What's New in SPED Evaluation?

A Monthly Newsletter for Region 11 SPED Evaluation Staff

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Blessing Wright, M. Ed., Special Education Evaluation Specialist

Hello SPED Evaluators of Region 11!

My name is Blessing Wright and I've recently joined the staff at ESC Region 11 in the role of Special Education Evaluation Specialist. I served as a practicing educational diagnostician for more than 10 years and have more than 17 years of experience as an educator in Texas public schools. I earned a Master of Educational Leadership Degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2006 and hold educator certifications in the following areas: Principal, Educational Diagnostician, Generic Special Education, and ESL Supplemental. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as a resource to the talented evaluators in Region 11 and look forward to assisting you in any way I can!

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Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services has previously addressed communications received from various stakeholders indicating that State and Local Education Agencies have long since been reluctant to reference Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyscalculia in evaluations, eligibility determinations, or in the development of the IEP. The clarification provided by OSERS in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter stated that there is nothing in IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, or Dyscalculia in IDEA evaluations, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.

The November 2018 reauthorization of the state Dyslexia Handbook provides guidance to Local Education Agencies regarding evaluation pathways (IDEA AND Section 504), evaluation procedures, and required instructional components for students identified as having Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. TEA provided additional clarification regarding evaluation, identification, and the implementation of appropriate educational programming development with regard to Dyslexia and Dysgraphia in their February 2019 training entitled Dyslexia & Dysgraphia: Interactions with Special Education.

Going forward, special education evaluation personnel have an obligation to conduct comprehensive evaluations that address these conditions when appropriate, make targeted recommendations based on assessment data and peer-reviewed research, and provide guidance to ARD committees regarding the development of appropriate individual educational programming that explicitly addresses these conditions.

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Your FIEs contain a wealth of information, but perhaps the single-most important component is the recommendations section. Your recommendations have the power to transform instruction for a student and unlock his or her potential as a learner.

  • When developing appropriate recommendations, ensure that they are concise and designed to target identified skill deficits and/or facilitate access to the grade-level curriculum.
  • Use language that is easily understood by parents and does not require extensive explanation in order for the ARD committee to determine how they would be implemented in the classroom setting.
  • Steer clear of technical terminology and the naming of specific programs. Allow your expertise to shine by providing specially designed instructional modalities and tools that research has indicated to be effective given the student's strengths and weaknesses identified in your evaluation.
  • If you are a new evaluator or just new to Region 11, the ESC Region 11 Evaluation Staff Live Binder is a great resource on this topic and many others!
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Our Evaluation Collaborative Meetings Have a New Format!

Going Forward, Katie Adams, ESC Region 11's Speech-Language Pathology Education Specialist, and I will partner to provide the Special Education Evaluation staff a platform for sharing ideas through peer-based learning and making connections with others in the field. This professional learning series is primarily designed for evaluation team leadership (SLPs, LSSPs, Diagnosticians). The goal of this collaborative is to disseminate current information to all LEA evaluation staff to enhance evaluation and intervention practices for students. Through a review of TEA guidance documents, current case law, and research-based evaluation practices, Special Education Evaluation staff will gain tools to increase compliance and improve the overall quality of evaluations and student plans.

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