Special Education


Special Education Home | Implementation of IDEA | Monitoring | Federal Monitoring

Statewide Special Education Self-Assessment
Steering Committee Members

Diana Autin Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
Ellen Boylan Education Law Center
Debra Bradley NJ Principals & Supervisors Association
Rene Chin NJ Center for Outreach & Services for the Autism Community, Inc.
Debbie Coniglio Department of Human Services/Office of Education
Brenda Considine The ARC of NJ
Dr. Bob Cote Office of Education, Juvenile Justice Commission
Tim Dadzie-Steele Ewing Residential Center-Lincoln School
Brian Fitzgibbons Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Joe Hancock NJ Association of School Administrators
Dr. Sol Heckelman Special Education Advisory Council
Peggy Kinsell NJ Protection & Advocacy, Inc.
Theodore Kozlik NJ Association for Pupil Services Administrators
Dr. Jay Kuder Rowan University, Department of Special Education
Paula Lieb NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education
Steven McGettigan School Board Association
Sarah Mitchell New Jersey Protection & Advocacy, Inc.
Dr. Vasudha Natarajan Kean University, Dept of Special Education
Agnarda D. Palsha Special Education Committee NJPSA
Joyce Powell New Jersey Education Association
Susan Richmond Developmental Disabilities Council
Myra Ryan UCP of New Jersey
Sy Shlakman NJ Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Dr. Deborah Spitalnik The Boggs Center-UAP/UMDNJ
Mark Stanwood Atlantic County Special Services School District
Gerald M. Theirs Association of Schools & Agencies for the Handicapped
Wendi Webster-O'Dell New Jersey PTA
Ina White The Boggs Center-UAP/UMDNJ

State Steering Committee Staff

Barbara Gantwerk, Director NJDOE, Office of Special Education Programs
Dr. Roberta Wohle, Manager NJDOE, Office of Special Education Programs
Dr. Jerry G. Petroff NJDOE, Office of Special Education Programs
Cynthia L. Ruetsch NJDHS, Office of Education
Eva Scott NJDHS, Office of Education
Diana Salvador, Intern NJDOE, Office of Special Education Programs

Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction

What was our charge?
Who did we involve?
What did we do?

Process Model
Phase I
Phase II
Phase III
Phase IV
Phase V

What were the statewide self-assessment findings?

  
Part 2 Statewide Self-Assessment Findings

General Supervision

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement #2
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement # 3
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement # 4
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

FAPE

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement # 2
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement # 3
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary
Performance Requirement # 4
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

Parent Involvement

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Performance Requirement # 2
Statewide Indicators
Performance Requirement # 3
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

LRE

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Performance Requirement # 2 & 3
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

Statewide Assessment

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

Table 1
Table 2
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5

Personnel Development

Performance Requirement # 1
Statewide Indicators
Committee Impressions
Data Sources
Analysis Summary

  
Appendices
Appendix A NJOSEP Parent Survey
Appendix B Additional Surveys

SPAN Parent Survey
NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education Survey

 


Part 1
Introduction
and
Overview of the Self-Assessment Process

INTRODUCTION

What was our charge?

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), Office of Special Education Programs is implementing an initiative to assess the impact and effectiveness of state and local efforts to provide a free, appropriate public education to children and youth with disabilities. This initiative is referred to as the "Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process" and reflects a comprehensive approach to overseeing the state's ability to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B requirements.

As a component of this "Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process" New Jersey has been encouraged to conduct a statewide self-assessment regarding the provision of special education services. This self-assessment requires the identification and involvement of primary stakeholders who reflect educational, parent and advocacy agencies, organizations and other constituency groups involved in the education of students with disabilities. In collaboration with representatives from the stakeholders, the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs was charged with the task of evaluating the state's ability to provide special education.

The USDOE provided a framework to guide the self-assessment process which included six cluster areas of performance including: General Supervision, Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Parent Involvement, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Statewide Assessment, and Personnel Development. This framework included an objective for each cluster area, performance requirements and associated statewide indicators. NJOSEP adopted the performance requirements and with input from the steering committee, refined the statewide indicators.

The self-assessment is intended to identify both strengths and areas for improvement regarding the provision of special education in New Jersey. The self-assessment process will yield information that will serve as the basis for the development of a state improvement plan.

Who did we involve?

The self-assessment process began with the formation of a steering committee which included the primary stakeholders involved in special education within New Jersey (See Appendix A). These agencies, organizations and other interested groups were invited to participate on the steering committee. Each stakeholder was asked to send a representative that could serve as a voice for their constituency and devote the time and energy into this initiative. An effort was made to ensure diversity within this group. However, despite these efforts a diverse membership was difficult to secure.

What did we do?

A committee of state personnel developed a five-phase process to guide the statewide self-assessment. This process was implemented during a series of six full-day steering committee meetings conducted on September 7 and 22, 1999; October 7 and 21, 1999; December 17, 1999; and January 10, 2000. Steering committee meetings were conducted as full-day work sessions and designed to actively engage all committee members and yield their divergent opinions and experiences. The meetings utilized large and small group processes and employed the use of a process facilitator and a graphic facilitator to document the process and record information gathered from the participants.

The following outline offers a detailed description of this five-phase process (See Appendix B for additional information and materials regarding this process):

NJ DOE/OSEP Continuous Improvement Self-Assessment Process
Phase 1: Determine Focus of Assessment
Phase 2: Review Perceived Current Status Phase 4: Analyze the Data Phase 3: Gather Infomration
Arrow Pointing Down
Phase 5: Generate a Report

This process was designed to reflect the interdependent nature of: (1) the federal requirements and associated statewide indicators (Phase 1), (2) the perceptions of the constituents (Phase 2), and (3) the available data (Phase 3) resulting in an accurate assessment of the state's current status as well as provide direction in the development of a state improvement plan.

Phase I Developing/Validating the Self-Assessment Core Document

New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs adopted the cluster areas and performance requirements provided by the USDOE as its core self-assessment document. Therefore, the federal cluster areas and associated performance requirements were neither eliminated or altered. NJOSEP staff reviewed the federal indicators and offered suggestions regarding additions, modifications and deletions. A draft document that reflected the suggestions of the NJOSEP staff was presented to the steering committee. The document included the six general cluster areas, their defining performance requirements and the modified statewide indicators. The NJOSEP in collaboration with the steering committee developed a set of statewide indicators for each performance requirement. During this phase the steering committee was requested to:

Review the Statewide Indicators provided by the USDOE (as modified by NJOSEP) under each of the Performance Requirements within each Cluster Area;

Generate a List of "Possible" additional indicators;

Agree on the List of Additional Indicators.

Outcome: A Self-Assessment Core Document including a set of agreed upon Statewide Indicators for each of the Performance Requirements within each Cluster Area.

Phase II Reviewing the Perceived Current Status

The objective of this phase was to gather a concise list of shared impressions of the steering committee members for each Performance Requirement. Each steering committee member was asked to complete an individual impressions form (See Appendix B) that documented his/her response to two questions: What are we doing well? and Where do we need improvement? Upon completion of these individual impressions, small and large group processes were used to identify any shared impressions among the committee members. A shared impression was defined as a perception shared by two or more committee members. The shared impressions varied greatly with regard to the number of committee members in agreement. The committee impressions reflect concerns raised by some members and do not reflect a consensus of the committee members. The NJDOE staff facilitated the process but did not contribute to the Committee Impressions. Committee Impressions were accepted as a data source when no data were available to support or refute the impression.

During this phase the steering committee was requested to:

Record individual impressions regarding each statewide indicator

Review each Statewide Indicator, identify shared committee impressions, and establish agreement among the members regarding the general status.

Outcome: An overall impression of the state's current status for each of the Statewide Indicators.

Phase III Gathering Information

The objective of this phase was to identify and obtain quantitative and qualitative data. While NJDOE staff and the steering committee provided potential data sources only information that directly linked to the statewide indicators and could be easily analyzed and reported within the allotted time frame were used as final data sources.

To meet this objective NJOSEP held a meeting to identify potential data sources for each statewide indicator which were reviewed by the steering committee. The steering committee members were then requested to identify and submit relevant data. In an effort to obtain additional data, NJOSEP developed and conducted two research efforts. This included (1) A Parent Special Education Survey to determine parent satisfaction, level of participation, and dissemination of information; and (2) a Promising Practices Survey to identify effective programs and strategies being implemented in local school districts (See Appendix C). The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) also conducted a parent survey to gather information regarding special education requirements. In addition, The NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education conducted a survey of its constituents regarding the provision of special education services.

For each Statewide Indicator, the steering committee responded to the following:

What information does OSEP have regarding this indicator?

2. What other information regarding this indicator is there and who has it?

What information do we need to get and is this information something we can collect now or in the future?

Outcome: All information is identified and/or collected.

Phase IV Analyzing the Data

The objective of this phase was to review and analyze the available data within the context of the performance requirements, statewide indicators, and the steering committee shared impressions. A draft analysis was developed by a committee of NJOSEP staff members and then presented to the steering committee for review and validation. The steering committee suggestions were incorporated, the analysis was refined and once again presented to the committee for final review. The final comments resulted in further refinement of the analysis. The final version is presented in the subsequent section of this document.

Phase V Generating a Report

This report has been generated to reflect the many hours of review and study of the provision of special education in New Jersey. It reflects an attempt to generate a comprehensive and fair view of the current status of special education as reported by NJOSEP and its constituents. It must be understood that this is a view of special education from a statewide perspective. The statements included in this review may not reflect the status of each individual local school district but is an attempt to present a global assessment of New Jersey. We do recognize that there are many best practices and achievements within individual local school districts as demonstrated by the compilation of the promising practices survey (See Appendix D).

What were the statewide self-assessment findings?

The results of the statewide self-assessment process are presented in the following section. It is the full document that contains each of the federal cluster areas of performance and associated performance requirements; the statewide indicators developed in collaboration with the steering committee; the shared impressions of the steering committee; the data sources and the analysis summaries.


Part 2

Statewide Self-Assessment Findings

Cluster Area of Performance: General Supervision

Objective: Does the NJDOE general supervision ensure the effective implementation of the IDEA?

Performance Requirement #1:

The state has systems in place to ensure effective general supervision of the implementation of the requirements under IDEA Part B.

  1. Parents and students with disabilities are informed of their procedural safeguard rights and have access to systems for complaint and dispute resolution.
  2. The SEA ensures the provision of FAPE through timely resolution of complaints, mediation, due process hearings and methods for ensuring compliance.
  3. The SEA ensures that systemic issues of noncompliance are identified and corrected.

Statewide Indicators

1. The SEA accurately determines compliance and noncompliance with IDEA requirements through the use of effective monitoring instruments and procedures.

2. The SEA ensures that noncompliance is corrected in a timely and effective manner.

3. The SEA utilizes enforcement actions, when necessary, to address persistent deficiencies.

4. The SEA provides guidance, technical assistance, and oversight to assist LEAs in meeting the information and training needs of parents and adult students.

5. The LEA provides information and training regarding procedural safeguards and process of referral, identification, eligibility determination, IEP development and placement to parents and adult students.

6. Students with disabilities are informed of their rights and responsibilities upon reaching the age of majority.

7. Complaint investigations, mediation, and due process hearings are conducted in a timely manner.

8. Findings from complaint investigations, due process hearings and other data are used as a component of the state's monitoring system.

9. The SEA incorporates the findings from OCR, NJOSEP, court decisions and other relevant data into its monitoring process.

10. Decisions in complaint investigations, mediation and due process hearings that result in corrective action are implemented in a timely manner.

11. Decisions in complaint investigations, mediation, and due process hearings result in the provision of FAPE.

12. There is evidence of personnel training (including SEA, LEA, contractors, service providers, hearing officers, mediators, etc.) related to the administrative and general supervision responsibilities.

13. Systemic issues are identified through the collection of information and complaint resolution, mediation procedures, and due process hearings, monitoring, and other compliance mechanisms.

14. The SEA provides guidance, technical assistance, and oversight to assist LEAs in correcting identified areas of noncompliance.

15. The SEA evaluates progress on performance goals and indicators every two years using a variety of data, collected through monitoring, to effect systems change.

16. The SEA & LEA use parent input for state & local decision-making, compliance and program improvement.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

  • The new PRISE book is good.
  • The state mediators often do an excellent job.
  • The area of compliance items has improved (the identification of them).
  • The NJOSEP staff are accessible to parents for advice.
  • The meditations and hearings are scheduled in a timely manner.
  • There has been progress in identifying transition as a systemic issue.
  • There are people at the State Department of Education who give technical assistance to local school districts to resolve disputes prior to mediation or due process.
Where are there opportunities for improvement?
  • Administrative law judges need training in special education issues.
  • Translate PRISE into other languages.
  • Notices, meetings, evaluations, etc. should be available in languages other than English. Families who speak languages other than English do not have equal access to information and participation.
  • Districts do an uneven job of explaining to families and students their rights.
  • There is no follow up to non-compliance issues and reports to LEA from county/state are late or not provided at all.
  • Mediation, hearings, and complaint investigations are not done in a timely manner.
  • Results of complaint investigations and due process in other districts should be available.
  • Move hearing sites back to the local districts.
  • Complaint investigation, mediation or due process results do not include timelines for implementation/ compliance.
  • The results of complaint investigations, mediations and due process hearings are not used to identify systemic problems.
  • Administrative law judges are not proficient in laws regarding special education.

Data Sources

  1. Monitoring Instrument/Procedures
  2. PRISE Document
  3. IEP Format Document
  4. Complaint Investigations Data Summary
  5. TA Documents/Policy Papers
  6. LRC & NJOSEP training schedules
  7. Child Study Team Supervisors' meeting agenda
  8. District Self-Evaluation document
  9. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  10. NJOSEP Parent Survey
  11. COSAC training schedule

Analysis Summary

The results of the June 8, 1998 federal monitoring of the New Jersey Department of Education, indicated that the New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs (NJOSEP) has not exercised its general supervisory authority and failed to implement an effective system for monitoring that enables it to identify and correct deficiencies in local school districts resulting in ongoing noncompliance across the state. In order to address these findings there is ongoing collaboration among the Bureaus of Policy & Planning, Program Review and Program Development which facilitates the provision of training and technical assistance based on the needs identified through monitoring and complaint investigations. There are systems in place to implement IDEA Part B requirements, identify systemic areas of noncompliance, resolve disputes, clarify issues, and provide technical assistance to parents and school personnel regarding the delivery of special education services. NJOSEP issues policy papers to assist in the appropriate implementation of federal and state requirements. These policy papers address areas identified in the USDOE monitoring and included least restrictive environment, extended school year, and the provision of related services.

NJOSEP has developed a new comprehensive and continuous monitoring process in order to meet its responsibilities of overseeing compliance with federal and state mandates while focusing on state and local efforts on improved results for students with disabilities. This system is designed to integrate procedural compliance and program quality into a coordinated system of general oversight. The monitoring process provides for both on-site review and district self-assessment. During the 1999-2000 school year 25 districts are being monitored by teams of supervisors of child study. Thirty-five LEAs are implementing the self-assessment. Both on-site monitoring activities and the completion of the self-assessment will result in the development of corrective action plans and improvement plans. Each plan will be reviewed and approved by the LEA's local board of education, by the county superintendent of schools and by the director of the Office of Special Education Programs. All corrective action plans and improvement plans will be reviewed twice a year by the LEAs. The LEAs will submit progress reports reflecting these reviews and statements of progress to the county offices. The county supervisors of child study will monitor LEA progress and report findings to the Office of Special Education Programs three times a year. Should an LEA fail to demonstrate sufficient progress toward compliance, enforcement actions will be initiated. The on-site monitoring process and self-assessment both provide for public input through the provision of a public forum scheduled at the beginning of the monitoring and self-assessment process. As part of the self-assessment, each LEA will create a steering committee to provide input into the data collection, to participate in

Analysis Summary (Continued)

data analysis and to contribute to the development and annual review of the district's improvement plan.

The newly revised Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE) document provides information in a clear and parent-friendly format. The PRISE document is currently being translated into the top ten languages other than English spoken by students in New Jersey. However, there seems to be a concern among some steering committee members that parents and students are not receiving appropriate information regarding their rights.

The New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs received 1,136 requests for either mediation or a due process hearing in FY 1999. This number of disputes in special education in New Jersey represents significantly less than 1% of the special education population, and less than 17% of those disputes move on to a full hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In fact, the number of hearing decisions represents less than .1% of the total special education students.

393 of those requests originated as requests for mediation. Approximately 35% resulted in formal mediation by NJOSEP. The remaining 65% were either withdrawn by the petitioner, returned for procedural errors, or closed by the office after some NJOSEP intervention. Of the 134 cases that went on to mediation, 66% were settled by NJOSEP mediation and 34% were transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for a formal due process hearing.

743 of the requests originated as a request for a due process hearing. 60% were transmitted to the OAL (This includes requests for emergency relief and direct transmittals that have no NJOSEP intervention). Approximately 5% of the 743 requests were settled through NJOSEP mediation prior to any transmittal to OAL. The remaining were either withdrawn by the petitioner, returned by NJOSEP for procedural errors, or closed by the office after some intervention.

The NJOSEP has had difficulty meeting its timelines for transmitting a case for a hearing within 14 days from the agency's receipt. However, of the 743 requests received, over 90% of the cases were either transmitted or closed in 20 days or less. About 1% of the 743 cases exceeded 45 days to transmittal or closure. The timelines for mediation were maintained more consistently than the timelines for transmittal cases. The state requires mediation to be scheduled within 20 days of the agency's receipt of the request. The department scheduled and resolved 40% of the cases in 20 days or less. There are no timelines in the law for reaching an agreement in mediation. Nonetheless, approximately 70% of all cases were scheduled and came to closure within 45 days of the agency's receipt of the request. An additional 20% were resolved within 120 days. The remaining cases ranged between 145 days and 245 days. While no data are currently available, it can be inferred that many of the cases with timelines exceeding 25 days were adjourned with the agreement of the parties with the understanding that the case may be transmitted for a hearing at any time. NJOSEP has added an additional mediator which should result in improved timelines. Also the department is proposing changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.6 and 2.7 regarding mediation. Mediation will be provided within 10 days of receipt of the request in the Office of Special Education Programs. Mediation will be offered as part of a request for a due process hearing. The mediation conference will not delay the provision of a decision within 45 calendar days as required by federal regulations, because the timeline will begin when the request for the due process hearing is received.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

The 45-day timeline for a final written decision in hearings has been maintained in most cases. The NJOSEP gets reports from OAL two or three times a month giving cases that have exceeded the timeline. These are cases where no extension of the timeline has been granted by the ALJ. Each of these reports contains fewer than 10 cases which are often continued from previous reports. Therefore, the numbers are not cumulative and represent less than 1% of the transmitted cases. All other cases that have had written decisions beyond 45 days after the receipt of the request have been granted specific extension by an ALJ. Such extensions may be requested by either party and have been granted in conformance with 34 CFR §300.511(c).

NJOSEP's system for conducting complaint investigations has resulted in the timely completion of the complaint process for greater than half of the investigations conducted. Although half of the investigations exceeded the timeline established in regulation only a small percentage required extensions due to exceptional circumstances such as temporary staff shortages. NJOSEP has increased the number of complaint investigators to address this issue. Districts demonstrating longstanding noncompliance and districts demonstrating an inability to implement corrective action plans are required to meet monthly with NJOSEP staff to review documentation of progress in meeting their corrective action plans.

New Jersey utilizes an administrative law judge system to conduct special education hearings. NJOSEP has a mechanism to review decisions and to communicate concerns to the Office of Administrative Law. While there is a perceived need among some steering committee members for judges to be more appropriately trained in special education issues, the NJ OSEP reviews have raised few issues regarding decisions and interpretations of the law. In addition, the NJOSEP does provide annual training to the Administrative Law Judges in both state and federal special education law.

Performance Requirement #2:

Appropriate and timely services are assured through interagency coordination and assignment of fiscal responsibility.

Statewide Indicators

1. There are no delays in services due to payment disputes.

2. Children with disabilities continue to receive appropriate services during the resolution of interagency disputes.

3. There is evidence of coordinated efforts and interagency agreements, when appropriate, addressing child find, evaluation and provision of services.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

  • Issuing of grant money.
  • Better at eliciting participation from our partners.
  • School-based programs are working well.
  • There is improved conversation and collaboration with other state agencies and departments.
  • Good interagency coordination with regard to Child Find activities.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

  • There is still considerable difficulty in assigning fiscal responsibility.
  • Problem resolving problems of transient and homeless students.
  • There are still problems in the conversation and collaboration with other agencies and departments particularly at the local level.
  • At the statewide level, there needs to be greater empowered coordination.
  • Interagency cooperation is poor or non-existent causing delays in service delivery to children in foster care and children who are homeless.

Data Sources

  1. State-Level Committees with Variety of Representation
  2. List of Grant Projects that involve a variety of constituents
  3. Initiatives that represent collaboration with other state agencies
  4. Fiscal Responsibility Written Policies
  5. February 1999 federal monitoring report

Analysis Summary

There is evidence that the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs is eliciting the participation of a wide variety of constituents as partners in policy making, development of programs and assessment of needs. This is demonstrated by the involvement of parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and people with disabilities in state-level advisory committees, work groups and focus groups. In addition, there is collaboration with appropriate state agencies for specific purposes of promoting services to infants and students with disabilities. However, there are impressions among some steering committee members that continued and wider efforts toward collaboration with other agencies , departments and families are needed specifically on the local level.

NJOSEP sponsored projects promote collaboration of agencies, institutions of higher education, local school districts and others for the purposes of promoting improved and coordinated services to students with disabilities. These include collaboration with the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network regarding the publication of an inclusive education newsletter; assistive technology training project with The College of New Jersey and United Cerebral Palsy Association of New Jersey; a grant award to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services to support Transition Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselors; co-sponsorship of the Inclusion Institute 2000 with the New Jersey Developmental Disabilities Council; delivery of training and technical assistance regarding

Analysis Summary (Continued)

inclusive education for preschoolers with disabilities through the University Affiliated Programs UMDNJ; involvement of Institutes of Higher Education in the professional development grant awards to local education agencies; collaboration with the Department of Health and Senior Services regarding the transition of infants with disabilities to preschool programs; and partnership with the Division of Developmental Disabilities in a proposal for the Team Training Inservice Trainings Project (RRTC on Positive Behavioral Support).

Although the administrative code addresses which districts are responsible for the provision of special education, there is still confusion about which district is responsible when there are custody issues as well as for students who are transient, homeless or in foster care. The proposed N.J.A.C. 6A:14 clarifies the circumstances when a foster parent may act as a parent. There is concern that the Division of Youth and Family Services caseworkers are inappropriately signing parental consent.

Performance Requirement #3:

Appropriate special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities served in juvenile and adult correctional facilities in the state.

Statewide Indicators

1. Eligible children and youth with disabilities in local and state juvenile and adult correctional facilities, are afforded the same rights under IDEA as children and youth with disabilities served by public agencies, subject to the expectations in the IDEA Amendments of 1997 (see §§ 612(a)(1)(B)(ii) and 614 (d)(6)).

2. All eligible youth with disabilities in local and state juvenile and adult correctional facilities receive FAPE.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

  • NJ legal requirements are better than in other states.
  • Programs are being monitored by both general and special education standards.
  • Many districts provide services to students who are incarcerated, specifically in after school activities.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

  • Too often children and youth are not provided services in time to avoid incarceration.
  • Districts are often not informed of incarcerated students for whom they are responsible.
  • Coordination of curriculum and instruction is lacking between juvenile facilities and local school districts.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

  • The Department has initiated a process of interagency format for coordinating and sharing information, training, and services.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

  • The IEPs of youths in correctional facilities are not always transmitted in a timely manner.
  • IEPs do not always reflect related services such as counseling.

Data Sources

  1. N.J.A.C. 6A:14
  2. State Monitoring Report/Results
  3. February 1999 federal monitoring report

Data Analysis

The NJOSEP works collaboratively with those state agencies that are directly responsible for children and youth with disabilities in local and state juvenile and adult correctional facilities through a coordinated effort. Educational programs for these students are consistently monitored in accordance with general and special education standards.

The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission is required to maintain educational records on all students enrolled in its educational programs. These records must be transferred to the responsible district board of education within ten days of the student's exit from a state facility. Although some local school districts provide services to students who are incarcerated, specifically in after school activities, they have no legal responsibility until the student is released. In many cases students do not return to their original district, or move to a different district within days following their discharge. Consequently the timely receipt of records by the new LEA may be impeded due to a change in residence after the records have been mailed from the facility/institution of discharge.

Although there is a perception among some steering committee members that related services are not provided to students with disabilities in state juvenile and adult correction facilities, state-level monitoring does not reveal this.

Performance Requirement #4:

Appropriate special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities served in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs.

Statewide Indicators

1. High school completion rates increase for youth with disabilities in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs.

2. Drop-out rates for children with disabilities in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs, are equal to or less than those of children without disabilities.

3. Participation in and performance on state and district-wide assessments by students in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs increases.

4. Suspension and expulsion rates for children with disabilities in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs, are equal to or less than those of children without disabilities.

5. Children with disabilities, eligible under Part B, in out-of-district placements and in state-operated programs receive appropriate special education and related services by their third birthday.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

  • Increased monitoring and oversight.
  • Inclusion of out-of-district students in state operated programs in policy memos.
  • Promising practices in Department of Human Services Regional Schools.
  • Increased clarification in roles of sending and receiving responsibilities.
  • Dissemination of Policy Letters.
  • Private schools for the handicapped give state assessments in their facilities.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

  • Increase placement options for students in out-of-district facilities.
  • Out-of-district placements often do not provide curriculum consistent with district curriculum.
  • We must increase LEAs oversight of out-of-district placements.
  • Students in out-of-district placements are not always provided opportunity to take statewide assessments.
  • There must be cost containment and compliance with IEP mandates in private placements including related services.
  • There needs to be greater clarification regarding district's responsibility with regard to related services and special education in out-of-district placement.
  • Provide greater opportunity for students in special education in out-of-district placements to have interactions with typical peers.
  • Better system for districts to keep track of their out-of-district placement costs.

Data Sources

  1. End-of-year reports from programs
  2. ACSSSD Longitudinal Follow-Up Study (1994 - 1997)
  3. Outcomes of Private Schools (ASAH)
  4. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  5. Graduate Follow-up Study (Atlantic County Special Services School District)
  6. Outcomes of Private Schools (Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped)
  7. Office of Education Summary Report (NJ Department of Human Services)

Analysis Summary

New Jersey provides a full continuum of services including specialized programs (e.g., private schools; educational service commissions; special services school districts). Several of these programs are collaborating with LEAs to provide training and technical assistance to support students with disabilities in general education settings. In addition, the continuum of services includes such specialized programs as intensive at-home discrete trial instruction. Particularly in the area of autism, many of these programs are nationally recognized and are providing training to local school districts in educating students with disabilities in general education settings. Outcome data reported by the Atlantic County Special Services School District and the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped indicate favorable post-school outcomes for students served in their settings.

Some steering committee members expressed concerns that local school districts do not consistently demonstrate oversight of students in out-of-district and state-operated regional school placements. Of particular concern is the provision of appropriate curriculum and opportunities of student interaction with typical peers, opportunities in participation in statewide assessment and a general lack of collaboration between separate facilities and local school districts. However, there is an additional perception among some steering committee members that students in state-operated schools are provided with appropriate curriculum and participation in statewide assessment. These schools report the implementation of curriculum that is aligned with the Core Curriculum Content Standards. These committee members believe that students are often placed in out-of-district setting because of the lack of program options within districts.

Cluster Area of Performance: FAPE

Objective: Do students with disabilities receive FAPE (free, appropriate public education) which promotes high standards and prepares them for employment and independent living after they exit school?

Performance Requirement #1:

The needs of children with disabilities are determined based on information from an appropriate evaluation.

Statewide Indicators

1. State eligibility criteria result in the percentage of children with disabilities served in special education being comparable to national data.

2. The percentage of children with disabilities by race/ethnicity in each disability category is identified comparable to national data and at a rate comparable to the general school age population in the state.

3. The state has sufficient numbers of qualified personnel to conduct and interpret required evaluations in the language normally used by the child.

4. Children receive timely evaluations and re-evaluations, including children transitioning from Part C.

5. There is evidence that evaluations include assessment tools and strategies that gather the functional and developmental information needed to promote high standards that prepares the child for employment, independent living and post-secondary education.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

The State is actually monitoring for this Performance Requirement.

Some districts have used the new flexibility under the code to greatly improve evaluation process and quality.

High standards have been set and promoted.

Technical Assistance is available.

Needs are determined based upon appropriate evaluation.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Some additional personnel needed to conduct evaluations in native languages.

Additional training and emphasis on functional assessment.

Recommendations from evaluations are not "teacher friendly."

Many LEAs use minimal standards.

Information from parents (and teachers) is often not sought, considered, or included.

Test materials are not available in other languages.

Sometimes assessments are used for purposes for which they have not been validated.

Students suspected of having a learning disability should have a medical evaluation.

Data Sources

  1. N.J.A.C. 6A:14
  2. Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
  3. Special Education Annual Data Report
  4. NJOSEP Training Schedule
  5. February 1999 federal monitoring report

Analysis Summary

N.J.A.C. 6A:14 was revised to provide for a flexible and individualized evaluation process to determine student eligibility for special education and related services. In addition, N.J.A.C. 6A:14 provides for conducting an evaluation for the purpose of determining the student's individualized instructional needs. The on-site monitoring and self-assessment process of local school districts address these evaluation requirements.

NJOSEP collects and analyzes data to determine whether there are patterns of over-representation of minority students determined eligible for special education and related services. The criteria used to select districts for intervention regarding disproportion among racial-ethnic groups in classification was designed to reduce statistical aberrations due to small numbers of students enrolled. Districts with substantial differences in classification rates were selected according to the following criteria: a) more than 100 African-American males enrolled (general and special); b) more than 100 White males enrolled; c) the difference between the child study team classification rate

Analysis Summary (Continued)

for African-American males and White males was greater than six percentage points (e.g., WM=15%; BM>21%). Districts were asked to verify that the overall enrollment was consistent with the resident special education enrollment and not distorted by sending-receiving relationships.

The data analysis indicates that approximately sixty districts demonstrate such a pattern according to the above criteria. After a series of technical assistance and training activities there is an indication that local school districts either fail to have appropriate identification procedures or fail to implement the procedures in a uniform manner in each school building. These factors frequently contribute to the over representation of minority students in special education. One of the goals included in the program effectiveness section of the district self-assessment process is to identify and reduce any inappropriate disparities among racial-ethnic groups in eligibility for special education and placement. In addition, NJOSEP and the United States Office of Civil Rights have a memorandum of understanding which formalizes a commitment to address this issue.

While N.J.A.C. 6A:14 includes requirements for functional assessment, conducting evaluations in the student's native language when appropriate, obtaining parental input in the evaluation process and using technically reliable and valid assessment instruments, there is not consistent statewide implementation of these mandates. In addition, there is an impression among some steering committee members that some local school districts do not report assessment results in a manner that is useful for making instructional decisions. Lastly, some committee members believe that there is difficulty in acquiring qualified personnel to provide educational assessment and analysis for students who speak languages other than English.

Performance Requirement #2:

Special education and related services are available to meet the unique individual needs of children with disabilities.

Statewide Indicators

1. There is evidence that the state ensures that the full range of programs and related services are available to meet the identified needs of children with disabilities.

2. There is evidence that the state ensures that the full range of special materials and assistive technology devices/services are available to meet the identified needs of children with disabilities.

3. There is adequate state & local funding of special education to provide programs and services, at the district level, which provide FAPE.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

There is a range of assistive technology available.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Identification of the needs of students with mild disabilities is a problem.

Committee Impressions (Continued)

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

State is doing a good job advising LEAs of the full range of services.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

IEPs are not tied enough to the general curriculum.

IEPs are often not based upon the unique needs of the child.

CSTs and related staff are not always aware of new ways of approaching the needs of unique students.

There needs to be wider knowledge that assistive technology services and devices are available.

Insufficient full time special education services in general education settings.

The State needs to go into the field to meet with students. Students who have services in their IEPs are not receiving all of those services.

Funding is insufficient.

Data Sources

  1. Special Education Annual Data Report
  2. NJOSEP Training and Technical Assistance Schedules
  3. Data Analysis of LEA Monitoring Findings (1998-99)
  4. State budget/expenditure report
  5. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  6. NJOSEP Parent Survey
  7. NJOSEP Promising Practices Survey
  8. SPAN Parent Survey

Analysis Summary

The New Jersey Department of Education is perceived as effective in advising LEAs of the full range of programs, related services, materials, and assistive technology available to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The NJOSEP has provided a variety of program development activities for LEAs focusing on such topics as modifying and adapting general education programs for students with disabilities, aligning IEPs with the Core Curriculum Content Standards, the provision of assistive technology to include augmentative communication,

Analysis Summary (Continued)

providing related services within general education setting, designing programs to meet the specialized needs of low incidence populations, and the provision of extended school year programs. There is a concern among some steering committee members that some local school districts do not facilitate staff participation in workshops, conferences and technical assistance activities. The reasons for this lack of participation is unclear but may be due to constraints such as time.

NJOSEP surveyed local districts to identify "promising practices" related to the education of students with disabilities. The survey asked for a description of an effective strategy or program addressing critical areas of special education that may be supported by educational research and/or substantiated through documented outcomes. A review of the responses indicated that promising practice initiatives included the following areas: inclusive education; positive behavior support; transition planning; supported employment; parent involvement; integrated therapies; professional development; peer supports; and social-emotional development.

The results of the June 8, 1998 federal monitoring of the New Jersey Department of Education, OSEP indicated that students with disabilities did not consistently receive related services or an extended school year as a component of a free, appropriate public education. Furthermore, there is an overall impression among steering committee members that local school districts do not consistently consider the assistive technology needs of students with disabilities.

The State budget provides approximately 680 million dollars in special education categorical aid. There is no definitive data regarding the adequacy of state and local funding for special education. NJOSEP is participating in a national study of this issue which may yield useful information about state/local funding levels. The funding law does allow for the provision of funds to support extraordinary per pupil costs in excess of $40,000 in some circumstances.

Performance Requirement #3:

Appropriate special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities served by the public agency.

Appropriate special education and related services are provided to address the behavioral needs of children with disabilities.

B. Appropriate services are provided to prepare youth with disabilities for employment, post-secondary education, independent living, community participation and life skills.

Youth with disabilities are actively involved in appropriate transition planning.

Statewide Indicators

1. All preschool children with disabilities are receiving special education and related services in appropriate programs by their third birthday.

2. There is an increase in the high school graduation rates for students with disabilities.

3. There is a decrease in the drop-out rates for children with disabilities categorized by placement type and disability category.

4. Drop-out rates for children with disabilities (categorized by placement type and disability category) are no higher than those for children without disabilities.

5. There is evidence that appropriate implementation of functional behavioral assessments and behavior plans are provided to children with disabilities.

6. Suspension and expulsion rates for children with disabilities are no higher than those of children without disabilities.

7. The percentage of students with disabilities that are placed in interim alternative educational settings for disciplinary reasons is no higher than that of students without disabilities.

8. Extended School Year services are available across all categories and severities of disability.

9. There is an increase in the percentage of youth with disabilities enrolled in post-secondary education or training.

10. There is an increase in the percentage of youth with disabilities that are employed.

11. There is an increase in the percentage of youth with disabilities that are appropriately linked to adult services.

12. There is evidence that youth with disabilities participate in community activities as a component of their educational program.

13. All youth with disabilities, participate in transition planning to the maximum extent possible.

14. All appropriate staff are fully involved in transition planning.

15. There is evidence that at the age of majority, youth with disabilities are exercising their rights and responsibilities regarding special education.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

Technical services to transitioning students.

Transition initiatives in general, are being implemented.

Transition systems change grant has increased awareness, dissemination of information & resources, guidelines & TA document development.

Policy paper on positive behavior support and functional assessment.

Students are involved in their own transition planning.

State is monitoring that transition planning and outcomes are part of the IEP.

Students when appropriately placed in private schools are prepared for independent living, etc.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Early and preventive supports are needed with regard to positive behavior supports.

Follow-up regarding post-graduation outcomes or status is not being done.

Increased student participation in transition planning.

Functional behavior assessments and positive supports are rarely implemented.

Young people are not being prepared to participate in transition planning and to make decisions.

Standards are needed to address the competencies of transition coordinators.

There is a need to utilize community resources to complement learning.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

We need to highlight what is working well (e.g., effective practices).

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

Increase community participation in transition planning to facilitate improved post-school outcomes.

Vocational assessments are needed.

Behavioral and emotional needs of children are not adequately addressed.

Parent and student education regarding rights and other special education related issues is needed.

Data Sources

  1. NASDSE's Functional Behavioral Assessment TA Document
  2. N.J.A.C. 6A:14
  3. NJOSEP Sample IEP Form
  4. NJOSEP Training and TA Activities
  5. Transition System Change Grant
  6. Transition TA Documents
  7. Assessment Data
  8. Special Education Annual Data Report
  9. Violence, Vandalism & Substance Abuse Records
  10. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  11. Graduate Follow-up Study (Atlantic County Special Services School District)
  12. Outcomes of Private Schools (Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped)
  13. Consultation, Interview & IEP meeting data (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services)
  14. Memorandums of Understanding (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services)
  15. SPAN Parent Survey

Analysis Summary

NJOSEP has provided guidance to local school districts regarding IDEA '97 discipline requirements (statewide training) and requirements for conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a behavioral intervention plan (dissemination of a technical assistance document; LRC Regional Training). The newly designed on-site monitoring process and self-assessment process for local school districts provides for the review of discipline requirements and IEP components including behavioral intervention plans. While NJOSEP has provided guidance regarding the behavioral needs of students with disabilities, there is an overall impression among steering committee members that early and preventive positive behavioral supports are not routinely provided. The committee members expressed concerns that the discipline requirements are confusing and not consistently implemented.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

The process of transition from early intervention to preschool placement is not always implemented in a timely manner resulting in students programs not being initiated by their third birthday. There is a perception among some steering committee members that this transition process is complex due to a variety of factors which include a perceived lack of cooperation between Early Intervention service providers and local school districts. This transition may be further complicated by parents delay in giving consent for referral. In addition, availability of preschool programs with typical peers is a limited or nonexistent option.

The five year transition system change grant provided the foundation for transition planning and program development for youth with disabilities. Through this grant project information was disseminated through resource documents, training videos, information packets, regional trainings for educators and parents and technical assistance for individual students. In addition, county-based consortia were established that provided a mechanism for the sharing information and collaboration amongst local district personnel. NJOSEP supplemented the grant activities with additional efforts that included an interagency grant with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the sponsorship of student leadership conferences.

Although the system change grant project has ended, transition from school to adult life continues to be a major focus of NJOSEP's program development activities. NJOSEP has developed a recommended format for addressing transition IEP requirements; continued sponsorship of student leadership conferences and provided technical assistance to local school districts regarding student involvement in the IEP process, development of statements of transition service needs and needed transition services and identification of student interests, preferences and post-secondary outcomes. New Jersey's efforts regarding transition planning and program development have received recognition through requests for presentations at national conferences and submission of article for dissemination in national publications.

The results of the June 8, 1998 federal monitoring of the New Jersey Department of Education, OSEP indicated that NJOSEP has been unable to ensure compliance with federal and state transition requirements statewide. Local school districts do not consistently invite and prepare students to participate in IEP meetings; provide programs and transition services based upon individual students needs (e.g., work and community experiences); reflect transition activities in IEPs; and fail to establish linkages with local agencies and services. There is a perception among some steering committee members that this is an indication of the lack of administrative support and understanding of transition planning and program development.

Performance Requirement #4:

Appropriate special education and related services are provided by the public agency at no cost to the parent, including children placed out-of-district by the agency.

Statewide Indicator

1. Collaboration and coordination among local/state agencies increase so that special education and related services to children with disabilities are at no cost to the parent.

2. Children with disabilities receive special education and related services at no cost to the parent, regardless of whether other agencies with overlapping responsibility provide or pay for services.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

Districts are providing special education services at no cost to families.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Sometimes parents are asked to pay for related services.

Districts sometimes take a blanket position that they will not pay for residential placements.

Data Sources

  1. NJOSEP Complaint Investigation Data
  2. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  3. SPAN Parent Survey

Analysis Summary

Local school districts are providing special education services at no cost to families. These services include instruction, related services, specialized materials, and assistive technology. Some committee members have expressed concerns that related services are sometimes provided based on availability rather than individually determined need. Advocates and others have identified cases of parents being asked to wait for and/or pay for related services or pay for prereferral evaluations (e.g., neurological evaluations). Confusion exists regarding eligibility criteria for preschool pupils with disabilities and the provision of programs and services. There is sometimes confusion over responsibility of providing transition-related activities for students age 14 and above.

The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network's (SPAN) parent survey indicated that although the majority (58%) of children received all services in their IEP there remains 24% who did not. The survey showed that these services were not received for an average of one month and represented a full range of services.

Cluster Area of Performance: Parent Involvement

Objective: Is the provision of FAPE facilitated through parent involvement in special education services?

Performance Requirement #1:

Parent involvement is advanced through training and information dissemination to parents, youth with disabilities and staff.

Statewide Indicators

1. Training and information dissemination addresses identified needs of parents, youth with disabilities, and staff.

2. There is evidence that parents, youth with disabilities, and staff receive information and participate in technical assistance and training activities sponsored by the SEA and other organizations/agencies involved with special education.

3. There is evidence of joint training activities for parents and professional staff.

4. Training and informational materials are disseminated in a variety of appropriate languages, formats and locations.

5. Parents and staff are appropriately informed about parental rights and responsibilities.

Performance Requirement #2:

Appropriate services, including transition services, are received by children with disabilities when parents and youth with disabilities are actively involved.

Statewide Indicators

1. There is evidence that parents are satisfied with the appropriateness of their children's special education programs.

2. There is evidence that parents are actively involved in decision making for and with their children.

Performance Requirement #3:

Programs and services for children with disabilities are improved because parents are actively involved in program improvement activities.

Statewide Indicators

1. There is evidence of ongoing, active parent participation in the self-assessment process, state advisory panels, steering committees, and other critical activities/initiatives.

2. Parents who participate in program improvement activities report high levels of satisfaction.

3. Results of program improvement activities reflect the identified needs of parents and children with disabilities.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

Increased opportunities for parent participation in stakeholder processes.

LRCs generally provide high quality training and resources for a reasonable fee and is accessible to families.

The new PRISE highlights areas of parent participation.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Dissemination of information needs to be in the native language.

Parents don't take advantage of opportunities.

Families are often unaware of existing resource opportunities.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

Districts provide opportunities for parent involvement and disseminate the information.

There is considerable training for families.

We need to highlight effective practices with regard to parent involvement.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

State needs direct contact with parents, instead of relying on LEAs.

The demand for training and TA is greater than the growing capacity.

No formal mechanism at the local level for parent involvement improvement.

Difficulty of parents to access training (jobs, etc.).

Special Education parents are often excluded from state improvement initiatives.

Provide opportunities for parents of students in special education to plan with parents of students in general education.

Parent involvement needs increasing.

Dissemination of information to LEA and parents needs to be increased.

There is a need to increase emphasis on transition planning and involvement of parent and student in the process.

Parents are not given sufficient notice of meetings and/or the ability to rearrange the time of the meeting.

Data Sources

  1. PRISE Document
  2. NJOSEP Database of Parent Organizations
  3. LRC Membership and Registration Data
  4. NJOSEP Training and Technical Assistance Schedule and sites list
  5. Membership lists (State Advisory Council, Self-Assessment Steering Committee, N.J. TAP Advisory Committee)
  6. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  7. NJOSEP Parent Survey
  8. NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education Newsletter and training schedule
  9. COSAC training schedule
  10. Partners in Policymaking (DD Council)
  11. IDEA NOW (DD Council parent-focused newsletter

Data Sources (Continued)

  1. Monday Morning (DD Council news brief)
  2. Contact Summary - including training data (SPAN)
  3. Inclusion Institute (DD Council)
  4. Families Magazine (DD Council)
  5. Inclusion Community Awareness Training (DD Council)
  6. SPAN Parent Survey

Analysis Summary

NJOSEP fosters increased involvement from parents of students with disabilities in the provision of FAPE through a variety of training, technical assistance and information dissemination initiatives. Parents' technical assistance needs are also addressed through telephone contact with the NJOSEP staff, Learning Resource Center Special Education Consultants and the County Supervisors of Child Study. Specialized technical assistance staff, within NJOSEP, are also available to families regarding the provision of services for students who are deaf/hard of hearing and students who are deafblind.

The Learning Resource Center Network provides for parent membership and serves as a resource for instructional materials, curriculum and technical information. In addition, the LRC Network offers training opportunities for parents of students with disabilities. Regional and statewide training announcements are routinely disseminated to the special education parent organizations on file with NJOSEP. NJOSEP is increasing its opportunities for joint training of professionals and parents.

The revised Parent Rights in Special Education handbook is user-friendly and clearly highlights areas of parental participation. The PRISE Document is currently being translated into the ten most frequently spoken languages other than English in New Jersey. NJOSEP is providing increased opportunities for parent participation in stakeholder processes. An example of this collaboration is the current development of a Parent-Professional Special Education Handbook.

While the training activities are available to parents and offered at a reasonable cost, parents do not consistently take advantage of these activities and/or are not aware of the availability of these opportunities. NJOSEP and the advocacy community recognize the continuous need for technical assistance and the difficulty in meeting this demand. There are also concerns among some steering committee members that local school districts do not have a formal mechanism to involve parents in program improvement initiatives (both general and special education) and there needs to be increased information dissemination in native languages other than English. The committee members recognized that parents may need additional support and training to fully participate in the special education decision-making process.

NJ Office of Special Education Programs Survey

NJOSEP conducted a statewide survey designed to gain an overall impression from parents of students with disabilities regarding (1) the level of satisfaction and extent of participation in their child's special education program; and (2) the manner in which information is provided. The survey was translated into the ten most frequently spoken languages other than English in New Jersey.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

As a result of a comprehensive dissemination process, over 13,000 surveys have been returned including Spanish and other Non-English speaking constituents. In addition, NJOSEP has received fifty-two letters from parents extremely satisfied with their child's out-of-district special education placement and their belief in the importance of this option.

The Special Education Program and Services, Survey for Parents was designed to gain an overall impression from parents regarding their level of satisfaction, extent of participation in their child's special education program and the manner in which information is provided. Over 13,200 parents replied to the survey, about 6.7% of the public students with disabilities, ages 3-21. The survey indicated that most parents were pleased with their child's program. The results are reported in detail below.

Response Rates. The survey returns generally matched the special education demographics for age, gender, and eligibility criteria. Returns by racial-ethnic group showed that Whites responded at a higher rate (75%) compared with their percentage of students with disabilities (63%). Blacks and Hispanics responded at a lower rate than their percentage of students with disabilities (11% vs. 21%; 9% vs. 14% respectively). Asian and Pacific Islanders responded at the same rate as their percentage of students with disabilities. The next survey should use methods to increase the Black and Hispanic response rate.

The response rates by placement could not be directly compared with the numbers of students in those settings because the placement groupings on the Annual Data Report (ADR) were not the same. For those groups in which actual or approximate comparisons were possible, the rates of return were each 10%. The rate of return for pull-out resource program was 5%; however, the comparison group (between 21%-60%) included many students in special classes as well so the actual rate could be much closer to that for other placement settings. For the groups with comparable data, it appeared that the rates of return by placement were about the same. The next survey will include placement groups that match the placement settings on the Annual Data Report so that direct comparisons could be made.

Satisfaction. The overall satisfaction rate (very or somewhat satisfied) was very high (89%). The satisfaction rates for various program components (e.g., related services, quality of personnel, access to the general education curriculum, etc.) also indicated a high degree of satisfaction (68%-86%) with very little differentiation among the items. The lower rates for some items could be attributed to students not receiving those services (transition for students below age 14; assistive technology). In general, the survey indicated that parents were pleased with their child's special education program.

Satisfaction was cross-compared by various demographic indices to determine if there were any differences. No differences in the level of satisfaction were found by age, gender, racial-ethnic group, eligibility criteria or program. The degree of satisfaction among eligibility criteria and placement settings did not vary (85%-93%) from one another reflecting the overall high degree of satisfaction found.

Parents who were included in decision making had a higher degree of satisfaction (94%) than those who were not included (57%) or only sometimes included (74%). The greater parents were included, the more pleased they were with their child's program. The same satisfaction pattern was noted when compared with the degree of notification of meetings, scheduling and actual participation in their child's IEP.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

There was no differentiation in satisfaction compared with the degree of the child's participation in the IEP. Parents reported higher degrees of satisfaction (92%) when general education placements were discussed than not (77%). For those few parents who reported not receiving PRISE, their satisfaction rate was lower (69%) than parents who did receive it (90%).

There were no differences in satisfaction between those who reported that English was their native language (88%) and those who did not respond (90%). There was no difference in satisfaction between those who were provided state training (90%) and those who were not (89%).

Participation. Parents were frequently notified of meetings (91%), had them scheduled at convenient times (83%) and felt included in the decision-making process (80%). Most parents (90%) participated in the development of their child's individualized education program (IEP) meetings and this was consistent over all four age groups. As would be expected, students' participation in the IEP process increased substantially with age; lower rates at ages 3-5 (17%) and ages 6-11 (13%); higher rates at ages 12-17 (44%) and ages 18-21 (60%).

Dissemination of Information. Most parents (77%) reported that general education placement with supports was discussed. Virtually all parents (97%) reported receiving notice of their rights through Parent's Rights in Special Education (PRISE). English was the native language for 78% of the respondents. The question on whether information was provided in their native language was somewhat confusing because it did not distinguish between English and non-English language speakers. To reduce the confusion, the next survey will ask if information was provided in the native language only if the native language was other than English.

A substantial portion of parents (23%) reported having attended training sponsored or supported by the New Jersey State Department of Education or local school district. Since it would not be anticipated that all parents would feel the need for such training, future surveys should include a question on the parent's perceived need for additional training on special education issues.

Conclusion. Responses to the parent survey reflected a cross-section of all parents of students with disabilities with respect to age, gender, eligibility criteria, and to some extent, racial-ethnicity. Parents are generally involved in the decision-making process and participate to a high degree in the development of their child's IEP. They discuss general education placements with their districts and are aware of their rights through the receipt of PRISE. Almost ninety percent of parents reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their child's special education program.

An additional 245 surveys were completed by Spanish speaking parents and analyzed separately. This analysis demonstrated no significant difference when compared to the larger survey sample. As an example, 17% of the Spanish speaking parents as compared to 19% of the parents in the larger sample reported they did not receive information in their native language.

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network Survey

The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) conducted a parent survey that addressed many of the special education requirements including parental notice, parent participation in meetings, the provision of Least Restrictive Environment, IEP development, transition planning, due process, and complaint investigation. SPAN

Analysis Summary (Continued)

analyzed 1,540 surveys received from parents. Key findings of the survey included the following.

Most responding parents were invited to each decision-making meeting of which they were aware. Most indicated that meetings were scheduled at convenient times and places, and that they were able to attend. However, 20% of respondents indicated that they were not provided with options for meeting times and places. A significant percentage of parents have never received their child's evaluation reports, while the majority of parents received reports at their IEP meeting. Over 1/3 of parents reported that their IEP team said that they couldn't decide about certain services or placements because they needed approval from someone who was not at the meeting; 10% said that IEPs were changed by district personnel who didn't attend the IEP meeting. Respondents were about evenly divided between those who indicated that placement in the general education classroom with supports was the first option discussed at their IEP meeting, but the majority of parents felt that the full range of support services and accommodations needed for success in the general education classroom were not considered.

Most parents felt that there was no discussion of the Core Curriculum Content Standards and how their child would master them at the EIP meting, although a majority felt that their child did have access to the general education curriculum. While the need for related services was discussed at the vast majority of IEP meetings, less that 1/2 of respondents indicated that the need for assistive technology, positive behavior supports, or extended professionals on their IEP team indicated that certain services were not available at this time or only available for a limited number of times or in certain group sizes. Once the IEP was developed, most parents received a completed copy within a month of the IEP meeting, but 30% received their IEPs more than a month after the meeting and 6% still have not received their IEPs. Only about 1/2 of parents reported that an appropriate transition statement and services were included in their transition-age child's IEP, and less than half said that the appropriate adult human services agency staff attended that IEP meeting. About 1/4 of parents indicated that their child has not received all of the services in their IEP, including related services, extended school year services, transportation, social activities, resource room, positive behavior supports, special education services in the regular classroom, aides, and transition to adult life services. The average amount of time that children went without services was approximately one month, although this ranged from one week to over one year. The vast majority of parents said that they received a copy of PRISE, but less than half were provided with information on groups to contact to help them understand their rights and only slightly more than half were informed by their district that they could request mediation, due process, or complaint investigation if they were unhappy with any aspect of their child's services. Of the small number of respondents who had filed complaint investigations with the State, about 2/3 said that the report was completed with 60 days, and 40% felt that the State had followed up to ensure compliance with corrective action plans.

New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education Survey

Additionally, The New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) distributed a 13 question Speak Out on Inclusion Survey (Survey) in the fall of 1999 through its Vision newsletter to obtain input from readers about their experiences with IEP development and inclusive practices in their school districts.1 The Survey noted on the top that its purpose was to gather information for the federal monitors. It is noteworthy that the results of the Survey are consistent with the input obtained at three regional focus groups conducted by NJCIE in New Jersey in the fall of 1999.2 This summary highlights some of the principal findings of the survey.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

In terms of placements, only 25% of the respondents reported that their children were receiving services full time in the general education classroom. Of this 25%, approximately half of these students' classrooms were supported by a full-time general and special education teachers. On the other end of the spectrum, 17% reported that their children were educated out-of-district and 6% reported their children to be in full-time, special education classrooms. 16% of the children are educated in combined self-contained special education classrooms and academic or nonacademic classes. The remaining 34% are being educated in settings combining the general education classroom with resource room and/or related services outside of the general education classroom.

Sixty-five percent reported that general education teachers participated at their last IEP meeting, a majority, but certainly not all. However, a similar percentage (61%) noted that their meeting lacked a person who could commit resources to support an inclusive placement and approval had to be sought outside of the meeting. 55% reported that once services were agreed to at the IEP meeting, they were not changed by personnel outside of the meeting.

In terms of consideration of "a full range of support services and accommodations" for a child to participate in general education, 73% indicated that the IEP team did not consider such supports.

A majority (57%) reported that the discussion of placement preceded discussion of program, indicating that a majority of IEP decisions are still placement driven. 40% of the respondents indicated that there was no discussion at all of general education classroom placement at their IEP meetings. Among the reasons given for the unavailability of placements, respondents reported were told that inclusive placements were not available at the time (41%), only available for certain grades in certain schools (50%), only available if enough students in the class needed it (47%), only available a limited times per week, or in certain group sizes (39%).

In terms of instruction, a majority of respondents reported that their children do receive instruction in the same academic (64%) and nonacademic (67%) subjects as presented in the general education classroom. However, only 18% of the respondents reported that their child's course of study was related to New Jersey's Core Curriculum Standards as required by law.

In academic programming, respondents reported lack of teacher training and specialist support as being the primary supports which should have been provided, but were not provided, by their districts to support inclusive programming. This is consistent with the concerns expressed at the NJCIE focus groups in the fall. Second to this was concern with the absence of social support program/sensitivity training and teaming of special and general education teachers. Third to this was the concern that functional behavioral assessments (and positive behavioral support plans) and assistive technology were not provided.

Question 13 of the Survey asked respondents to write down any other information that they wanted to share with the federal monitors. These comments will be shared with the federal monitors along with the focus group results, at the February public forum.

1 It was necessary to calculate percentages for each question separately as not all of the 105 respondents returning Surveys answered all of the questions. This is by no means a scientifically produced Survey but NJCIE found it strikingly consistent with the concerns heard daily in phone conversations and with comments at public workshops and meetings.

2 The results of these Focus groups were summarized in the winter issue of the Vision.

Cluster Area of Performance: LRE

Objective: Do students with disabilities receive FAPE ( free, appropriate public education) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) which promote high standards?

Performance Requirement #1:

All placement options are available to meet the individual needs of the children with disabilities.

Statewide Indicators

1. State funding formulas do not result in placements that violate the requirements of LRE.

2. There is evidence that a full continuum of placements are available for children with disabilities, including the school the child would attend if he/she had no disability.

3. Children with disabilities receive services in a continuum of placements appropriate to their individual needs.

Performance Requirement #2:

Appropriate special education and related services are provided to children with disabilities in the educational setting determined to be the least restrictive environment.

Performance Requirement #3:

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated and participate in activities and services with non-disabled peers.

Statewide Indicators

1. There is an increase in the percentage of students with disabilities in general education.

2. The percentage of children with disabilities, in each disability category, statewide, served along each point of the continuum, is comparable to national data.

3. The percentage of children with disabilities, by race and gender, served in special education and the manner in which they are served is comparable to the percentage of children, by race and gender, served in general education.

4. Children with disabilities who are of a minority race/ethnicity or with limited English proficiency are not disproportionately placed in separate settings.

5. Preservice and inservice training for professionals, parents and children with disabilities regarding LRE is provided.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

  • SEA training/technical assistance activities are focused on promoting a decision-making process for placing students with disabilities in general education programs with appropriate program modifications and supports.
  • SEA is collaborating with other agencies in the provision of a variety of training activities and information dissemination (Inclusion Newsletter in collaboration with the state parent information network) focusing on LRE.
  • SEA disseminates a comprehensive and positively received policy paper on LRE.
  • SEA efforts appear to be influencing an expanded continuum of placement options.
  • SEA monitoring of local school districts is more stringent.
  • Funding formula has removed incentives for placing students in separate programs.
Where are there opportunities for improvement?
  • Many districts do not have in-district placement options for children with more significant disabilities, especially children with challenging behaviors.
  • School administrative leadership does not always facilitate placement in the least restrictive environment.
  • The use of non-traditional supports and strategies to facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities are often not considered.
  • Recommendations are often made for what is available instead of what is needed.
  • Not enough different inclusive models being implemented for replication.
  • Rationale for restrictive placements are not always well documented.
  • Children of a minority race/ethnicity or children who speak languages other than English are disproportionately placed in the most separate settings.

There is a lack of appropriate in-class support, accessible facilities and related services within general education.

Separate classes, pull-out services and out-of-district placements are the rule not the exception.

Data Sources

  • Federal Monitoring Reports
  • N.J.A.C. 6A:14
  • LRE placement lists
  • Special Education Statistical Report for the 1997-98 School Year
  • LEA Monitoring Reports (1998-99)
  • SEA Training/Technical Assistance Activities
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) LRE Study
  • State funding formula
  • February 1999 federal monitoring report
  • NJOSEP Parent Survey
  • NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education Newsletter and training schedule

Data Sources (Continued)

  • Inclusion Institute (DD Council)
  • Inclusion Community Awareness Training (DD Council)
  • Common Ground (DD Council professional-focused newsletter)
  • DD Council: Exemplary Practices Document & Inclusion Institute
  • SPAN Parent Survey

Analysis Summary

The New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs has taken several significant steps to promote the participation of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. NJOSEP focused the 1998-99 on-site monitoring on the requirements for least restrictive environment; a policy paper on LRE was developed and disseminated; a sample IEP format was developed that follows an appropriate decision-making process; and training and technical assistance for LEAs is being provided focusing on participation of students with disabilities in the general education curriculum within general education programs. In addition, NJOSEP is collaborating with other agencies to promote inclusive education practices including the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (Inclusion Newsletter), co-sponsorship of the Inclusion Institute 2000 with the Developmental Disabilities Council, and collaboration with the University Affiliated Program at UMDNJ (Strategies for Inclusive Practices for Preschoolers in Abbott Districts).

The results of the June 8, 1998 federal monitoring of the New Jersey Department of Education, OSEP indicated that except for the implementation of the in-class support program option it has not been demonstrated that local educational agencies and other provider agencies consistently provide appropriate services to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment in accordance with federal requirements.

Specifically general education with supplementary aids and services is not considered as a placement option each time an IEP is developed for individual students. Furthermore, the monitoring indicated that placement decisions are based on one or more of the following factors: category of disability; administrative convenience such as class size and available space; financial constraints that involve the availability of support staff (teaching assistants) and related services (i.e., counseling services); parent requests; attitudes of school personnel; and lack of training for general education teachers. In addition, the report indicated that for children placed in separate, self-contained settings, participation in nonacademic and extracurricular service and activities with nondisabled students is not an individualized decision that is based upon an IEP.

An analysis of state placement practices conducted by the Council for Exceptional Children (McLeskey & Henry, 1999) indicates that compared to other states, New Jersey continues to have a significant percentage of students with disabilities placed in separate classes and facilities. However, this study also shows that New Jersey has an average ranking in placement practices in other areas which include resource room and general education classes. During the 1998-99 school year local school districts expressed concerns that the December 1, 1998 report did not accurately represent the number of pupils with disabilities participating in general education programs. NJOSEP has clarified its reporting procedures in order to obtain the most accurate data. Preliminary review of the December 1, 2000 data indicated a shift in placement rates. There has been an increase in the number of students who are removed both less than 21% of the school day and between 21% and 60% of the school day. There has been a decrease of the number of students removed for more than 60% of the school day and a decrease in the number of students in public separate schools.

With respect to placement patterns, students from minority racial/ethnic groups are removed from the regular class to a greater degree than are white students. African-American students are removed to separate settings at more than twice the rate than are white students. Hispanic students are removed to separate settings to a somewhat lesser degree. Asian or pacific islanders are removed only half the rate of white students. White students are placed in general education classes more than 79% of the school day at about twice the rate of all other racial/ ethnic groups.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

There is a belief among some steering committee members that students are often placed in out-of-district settings because of the lack of space, appropriate program options within districts, lack of administrative leadership, placement based on availability rather than need, and as a result of the IEP teams' consideration of parental preference for specialized programs. Additionally, some steering committee members expressed concern that the whole school reform model developers working in Abbott districts have not considered how to accommodate students with disabilities within their programs.

NJOSEP's monitoring of LRE requirements conducted during the 1998-99 school year indicated that LEAs do not consistently document consideration of general education programs with the use of supplemental aids and services and program modifications. In addition, LEAs do not consistently link IEP goals and objectives to the general education curriculum.

Cluster Area of Performance: Statewide Assessment

Objective: Are students with disabilities achieving high standards as measured through the statewide assessment programs?

Performance Requirement #1:

The state's system for educational accountability demonstrates that children with disabilities are making progress.

Statewide Indicators

1. State performance goals and indicators for children with disabilities are established which are consistent with high expectations, and state education goals and standards for children without disabilities.

2. There is an increase in the percentage of students with disabilities who participate in the statewide assessment system.

3. There is an increase in the percentage of children with disabilities participating in state/district-wide general assessment programs, with appropriate test modifications and accommodations.

4. There is evidence that children with disabilities are demonstrating improvement as reflected on large-scale assessment at the same rate as children without disabilities.

5. The percentage of children with disabilities participating in alternate assessments is comparable to national data.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

State is sending the message of high expectations for all students.

Curriculum Framework document for modifying instruction and curriculum is good.

Manner in which the IEP format corresponds with Core Curriculum Content Standards.

Policy papers regarding accommodations and modifications were well done.

Greater emphasis on students with disabilities participating.

State tried to include students with disabilities when setting standards for assessments.

Additional training in the SRA process for students with disabilities.

Alternate indicators have been developed.

State included persons with expertise in severe disabilities in the alternative assessment development.

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Children with disabilities have not always been taught material on which they are being tested.

Children with disabilities are too often excluded from statewide assessment.

Statewide assessment process is not a true measurement of what students can do. It does not demonstrate the progress.

Students do not always get the modifications needed.

Modifications are not always instructionally based.

Data needs to be collected and accountability needs to be increased.

Scores of classified students on statewide assessment are often not reported.

There is confusion and resistance to state standards and assessments.

Allow time and resources for districts to conduct assessments.

Expectations for performance are based on standards of non-disabled peers.

Data Sources

  1. Latest version of state performance goals & indicators
  2. Baseline data from ESPA & GEPA
  3. School Report Card
  4. February 1999 federal monitoring report

Analysis Summary

In 1996, The New Jersey State Board of Education established the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS) as the standard of accomplishment for all New Jersey students. As a result, the New Jersey Department of Education is in the process of developing a new statewide assessment system to measure individual student achievement of the standards as well as local district performance. Students are tested in fourth and fifth grades through the Elementary School Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) and at the eighth grade level through the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment (GEPA). Each eleventh and twelfth grade student is currently required to take and

Analysis Summary (Continued)

pass the High School Proficiency Test for graduation unless the student's IEP states that he or she is exempt. This test will be replaced by the High School Proficiency Assessment, which is based on the CCCS, once field-testing and a due notice period have ended.

The New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Assessment, Office of Standards and Professional Development and the Office of Special Education Programs have engaged in a number of initiatives to increase meaningful participation of students with disabilities in the CCCS and the statewide assessment system. To assist teachers with the implementation of the Core Curriculum Content Standards, Curriculum Frameworks were developed by the Office of Standards and Professional Development and teachers from across the state. The Frameworks list specific instructional activities for each benchmark in the standards. In order to foster instruction in the CCCS for students with disabilities, instructional adaptations were developed and included in the Curriculum Frameworks for each of the content areas. Training is being provided on effective instructional strategies and the development of IEPs that align with the Core Curriculum Content Standards.

The NJDOE must facilitate the use of these frameworks and adaptations in schools to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving instruction in the CCCS. There is a perception among some steering committee members that students with disabilities are not always taught the content in which they are being assessed, modifications are not always instructionally based, and that students do not always receive the needed modifications.

There is a perception among some steering committee members that a significant number of students with disabilities are excluded from statewide assessment. To increase access to statewide assessments, the Office of Special Education Programs and the Office of Assessment have involved both general and special educators in all aspects of assessment development including policy development, item review, standard setting, and training. The New Jersey Administrative Code has been amended to include criteria for the participation of students with disabilities in the statewide assessments. Students must participate in the general statewide assessments unless the IEP team determines that a student has not been instructed in any of the knowledge and skills tested in a subject area and that the student would not be able to do any of the types of items on the assessment. These criteria must be discussed for each subject area tested. Students may participate in one or more subject areas of the assessment. However, there may continue to be confusion or resistance by local school districts toward the application of state standards and assessments for students with disabilities.

The statewide assessment system incorporates a variety of assessment methods (e.g., multiple-choice, open-ended and performance tasks) to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways. Assessment accommodations have also been expanded to meet a wide variety of needs. Training has been conducted statewide regarding participation decisions and the IEP process, selection of accommodations and their relationship to instruction, and federal and state regulations.

In order to inform the public of student performance, the assessment reporting system for the ESPA and the GEPA was modified to report disaggregated data on the performance of students with disabilities and aggregated data including all students at the state and district level. Performance data are reported only if it is statistically sound and not identifiable to individual children. Data on the performance of students with disabilities are being reported with the same frequency and detail as that of nondisabled students.

Analysis Summary (Continued)

Table 1 and table 2 (attached) indicate results for the 1999 ESPA and GEPA as reported in the State Summary Reports which were presented to the State Board of Education in December 1999. Only students who attempted all sections of the tests are reflected. Figures 1 and 2 (attached) compare the performance of nondisabled students and students with disabilities for the 1999 ESPA and GEPA. Students who achieve a score of either proficient or advanced proficient have met the state standard. The discrepancy between the percentage of nondisabled test-takers that met the standard and those with disabilities that met the standard ranged from 27-39% for the ESPA. The difference between the groups for both Math and Language Arts Literacy was approximately 50% for the GEPA. These percentages were consistent with the findings of Ysseldyke et.al. (1998) who looked at performance of nondisabled students and students with disabilities in fourteen states across the country. They found a 30-50% discrepancy between the two groups in these states regardless of the differences in the test difficulty, standards and accommodations.

In 1998, the Office of Assessment began collecting the total number of students eligible for special education in the fourth grade age range at the time of test administration to look at participation rates. The data were as follows:

Language Arts Literacy Math Science

Participation Rate 44% 45% 46%

These rates were calculated by dividing the number of students who took the test by the total number of students with disabilities considered fourth graders as reported at the time of testing.

Participation rates for students with disabilities for 1999 are not available due to the fact that the fields were changed for the data collection yielding only a partial representation of the population. This was corrected for the year 2000 administrations. Participation rates for the years 2000 through 2002 will be used to establish a statewide goal for participation.

The needs of students with severe disabilities are being addressed by the development of a modification of the CCCS and an alternate assessment. The Core Curriculum Content Standards for Students with Severe Disabilities (CCCSSSD) include a subset of the CCCS with modified cumulative progress indicators focused on what these students should know and be able to do by graduation. These standards will be disseminated in February in time for the Spring 2000 IEP season. The Alternate Proficiency Assessment will be developed during the course of the next two years to measure the progress of students who are working toward achieving the CCCSSSD.

There remains a group of students with disabilities who cannot be assessed through the current statewide assessments or the emerging Alternate Proficiency Assessment. The New Jersey Department of Education is working to increase local capacity to better prepare these students for the existing assessments and develop a policy to meaningfully include them in the assessment system.

Cluster Area of Performance: Personnel Development

Objective: Are appropriately trained personnel providing services to children with disabilities?

Performance Requirement #1:

Appropriately trained administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and related service personnel provide services to children with disabilities.

Statewide Indicators

1. There are sufficient numbers of qualified teachers and related service providers to meet the identified needs of all children with disabilities.

2. The use of emergency certifications for personnel who provide services to children with disabilities decreases.

3. Preservice and inservice training addresses identified Comprehensive System for Personnel Development (CSPD) needs.

4. Reciprocity agreements for personnel certification among states are established as appropriate.

5. Preservice and inservice training is provided for all general and special educators, administrators, paraprofessionals and related service personnel and addresses the special knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to serve the unique needs of children with disabilities, including those with low incidence disabilities and their need to meet the Core Curriculum Content Standards.

6. There is evidence that the state acquires and disseminates research-based information on promising practices in special education.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

Quality and relevance of training provided by LRCs is generally high. The array of trainings is high.

The State Department has worked better than ever regarding the issue of teacher training programs in higher education (preservice). Improved quality of teacher preparation in special education.

The requirement of continuing education hours (100) is a positive thing.

Coordination of training through NJOSEP.

Dissemination of information & resources.

Implementation of special projects (e.g., N.J. Technical Assistance Project for Students with Deafblindness, Speech Upgrade Project).

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

Special education teachers need training in general education, and general education teachers need training in special education (This refers to preservice and inservice).

There is a need for preservice and inservice training for paraprofessionals/instructional aides.

There is a need for on-site training in the local community to include parents.

There are not enough trained specialists to provide related services, statewide. There is a need for more training programs in speech, O.T., P.T., and all other related services.

General educators, special educators, related services personnel and administrators are unprepared to work collaboratively with each other, parents, and other agencies.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

There is inconsistency and variation with regard to quality among the teacher preparation programs.

There is a need to make CSPD a serious project. There needs to be follow-up and documentation from the local school districts.

There is a need for more widespread teacher education to serve children with more significant disabilities.

There is a need to make use of distance learning capability.

There is a need to actively recruit the most talented university students into education.

At the university level, there is not enough focus on research-based effective practices and best practices training (in some places).

There is a need for certification in the area of education of children with more significant disabilities.

There is a need for training of more leadership personnel who are experienced in general and special education.

There is a need for training of education leaders at the doctoral level with experience in general and special education (and significant disabilities).

There is a need to address linguistic, cultural, and racial differences in preservice and inservice training.

There is a need for training (both inservice and preservice) in skill development for all levels of personnel to implement fully supported inclusive education.

There is a need for extensive training of CSTs in their role in evaluation, facilitation, and supporting inclusive supportive education. This is a content issue, not a process issue.

Committee Impressions

What are we doing well?

(Continued)

Where are there opportunities for improvement?

(Continued)

There is too much reliance on emergency certification.

Support staff is not available.

Data Sources

  1. State CSPD Needs Assessment
  2. Certification Office data
  3. Training activities list
  4. LRC library/materials collection
  1. February 1999 federal monitoring report
  2. NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education Newsletter and training schedule
  3. Inclusion Institute (DD Council)
  4. Inclusion Community Awareness Training (DD Council)
  5. Common Ground (DD Council professional-focused newsletter)
  1. COSAC training schedule

Analysis Summary

NJOSEP has organized its training and technical assistance activities in response to the New Jersey Department of Education's strategic plan, the results of the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development needs assessment (1997), Comprehensive System for Personnel Development (CSPD) mandates specified in IDEA '97, and the ongoing collection of needs assessment data. In addition, personnel development activities have been planned in response to both federal and state monitoring findings. Targeted areas of training and technical assistance for educators and parents have included the following: Least Restrictive Environment/Inclusive Education Practices; Parental Involvement; Student Instruction in the General Education Curriculum (Core Curriculum Content Standards); Transition Planning and Program Development; Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports; Student Participation in Statewide Assessments; and Implementation of N.J.A.C. 6A:14.

NJOSEP has collaborated with agencies, organizations and LEAs regarding the planning and implementation of its personnel development activities. There has also been collaboration between the lead agencies for Part C and Part B. These agencies have developed joint guidelines for assisting parents and early intervention service coordination regarding the transition of a child between systems. The guidelines developed are consistent with the Department of Education's special education regulations and the Early Intervention State Plan. Dissemination of information occurs through a variety of venues. Transition training is provided to districts, service coordination and early intervention providers jointly through the Department of Education's Learning Resource Centers and DHSS's Regional Early Intervention Collaboratives. County-level training is occurring parents and professionals as a result of local collaboration between Regional Early Intervention Collaboratives, Special Child Health Services, Supervisors of Child Study and local school districts. Training also has occurred for Service

Analysis Summary (Continued)

Coordination specific to Part B Procedural Safeguards. SPAN provides information and training to parents and has jointly provided training to early intervention service providers with the departments.

NJOSEP conducts training and technical assistance activities for school personnel, parents, and paraprofessionals. Some steering committee members reported that the quality, relevance and array of trainings for educators and families is generally high. There are three staff members of NJOSEP specifically responsible for the training and technical assistance needs relative to students who are deaf/hard of hearing and deafblind. Training and technical assistance is provided through a variety of mechanisms that include grants, development of technical assistance documents and videos, distance learning opportunities, statewide and regional trainings, and technical assistance provided regionally and to individual local school districts. The proposed special education regulations strengthen the training requirements for local school districts.

NJOSEP, through its professional development grant program, provided opportunities for collaboration between Institutions of Higher Education and local school districts regarding the provision of inclusive education programs.

The requirement for continuing education hours will provide an additional mechanism to train general and special education professionals in areas that promote participation of students with disabilities in general education programs. However, some committee members expressed a concern that there is no specific requirement for teachers to be involved in continuing education relative to meeting the needs of students with disabilities in general education classes.

There is a perception among some steering committee members that preservice and inservice training do not have a sufficient impact on compliance requirements as well as program development. Areas of concern include supported inclusive education; understanding of linguistic, cultural and racial differences; collaborative decision-making; transition planning; functional assessment; and the development of positive behavior intervention plans. With regard to preservice preparation there is perception among some committee members about the lack of uniformity among existing programs and the need to focus on research-based effective practices and training. There are limited opportunities for the cross training of general and special education personnel. In addition, there are no preservice programs that specifically prepare teachers to serve students with low incidence disabilities such as teachers of the blind/visually impaired and teachers of students with severe disabilities.

Based on a review of emergency certifications there are shortages of Teachers of the Handicapped and Speech/Language Specialists in specific regions and districts. There is a serious problem in that training programs for Speech/Language Specialists have closed as a result of the national requirements. There is also a shortage of appropriately trained Educational Interpreters. In addition, it should noted that there are no teacher preparation programs for Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired.