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Goal 3: Progress Updates

Goal 3

February 12, 2024 • Strategy 3 Update

The Strategy 3 Committee has met one additional time since our last report. In December, we discussed a strategy to track a decrease in actionable complaints. Some believe that the initial Strategic Plan Steering Committee did not intend for this data to be tracked through the Kansas State Department of Education Formal Complaints process. Unfortunately, the process we had discussed had unintended confidentiality implications due to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). Therefore, we will continue to brainstorm to bring a revision of our data tracking system to the Board of Education.

We have the results of our Strategy 3 Family Survey and have shared them with the Special Services Parent Advisory Council and the Special Services families via email. We will be discussing the outcomes at our meeting on January 30. What we found with the survey is that we are doing a great job in some areas, and in others, we need to improve. From the survey, 69% of parents agreed that school progress monitoring tests accurately measure their child’s abilities. The Special Services department sat down with the Curriculum department to ensure our providers have the adequate resources to fully explain the data that is being collected as part of the Beginning, Middle, and End of the year data points to better convey this information to the parents. We have also held one (and are in the planning stages of a second) professional development day for our interrelated teachers to help with this point as well as their implementation of the current district curriculums. From the survey, 93% of parents, understanding the district is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, feel the buildings are appropriately set up for ease of accessing the educational environment.

The Special Services and the Curriculum departments have been partnering to help better define the curriculum mapping across the district for students with special services. They were unveiled at the meeting on January 30. 

In the meantime, we have worked very hard to be as transparent as possible with our webpage’s course descriptions and program locations. We have also improved our parent communication with a monthly newsletter that is not only sent to parents of students with special services via Skyward but also linked to our webpage for ease of access to parents and community members. We are very proud of the build-out that has taken place on our website to help all stakeholders understand the depth and breadth of our department. This is to improve the communication questions on the survey. Parents agreed that communication was clear and beneficial from the district special services department at 76%, their child’s school at 81%, and their IEP/504 team at 79%.

Lastly, partnering with Strategy 4, we have reviewed four different de-escalation training companies: Crisis Prevention Institute, Managing Aggressive Behaviors (current provider), Mandt, and Ukeru. We will meet again in February to recommend a professional development provider to the district.

November 27, 2023 • Strategy 3 Update

Strategy 3 met on October 30, 2023. At that time, the committee discussed the goals for year 2. Included in the discussion was data the district gathered to help begin the exploration of our goals. At this time we have current middle and high school course descriptions. The team would like more information on additional options for electives for special education low-incidence students at all levels.

The team also discussed our current classroom offerings related to the special education continuum across the district. We provided the committee with the descriptions of our life skills, functional, structured learning, positive behavior intervention supports, and interrelated/curriculum modified.

We also discussed renaming “interrelated” to “curriculum modified” across the district. The Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) constructed a survey that will be distributed to all families served under the special services department in late November. That survey will be open for two weeks and a reminder will be sent out from the district to bolster participation. The PAC chairpersons and district administration have met several times to refine this survey in preparation for the survey to be sent to parents so we can begin the work on the continuity of services between the elementary and secondary schools.

We also reviewed the optimal allocation of staff as compared to the current staff allocation of caseloads. Only the school psychologists as a group meet the optimal caseload ratios set forth in year 1. Those ratios and our current caseloads can be found using this link. The caseload data used for these ratios was taken from the September 20 headcount.

We also reviewed the special services website and the communication items that have been added. We asked the committee to come back with ideas on what else needs to be on the website to help staff and parents navigate the district.

Lastly, the team reviewed the purpose of the PAC, their work and goals, and the Communication Loop Special Services created to help inform the PAC of our progress as a district. Finally, the special services department also began a monthly newsletter based on feedback from the PAC. Each newsletter is distributed by email through Skyward to parents of students with services through the special services department.

Our next scheduled meetings will be held on: December 4, January 30, March 4, and April 15, all at 6:00
p.m. at the Derby Administrative Center.

June 12, 2023 • Strategy 3 Update (Final Year 1 Report)

We have met a total of six times this year. We have completed the tasks outlined in the strategic plan. We have created a presentation that outlines the current ratios and our proposed optimal ratios. After much discussion, we thought it was imperative to describe the current workload of our providers, not just the number of students on their IEP caseloads. In some cases, the optimal ratios were set by the national recommendations while others were set by the average of surrounding districts as no national recommendations were available.

The Parent Advisory Council has now met twice and will continue to meet on a frequent basis. They will continue to meet and then will bring questions and concerns to our Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) and the SEAC team will work through those concerns and ideas and will then communicate back to the Parent Advisory Council. This partnership will work to increase parental education, provide a parental lens to the special education department, and work proactively to make changes that positively impact students and families at Derby Public Schools.

Lastly, we have worked on professional development for our providers and support personnel for the district. Using the Council for Exceptional Children’s High Leverage Practices, we have created a spreadsheet to ensure our professional development (PD) options align with the four research-based pillars. We then align the PD to the underpinnings of those pillars. We have also scheduled a Paraprofessional Academy for August 7. This half-day training will be specific for paraprofessionals and their training concerns. We have asked for feedback from teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals to learn what their needs are and are creating the PD opportunities to meet those needs. The events are planned to be an annual training for staff and will be written into our TIP Grant for funding.

During our time together, we have also started looking toward the future of our strategy and have notated some changes we would like to suggest for future goals. We have also started organizing our thoughts for next year, have set our dates, and created a survey to invite former and future participants to our strategy group.

March 6, 2023 • Strategy 3 Update

We have had two meetings since our last report, December 5 and January 19. The parent advisory council has now been defined to provide a forum for parents to collaborate with district professionals to ensure open communication and work to tackle challenges together for the betterment of the special services students and providers. This parent group will meet and bring suggestions, ideas, and questions to a liaison between the council and Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). SEAC is an elected group of professionals with DNEA representation that brings together anonymous feedback from special education providers across the district. We have also begun to look at caseload numbers in Derby as compared to other districts of similar size and from across the area. Finally, we have begun to look at the Kansas State Department of Education’s evidence-based best practices and the Council for Exceptional Children’s High-Level Practices for professional development.

November 28, 2022 • Strategy 3 Update

Forty members of Strategy 3 attended our first meeting on November 7, 2022. Presented were the goals for the strategy as well as the two measurable outcomes for the 2022-2023 school year. Also presented were current IEP caseloads for the different classroom types and related services across the district. Conversation surrounded the formation of the Special Services Advocacy Committee and the focus of those in attendance. Our action step for our next meeting is to come with ideas on the formation of the Special Services Advocacy Committee and goals for the data needed to address our two measurable outcomes.