Westerly particular schooling providers will get excessive marks in report | Westerly
WESTERLY – Following a recent audit, it was determined that the school district is in compliance with all state and federal measures for the provision of special education services.
The results are included in the report on School Support Systems produced by the Student, Community and Academic Support Office of the State Department of Education. Mary Ellen Rossi, the district’s student staff director, and Christina Amanti Mathieu, assistant director of student staff, discussed their department’s report and work over the past year during a school committee meeting on Wednesday.
The report is based on a review of student files, interviews with parents and staff, and an analysis of demographic data. The results can be found in five categories: tiered support systems, identification of special needs students, process compliance, continuum of services in a least restrictive environment, and student outcomes.
In the recently completed school year 2021/22, the district switched its special education offers to multi-level support systems.
16 percent of the district’s students require special education or related services, slightly more than the national average of 15 percent. Of the district’s special schools, 13 percent are autistic, 25 percent have a learning disability, 11 percent are receiving language or language services, and 6 percent have been identified with emotional disabilities.
The state assessment involves studying the demographics of special education districts by race and ethnicity to ensure that the districts are properly identifying special education needs. When the state assessment was conducted, the district was rated as having “significant disproportionate” by Native American students with a particular learning disability. Rossi said the disproportionate was corrected pending the completion of the assessment, but administrators have put additional security in place to allow early intervention before students have to be referred.
“This should lead to a more accurate identification of students who really have learning difficulties,” said Rossi.
The district showed a significant improvement in its ability to involve parents in their special education programs – 37% of parents participated, a 25% increase over the previous study conducted by RIDE.
Once special education students turn 14, they become involved in developing their individual education program plans, including planning for high school graduation. As soon as students turn 16, they also start discussing career development planning. More than 90% of the district’s special education students were employed or in post-secondary education a year after graduating from high school or both, 37% above the national average.
Of the district’s students who have an individual curriculum, 81% attended a regular school 80-100% of the time, which is 10% more than the national average.
The study also found that 94% of all students in the district graduate from high school, which is 10% higher than the state average, and 83% of students with individual education plans graduate, which is 16% higher than the state average.
Rossi also reviewed the district’s efforts to implement the recommendations of a report following a 2019 study of the district’s special education services by The Futures Healthcore LLC of Springfield, Mass Number of Auxiliary Workers in the District. In line with the recommendations of the report, both a deputy student service supervisor position and a multi-level service coordinator position have been established. Rossi said the additional positions will help the district identify students’ needs earlier and ensure they are receiving adequate services.
Marianne Nardone, a member of the school committee, said she was impressed with the post-secondary results.
“It’s very important that we lead them in the right direction,” said Nardone.
School board member Christine Cooke said she was glad to hear the futures report was useful.
“Often a consultant comes in and thinks, ‘What happened to this?’ So it’s good to see that it was valuable, “said Cooke.