WELCOME TO THE ALCOA CITY SCHOOLS SPECIAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
What is Special Education?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide a free appropriate public education to any student that has met disability eligibility standards and whose needs cannot be met in the general education setting without the provisions of special education supports and services in the least restrictive environment.
The term “special education” is defined as “specially designed instruction” to meet the needs of a child with a disability. This instruction can occur in a variety of settings including but not limited to the following: the general education classroom, a special education classroom, at home, and/or in the hospital or private program.
Alcoa’s special education program offers a continuum of services for students that qualify for special education services.
The district must ensure that a continuum of placements is available at all times to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. These placements include the following:
This statement is part of an effort to locate and serve children that may need special education and related services and/or special accommodations. If you know of a child who may qualify and is not receiving available services, please contact Holly Young at (865) 982-3120 or via email at: HYoung@alcoaschools.net
Parents that have children ages 3-5 who have concerns that their child may be in need of special education should contact Holly Young (865) 982-3120 or via email at: HYoung@alcoaschools.net
Parents who have educational concerns about school age children who attend an Alcoa public school, are being homeschooled, or attend a private school within the Alcoa City jurisdiction can access special education services by contacting the Department of Special Education for more information.
Autism is a developmental disability, which significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction that is generally evident prior to age three. The term of Autism includes students that have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) or Asperger's Syndrome. It may also include other pervasive development disorders such as Rett’s of childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
Difficulty with social interactions (playing or relating to children and adults)
Lack of spontaneous seeking to share interests or achievements with others
Cannot start or maintain a conversation
May not respond to eye contact
Does not refer to self correctly
Shows little pretend or imaginative play
Engagement in repetitive activities (repeating phrase or story, performing same motor task over and over)
Engagement in stereotyped movements
Resistive to environmental change or change in daily routines
Unusual responses to environment (over sensitive to sight, hearing, touch, smell, and/or taste)
Varying levels of intelligence (Many children with autism are average or above average intelligence, some also have mental retardation. Even within a child with autism, the intelligence levels can vary. He may be great at spatial relationships [puzzles, geometry, etc.], but not be able to read even sight words.)
Deaf-Blindness refers to a noncomitant hearing and visual impairment, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that cannot be accommodated in special education programs by addressing any one of the impairments. A child may be diagnosed with a degenerative condition or syndrome that may lead to deaf-blindness or a child may have severe multiple disabilities due to a generalized central nervous system dysfunction that may fall into this category.
Deafness is defined as having a hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing with or without amplification. The term deaf implies that a person has a very severe hearing loss and relies primarily on lip reading or sign language for communication.
Inability to communicate
Inability to perform on expected grade level
Delayed speech and language development
May misunderstand information presented
Difficulty understanding concepts that are not concrete; takes things literally.
Developmental Delay refers to children ages 3-9 that are experiencing delays in one or more of the following areas: physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive behavior that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Emotional disturbance is defined as a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over an extended time and to a marked degree during which time informal assessments are being documented and interventions are being implemented. The term may include other mental health diagnosis. But it does not apply to children that are socially maladjusted unless it is determined that they have an Emotional Disturbance. Social Maladjustment includes substance abuse related behaviors, gang-related behaviors, oppositional defiant behavior, and/or conduct behavior problems.
Inability to learn which cannot be explained by limited school experience, cultural differences, or intellectual, sensory, or health factors
Inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and school personnel
Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings when no major or unusual stressors are evident
General pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
Tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems
Functional Delay is defined as a continuing significant disability in intellectual functioning and achievement which adversely affects the child’s ability to progress in the general education setting. Adaptive behavior measures in the home/community are not significantly impaired.
Impaired intellectual functioning-- two or more standard deviations below the mean
Academic achievement at or below the 4th percentile in two or more of the following areas: basic reading skills, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, mathematics problem solving, written expression
Home or school adaptive behavior scores that fall above the mental retardation range
An intellectual disability is characterized by significantly impaired intellectual functioning as well as deficits in adaptive behavior which is manifested during the child’s developmental period. There is an adverse affect on the child’s educational performance in all areas due to problems of significant delays in thinking, communication, and daily living skills.
Multiple Disabilities refers to concomitant impairments such as mental retardation-deafness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment of which the combination causes severe educational needs that cannot be accommodated by addressing only one of the impairments.
Low cognitive ability
Often needs assistance in daily activities or tasks (eating, toileting, mobility)
Orthopedic impairment refers to a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The impairment may be caused by a congenital anomaly such as club foot or absence of some member; a disease such as polio or bone tuberculosis; and other causes such as cerebral palsy, amputations, and/or fractures and burns that cause contractures.
Hard to control limbs
May need assistance with toileting, eating and general life skills
Motor difficulties in mobility, writing and sitting
General Teaching Strategies
Remove or accommodate barriers for student
Allow students to be as independent as possible
Speak to person at eye level (that is, sit down if they are in wheelchair)
A child that demonstrates limited strength, vitality or alertness, and/or a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli because of chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and/or Tourette’s Syndrome in need of specifically designed instruction is considered a child with OHI.
Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
Fails to give close attention to details
Difficulty sustaining attention
Difficulty with following instructions
Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained effort such as schoolwork
The term specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
Usually average to above average intelligence
Erratic and/or fluctuating performance
Problems with spatial relationships
Poor organizational skills
Difficulty forming appropriate social relationships
A speech and language impairment implies that there is a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, and/or voice impairment that adversely affects the child’s education performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when there is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force that results in either total or partial damage or a psychosocial impairment or both. The term refers to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more of the following areas: cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory abilities, perceptual abilities, motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative or those induced by birth trauma.
Speech, vision, hearing, and other sensory impairments
Lack of coordination
Spasticity of muscles
Problems with attention or concentration
Verbal or physical aggression
Inter- and intra- personal problems
Inability to concentrate
Inability to initiate, organize , or complete tasks
Poor judgment and perception skills
Inability to acquire and/or retain new information
Inability to process information
Inability to sequence, generalize ,or plan
Long-Term and short-Tem memory problems
Inability to perceive, evaluate, or use social cues appropriately
Inability to cope with over-stimulation
Low frustration tolerance
Inability to demonstrate age appropriate behavior
Limited self-esteem and self-control
Shows signs of restlessness, limited motivation, and initiation
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and NCLB require that all students, including those with the most severe disabilities, must be included in state-mandated assessments. The Tennessee Comprehensive Asessment Program (TCAP) includes several alternative assessments available to students with disabilities whom participation in the regular state assessment is inappropriate, even with the use of extensive accommodations. Included in Tennessee's alternate assessments are:
1. TCAP-Alt Portfolio Assessment:
An assessment designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities (approximately 1%) and is based on alternative content standards. TCAP-Alt Portfolio strands measure Content, Choice, Settings, Supports, and Peer Interactions. The decision based on the needs of the individual student. All student work contained in a portfolio assessment must be performed by the student and in the presence of a teacher and/or paraprofessional.
An assessment designed to provide a more appropriate means of measuring the skills of a student whose disability interferes with performance on large scale assessments. In Tennessee, the MAAS assessment for students with disabilities in grades 3 through 8 is intended to evaluate individual learning needs and yield results that more accurately reflect students' academci progress while also guiding instruction based on individual students' needs. Students' scores of Proficient or Advanced on the TCAP-MAAS may be included in AYP calculations, subject to a cap of 2% of all students assessed at the state and district levels. The decision for TCAP-MAAS participation is an IEP team decision based on the needs of the individual student.
3. Alternative Performance-Based Assessments (EOC):
Students with disabilities must participate in the state End of Course (EOC) assessment. These students must receive appropriate support and accommodations with the goal of mastering course content and passing the EOC assessment. However, a student on an active IEP whose disability interferes with performance on the EOC assessment may demonstrate mastery of core knowledge and skills for that course through the approved alternative performance based assessment. The IEP team must determine if the disability is likely to have an adverse effect on performance on the EOC assessment. Discussion of the potential need for the alternative performance based assessment may take place at the annual IEP meeting and be appropriately documented. In the event the student fails to earn a passing grade for the course, the alternative performance based rubric will be used to assess the level of mastery of the course content. The student's level of achievement of the core knowledge and skills for each state end of course test is dtermined by the teacher of record in consultation with the IEP team and special education providers, using the state approved alternative performance based assessment document. Results of the performance based assessment will not improve Adequate Yearly Progress calculations for the school, but will count toward graduation rate. Students with disabilities who successfully participate in this process will meet the course requirement leading to a regular high school diploma.
Additionally, special testing accommodations may be used by students who are receiving special education services or services under Section 504 and have the need documented in their IEP or 504 Service Plan. Accommodations are modifications made to the test environment or test administration procedures. An accommodation may be used by a student only when necessary and when the student is proficient in its use. There are three types of testing accommodations available for student use: Allowable Accommodations, Special Accommodations, and English Language Learner (ELL) Accommodations. The decision for student participation in any alternate assessment or special accommodation is an IEP team decision based on the needs of the individual student.
Continuum of Services of Explanation
1.The general education classroom with additional support services:The child remains in the general education classroom. The teacher and/or child is provided with special education and supplies, special transportation, paraprofessional services, or other supportive services. The general education classroom teacher or paraprofessionsl conducts classroom activities while the special education teacher or therapist works with the general education classroom teacher or paraprofessional conducts classroom activities while the special education teacher or therapist works with the general education classroom teacher or paraprofessional to implement the IEP.
2.The general education classroom with direct services from special education personnel: The child remains in the general education classroom. Special education personnel works with the general education classroom teacher and provides instruction in the general education class to an eligible child whose identified needs can be met with part-time support. The instruction may be on an individual or small group basis and is always coordinated with the general education class activities.
3.The general educational environment with special education itinerant or resource support: The child receives as much of the general education classroom instruction as appropriate. Additional educational experiences are provided by special education personnel in a pull-out program designed to meet identified needs. the duration of time spent with the special education personnel is determined by the degree of intervention necessary to meet the child's needs. The instruction may be provided on an individual or small group basis and is always coordinated with the general education class activities.
4.The general education environment with self-contained classroom support: The child receives any general education classroom instruction from which he or she can benefit. The Majority of instruction is provided in a self-contained classroom. Integration with nondisabled peers may occur in the general education classroom, and in non-academic and extra-curricular activities as determined by the IEP Team.
5. Full-time instruction in a separate day school:The child receives all instruction in a separate day school.These experiences are supplemented by involvement in those parts of the general education school program that are appropriate.
6.Home or hospital instruction: The home or hospital program consists of instructional and/or supportive services provided by the school to a child in his home, in a convalescent home, or in a hospital.
7. Residential/institutional services: The child resides in or receives all instruction in an institutional setting involvement with nondisabled peers is provided as indicated in the IEP.
ACS conducts on-going child find activities in various ways. Since there are no private schools within the Alcoa City jurisdiction, other methods are used to locate, identify and evaluate any child suspected of having a disability. Documentation of these activities is on file. These are summarized below:
Each year Child Find statements are placed in our local newspaper, posted on our School/Community TV-Station Channel 3, on our website.
Brochures are distributed throughout the community in various business locations, churches, community centers (MLK Center), Dr.’s offices, the Child/Day care centers, and other agencies such as Head Start and TEIS.
Letters are placed in the Homeschool packets for those parents registering for homeschool with Alcoa.
Screening activities are conducted each year in conjunction with our Voluntary Pre-k programs and our Kindergarten programs. Letters are sent home to all Alcoa students and this activity is advertised through-out the community in the above manner.
Intervention activities are conducted through-out the schools through the RTI programs that will locate students that may not be advancing from grade-to-grade.