Achievement House provides a special education program in accordance with the current federal and state regulations. Our PA certified and highly qualified special education teachers individualize the curriculum to meet the unique needs of each student.
Our special education teachers co-teach with the regular education teachers in all core subject classes to help students succeed in the general education curriculum and prepare students for the next phase of their lives, whether that be continuing their education or joining the workforce. Special education teachers also help the regular education staff to develop curriculum based on the Pennsylvania state standards. Our special education department provides the following services:
- Learning support and regular education co-teaching to assist with the modification of assignments to ensure understanding and success for each student;
- Communication (via phone, chat room, text, email) with students on a weekly, daily, or as needed basis;
- One-on-one instruction time with students;
- Educational evaluations for all students who have previously been or are currently identified with special needs;
- Annual IEP meetings and re-evaluations, as needed;
- Quarterly IEP monitoring reports that indicate a student’s progress towards achieving IEP goals and objectives;
- Speech, physical, and occupational therapy, assistive technology, or supplemental software programs as needed;
- Mentoring for parents to assist their child with academics;
- Live interactive online learning and help sessions, including life skills and mentoring classes;
- Live technical support;
- 24 hour access to student progress, grades, and curriculum;
- Laptop computers so students can work anywhere with an internet connection; and
- Reimbursement to assist with high speed internet costs.
A variety of courses in all four core subject areas are co-taught by a general education teacher and a special education teacher at AHCCS. Co-teaching not only provides special education students the opportunity to be fully included in the general education classroom and exercise their right to the least restrictive environment, co-teaching also has benefits for general education learners. Having two instructors allows student to receive more individualized attention and participate in small group activities. The instructors will also benefit from interacting with their professional peers and from being able to share best practices with their colleagues. Co-teaching can produce a very strong educational experience for all participants.
In addition to co-teaching a specific course throughout the year, special education teachers are also available by request from any general education instructor with whom they don’t normally co-teach for short-term assignments (ex. a single lesson or short unit). This allows all students and staff to have the potential to benefit from co-teaching, whether regularly throughout the year or temporarily for a unit or specific lesson.
In courses designated to have a co-teacher for the duration of the year, the general education teacher and special education teacher are equal partners in the course and are encouraged to develop curriculum, plan lessons, and deliver instruction together. Just as all students are unique, all teachers are unique and we encourage our staff to adopt a co-teaching model that works best for them. Below is a summary of some of the co-teaching models that you may see in your child’s classroom.
Models of Co-teaching (defined by Friend and Cook, 2004):
- One Teach, One Assist: One teacher will take the lead in providing instruction while the other moves around the classroom and assists students who may be struggling
- Parallel Teaching: The class is divided in half and the same material is presented at the same time by both teachers (teacher to student ratio becomes more manageable)
- Station Teaching: Both teachers are actively involved in instruction and the students rotate from one break-out room to the next, learning new material
- Alternative Teaching: One teacher takes a small group of students and provides instruction that is different than what the large group is receiving
- Team Teaching: Both teachers instruct on the same lesson with all students present
Public schools must ensure that children with disabilities are educated to the maximum extent possible in the regular education environment, and that the instruction they receive conforms as much as possible to the instruction that non-disabled students receive. Programs and services available to students with disabilities, in descending order of preference, may include:
- regular class placement with supplementary aides and services provided as needed in that environment;
- regular class placement for most of the school day with itinerant service by a special education teacher either in or out of the regular classroom;
- regular class placement for most of the school day with instruction provided by a special education teacher in a resource classroom;
- part time special education class placement in a regular public school or alternative setting; and
- special education class placement or special education services provided outside the regular class for most or all of the school day, either in a regular public school or alternative setting.
Depending on the nature and severity of the disability, the public school can provide special education programs and services in areas such as:
- the public school the child would attend if not disabled
- an alternative regular public school either in or outside the school district of residence,
- a special education center operated by a public school entity,
- an approved private school or other private facility licensed to serve children with disabilities,
- a residential school,
- approved out-of-state program, or
- the home.
Special education services are provided according to the primary educational needs of the child, not the category of disability. The types of service available include:
- learning support, for students who primarily need assistance with the acquisition of academic skills;
- life skills support, for students who primarily need assistance with development of skills for independent living;
- emotional support, for students who primarily need assistance with social or emotional development;
- deaf or hearing impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with deafness;
- blind or visually impaired support, for students who primarily need assistance with blindness;
- physical support, for students who primarily require physical assistance in the learning environment;
- autistic support, for students who primarily need assistance in the areas affected by autism spectrum disorders; and
- multiple disabilities support, for students who primarily need assistance in multiple areas affected by their disabilities.
Related services are designed to enable the child to participate in or access his or her program of special education. Examples of related services include but are not limited to, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, audiologist services, counseling, and family training.
The public school, in conjunction with the parents, determines the type and intensity of special education and related services that a particular child needs based exclusively on the unique program of special education and related services that the school develops for that child. The child’s program is described in writing in an individualized education program, or “IEP,” which is developed by an IEP team consisting of educators, parents, and other persons with special expertise or familiarity with the child. The parents of the child have the right to be notified of and to participate in all meetings of their child’s IEP team. The IEP is revised as often as circumstances warrant but reviewed at least annually. The law requires that the program and placement of the child, as described in the IEP, be reasonably calculated to ensure meaningful educational progress to the student at all times. IEPs contain, at a minimum, a statement of present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, an enumeration of the annual goals established for the child, and a statement of the special education and related services that the child needs to make meaningful educational progress. For children aged sixteen and older, the IEP must also include an appropriate transition plan to assist in the attainment of post-secondary objectives. The Charter School must invite the child to the IEP team meeting at which the transition plan is developed.
At Achievement House, the Special Education Department strives to provide exceptional emotional and social support to our student in addition to individualized academic instruction. The Emotional Support Program will be implemented by emotional support teachers and a school counselor through evidence-based instruction, curriculum, and group counseling. These services will equip students with skills necessary to progress toward their goals in their Individualized Education Program (IEP).
HOW WILL THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT PROGRAM AND SERVICES BE PART OF MY CHILD’S LEARNING?
Students with IEPs that exhibit social-emotional needs will participate in the 21st Century Skills course: a year-long, 1 credit course that meets three times per week, in 30-minute sessions.
- Skills for Action Curriculum by Lions Quest
- Healthy Relationships Curriculum
- Behavioral and Social Emotional (BASE) Group Program
Students will be assessed to further determine needs such as small group and/or individual counseling services provided by our school counselor.
WHO WILL RECEIVE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES?
Any student with an IEP that specifies a primary or secondary disability category of Emotional Disturbance or Autism, along with any student that presents social-emotional needs will receive support through the program.
SKILLS FOR ACTION CURRICULUM
Through developmentally appropriate lessons, students will learn how to cope with emotional and social challenges and prepare them for life as an adult. Lessons are based on 5 competencies:
- Social awareness
- Relationship skills
- Responsible decision-making
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS CURRICULUM
Students will acquire critical social and life skills needed to function in their daily home and community activities. This curriculum also provides resources for parents and guardians to reinforce behaviors beyond the academic environment. Lesson topics include daily hygiene practices, communication skills, social expectations, safety, personal relationships, and more.
BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL EMOTIONAL (BASE) GROUP PROGRAM
This program will be let by our emotional support teachers in a group discussion format using and engaging web-based platform for both prevention and intervention in social emotional learning and mental health. It allows our emotional support teachers to create group lessons based on student needs and to monitor student progress and growth. It features technology that monitors responses in real time and captures all student text, alerting teachers of any harmful language.
For the past 2 years, AHCCS has reported that 3% of students are eligible to take the alternate state assessment. We have ensured the Pennsylvania Department of Education that IEP teams answer “Yes” to all six PASA eligibility criteria using the “PASA Eligibility Decision Making Companion Tool.” In addition, necessary training and updates regarding PASA are shared with relevant staff members and parents. Lastly, AHCCS is proud to offer replacement and alternate curriculums and services for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) stipulates that all students, including those with disabilities, participate in state assessments. ESSA stipulates that no more that 1% of the state’s total tested population is allowed to be assessed with an alternate assessment. Any local educational agency (LEA) which exceeded the threshold must submit a justification for exceeding the threshold. In addition, LEAs are required to make this information publicly available. Achievement House Cyber Charter School (AHCCS) has submitted a justification for exceeding the 1% threshold.
For additional information, please contact the Special Education Department at 484-615-6200 or Trina Knauff, Director of Special Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each educational agency must establish and implement procedures to locate, identify and evaluate children suspected of being eligible for special education. These procedures involve screening activities which include but are not limited to: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, and report cards); hearing screening (at kindergarten, first, second and third grades); vision screening (every grade level); motor screening; and speech and language screening.
Except as indicated above or otherwise announced publicly, screening activities take place in an on-going fashion throughout the school year. Screening is conducted at the Charter School unless other arrangements are necessary.
If parents need additional information regarding the purpose, time, and location of screening activities, they should call or write the CEO of Charter School at:
600 Eagleview Boulevard
Exton, PA 19341
Screening activities are often undertaken before the Charter School refers most children for a multidisciplinary team evaluation. When concerns raised either by school staff or parents warrant screening, the child is referred to an “instruction support team” (“IST”), sometimes called the “child study team.” The IST is responsible for assessing the current achievement and performance of the child, for designing school-based interventions to address concerns raised, and for assessing the effectiveness of those school-based interventions. If the concern that resulted in the referral can be addressed without special education services, or is the result of the lack of English proficiency or appropriate instruction, the IST will recommend interventions other than multidisciplinary team evaluation. Parents nevertheless have the right to request a multidisciplinary team evaluation at any time, regardless of the outcome of the screening process.
When screening indicates that a student may be eligible for special education, the Charter School will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation. Evaluation means procedures used in the determination of whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services needed by the child. The term evaluation refers to procedures used selectively with an individual child and does not indicate basic tests administered to or procedures used with all children. Before the public school can proceed with an evaluation, it must notify the parents in writing of the specific types of testing and assessment it proposes to conduct, of the date and time of the evaluation, and of the parents’ rights. The evaluation cannot begin until the parent has signed the written notice indicating that he or she consents to the proposed testing and assessments and has returned the notice to the public school. Once parental consent for evaluation is obtained, the school has timelines and procedures specified by law that it must follow. The law contains additional provisions and due process protections regarding situations in which parental consent for an initial evaluation is absent or refused discussed more fully below and in the Procedural Safeguards Notice.
This evaluation is conducted by a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) which includes a teacher, other qualified professionals who work with the child, and the parents. The MDE process must be conducted in accordance with specific timelines and must include protection-in-evaluation procedures. For example, tests and procedures used as part of the Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation may not be racially or culturally biased.
The MDE process results in a written evaluation report called an Evaluation Report (ER). This report makes recommendations about a student’s eligibility for special education based on the presence of a disability and the need for specially designed instruction.
Parents who think their child is eligible for special education may request, at any time, that the Charter School conduct a Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation. Requests for a Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation must be made in writing to the CEO of the Charter School at:
600 Eagleview Boulevard,
Exton, PA 19341
If a parent makes an oral request for a Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation, the Charter School shall provide the parent with a form for that purpose. If the public school denies the parents’ request for an evaluation, the parents have the right to challenge the denial through an impartial hearing or through voluntary alternative dispute resolution such as mediation.
Either the parent or a Charter School may amend its Due Process Hearing Request only if:
- The other party consents in writing to the amendment and is given the opportunity to resolve the issues raised in the Due Process Hearing Request through a preliminary meeting/resolution session; or
- The Hearing Officer grants permission for the party to amend the Due Process.
The Due Process Hearing Request will be considered to be sufficient unless the party receiving it notifies the Hearing Officer and the other party in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt that the receiving party believes the Request does not meet the requirements listed above.
When disputes arise between the parent and the Charter School, the following formal systems are available to assist in resolving the dispute:
Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parent and Charter School involved in a dispute regarding special education both agree to obtain the assistance of an impartial mediator to resolve the conflict. Mediation is available for parties to special education disputes involving any special education matter, including matters arising prior to the filing of a Due Process Hearing Request. Mediation can be requested alone, or in conjunction with due process. Mediation cannot be used to deny or delay the parent’s right to a due process hearing or to deny any other rights
of the parent.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of special education, through the Office for Dispute Resolution, maintains a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations regarding the provision of special education and related services. Mediators are not employed by any local or state agency providing direct services to the child, and the mediator must not have a personal conflict of interest. The mediator’s services are paid for by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Mediations are scheduled in a timely manner and are held in a location that is convenient for the parties to the dispute. Discussions that occur during the mediation process are confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or court proceeding. The mediator may not be called as a witness in future proceedings.
In the event the parties resolve the dispute through mediation, they are required to execute a legally-binding agreement that sets forth the resolution terms; states that all discussions that occurred during the mediation process must be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceedings; and is signed by both the parent and a representative of the Charter School who has the authority to bind the school. This agreement is enforceable by a court.
Due Process Hearings
The parent or Charter School may request a due process hearing with respect to any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by filing a “Due Process Hearing Request”. A due process hearing will not proceed until all required
information is provided and procedures followed.
Within five (5) days of receiving a party’s challenge to the sufficiency of the Due Process Hearing Request, the Hearing Officer must make a determination based solely on the information contained within the Request, whether the Request meets requirements. The Hearing Officer must immediately notify both parties in writing of his or her determination.
If the Charter School has not sent a prior written notice (NOREP) to the parent regarding the subject matter contained in the parent’s Due Process Hearing Request, the Charter School must send to the parent, within ten (10) days of receiving the Due Process Hearing Request, a response including the following information:
- An explanation of why the Charter School proposed or refused to take the action raised in the parent’s Due Process Hearing Request;
- A description of other options the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected;
- A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the Charter School used as the basis for the proposed or refused action; and
- A description of the factors that are relevant to the Charter School’s proposal or refusal.
Filing this response to the parent’s Due Process Hearing Request does not prevent the Charter School from challenging the sufficiency of the Due Process Hearing Request. If the Charter School has already sent prior notice (NOREP) to the parent, or it is the parent receiving the Due Process Hearing Request, then a response to the Due Process Hearing Request must be sent to the other side within ten (10) days of receipt of the request. The response should specifically address the issues raised in the Due Process Hearing Request
A copy of the Due Process Hearing Request must be sent to the other party and, at the same time, to the Office for Dispute Resolution.
The Due process Hearing Request must contain the following information:
- The name of the child, the address where the child lives, and the name of the school the child is attending;
- If the child or youth is homeless, available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending;
- A description of the nature of the problem, including facts relating to such problem; and
- A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party filing the Request.
The parent or Charter School must request a due process hearing through the filing of a Due Process Hearing Request within two (2) years of the date the parent or the Charter School knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the Due Process Hearing Request.There are limited exceptions to this timeline.
This timeline will not apply to the parent if the parent was prevented from requesting the due process hearing due to the specific misrepresentations by the Charter School that it had resolved the problem forming the basis of the Due Process Hearing Request; or if the Charter School withheld information from the parent which was required to be provided to the parent.
This Basic Education Circular (BEC) is meant to provide guidance to cyber charter schools, school districts, parents, and students for establishing and operating charter schools, and to intermediate units for providing services to assist the charter school to address the specific needs of exceptional students.
These regulations provide the regulatory requirements for a charter school or cyber charter school, defined as an independent public school established and operated under a charter from the local board of school directors and in which students are enrolled or attend.
This law, which became effective on January 1, 2009, provides for access to public information; for a designated open-records officer in each Commonwealth agency, local agency, judicial agency and legislative agency, for procedure, for appeal of agency determination, for judicial review and for the Office of Open Records; imposing penalties; providing for reporting by State-related institutions; requiring the posting of certain State contract information on the Internet; and making related repeals.
Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C.§794(a); 34 CFR Part 104) that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti- discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the nondisabled students are met.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. §1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
IDEA 2004 and its implementing regulations ensure that all children with disabilities have a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. IDEA 2004 aligns to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. IDEA 2004 focuses on improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities and expanding opportunities to reduce disagreements between schools and parents.