You've probably seen many bloggers say that they are only as good as their readers. Here's another example of that. I didn't even know the state did this, let alone ever read a report, and so thanks to Lisa for sending it to me!
The state comes out and visits each district to check their compliance with state and federal law around special education, English language learners, civil rights, and vocational education. Then they write up a report. You can find the master list of reports here. Worcester's is here.
And what does it say on what we're doing? Let me emphasize first that there are plenty of things we're doing as we should.
Here's a list of what we need to work on, according to the state:
- Under special ed: keeping students in the "least restrictive environment;" following procedures surrounding IEP's (having them implemented and available); communications with home being in English and primary language spoken at home; procedures around out-of-district placement; equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities; and facilities (specifically, from the notes, the isolation of special ed classrooms within buildings seems to be a problem). Also, review of student records; the completion of summaries in written reports; regular ed teachers' attendance at IEP meetings; amendment of IEPs not being done according to regulation; completely filled out IEP's (particularly, again from notes, for students of limited English proficiency, emotional disturbance, or particular ages); age range (all kids in one classroom must be within 4 years of each other); consideration of behavioral needs;
- Under civil rights: not all students receiving English Language development (and so don't have access to all programs); pregnant students having access to full range of programs (not having PE prohibited, for example); translation of all documents and oral translation not avaliable in all needed languages; PE not required for all students in high school; guidance and counseling available for students in the language they understand; not letting kids who have not completed high school know of programs avaliable to them; staff not trained on physical restraint within a month of employment
- Under English language learner: not initially identifying all ELL students and having them assessed by qualified staff; students who are sent to the safety center do not have their IEPs implemented; not providing sufficient translation at IEP and related meetings; monitoring of out-of-districts placement not clear in records; pattern of removal not being considered grounds for a manifestation determination; access of ELL students to special ed services not across the board; concern over the amount of and access to lab time and the curriculum district-wide; facilities for pullout services are inadequate
- Under voc/tech: career assessments of students not always given in their first year; a question of completeness of some compency checklists; program of studies for tech studies needed; translation of admissions policies for Tech school; concern with ELL avaliablity at Tech; admission at Tech*; representation of appropriate industries on advisory boards at Tech; Career plans missing planned academic courses; programs in some areas not aligned with frameworks or with academic courses, missing technological knowledge; linkage with formal apprenticeship programs and assessment of cooperative education; publication of financial assistance for needed clothes, tools, etc, not publicized adequately; career assistance in non-traditional gender careers; licensure and safety issues; not meeting performance level of 70% for positive placement under Chapter 74; missing student documentation
*"Interviews and documentation review indicated that Worcester Technical High School is using an admissions policy and application that were not approved by the Department. Exploratory assessment forms used to determine which students are admitted to the program of their choice sometimes included teacher comments that were subjective and instructions for the final selection process advised students to speak with the teacher in their first choice program to find out if they would be admitted to the shop before they filled out their program selection form. Some interviews indicated that teachers can refuse to admit particular students to their program. There is no rubric for scoring the exploratory assessment nor has there been any training or guidance provided to technical teachers. Most recruitment materials including the admissions policy for Worcester Technical High School are not translated into the primary language of parents in the community. The student handbook supplement for Worcester Technical High School requires students and parents to sign a contract agreeing to voluntary removal from the school if the student violates any provision of the contract."