Pearland - Friendswood | February 2020

EDUCATIONDESIGNATIONS The Texas Education Agency released its Texas Academic Performance Report in December, which gives Texas school districts a grade for their special education program.

“That had an impact,” Nixon said. “I won’t say that’s the only thing, but it denitely contributed.” Going forward, PISD and AISD o- cials said they plan to focus on more training, particularly in identifying and accommodating students who may need additional support. Statewide, TEA ocials told Community Impact Newspaper it has designed and implemented a new sys- tem over the last ve years to monitor special education programs across Texas public schools that balances legal requirements with student outcomes. “Students with disabilities in Texas public schools deserve high quality, eective, special and general educa- tion services,” TEA ocials said. Increased enrollment As PISD and AISD address TEA des- ignations, their special education stu- dent population has slowly increased. Since the 2016-17 school year, PISD’s and AISD’s proportion of special edu- cation students both increased by about 2 percentage points, according to previous TAPR reports. In 2016-17, PISD’s special education made up 8.55% of the overall student population. It rose to 10.12% in 2020-21. Comparatively, AISD’s special educa- tion population made up 9.68% of the overall student population in 2016-17 versus 11.87% in 2020-21. With the population increases, PISD’s and AISD’s sta has varied among its education diagnosticians as well as licensed specialists in school psychology, or LSSP, positions. Both work with students receiving special education services, AISD and PISD ocials said. PISD’s number of LSSPs and edu- cation diagnosticians varied between 2017-18 and 2020-21—losing three LSSP sta members and gaining four educa- tion diagnosticians, per district data. Meanwhile, AISD’s LSSPs and edu- cation diagnosticians stang has not changed much. In 2017-18, the district had 16 LSSPs and seven education diagnosticians. In 2020-21, the num- ber of LSSPs rose by one and education diagnosticians by ve. School districts across the state are facing stang shortages, said Linda Litzinger, public policy specialist for Texas Parent To Parent, an organiza- tion focusing on special education services in the state. This message was echoed by AISD. “Unfortunately, there is a state- wide, honestly, nationwide, short- age in LSSPs, which has impacted our ability to ll our requested


improvement from where it was in 2019-20, when it was given a status of “needs assistance.” PISDocials said focusing on behav- ioral teachings helped with raising its TEA status. “Our goal is that our students reach their highest potential,” said Lisa Nixon, the assistant superintendent of special programs at PISD. Comparatively, Alvin ISD received the “needs assistance” designation in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years; nearby Santa Fe and Dickinson ISDs also received “needs assistance” in 2020-21, and Friendswood and Clear Creek ISDs met requirements in both school years. AISD leaders plan to continue department trainings to help with the status, AISD Director of Special Educa- tion Sarah Chauvin said. Making the grade The TEA gives districts their deter- mination status for special education based on results-driven accountability indicators as well as federal and state elements, according to the TEA. The status dictates what districts do next. After both PISD and AISD were des- ignated “needs assistance” in 2019-20, they were required to share a strategic support plan with the TEA addressing weaknesses indicated by the TAPR, district ocials said. Additionally, the TEA was in con- stant communication with each dis- trict, both Nixon and Chauvin said. Districts that do not meet require- ments could receive additional support if needed, according to the TEA. “If we were not [showing] improve- ment on our goals, then when we receive our data for next school year, then they might escalate the level of support required,” Chauvin said. WhileAISDremainedat “needs assis- tance” for 2020-21, Chauvin said the district does not anticipate that again in 2021-22 because AISD improved some of its results-driven indicators, such as representation among its spe- cial education population. Meanwhile, PISD credited some of its status improvement to implement- ing a restorative practices approach, Nixon said. The plan was previously used in elementary schools only, but it expanded to fth through 12th grades three years ago, Nixon added. The approach emphasizes teaching and reinforcing positive behavioral intervention before issues escalate, Nixon said.

Pearland ISD

Clear Creek ISD

Friendswood ISD

Dickinson ISD


Alvin ISD


Santa Fe ISD


Texas City ISD



a 2020-21 special education determination (best to worst) Meets requirements

Hitchcock ISD

Needs assistance Needs intervention Needs substantial intervention



PEARLAND ISD The district’s determination status rose from “needs assistance” in 2019-20 to “meets requirements” in 2020-21. What contributed to its improvement: • Implementing restorative practices that focused on positive, behavioral intervention and support in grades 5-12 before the 2019-20 school year • Targeting instruction and providing instructional tools and resources for teachers to aid students who use special education services

ALVIN ISD The district remained at “needs assistance” in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, meaning the district needs to share a strategic support plan with the TEA to address the areas of concern. Goals to improve status: • Focus on providing training and support across all departments • Emphasis on having a quality evaluation process to support students

Although Pearland ISD’s and Alvin ISD’s special education populations increased the last four years, special education sta has not kept pace between scal years 2017-18 and 2020-21. SPECIAL EDUCATIONSUPPORTSTAFF Education diagnosticians Licensed specialists in school psychology and psychologists



FY 2017-18

FY 2020-21

FY 2020-21

FY 2017-18 7









positions,” Chauvin said. “We ... have two LSSP vacancies for this school year that are unlled.” Chauvin said AISD has combatted the shortages by lling vacancieswith other personnel and collaborating with local universities to allow interns to grow under the district’s guidance—some of who become full-time employees upon

graduation and obtaining licensure. “There is a lot of chaos because of COVID still,” Litzinger said. “And the kids with special needs are naturally going to get the short end of the stick.”

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