The Planning and Placement Team (PPT) at each school ensures that students meet the eligibility requirements of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and state regulations. It is also through the PPT process that the district ensures that all students with disabilities aged 3 through 21 who require special education and related services, who have not graduated with a regular high school diploma, receive a free and appropriate public education. The district develops a written plan for each student requiring special education and related services. This plan is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is developed, implemented, maintained, reviewed, revised and evaluated for all students served by our district.
The district ensures that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are nondisabled. However, the district provides a continuum of programming options for students to the extent necessary in order to implement the IEP. Each student requiring special education and related services is educated in the school that he or she would attend if he or she did not require special education and related services, unless the IEP requires another placement.
Integrated Preschool Programs
The Integrated Preschool Special Needs Programs are designed to provide quality preschool programming as well as special education services to 3, 4 and 5 year old children in Groton. Special education and related services are provided to preschool children identified by the PPT as having a disability in accordance with their IEP. The programs also enroll typically developing peers to serve as role models for preschool children with disabilities. All preschool age children who are suspected of having a disability are screened and if necessary evaluated by the Early Childhood Assessment Team (ECAT) to determine eligibility for special education and related services.
The following services are available in each school:
Social work and psychological services are provided by certified school psychologists and certified school social workers who provide a range of services including support for all students and consultation and collaboration with educators, professionals and parents. School social workers and school psychologists work collaboratively with teachers and administrators to help create safe and supportive school environments, empower teachers to understand and respond to students’ social and emotional needs, develop and monitor academic and behavioral interventions to enable students to attain educational goals and personal-social well-being, and coordinate community services, outside providers and agency involvement to prevent problems, enhance independence and promote optimal learning.
School psychologists conduct individual assessments to provide information that is helpful in determining a student’s eligibility for special education and related services and in the development of individual academic and behavioral programs which maximize the student’s achievement and educational success.
Speech and language services are provided by certified speech and language pathologists to students who exhibit speech-language impairments that adversely affect educational performance in accordance with the IEP. Speech and language pathologists participate in the development and monitoring of alternative procedures and programs in general education which may be explored and implemented, where appropriate, before a child is referred to special education. When concerns about a child’s communication development continue despite the implementation of alternative interventions, speech and language pathologists conduct individual assessments to provide information that is helpful in determining a child’s eligibility for speech and language services as special education or a related service.
Physical and occupational therapy are provided in accordance with the student’s IEP and address delays in areas such as fine motor, gross motor, and sensory integration.
Special education transportation is provided as a related service in accordance with the student’s IEP.
Homebound instruction is provided for students who receive special education and related services when recommended by the PPT in accordance with the student’s IEP. Homebound instruction is also provided for any student for whom a physician has certified, in writing, that the student’s medical condition will cause an absence of at least three weeks’ duration. Instruction typically begins no later than two weeks from the first day of absence.
Early Intervention Prior to Referral to Special Education
Before school personnel refer a student to a Planning and Placement Team (PPT), alternative strategies and programs in general education are explored and where appropriate, implemented. Despite additional supports, a small number of children still may not make adequate progress in developing targeted skills. This may cause a family or a teacher to suspect that a child may have a disability, prompting a request for an evaluation to determine whether a child may require special education.
The Scientific Research-Based Intervention or SRBI process, involves providing students with high-quality instruction and interventions that are matched to student needs, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals, and applying data to inform educational decisions. SRBI is a multi-tiered, layered instructional approach that aims to prevent learning impediments and behavioral problems first, and then brings increasingly intense interventions to students who continue to experience difficulty. The primary goal of SRBI is improving academic and behavioral outcomes for all students by eliminating discrepancies between actual and expected performances. Instructional decisions are made by school based teams and are focused on determining the extent to which the student is responding to the interventions based on a review of data that is collected over time.