FSSD Special Education News

Doing what's right for our students - one child at a time

February 14, 2016

Between the TNReady changes and the snow days, it has been a pretty unusual week in FSSD. The snow days interfered with the PIE Conference in downtown Nashville this week. Many who were planning to come to the conference stayed home due to the weather conditions. There were so many interesting sessions...so much to absorb regarding Special Education. I wish everyone could have had this opportunity to learn more about Special Education. The opportunity to network with other professionals is invaluable in our profession. While I know you enjoyed the snow days, I was seriously miffed at the timing of Mother Nature!

For teachers of students with an alternate assessment (former portfolio), please see the important announcement about the MSAA.

Important information regarding TNREADY Accommodations is below.

See all of the articles in this newsletter, and enjoy the rest of February! Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day. (My son calls it "S.A.D." - "Singles Awareness Day.") Enjoy your President's Day holiday, too!

One day at a time...one student at a time...

Beth Herren


615.794.6624 - FSSD Central Office

615.472-3722 - Direct office line

615.238.1867 - personal cell phone

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Partners in Education Conference

In subsequent newsletters, we will feature some of the session materials from the PIE Conference. Listed below are some of the more beneficial sessions:

Discipline for students with Disabilities - Bill Wilson

Complaints about Special Education Services - Steve Sparks and Crystal McCarver

Top 5 Things an Advocate Never Wants to Hear at an IEP Meeting - Kashonda Babb and Crystal McCarver (see synopsis below)

All of Monday's sessions were excellent - the focus on Monday was Positive Behavior Support - RtI2Behavior

We will feature some of the session materials in subsequent newsletters.

See the information below from Megan Bomgaars. She was the Keynote speaker on Wednesday morning. She is a student with Down Syndrome who advocates for students with disabilities to be treated with dignity and respect with high expectations. She encourages educators to promote independence in our students with disabilities!

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*****Top 5 Things an Advocate Never Wants to Hear at an IEP Meeting

PLEASE do not let anyone utter these statements in an IEP meeting!

Synopsis from the PIE Conference:

  1. "This is what we do for every student." Remember the "I" in IEP!
  2. "We can't afford to provide _______." A school district is prohibited from considering cost as a factor in determining whether or not a student with disabilities receives certain goods or services.
  3. "We can't agree to that because _________ is not here." Make sure all necessary parties are in attendance. Make sure the LEA representative is aware of his/her responsibilities and has sufficient authority to deal with issues that arise. If you need to take a short break to make a phone call to conference with someone, that is perfectly acceptable.
  4. "The school staff met and decided ____________________." This is a big "no-no." We must avoid predetermination at all costs. Pre-planning is fine; predetermination is NOT!
  5. "We only have 20 minutes for this meeting." Parental participation should be ensured. Make sure to schedule ample time for the team to work collaboratively.

Other items mentioned:

  • IEP meeting notes are not a requirement of IDEA. FSSD encourages IEP meeting notes, BUT make sure the notes are a synopsis and not a transcript. This is a big legal "no-no."
  • Communicate
  • Be prepared
  • Maintain focus on the student
  • Prepared an agenda and stay on target
  • Do not antagonize or create conflict
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The Multi-State Alternative Assessment (MSAA) is a new assessment beginning this spring for all students taking the alternate assessment (formerly, NCSC). To ensure testing fidelity, all teachers who are administering the MSAA must participate in a four hour training module and take and pass the quiz that follows. As a support to teachers and schools, Lori Nixon, the department’s director of Assessments, will host live webinars for teachers to collaboratively watch the module and provide an opportunity for questions and answers. The webinar dates and times are listed below:

February 26 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. CST

February 26 12:45.–4:45 p.m. CST

February 29 9 a.m.–1 p.m. CST

February 29 4–8 p.m. CST

March 1 12–4 p.m. CST

March 2 9 a.m.–1 p.m. CST

March 8 9 a.m.–1 p.m. CST

March 8 4–8 p.m. CST

March 9 9 a.m.–1 p.m. CST

March 10 1–5 p.m. CST

If you have at least one student on an alternate assessment, please make plans to listen to one of these webinars. Teachers who will be administering the alternative assessment must complete the entire training module prior to taking the quiz.

A link to a recording of the webinar will be posted on the department’s website once the first webinar has occurred.

Webinar connection instructions:

See below to connect to the webinar.

Call: (877)411-9748

Meeting Access Code: 2771120#

If you have questions, please contact Beth Herren.

MSAA Webinar

Click on this link to connect to the webinar.

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Update on Testing Accommodations

We know that many educators have questions about the accommodations available on TNReady, the alternate TCAP assessment, and ACCESS for ELLs. To support you with questions about accommodations, please reference the document below that provides answers to frequently asked questions and additional details about administration of alternate and English Language proficiency assessments. Please also reference the testing conditions and accommodations chart (also below). This information was emailed to directors of schools and special education directors on Wednesday, February 10, from Assistant Commissioner Joey Hassell.

Keep in mind that accommodations are designed to help students access rigorous content; they are not designed to take the place of skills that students are capable of demonstrating. While an accommodation may be allowable on an assessment, that does not mean that all students would benefit from this accommodation on the assessment. Accommodations should be driven by individual student need.

Click on the two titles below for the FAQ and Testing Conditions and Accommodations Chart.

TNReady Frequently Asked Questions

Print this FAQ for your reference.

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When Helping Hurts

Read this article to see how we are actually doing students harm when we help too much!


  • DO NOT - UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - put services on an IEP without the appropriate professional in attendance.
  • Keep copies of the IEP draft with changes made during the meeting.
  • Upload your documents using PaperClip in EasyIEP - always and often.
  • Make sure all current teachers have signed the IEP - including related arts/special classes.
  • Do you need to provide a Prior Written Notice to the parents? PRIOR to implementing services or evaluations, we must give WRITTEN NOTICE! See the updated section of the manual on page 13.
  • Make sure your present levels are organized by AREA and not by ASSESSMENT - See pages 11-12 of the 2015 Updates (For example, put all Reading Fluency information together - assessments and narratives) When we organize by area, we can determine if the entire present level is exceptional.
  • Read your manual!
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Childcare needed for April 5th - 6:00 PM - Special Education Parent Meeting

Thank you in advance for volunteering to provide childcare for the April 5th parent meeting at Franklin Elementary School. The meeting starts at 6:00 and should last approximately an hour. Thank you for your willingness to give our parents an hour of stress-free time to learn while knowing their children are safe and happy! Please email Beth Herren if you are willing to provide this service to our families.

Important Upcoming Events

  • District-Wide SPED Advisory meeting - Tuesday, February 23 @ 3:30 PM
  • Discipline Institute - Wed/Thurs, March 1-2
  • Individualized Education Act meeting - Friday, March 3
  • Spring Break - March 21-25
  • District-Wide SPED Advisory meeting - Tuesday, April 5 @ 3:30 PM
  • Special Education Parent Meeting - Tuesday, April 5 @ 6:00 - FES Media Center
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