.

While this proposed transition may present some initial challenges, the Department is confident that it is ultimately in the best interest of Maine’s children with disabilities.

For more information contact Roy Fowler, CDS State Director for the Maine Department of Education at Roy.Fowler@maine.gov.

Update about participation in the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA)

Using the October 1, 2017 enrollment counts, the Maine Department of Education will calculate the percentage of students in each district that have been identified as students eligible to take Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA), Maine’s MEA Alternate Mathematics and English language arts/literacy assessment.

Districts are encouraged to use the participating guidelines http://www.maine.gov/doe/alternate/resources.html to ensure all students identified meet the criteria to participate in alternate assessments.  All districts with more than one percent of their students identified in the testing grades, 3 – 8 and third year high school will be notified by the Department as being above the current Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 1% cap and given an opportunity to reassess their numbers.

The final date for resubmission of student identification or justification for a district above the 1% is November 15th.

Assistance to look at student’s achievement levels in MAARS, identifying a student’s status in Synergy and an overview of the participation criteria for the alternate assessment will be given at the MADSEC conference on Friday, November 3, 2017.

For more information on participation in alternate assessments contact Sue Nay at sue.nay@maine.gov or 624-6774.

Free research-based curriculum regarding transition services to students with emotional disabilities

For those interested, there is a unique opportunity for schools to receive a free research-based curriculum regarding transition services to students with emotional disabilities.  This curriculum is being offered by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition and UMass Medical School. Participating schools will receive a stipend for utilizing and evaluating the program. 

More detailed information about this opportunity click on this link to download an information sheet: http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/support/technical/documents/TransitionCurriculaInfoSheetfromNTACT.docx or contact Roberta Lucas, Maine DOE Federal Program Coordinator at Roberta.Lucas@maine.gov.

New Resource for Discussions about Special Education Services

The Maine Department of Education is notifying educators, parents and others about a new resource, Five Questions Parents and Educators Can Ask to Start Conversations About Using Terms like Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia that might be especially useful for those who talk with parents about children with specific learning disabilities.

This resource is designed to help with terms used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to describe children who have a disability in reading, writing, or math – also sometimes referred to as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.  The guidance might assist parents and educators when discussing eligibility for special education services.

For more information, contact Janice E. Breton, Director of Special Services Birth – 20, Maine Department of Education  janice.breton@maine.gov.

Changes to the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (M.U.S.E.R.)

Changes to the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations, Birth-20, (M.U.S.E.R.) will go into effect on August 25, 2017. Until that date, schools should continue to use existing procedures for the identification of children with a specific learning disability.

Chapter 101 (Section VII.2.L) and pertaining to the identification of children with specific learning disabilities was amended to require:

  1. the inclusion of general education intervention data under Section III of the rule when the IEP team uses a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based interventions and,
  2. the inclusion of  psychological processing data from standardized measures to identify contributing factors.

These changes will affect any child’s evaluation that begins on or after August 25, 2017.

The Specific Learning Disability Eligibility Form that is used in the process of identifying children with specific learning disabilities will also change on August 25, 2017.

Please check the Maine DOE website at http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/forms/ for more information or contact the Maine Department of Education, Office of Special Services at 624-6713.

Maine DOE recommendations for dyslexia screening

In accordance with 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, the Maine Department of Education recommends universal screening for all K-2 children.  The law pertains to screening children K-2 for traits indicating that the child may be at-risk for difficulty learning to read, it is not a diagnostic assessment.  The intent is to identify at-risk children so that they may receive early evidence-based intervention known to help children with SLD/dyslexia.

 There is a list of suggested screening tools available on the Maine DOE website, along with other useful information about dyslexia, resources and frequently asked questions.

Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) has long recognized dyslexia as a Specific Learning Disability [MUSER VII (2) (L)], consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1401) and the Federal Regulations (34 CFR 300.8) which implement the IDEA Law. However, there has been confusion regarding the use of the term, dyslexia.  Consequently, in 2015 Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) issued a, “Dear Colleague” letter specifying that nothing in IDEA or the implementing regulations prohibits the inclusion of the condition that forms the basis for the child’s disability determination in the child’s IEP. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-dyslexia-10-2015.pdf.

If you have further questions regarding dyslexia or 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, please contact Lisa Whitis, MEd, JD, Maine DOE Dyslexia Coordinator at Lisa.Whitis@maine.gov or 624-6643.

 

MEA Alternate Science – PAAP submissions due April 30th

The Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP) Science testing window is coming to a close. The PAAP assesses students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 5, 8, and third year high school as an alternate to the MEA Science assessment.

All electronic PAAP submissions are due April 30th.  Measured Progress has provided return material kits for student portfolios to be returned. UPS will pick up all portfolios on MAY 2nd.  Please have the completed portfolios sealed in the envelopes provided by Measured Progress and in school offices by 8:00 am May 2nd.

All return mailing kits should contain individual student return envelopes, a student roster, directions for mailing the portfolio and directions for submitting an electronic Principal’s Certification of Proper Test Administration.

Those with questions regarding the return of PAAP portfolios should contact Measured Progress at 1-800-431-8901: Sarah Greene, x7344 or email greene.sarah@measuredprogress.org or Jimmy Hartman, x7406 or email hartman.jimmy@measuredprogress.org.

2017 ESL Summer Retreat

The 2017 ESL Summer Retreat is open for registration. The retreat is scheduled for June 26th, 27th and 28th at the University of Maine in Orono. Superintendents, principals, district level administrators and ESL coordinators and teachers are encouraged to register for the retreat. Developed in collaboration with the University of Maine Project Reach, this year’s retreat’s agenda is linked below, highlights include:

  • Presenter Dr. Jessica Costa, nationally recognized professional development senior outreach specialist for WIDA.
  • Panel of Expert consisting of Superintendent(s), Assistant Superintendent(s), ELL Coordinator(s), Principal(s) and more to hold open discussion on best practices for enhancing collaborative structures and relationships to build quality language programs.

Retreat Information:

  • ESL Summer 2017 Registration » $125 – Full 3-day conference fee (includes on-campus housing). $100 – Full 3-day conference fee (does not include housing). Registration includes meals and materials.
  • ESL Summer Retreat webpage – additional updated information including retreat materials will be posted as they become available.

For more information about the conference, please contact Nancy Mullins at 624-6788 or nancy.mullins@maine.gov.

EPS High-Cost Out-of-District Report (EF-S-214) open for reporting on March 13

The EF-S-214 will be open to Maine public schools on March 13. The report must be approved by the School Finance Team by April 15 to be used in the calculation for an adjustment.  School districts should sign into the report as early as possible, as some aspects of the report have changed.  Starting this year, the business manager will have to certify that the figures reported by the Special Education office are consistent with the data in the school district financial system.

This report is required to be submitted by all publically funded school districts.  School districts need to project the costs for the full fiscal year.  Only costs for tuition and board should be included in the report.  For Fiscal Year 2017 only students that have a total cost above $31,548 should be included on the report.  Those districts that have no students who meet that threshold are still required to submit a report.

We have made some changes for this year:

  • Students can have multiple lines if they have had more than one placement during the year
  • School districts will now have the option to see a summary sheet that will provide them the total adjustment if all costs are approved
  • An internal messaging system has been added if there are any questions
  • The form will auto-populate the school district contact based on information in the staff module and the person filling out the form based on the login information
  • The form will need to be certified by the business manager

The report can be located by logging into NEO at https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/NEO/Accounts/Account/Login

Questions about the report should be direct to Stephanie Clark at 624-6807.

Comments sought on Maine’s IDEA Part B application

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking public comments on its annual application for federal funds under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which covers services to children with disabilities, ages 3-20.

The application, which covers Maine fiscal year 2018 (starting July 1, 2017) is posted on the Maine DOE’s webpage at http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea. The Part B budget is projected on the basis of Maine’s award for the current State fiscal year (2017), pending the State’s receipt of the finalized federal award for the coming year. Both documents will be posted from March 9th, 2017 through May 8th, 2017.

Written comments will be accepted from March 9th, 2017 until 4 p.m. on April 8th, 2017. Please send comments to Janice Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME. 04333.