Stay Connected & Informed

Special Education Family & Caregiver Newsletter, April 2021

2021 STAAR Testing & Special Education

Public school students will take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exams, in person this year. This is true for students with disabilities participating in either the STAAR or STAAR Alternative 2 exam. At this time, we still have many students receiving special education services learning from home due to the pandemic. If your family has chosen to continue with virtual learning for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, you may be wondering how this affects your student.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the Texas Tribune in February that it is "logistically impossible to allow children to take the exams remotely." This leaves the only option for students to participate in the STAAR exam is to be present at school on testing day. Parents of remote learners who don’t believe in-person testing is safe have the option this year to keep their children home. “It’s not opting out of the STAAR test. It’s opting for remote education,” Morath said. So to sum it all up:

* Students receiving in-person instruction on campus will participate in the STAAR or STAAR Alternative 2 test per their ARD/IEP paperwork.
* Students continuing with virtual learning at home have two options for STAAR:
  1. Continue with virtual instruction at home and not participate in the "in-person only" STAAR exam this school year or
  2. Arrange to have your student at their campus to participate in the STAAR or STAAR Alt 2 assessment in-person on the designated testing date(s).

While TEA has given families flexibility in participating in the 2021 STAAR assessment, TEA cannot waive graduation requirements for high school students. To meet assessment graduation requirements, students must have passed STAAR or STAAR Alt 2 end-of-course (EOC) assessments, have scored high enough on a substitute assessment (e.g., SAT or ACT), or met the requirements of their individual graduation committee.

If you have a student in grades 3 - high school and you have questions about your student's participation in the 2021 STAAR or STAAR Alt 2 assessment, please contact your child's teacher or the campus directly.

We cannot thank you enough for your support throughout this very challenging year.



Individualized ESY Services

ESY is determined for each child with a disability on an individual basis by the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee (which includes you, the parent). ESY is for students who may lose important skills over the summer and may take a long time regaining those skills when school begins again. This is referred to as “regression/recoupment.”

If the loss of acquired critical skills would be particularly severe or substantial, or if such loss results, or reasonably may be expected to result, in immediate physical harm to the student or to others, ESY services may be justified without consideration of the period of time for recoupment of such skills.

ESY programs are not one-size-fits-all. The ARD/IEP team should be flexible when thinking about each student’s needs. Some children may only need to work on social skills requiring just a few sessions over the summer. Others may only need academic requiring just a few hours per day. Some may need a combination of both requiring full ESY program attendance.

2021 Extended School Year services will be available to students based upon their ARD committee recommendations during the following weeks this summer:

June 21st - 24th

June 28th - July 1st

July 12th - 15th

July 19th - 22nd

Refer to your student's Annual ARD/IEP paperwork or contact the campus special education team if you have any questions about ESY services this summer.

Alief ISD 2021-22 District Calendar

School starts Tuesday, August 10th!

Big picture

What is Autism?

Under IDEA, autism is defined as: .....a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Not every student identified with ASD is served in special education. The child’s educational performance must be adversely affected by these characteristics to be identified as a student in need of special education services. Many students identified with an ASD are successful with Section 504 accommodations or are able to successfully master grade level expectations with no additional supports / services.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

Early intervention is key for students with autism. From birth to 5 years, children should reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move. Track your child’s development and act early if you have a concern.

CDC's Developmental Milestones (2 months - 5 years)

CDC's Indicadores del desarrollo (2 meses - 5 anos)

If you are concerned about your child’s development or learning, contact your local school campus if the child is school age. If the child is between the ages of 2 years 10 months through Pre-K and not enrolled in an Alief ISD school, contact the district's Child Find team using the contact information below.

Autism Focused Intervention Resources Modules (AFIRM)

AFIRM Modules are designed to help you learn the step-by-step process of planning for, using, and monitoring an EBP with children with ASD from birth to 22 years of age. Modules and supplemental materials/handouts are FREE and available for download.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (Trastornos del Espectro de Autismo)

Tuesday, April 6th, 6pm

This is an online event.

This FREE workshop will provide participants with an overview of the characteristics and educational implications of Autism Spectrum Disorders. We will explore how the characteristics of autism vary significantly within and across individuals with ASDs, as well as how students with autism have varying degrees of challenges and strengths. Early diagnosis and intervention strategies will be discussed.

Texas Autism Supplement

Thursday, April 8th, 3pm

This is an online event.

This FREE workshop will introduce the eleven strategies that must be considered for educational programming for students with autism in Texas public schools. Participants will be provided with tools & tables for individualized development of these eleven strategies.

Realities of Autism (Realidades de los Trastornos del Espectro de Autismo)

Friday, April 9th, 12pm

This is an online event.

This FREE workshop will provide parents, organizations and communities with a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders. We will explore signs and symptoms, who is affected, what to do when you are concerned, diagnosis, risk factors and causes, treatment categories, behavior and communication approaches, dietary approaches, medication, complementary and alternative treatments, research, facts and statistics, and economic impacts.

Suplemento de Autismo de Texas

Tuesday, April 20th, 6pm

This is an online event.

Este taller introducirá las once estrategias a considerar para la programación educativa de los estudiantes con autismo en las escuelas públicas de Texas. Se ofrecerán herramientas y formatos para desarrollar estrategias individualizadas.

Partners Resource Network (PRN) FREE Workshop Calendar

Partners Resource Network can help you understand your child’s disability, understand your rights and responsibilities under IDEA, and obtain and evaluate resources and services for your child. All PRN services are provided at no cost.