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PALS September 2010 - Speaker FCASD Superintendent Anne Stephens

Our guest speakers were Dr. Anne Stephens, Superintendent FCASD and Dr. Lonnie Carey, Coordinator of Educational Support/Special Education.

Our first meeting of the year began with the introduction of the board members and an overview of our website Sarah Nickel, president of PALS, previewed sample topics for future meetings. They included Assistive Technology, IEP process, Educational Learning Center (ELC) & the Disability Rights Network (DRN), as well as general parent discussions about their children’s needs.

Dr. Stevens started the discussion about trying to keep the special education area on track during financial struggles. She mentioned that the stimulus money that the school district will receive over a 2 year period would go toward technology and software systems.

Dr. Stevens went over the new grading scale. She passed out information about this topic and it can also be accessed thru Edline. For example, High School transcripts and report cards will now show the percentage along with the letter grade. She assured us that grades will be rounded up across the board, since that wasn’t the case in the past. These will be authentic grades to make sure the children are really learning and to make sure the children are being challenged. Sara Lampe, who is an expert on differentiated instruction and authentic grading, has been working with the teachers in the district.

There is a move toward more flexible grouping in the 9th & 10th grade Science and Social Studies classes. There will be more push-in support at the HS in the regular education classroom. The district has high expectations for this change.

FCASD has introduced a cyber school. This will allow students to take extra courses at home or summer school on the internet. Currently, there are a limited number of classes available.

What does Learning Disability (LD) look like? The learning disability stays with the child their entire life, but more supports are now available in the district.

Dr. Stephens ended with information about the new clearances needed for all parent volunteers. This mainly affects parents with children in the elementary schools.

Keystone testing – new state testing that will account for 30% of the student’s grade for that class. The test will be given at the end of each course. Social Studies for 9th grade will start this year. There will be adaptations similar to the PSSA’s. A student can take the test multiple times. These tests are not geared toward special needs kids.

Dr. Lonnie Carey started the next part of our meeting. She mentioned that she would be available to attend IEP meetings if anyone needs her.

Dr. Carey mentioned that there will be training for the teachers in assistive technology (AT). They are starting with the IPAD because it is portable and has lots of apps (applications). It will provide support for kids that have scheduling and/or communication issues.

The special education documentation is now on IEP writer. This is new starting this year. Ask your special ed teacher for a draft about 1 week before your IEP meeting is to take place.

The High School now has co-teaching in place in 4 classrooms. There is a regular education and a special education teacher in each of these classrooms.

Fairview has a new autism classroom for children with more severe autism. This was put in place last year on a trial basis and has done well.

Chris Baldwin gave out information about the PALS teacher tea in June 2011. Parents can nominate a teacher who has done an exceptional job during the school year for $20 and the teacher will be able to attend the tea with other FCASD teachers and administration at Long Vue Country Club.

PALS teacher grant – PALS donates $250 each year for the past 4 years to a teacher who requests money and is selected by the PALS board, for classroom enhancements that will be beneficial to special needs kids as well as the general education kids. We need to encourage parents to tell the teachers to apply for the grant.

Our next meeting is October 12, 2010 and the topic is “Understanding the Law and the Educational Process as it Pertains to Special Education”. It will be held at 7pm at Boyd Community Center.

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