Study focus: CCISD special education

March 6, 2019

A consulting firm has recommended steps that that Clear Creek ISD can take to improve its special education program that include providing more relevant information to parents through the district’s website, newsletter and social media.

The firm, Gibson Consulting Group, has also advised that the district improve communication with parents regarding children’s academic and behavioral performance.

Making the school’s website more accessible for parents is important because it makes it easier for them find vital information about their child’s education, firm representative Cindy Elsberry told trustees in a March 4 presentation. She said using simpler terminology would be helpful as well.

Some of the program’s strengths, according to the firm, include improvement in student achievement, a significant boost in the in the percentage of students in inclusionary settings, well-written and comprehensive transition plans, an efficient staff and the recently implemented Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

After a May protest by parents voicing concerns regarding how students were treated in the special education program, Clear Creek ISD hired the firm, a research group that specializes in solving complex problems within the public education system, to investigate the program.

Gibson Consulting reported spending months conducting interviews with parents and teachers, analyzing data and researching during multiple visits to the district’s campuses. The firm has done similar studies in area school districts including Fort Bend ISD and Katy ISD.

The project began in August to identify the strengths of the district’s special education program and offer improvements to affect the outcomes of students with disabilities.

Gibson administered 4,629 surveys to measure parents’ perception of the quality and responsiveness of services their children are receiving. There was a 27 percent response rate to the surveys, which firm representative Keri Munkwitz said is a high percentage.

“Parents’ input was important and valuable to this project,” Munkwitz said.

Some of the firm’s recommended improvements include:

Monitoring and using outcomes data to ensure adequate academic and behavioral progress is being made by all students with disabilities.

Elsberry said this should be monitored throughout the school year and not just at the beginning.

Incorporating Campus Support Plans into each campuses’ school improvement plan.

Accelerating use of digital teaching and learning personalizing learning for students with disabilities.

“Last fall, we did not see a lot of use of technology,” Elsberry said, adding that there’s untapped possibilities for how it could aid teachers.

Mangala Lone, a mother of a sophomore at Clear Springs High School who is in the special education program, said she has been happy with the program in general but thought the idea of more communication between the parents and the teachers would be helpful.

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