A: Within the SSS department, we focus on Special Education, Section 504, Colorado READ Act plans, English Language Learners, Gifted & Talented, Mental Health support, Response-to-Intervention, and our intervention and supported level ability-grouping classes.
Q: Does American Academy provide services for students on Individual Education Plans (IEP)? 504 Plans? Read Plan?
A: Yes, here at American Academy we service students on both IEPs and 504 plans. Our students on IEPs fall within the mild to moderate category and include students with Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Other Health Impairments, and Speech and Language Impairments, to name just a few. We work with a diverse population of learners with a variety of different needs.
We also service students on 504 plans within the general education setting. American Academy has 504 teams in place at each campus to evaluate eligibility and needs for a 504, write 504 plans, and monitor progress of 504 students. In the question below, we explain the difference between an IEP and 504.
Students who are on a READ plan receive intervention support through our ability grouping model at American Academy. This incorporates time at the end of the day for students to receive intervention instruction specific to their reading challenges.
What we don't have…American Academy does not have center-based programs for significant needs special education students (SSN), similar to many neighborhood schools. Those services are available within Douglas County School District in order to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education to all students but are located in specific schools. This is in line with how other DCSD neighborhood schools provide services for SSN students.
Q: What is the difference between a 504 and an IEP?
A: An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a plan set up to support each student who has been identified with a disability and requires specialized instruction. Their disability must impact them significantly within the classroom in which they require supports. An IEP can include both in class and out of class supports based on the individual needs of each student. Related service areas can include Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, and Social/Emotional services and are based on each student's individual needs, goals, and eligibility. Students on IEPs also may receive accommodations in and outside of the general education setting as appropriate. IEPs are a collaboration between general education teachers, families, and the Student Support Services team.
A 504 is a plan for set up to support students with a medical diagnosis that shows an educational impact within the classroom setting. We support students in the general education classroom through effectively implemented accommodations that match their needs. 504s are a collaboration between General Education Teachers, Families, and the Student Support Services Team.
Q: What is RtI and why is it required before evaluations?
A: Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. These services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including general education teachers, special educators, and specialists. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data (RtI Action Network, A Program of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Response to Intervention was made a legal requirement in Colorado and officially in place as of August 15, 2009. In order to move to a special education evaluation and determine eligibility for special education, Response to Intervention must have occurred. One basic reasoning behind requiring Response to Intervention was to ensure that all students, regardless of special education status, be able to receive interventions to help close gaps. Previously, in order to receive interventions a student would need to be eligible for special education as determined by a “discrepancy model”. Many students did not have a large enough “discrepancy” between there cognitive abilities and their academic skills to qualify for support. Many believed that it created a “wait to fail” model. Response to Intervention works to correct that.
Q: Who is my first point of contact if I have concerns for my child?
A: The first point of contact if a family has concerns for their child is always the classroom teacher. If concerns continue to be had in the area of Section 504, please review the Section 504 Flow of Communication. If concerns continue to be had in the area of Special Education, please review the Special Education Flow of Communication. Both of these Flows of Communication can be found as downloads to the right on this page.
Q: My child was recently evaluated by an outside agency. They now have a diagnosis and recommendations for an IEP and/or 504 plan. What’s the next step?
A: The process to determine eligibility for an IEP or 504 plan is the same whether you have an outside evaluation completed, have received a diagnosis of a disability, or have neither. The first step would be Response to Intervention which consists of implemented interventions based around a goal that is specifically designed according to student’s areas of weakness. If Phase 1 and Phase 2 does not produce results or progress and the concerns persist, the student may at that time be referred for a special education evaluation or 504 evaluation. Outside evaluations and medical diagnoses are included as part of an evaluation but are only a part of the body of evidence that is required to make a special education eligibility decision or a 504 eligibility decision. Other parts of a complete evaluation include: a file review, response to intervention data, observations of student, teacher reports and observations, parent input, classroom performance, and testing. That data is then used to determine if a student is eligible for either plan. For information on the eligibility criteria for special education or 504, please refer to CDE’s website.