Tuesday Morning CPS News

Today's school news is all over the place -- a little bit Brizard, a little bit TIF.  But there's a lively debate going on below about the extended day / pay proposal and I posted a big PowerPoint last night about what CPS says it's doing this coming year.

Chicago superintendent sailing into rough waters Chicago Tribune:  The note, addressed to "J.C.," advised the new chief of  CPS that it was time to replace his New York license plates.

Indiana approves school takeover plan WBEZ:  The Indiana State Board of Education approved allowing private firms to take over five failing schools; four in Indianapolis and one in Gary.

Emanuel gets a few pointed questions at town hall meeting: Venturing outside his typically tightly-scripted settings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday night found himself having to answer a few pointed questions about some of his early decisions.

Lawsuit accuses CPS guard of handcuffing first-grader Tribune:  The mother of a Chicago Public Schools elementary school student is accusing an on-campus security guard of handcuffing her son and detaining him for more than an hour while he was a first-grader last year at Carver.

Rahm Emanuel embraces reform of special TIF taxing districts Sun Times: Under pressure from aldermen, Daley agreed last year to siphon $180 million in surplus TIF funds to balance his final budget and help the Chicago Public Schools do the same.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Chicago Tonight Catalyst: Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be on Chicago Tonight at 7 p.m.

Final sentence is given in videotaped murder of Fenger High School sophomore Tribune:  Albert, 16, was a Fenger High School sophomore when he was knocked in the head by a plank and killed in a hail of punches and kicks that was captured on video, bringing global attention to Chicago's youth violence.

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  • I, too, scanned the Powerpoint and was amazed to see little or no mention of special education even though approximately, 11% of our students are classified as students with disabilities. One special education reference points to 2013 on a timeline. Are you kidding me? We need attention now!
    Mr Brizard is going to set up call centers-great idea...can the personnel manning the call centers answer the following...

    Why is CPS ignoring the J-Car ruling involving workloads?
    What is the attrition rate for special education teachers in CPS?
    Why don't we conduct exit polls?
    Why are the CO special education staff so incompetent?
    Why has nothing changed for the positive for SWD in the years following Corey H.?
    Why are schools forced to accept children in wheelchairs who are not toilet trained and are told there is no "SECA on the paperwork so use one of your other SECAs" this is a serious safety issue not to mention very embarrassing for a child who has to wait for the SECA to return from another building...let's not even mention the lost instructional time for the entire class..call the office blah blah blah...so one teacher is supposed to push a child in a wheelchair AND get the rest of the 33 children out in a fire....where is CFD on this one?
    Why are case managers allowed to turn entire schools into inclusion nightmares? "No one is allowed to be pulled out for services... I thought we had to offer a continuum?
    How many rooms are without certified special education teachers?
    Why does it take a year to get services?
    Why are the minutes on the IEPs of children who transfer in from the
    suburbs reduced but rarely increased?
    Why are children with severe autism under labeled and dumped into rooms with 10 students?

    Yes, please have the call center ready to answer these questions as I have been asking these questions since the blog's inception and have not received a response....anniesullivan

  • Because the power point presentation that was given to CPS principals that Alexander obtained is so extensive any type of analysis of it requires that it be broken down into its components. In the discussion that follows I am only commenting on the presentation titled Delivering on Our Promise to the Children of Chicago by CEO Brizard.

    There was a lot in this presentation that merits thought, however due to my own time constraints I will only comment on aspects of the presentation that jumped out at me. The first thing was the CPS mission - " Every child has access to world class learning and will graduate college and career ready." I think the syntax is awkward, there is no clear grammar rule on using the word "and" multiple times in a sentence but I found it very odd to read. But the idea gets through none the less and CPS is dramatically over reaching, which will likely lead to failure in my opinion, all be it with high expectations in tow.

    Every CPS student will never graduate from college be it a two year college or a four year college in my life time, and I hope to live for 20 more years at least. Does CPS really think all the students with IEPs are going to graduate from college? I would be absolutely thrilled if only 30% graduated from a two year college and another 5% graduated from a four year college. This propblem is created in good part because as the eariler commenter stated there is little or no mention of special education in the presentation. Does CPS really think that all CPS students who are incarcerated in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center will graduate? Creating such an over reaching mission statement leads inevitably to cynicism.

    Then we have this power point prompt: "Does our schools’ inability to teach poor students stem from problems in the system itself? Or is the problem deeper: society’s inability to support the community structures that make effective schooling possible?" Now that statement is clearly loaded. How about rephrasing it as: Does our schools’ inability to teach poor students who come from unstructured homes stem from problems in the system itself? Or is the problem deeper: does our inability to teach these students in part at least come from society’s inability to support the community structures that make effective schooling possible? I suspect the answer to my rephrasing of the prompt could be very differently than the answer to CPS's original prompt.

    Here is CPS's answer to its own prompt: "The hard fact is that many educators and policy makers simply do not believe inner‐city students to be capable of achieving." I think the answer reflects the endless war on low expectations for urban students that in itself creates cynicism due to over simplification of the problems in educating these students in the context of both a racially and socially divided America.

    The power point uses Elmont Memorial Junior-Senior High School as an example of how a lower income minority school can beat the odds. It uses N.Y. Regents test results from 2008 to make part of the point. But is interesting about that data presentation is that this very same school according to a 2006 article in the New York Times (October 1, 2006 " Testing, Testing ... but What?" experienced a huge decline in scores. Here is what the NY Times reporter Ford Fessenden wrote "...teachers and staff members at Elmont were stunned on Sept. 21 when the state released the results of the most recent round of statewide English tests. This time, instead of 60 percent of its eighth-grade students meeting the reading and writing standards, almost 60 percent of the students did not." Things are not as simple as the chart CPS put up for principals about this school, moreover none of the massive test prep this school regularly did was probably presented to the principals at this meeting.

    Lastly I think another power point circle graph that appears on page 53 of the pdf that Alexander has posted merits some discussion. This circle graph is based on what is called the "Prospects study" presents data with percentages that purport to explain variance in average student gains explained by factors such as the student themselves, the particular classroom they are in, and the school they are in. I would recommend that principals read the actual study at www.cpre.org/images/stories/cpre_pdfs/rr51.pdf It is my opinion that the circle graph over simplifies a much more complex analysis.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, what are your thoughts on the RTI part?

  • In our annual review of the CPS budget this year we devoted a section to RtI. This is what we wrote:

    Section IV: Response to Intervention and CPS

    The FY 2011 budget contains a discussion of CPS implementation of the Response to Intervention (rti) framework. CPS is required by Illinois 'special education rules to use an RtI process as part of the evaluation procedures to identify students with learning disabilities in the 2010-2011 school year.

    The CPS discussed this student intervention system in the FY 2011 budget as follows:

    In addition to focusing on teacher quality, in FY2011 CPS will invest in efforts to increase
    student performance through the Response to Intervention (RtI) Framework. RtI is a framework for continuous improvement that is based on the principle that all children can learn. The RtI framework utilizes a multi-tiered approach to intervention as well as scientific, research-based educational resources (e.g., curricula), high quality instructional practices, and data-driven decision-making to improve education for all students.

    Student performance information is used to guide instructional decisions at the classroom level and to identify students who are struggling. The RtI framework seeks to identify students who may be at risk and require intervention; as a result, specific interventions are incorporated that enable teachers to respond to student needs before their struggles worsen. School principals and Chief Area Officers have been provided a menu of options for intervention materials, professional development, and support services that they can use to meet the needs of struggling students.
    The goal of RtI is to ensure that all students who are not achieving at the expected rates in reading and mathematics have access to support. It is estimated that schools will spend approximately $45 million on instructional materials and professional development within their FY2011 allocations; CPS will spend an additional $10 million in FY2011 on support services for students who require more specific intervention.
    CPS in FY 11 required schools themselves to find $45 million out of their existing budgets for "instructional materials and professional development." But in the PowerPoint presentation CPS provided along with its budget FY 12 document it stated it intended to "reduce various citywide programs including: Response to Intervention stipend." After the hype in support of RtI it is less than clear why CPS made this decision.

    The documentation process for RtI is extensive, requiring progress monitoring, charting, and continuous real time monitoring of students undergoing interventions. These interventions are not the responsibility of special education teachers, but primarily the students' regular education teachers. The overall implementation of RtI in FY 11 was the responsibility of the CPS Office of Teaching and Learning. It is now unclear if that still is the case.
    Access Living has been heavily involved with the attempts of the Illinois State Board of Education to implement RtI for four and a half years. In February 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) presented its proposed amendments to Part 226 of the Illinois State Administrative Code. These regulations were required to be revised because of the reauthorization of IDEA. The revised IDEA made major changes as to how Learning Disabilities (LD) were to be identified by schools.
    The changes in LD assessment are complex and were strongly objected to by some special education professionals at the school level. The proposed ISBE special education regulations were rewritten in a streamlined form that was not understandable to parents or for that matter to special education teachers.
    On July 25, 2006 Access Living submitted written comments to the ISBE on its proposed amendments to Part 226 of the Illinois State Administrative Code. Our initial review was 18 pages long and covered numerous aspects of the proposed regulations. On August 3rd U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings released the new regulations for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. On August 8, 2006 we supplemented these original comments with an additional statement to the ISBE at a public hearing held in Springfield Illinois. We again commented on September 12, 2006 at a public hearing held in Chicago on the proposed 226 regulations. On December 14th we again spoke before ISBE before their vote on these regulations which went before the State Legislature’ Joint Committee on Regulations (JCAR). Access Living along with many other advocacy organizations, in particular the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois and ISELA - Illinois Special Education Coalition, effective froze ISBE's rules in the committee but eventually they passed .
    On June 14, 2007 the Illinois Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher Koch invited a number of the stakeholders in relation to our State special education rules to a meeting. Among those attending this meeting either in person or by phone were representatives from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, the chair of the Illinois Special Education Coalition (ISELA), Family Resource Center on Disability (FRCD), Designs for Change (DFC), Access Living of Chicago (AL), Illinois State Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities, the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois (LDA-I) and associations representing Special Education Administrators.
    Four of these stakeholders, ISELA, FRCD, DFC, and AL agreed on a proposal to the State Superintendent for specific alternative language for the two sections of the Special Education rules that the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) of the Illinois General Assembly had at the time under a filing prohibition. In relation to RtI among the things we proposed was that there be a twelve-week maximum for the implementation of scientific, research-based interventions if students were not demonstrating academic progress (after which the district would be obligated to seek parental consent for a full case study evaluation). We also requested that the implementation time line for requiring school districts to implement RtI be delayed. All of these modifications were rejected by ISBE.

    ISBE began to implement RtI by using a federally funded pilot program called Illinois ASPIRE, CPS had schools in the pilot program . Access Living using the Illinois FOIA law requested information from CPS on for an important outcome of the RtI program, that fewer students would need to be referred for special education evaluations at these schools based on the improvement shown due to the RtI process. The CPS provided initial referral rate data going back to FY 2003 and going forward to FY 2009 after these schools having implemented RtI. The table below was provided to Access Living by CPS. [Table does not reproduce on blog posting]

    Table III CPS referral rate for ASPIRE schools
    The CPS as part of the FOIA request also provided city wide initial referral rates for the same fiscal years. These can be seen in the table below. [Table does not reproduce on blog posting]

    CPS Citywide initial referral rates

    Table IV CPS Citywide referral rates

    Overall we could not discern any pattern of reduction in the initial referral rates for these six CPS ASPIRE schools. In fact by 2009 of the six schools half were higher than the citywide average for schools which were not yet implementing RtI. Reports looking at implementation of RtI through the ASPIRE program statewide issued for the 2006-2007, and 2007-2008 school years by the Center for School Evaluation Intervention and Training at Loyola University of Chicago do not show the RtI program to be working up to expectations with even the higher level of support provided to the ASPIRE program through the federal grant.

    We do not think that the proposed cuts in the area of Response to Intervention are a wise decision given the ISBE mandate in this area. We have major doubts about the effectiveness of RtI in reducing referral rates. Access Living would be happy to work with CPS in a lobbying effort to amend the existing regulations in this area to allow for more flexible implementation of RTI along the lines we and other advocacy groups proposed several years ago.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod thanks!

  • Rod--Thank you. I was at this meeting and I read all that was handed out. You are correct in your analysis. If they cannot get the mission right. I was surprised at how a number of principals ate this up. They should know better.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    What gave you the idea that "a number of principals ate this up"?

  • I think that the mission should read - " Every child has access to world class learning and will graduate college OR career ready."

    Admitting that you have a problem is the first step. Believing that progress is possible is the second. That is the message of the first third or so of the presentation. I hope ALL principals received that message loud and clear.

    There was a lot of time for discussion with note taking. I hope some good ideas and information about current roadblocks came out of it.

  • Rod-

    I have seen you make this statement several times over the past few years and I have to ask...what do you cite in your proposition that "The documentation process for RtI is extensive".

    I know of no federal documentation requirements, and I know of no state requirements. Maybe the requirement that states submit a plan..which was followed by requirements that districts submit plans. Is there some case law spelling out these arduous RtI documentation requirements because I have been working in this area for several years and have never seen them. I have heard rumors of several CAOs who fabricate their own "rules" for RtI but the actions of control hungry area leaders can't be attributed as a problem of the RtI process. I have called you out on this in the past and I think you responded with some amalgam of requirements from case law and special education regulation that seemed off point. Shoot out a better analysis of your support for this statement because I assert that it doesn't hold water.

    Your statement that interventions are not the responsibility of special education teachers also puzzles me. I question your definition of an "intervention". I assert that each and every research based attempt made to help a kid...with an IEP or not...is an intervention. Using this definition, as I think is appropriate here, would you still deny that administering interventions is not the purview of a special education professional? If so...what do the special ed teachers in this city do all day? I ask this tongue in cheek, I am a proud special ed. teacher who is inspired by the direction of current educational policy (as it pertains to RtI).

    I hope you don't mind me calling you out here. I appreciate the analysis you bring to this board...been following your posts for 3-4 years now. I just think that your analysis in the area of RtI has been sloppy/missing.

    In re: TO Rod Estvan's statement "The documentation process for RtI is extensive, requiring progress monitoring, charting, and continuous real time monitoring of students undergoing interventions. These interventions are not the responsibility of special education teachers, but primarily the students' regular education teachers"

  • In reply to Shammy:

    The State Guidance Document, which is currently being revised, titled Illinois Special Education Eligibility and Entitlement Procedures and Criteria within a Response to Intervention Framework has about 5 pages on the documentation discussion. The most extensive one relates to progress monitoring based on the intervention package a teacher uses which has to be done a regular intervals. If the teacher fails to keep this documentation the student will not become eligible for tier three and possible identification. This is because of the federal regulations at 34 CFR 300.311 the RtI process must provide the required documentation for eligibility determination set forth under federal law. The RtI process eliminates the IQ test and discrepancy approach, so the documentation for SLD determination can only be based on the demonstration of the failure of the student to respond to interventions.

    Naperville and a few other better funded districts use computerized systems to keep this documentation that will produce a detailed response record to be used in the identification process. Naperville also uses paraprofessionals to administer interventions in some cases to reduce the costs of the process and stress on the regular education teachers. CPS currently has none of these intergrated packages so the burden on regular education teachers is greater.

    The reason I say that interventions are to be administered primarily by regular education teachers is that these students have not been identified and the interventions are considered to be like title 1 remedial interventions. Up to this year the CPS RtI program was not being run by CPS OSS but by the Office of Teaching and Learning because it was considered a regular education process up to the point in tier 3 where the identification process takes place. The intention of this system is to reduce the number of students identified as SLD based on the presumption that many students were being identified incorrectly due to poor reading instruction in particular. I hope this helps answer your question.

    Rod Estvan

  • Huh?.As a non-educator reader, I'm unclear what is confusing about Rod Estvan's statement. Do do RtI, one would have to assess, intervene, assess, etc., the student --- which is a ton of paperwork and time. RtI is done PRIOR to any IEP being created, when the sped teacher is not yet involved. Now, I could be way off, but this is my lay understanding of RtI.

  • Some editing:

    "Every child has access to world-class learning and will graduate college- OR career-ready."

    But "world class" is a meaningless term, at any rate. Really. Define it.

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