The State of Georgia is monitored by the federal government on indicators of student performance through No Child Left Behind. Special Education is also monitored by annually reporting various data to the Department of Education in Atlanta, which compiles and forwards it to Washington, D.C. For special education, there are 16 performance indicators, divided into four goals. Those goals are 1) Improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities, 2) Improve services for young children (ages 3-5) with disabilities, 3) Improve the provision of a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities, and 4) Improve compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. To remain in line with federal expectations, Georgia has analyzed the data for each indicator, established base lines, and set targets for where we should be each year between now and 2014. Individual school districts must then look at their respective data, compare it to the state benchmarks, and set attainable goals.
Each year, a group of stakeholders meet to review the data for Bryan County Schools in reference to these indicators, discuss the implications of the data, and recommend goals. These goals are then embedded in the system’s Consolidated Application Grant.
Bryan County Special Education is making good progress in several areas. The state benchmark for drop outs is 5.8 percent, and our rate is 2.7 percent, showing far fewer students with special needs are dropping out of school in Bryan County as compared to the rest of the state. Georgia expects 31 percent of the students with disabilities to graduate with a regular diploma, and we exceed this with 48.6 percent of our graduates receiving a regular diploma. Instruction in general education for children ages 6-21 should be at 57 percent based on the state benchmark, and we are exceeding that at 61 percent. Special education students removed from school for behaviors should be less than 1.2 percent, and in Bryan County we are at 0.36 percent. When students transition from Babies Can’t Wait to public school, the transition must occur by the child’s third birthday. The state expects this to occur 100 percent of the time. Last year, we met this 85.6 percent of the time, missing the deadline on only one child. Students referred for special education services are to have their assessments and eligibility determination meetings within 60 calendar days from the consent for evaluation. The state expects 100 percent compliance. We met this 94.1 percent of the time. Students with disabilities are expected to meet or exceed math proficiencies at a rate of 52.7 percent, and reading proficiencies at a rate of 64 percent. In Bryan County, 63 percent of our students met or exceeded the math benchmark, and 64 percent of our students met or exceeded the reading benchmark.
In recognition of these outcomes, Bryan County Schools was recently awarded a Pace Setters Award. One system from each class size within the state of Georgia is recognized as being an outstanding system, one that sets the pace for other systems, for meeting or exceeding these state benchmarks. Only six were presented this year. We are very proud; however, this is not the time to rest. As well as we are doing, we can always do a little more.
At the last Stakeholder meeting six goals were established. They are 1) Increase the amount of in home and private facility special education services by a dedicated Preschool Intervention teacher, OT, PT, and Speech Pathologist, 2) Create, maintain, and monitor a data base on referrals for children ages 3-5 with weekly parent contacts, 3) Create, maintain, and monitor a data base to track initial evaluations and reevaluations for compliance, 4) Conduct comprehensive reevaluations on students currently in disproportionate groups when due for redetermination, 5) Continue to provide Early Intervening Services to General Education students to minimize disproportionality, 6) Allocate additional para educators from the IDEA flow through grant to support special education students in the general education classrooms and improve skill acquisition and test scores, and 7) Increase direct instruction from special education teachers in core academics during resource time with a focus on research based methodologies.
Though ambitious, we believe that we have the talent in our schools, the unwavering support from our school board, and the commitment from a collaborative relationship with our parents to make significant gains in these areas. Next year, our stakeholders’ meeting should be very exciting.
Written by Director of Special Education