TEA releases online, confidential survey for comments on its draft special education corrective action plan

Responding to federal orders and a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott, TEA released a draft special education corrective action plan on Jan. 18, 2018, along with an online survey to solicit public input on the plan through Feb. 18. Survey responses are confidential, and educators, parents and students are encouraged to participate.

In particular, TCTA believes educators should pay special attention to the question in the Corrective Action Three section of the survey that asks whether you agree/disagree with the proposal for “statewide professional development for all educators (general education, special education, specialists, and others) to address inclusive practices, identification support, and instructional techniques” and that “participants will be required to demonstrate content proficiency and effective implementation before being noted as having participated in the full program.”  Given the concerns TCTA has heard from our members over the years about mandated, one-size-fits-all training, we suggest you offer any suggestions in the open-ended box at the end of that section to ensure that training is relevant and valuable, and that the delivery mechanism is appropriate and timely. 

Other key parts of the survey include the open-ended box at the end of the Corrective Action One section that asks for specific suggestions about TEA’s proposed review/monitoring process, including conducting unannounced visits to schools and having unrestricted access to things like classroom observations and confidential interviews with parents.

TEA’s draft plan provides that TEA also will conduct confidential interviews with staff. Consequently, TCTA’s response was to support the use of confidential interviews with teachers/staff as an important component of TEA’s review/monitoring system, and suggest that TEA should establish a mechanism by which teachers/staff and parents can make confidential reports to TEA.

In the Corrective Action Two section of the survey, there is an opportunity to make specific suggestions about TEA’s proposal to require every district and charter school to identify all students who were in response to intervention (RTI) for six or more months, only had a Section 504 plan, or were exclusively in a dyslexia or dyslexia-related program. TEA’s proposal also provides that “specific guidelines will be put into place around a formal process for these students, and districts must report these outcomes to TEA on a periodic basis” and that “TEA will include monitoring of this process through the teams outlined in Corrective Actions One and Four.” 

TCTA’s response was to suggest that TEA have a confidential means (aside from interviews) for teachers/staff and parents to report these instances to TEA for both past and new incidents, and that these reports be used as part of the process that would trigger on-site visits.

In the Corrective Action Four section of the survey, there is an opportunity to make specific suggestions about TEA’s proposal to monitor school districts’ implementation of IDEA Child Find/free and appropriate public education requirements when struggling learners suspected of having a disability and needing special education and related services under the IDEA are receiving services and supports through RTI, Section 504, and the State’s dyslexia program.

One of the findings from OSEP’s investigation was that teachers were being instructed that students must complete all tiers of RTI before they could be referred for special education services, and that this could potentially be a violation of IDEA if a student is suspected of having disabilities. 

Accordingly, TCTA’s response was that TEA establish a confidential mechanism for teachers/staff and parents to report to TEA these and other instances of districts not properly implementing IDEA’s Child Find requirements.  

The survey is just one of the avenues for public input on TEA’s initial draft CAP. Another opportunity is to email comments on the draft corrective action plan to TexasSPED@tea.texas.gov by Feb. 18. To read more about the plan and TCTA's comments on it, click here.