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Brian Kerman
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AUSTIN ISD Special Education Update

How will Austin ISD serve special education students in a virtual classroom, and will I, as a parent, have input?

Your student’s special education providers will carefully consider your student’s individual needs and present levels of academic and functional performance (PLAAFPs). This will include consideration of your student’s goals, supports, services, and regular education remote learning activities.

Special education teachers, speech therapists, and other special education service providers are required to provide services in accordance with your student’s Individualized Education Plan. Each student’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee, which includes the parent as an integral member, will have the ability to modify the student’s IEP as appropriate for the virtual instructional context.

Every parent of a student with a disability is an important member of their students’ ARD Committee and collaborator in the education of their student.

What resources have been provided to the teachers to help my student?

The District has provided special educators with an online instructional curriculum and materials for instruction. However, teachers will utilize a variety of strategies and approaches to meet the individualized needs of students with disabilities to implement Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals.

How can a teacher or therapist provide virtual services to my student?

Each student’s Individualized Educational Program will determine what services are provided. Special education services may be provided in a virtual classroom. Students who need access to them can virtually connect with providers such as Speech Therapist, Mental Health Specialist, etc. The following are examples of how services could be provided,

  • Digital learning activities or assignments (e.g., watch videos, read online books, play web-based games, complete online documents)
  • General instruction – academic activities or functional skills appropriate for multiple students (e.g., social skills lessons)
  • Special education provider consultation with general education teachers of record and special education support staff to collaboratively plan or keep informed of weekly lesson plans.
  • Individualized instruction – academic activities or functional skills related to unique student-specific goals/objectives or touching base with the student for relationship-building and socioemotional check-ins
  • Provide video modeling of hands-on tasks expected of students (live or recorded)
  • Telephone calls, chat, or text communication with the student (e.g., practicing communication skills)
  • Determine social skill lessons using TeachTown and direct instruction to address behavior goals through lesson planning and activities that can be done within the home environment.
  • Determine specific student needs for “inclusion” support in the general education virtual classroom and provide staff (special education teacher or paraprofessional) assistance during the class period, lesson planning, or task for that course.
  • Special education teachers/providers may supply the students with any needed visual support items and materials required to maintain the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) and other IEP supplements.
  • Special education teachers/providers may facilitate online training via Google classroom or Zoom to assist parents.
  • Campus principals will intentionally schedule and set clear expectations for all relevant staff (e.g., general education teachers, ESL teachers, special education teachers, instructional/related services providers) to have regularly scheduled, documented planning time together (as virtual meetings), to coordinate specially designed instruction, IEP implementation, review progress monitoring data and make instructional adjustments, and administer accommodations, and/or modifications for students in the home learning environment, as well as, establish office hours and tutoring availability.
  • The District will provide teachers with a resource (e.g., form template, electronic system) and frequency expectations for documented communication with families about academic expectations and academic, behavioral, and IEP-specific progress monitoring systems.
  • The District level special education support personnel (SLPs, LSSPs, OTs, PTs, Music Therapists, Coordinators, Administrative Supervisors) will maintain and publish office hours for availability.
  • The Special Education Department will continue the Special Education Parent Dashboard, send electronic Newsletter for communication at the district level.,

How will my student receive their Instructional time?

Special education students will have their instructional requirements provided through a combination of synchronous instruction or learning where teachers and students log in at the same time, and asynchronous instruction, where teachers and students don’t log in at the same time.AUST

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