The battle rages on.
Last week, I was able to get a few things on video for GAA collection purposes. Taz is such a spastic, the baseline data is going to be relatively easy to do. Getting him to actually demonstrate learning; well that’s another story entirely. Sometimes he can and sometimes he can’t. Fortunately I have a few more months to worry about that.
I’m not sure if anyone else has collected anything or not. Mr. Pyle is managing 3 students and he teaches none of them. So he’s going to have to be getting up on other teachers to collect the data. This is also what I’m going to have to do with a student who I was assigned to who I have never laid eyes on. In event that we get crunched for time, I can adapt UP tasks that I’m using for Taz. It seems easier to take something simple and make it more sophisticated than the other way around. But maybe that is just me.
I am afraid that my students will master very few of their IEP goals this year, because of this state mandated circus. I can and will involve other students in the GAA activities but remember that the Georgia standards bear no resemblance to actual IEP goals and objectives. At least not for my students who are on a purely functional curriculum. I have 18 months to get Spaz potty trained. 18 months to get a 21 year-old autistic kid to successfully use the toilet in hopes that he MIGHT have a shot at group home living down the road, but my time is being soaked up by this other crap. But then, there seems to always be something demanding more time and more urgency.
And right at the moment, it happens to be the December FTE count. FTE = Full Time Equivalency which is basically the way services are funded in special education. While many will argue that this count does not affect funding, don’t be fooled. FTE always affects funding and it always will. It is the process of counting the number of students in Special Education and the number of hours of services each student receives. It is sorted out by exceptionality, grade, age and number of hours in regular vs special education. Actually ALL students are counted in a FTE count, but regular education students are pretty much grouped by age and grade. It is the special education kids that create counting nightmares. For instance, Ravi gets half an hour of speech, 2 hours of adaptive PE and the rest of the time is allotted to Profound intellectual disability (PID) services during a typical week. Simple, right? Well, he also gets consultative VI and PT services. He also requires in a bus with a wheelchair lift. Plus he goes into the community for about 4 hours per week. All of these factors are also counted in the FTE.
Some students spend only part of their day in special education, so their FTE is going to be less than my students who are in special education the whole day. Unless they are in the community, and then they get credit for being in a “regular” environment. There has been some studies done in Georgia regarding funding and some reforms have been made in order to encourage more inclusion. Funding clearly drives many, many decisions in education and special education in particular. For instance, in Georgia the funding formula is weighted based on disability. It is assumed that some students (like mine) will involve more time and money to be educated than someone with a very mild disability, like a speech impediment requiring a couple of hours of speech per week. In other states, the funding is the same no matter what the disability is. LD students are funded the same as PID students. In Georgia, OHI students get funded more than EBD students and Autism is not even funded separately but under the OHI service code. What this means, in Georgia, is that when a child’s eligibility is considered, it makes much more sense to label and serve a student under OHI or Autism than it does for EBD because of the way they are funded. In the past, mainstreaming and co-teaching were practices that were actually punished through the funding formula. My understanding is that this problem has been addressed so that less restrictive environments are actually rewarded with more funding.
I’m not saying I understand all the nuances of the FTE funding process. I’ve seen a few presentations on the subject and it is drilled into our heads that this is massively serious business. This is why we fill out the count 3 weeks before the count is actually due to the state department. Yeah, I just love it when the Powers That Be take a deadline and then move it up days and weeks ahead of time until there is virtually no time to actually do the thing that is required. NOT!
The final deadline for the GAA is sometime at the end of March, but our county is making everyone be finished by March 1st. Again, the fixation is on administrative compliance.
My own lame attempt at addressing acronyms is here. And it is dire need of an update!