Many students at DeKalb Schools recently took their MAP tests without the accommodations inside their IEPS and 504s. Thus far, identification and communication to those students has been lacking. If it weren’t for the efforts of Lauren Taylor, all of this would have gone unnoticed.
Lauren Taylor is a tireless advocate for children with IEPs and 504s. We have her to thank for many of the course corrections at DeKalb Schools. This is one of them.
“A simple feeler was placed out on the Reform DeKalb site and we were able to count 15 schools that incorrectly administered the MAP tests”, says Mrs. Taylor who goes on to say,
“We were also made aware from teachers they were informed accommodations were not allowed this year. This test is now in its 4th year inside DeKalb County schools. Why was protocol dropped this year? Inside my own sons IEP meeting I had two teachers inform me accommodations were not allowed. That’s when I had the district explain to them what happened and what’s being done to fix it. According to the district it was miscommunication and all LTSE’s were informed of this on September 10th, but no formal training or input was afforded to them until September 16th.”
FAPE is the Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities. Educational service must meet individual needs.
To be appropriate, education programs for students with disabilities must be designed to meet their individual needs to the same extent that the needs of nondisabled students are met. An appropriate education may include regular or special education and related aids and services to accommodate the unique needs of individuals with disabilities.
One way to ensure that programs meet individual needs is through the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student with a disability. IEPs are required for students participating in the special education programs of recipients of funding under the IDEA.
The quality of education services provided to students with disabilities must equal the quality of services provided to nondisabled students. Teachers of students with disabilities must be trained in the instruction of individuals with disabilities. Facilities must be comparable, and appropriate materials and equipment must be available.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
DeKalb Schools children started taking MAPS tests in August. Lauren Taylor noticed that her child was not afforded his IEP accommodations. Upon receipt of Mrs. Taylor’s complaint, it was corrected for her child.
I requested that the school district proactively assess how many schools and children were affected and why. DeKalb Schools Division of Curriculum and Instruction and the Office of Accountability subsequently attempted to contact all local school testing administrators. The informal inquiry returned that 58 schools affirmed that students received the allowable, standard accommodations; 27 schools stated that students did not receive accommodations; and 51 schools did not respond. The lack of accommodations can be attributed to a slide in a training webinar presentation that contradicted the correct guidance charts.
A mandatory testing inservice was held on September 16th to reiterate the allowable, standard accommodations, if specified, for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), 504 plans, and English Learner/Testing Participation Committee plans (EL/TPC).
If the local school determines that a student with an IEP, 504 plan, or EL/TPC plan did not receive specified, allowable, standard accommodations, the local school will contact the parent/guardian via email. Identified students will be given the opportunity to retest with the allowable, standard accommodations; therefore, the testing window will be extended until October 7, 2019.
Earlier this week, local schools were supposed to identify students who did not receive the standard, allowable accommodations. Parent notifications should go out this week.
Let your teacher, principal and me know if believe your child took their MAPS testing without the accommodations inside their IEPS and you have not been notified yet.
Glad to hear that this is now being publicly called out as those of us with students receiving accommodations, especially those with children at Montgomery Elem, know accommodations are ignored. My question is where is the accountability for the employees who don’t follow the IEP or 504? Your article mentions retraining. That’s not enough. This issue has gone on FOR YEARS and some of us have had to take on the financial burden of private school because the county doesn’t hold the schools accountable. Montgomery is an example of a school that will retaliate against students when their parents attempt to advocate for them. I’ve had a teacher come up and tell me she was glad my autistic son was not in her class. What happened? I’ll tell you….the school/district elevated this teachers role to be exposed to all students by placing her in charge of the STEM curriculum for the entire school. Parents who advocate get labeled as unreasonable, difficult, and too demanding. Looks like we finally have proof that it’s not the parents but the lazy, untrained, and above reproach teachers/administration.
It should also be noted that I received the NRT inside my sons four hour IEP meeting this week that states exactly what accommodations are allowed during MAPS as well as the CoGat. So parents, if your children have IEPs and 504s and you’ve been told they cannot test for gifted with accommodations, that’s not true. MAPS and CoGat have very specific accommodations for our children. Stan as of today not one single parent that I advocate for or assist with navigating around special ed in DeKalb has received any sort of communication. My son and one other child inside his school have been retested, but that’s probably only because I’m the squeaky wheel.
Please know this is one of the few times I’ve actually caught the teachers being highly unaware of just what they’d been denying the children at MES. I promise you the district has been flat out ignoring and attempting to act as if it’s a one time occurrence. Stan and I have several email exchanges because I’d keep catching the powers that be lying or admitting they knew they did this and had no intention of fixing it. And my son has been the victim of retaliation twice now, but I refuse to take down the entire school. I know there are some amazing teachers and special Ed staff that put their own jobs on the line for our kids. I won’t allow the top heavy admin staff bury those teachers. I refuse to allow my complaint filed with the state to even touch the school.
Agree to disagree. The key person in charge of 504 and IEP coordination at MES chooses not to own the responsibilities of the role they have been assigned.
You hopefully are aware that it’s literally a rotating door every single year. We never have the same LTSE more than a year. The school counselor is in charge of the 504’s and that’s one person I don’t allow to interact with my son. If you’ve been having these issues at MES why haven’t you reached out yet? You know I’m always there and always available to the parents.
The fact that you don’t allow that person to interact with your son says everything. That’s the person all parents are told they have to go through. I’ve never been able to have a 504 or IEP meeting without that person in the room. I was denied testing accommodations for my child last year because of the aforementioned person’s actions.
Any pushing or prodding for your kid results in your child being put under a microscope at that school. It’s lose – lose at MES. You push for your kid and they pay the price, or you let the school fail your child but at least your kid is not made an example out of
If the students don’t receive accommodations on the first test but are on subsequent tests, the results of the tests will not be an accurate reflection of progress. These tests are used to assess progress of students prior to the milestones in order to identify areas of weakness and growth. The failure to provide these accommodations at all stages has broad impact in effectively evaluating student need.
The district is not taking responsibility. It is not the schools fault. The administrators at my school were not told directly in a separate email in 2016 not to give accommodations. I saw it myself. So go after the district
That’s what I am doing and the entire BOE has been in the loop while I’ve been filing the complaints against the district. This will not touch the school staff.
Just trying to digest all this. Did this only occur this year or does this impact last year as well?
I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if this has been taking place for awhile, but I’ve been fighting with DeKalb for so long sometimes I get shiny object syndrome and drop the ball. My son is now ten and is very aware of the war that’s been going on for his education. He’s my eyes and ears and he’s actually the one that alerted me to the issue this year. He said this was the first time he’s never been pulled for MAPS. I can’t speak for other schools or other children from prior years. I’m sure I could teach a parent that suspects something to file an ORR to find out.
This is criminal. How will the Board of Ed keep the district accountable going forward? How is Dr. Greene still employed by DCS when this happened under his “leadership”?
You should see the emails I had to send and copy the BOE in on to get them to behave accordingly. They were literally going to handle this on an “as needed” basis. Thanks to Stan continuing to ask questions and me dragging them on social media, they started replying a wee bit better. Still waiting on that formal communication to parents though ♀️
@ wendy @ lauren this had been going at least since 2016. This is all facts that I seen for myself .
@facts, then why didn’t you file a complaint? And if you did file a complaint what came of it? I ask this because until more parents starting filing complaints this kind of behavior is allowed to be swept under the rug and it ends up costing the stakeholders a lot of money due to the district handing over hush money to make it go away. Until more parents begin holding them accountable and stop yanking their kids and putting them in private, none of this gets better. Mind you I have a full time job, I have a ten year old and a nine month old and continue to keep the pressure on them so if I can find the time to pop them left and right everyone else can. Retaliation be damned, I don’t stop and I’m not intimidated.
Thank you for this information.
Did this only occur this year or last year?
SSmith. It’s happening right now.
I’m the MAP facilitator for my school. We have been told repeatedly in MAP trainings that no accommodations are to be given during MAP tests. If the County is saying that is a miscommunication, it’s a “miscommunication” that has been made multiple times in MAP trainings since DeKalb started MAP testing.
@Dez yea that’s not true. So they attempted to say something along the lines of “If they take MAPS with accommodations they can’t be tested for gifted” which I quickly told the two special ed admin personnel in my meeting wasn’t true. My sons been tested for gifted and he has had accommodations since second grade. He even got accommodations during the CoGat. Have the district show you the “NRT” which shows which accommodations are and are not allowed with MAPS and the CoGat. As an FYI they’re moving the MAPS testing into the area you’d find accommodations for Milestones testing going forward. The way they’ve been able to wiggle out of this for years was due to lack or training and letting staff and even parents know that MAPS accommodations fell under “classroom testing accommodations” This is how I popped them. My son point blank said “mom none of the kids got pulled out of class for MAPS this week” and I lost it. If you’d like to see where Stan and I have the district on record admitting these accommodations were always to take place just shoot us an email.
Lauren, I’m just sharing what I’ve been told multiple times in MAP trainings since the beginning. Literally every training I’ve been to, and that’s one or two per year, it was reiterated that we were not to give accommodations. I’m not saying that was the right thing to do, but that is absolutely what we were told to do by the county. It may be a case of one department not knowing what another department was saying. But that’s still the county at fault.
@Dez, Have you now been given new instructions to give accommodations?
We have been told it has to be listed out for each specific test on the IEP. Since we have always been told there are no accommodations on the MAPS the student’s IEPs do not have them listed for that assessment. What about ELL students? They receive them on Milestones. Should they be receiving them on MAPS as well?
Wow, first of all, thank you Stan Jester for publicizing this issue. And thank you, Lauren Taylor, for bringing this to Stan’s attention. My 7th grader did not receive MAP accommodations, as listed in his 504, this year. In fact, he was sick two days of the testing, and when he returned this week (after the supposed in-service) he was still denied accommodations. He took makeup MAPs in the classroom while class was being conducted. Like the polar opposite of his stated accommodations. Stan, was Druid Hills Middle School one of the 27 that acknowledged not providing accommodations? Thanks.
The district has been a bit coy. They didn’t tell me the schools affected. I haven’t pinged them for an update yet.
Guess it goes without saying – we didn’t receive a notification from the school or county letting us know his accommodations were denied. I will contact them immediately.
Agree with Dez
County told our school to give no accommodations for MAP testing.
Stan they didn’t reach out to any of my parents!!! Janna was the one that informed me of Fernbank and Druid Hills.
@Educator and Dez, have either of you had communication come to you from your LTSE inside the school this week regarding MAPS accommodations going forward or even course correction?
I am in charge of RTI/504 at my school (not in DCSD) and the counselor is just one part of the team. The team is supposed to make a decision on whether the student with a 504 warrants an accommodations plan. It is not supposed to be a one-person decision making event. I would suggest that you look over your parental rights that were given to you at the start of each 504 meeting and ask again to request a 504 meeting to discuss possible accommodations. Good luck.
@formerdekalbteacher you’re 100% correct. Unfortunately many of the schools inside DeKalb don’t inform parents of their rights, and most of them hope you just get annoyed and give up. Now at the school that’s mentioned I know the counselor in question and she’s 100% responsible for the blockade. She refuses to reply to emails. Leaves kids in EIP for years. Flat out terrifies half the kids inside the school. Which is why she’s not allowed around my child. Also, when she fills in as a substitute in the classroom with children whom have IEPs she straight up ignores their accommodations. So the OP has a valid point about our situation.
@confused I can show you what you’re supposed to be told but I cannot post an image or upload the documents to this blog. If you look at Stans post on Facebook please feel free to PM me and I’ll send you everything and explain it all. It’s been a very gray area for the last three years but this year they legit just decided to act like the accommodations weren’t there and even attempted to state that those that did have the accommodations weren’t eligible for gifted if they used them.
Are counselors trained in 504s? I know they aren’t in many, maybe all Fulton and Gwinnett schools.
Why is a counselor being used as a substitute? Many counselors have never been teachers and shouldn’t be used that way.
I believe both of you- I taught in DCSD for over 20 years and am now in my 2nd year in a non-DCSD district. When we do a 504, the parental rights are the first thing discussed—it’s actually written into our meeting minutes template that the district tells us to use. I’m sorry that the children at MES are exposed to this person and that she’s been doing this for a number of years. In my experience with DCSD, she must have numerous higher ups that are “friends and family”. I would encourage the parent in question to continue to use the official communication of the district- email- and forward each prior unanswered message when creating a new email. I am no longer surprised at the depths that DCSD will go to protect incompetent employees.
It depends on who the school selects and sends to the trainings . In my non-DCSD district there area few counselors that also serve as a 504 chairperson. Regardless of who the chairperson is, any decisions are to be made as a 504 team (teachers, parents, counselor, support teachers, 504 chairperson), not just one person.
@former educator that’s always been the protocol inside DeKalb county. Even children in middle and high school have their 504 meetings with counselors vs LTSE or any special education staff. Which is mind boggling to me.
I know they’re to “inform” us of our rights, but even though that’s legit listed on the agenda, nine times out of ten it’s them seriously handing over a GIANT manual, then proceeding with the meeting. I don’t even allow them to give me the manual anymore. They don’t follow it and it’s just to protect them in the event you are able to catch them doing something against the rules, which funny enough, they seem to believe the district manual somehow overrides state and federal laws.
Letters went home Friday to parents whose children have testing accommodations. They were told they have the option of having their child retake the fall MAP with their accommodations.
Come again? Literally no one that caught this the way I did received said letters.
Care to copy and paste what they said?
Lauren, I’m just sharing what was done at my school. I don’t have a copy of the letter.
@Dez, which school are you talking about? Let’s give them credit for it. Maybe some schools did, but my son did not bring anything home about accommodations/retesting. He’s at DHMS
Hello Mr. Jester.
I hope you are well. As always, thank you for sharing information in your blog.
Can you share when and where the next Board Retreat will be?
Thank you. Mike Pastirik; Lakeside High School
Students who IEPs, 504s and EL-TPC plans who specify MAP were given said allowable accommodations. Many of the plans only address State Assessments; MAP is not a state assessment. It is a local assessment. The “standard” accommodations according to NRT chart that my child did not receive was small group. The test is not times, so he got all the time he needed to complete all parts of the test. He did not complain about not receiving it as he hates to be pulled out from the “regular” kids. The testing coordinator from my son’s school called me personally and offered a retest. She also shared with me my son’s scores. I am not choosing the retest. I doubt that having the accommodation would raise his score to the 90% that is needed to be considered for gifted eligibility. Besides, I am more concerned with my son’s “true” academic standing be assessed without the aid of special circumstances. My hope is to grow him so that he no longer needs a plan. I guess I am as not hung up on labels as some people are. What I would tell other parents is to know what’s written in the plan. Some people are getting all up in arms over this needlessly because they think their child should have received the accommodations when the IEP or 504 plan clearly states State assessments and not MAP.
Sorry, I’m not going to identify my school, as that could also identify me. When I post here I tell the truth, and that is not always appreciated by the powers that be.
@bella of the ball
As I told DeKalb CO staff, you wanna challenge that at the federal level? Because I promise you it’s under classroom accommodations. That’s where MAPS accommodations have always been. But hey, your kid probably isn’t Dyslexic with below grade level reading so no big deal right? How about an entire district lying last year and telling parents their kids were reading at grade level only to find out they weren’t. Does that upset you? And MAPS was never a state standard test so no, until THIS YEAR it was NEVER placed in the same area milestones was located. Again Re:classroom testing accommodations. So if this isn’t such an issue why is the state all up in my email requesting all the communication I have to prove they knew they tested the kids without their accommodations and didn’t care and planned on only handling it on an “as needed” basis… FYI I’m not hung up on labels, but I will go ham on people that seem to think it’s useless to provide FAPE to children because they want to see where their kids true academic standing is. I know where my kid resides sans accommodations and I will find out next week where he’s at after testing with his accommodations.
My district has a 2 page document that outlines parental rights for 504 students. I’ve seen the one for SWD students, but haven’t been the person that goes over that- our special education lead teacher (SELT) does that part. I’m guessing my district has had some issues with the parental rights part in the past and that’s why it’s written into our scripted notes document.
Another issue I’ve noticed is that DCSD changes out their LTSEs on such a regular basis that there’s little continuity across the school from year to year, much less the district. My husband is a special education teacher in DCSD and he’s had at least 4 LTSEs in his short time in the district. In my position at my new district I get to work with our SELT on a very close basis and am amazed at the level of involvement that this person has with our SWD population. The funny thing is that my SELT is from DCSD (left years ago), but attributes the best practices to the way DCSD used to train their LTSEs. I keep telling my husband that he would love to work under this person.
@Laura Taylor obviously, this is affecting you more than it is affecting me. No one said it was “useless to provide accommodations.” I pulled this from GADOE’s website:
“Accommodations must be considered and discussed individually for each state assessment
mandated for the student’s grade level and should not be broadly assigned across all
For me, MAP accommodations were not a big deal. Its purpose is designed to see what the student is ready to learn at the present moment in time (https://www.nwea.org/the-map-suite/ ). That’s what I need for his teacher to know and that’s what I need to know as a parent. The results inform the instruction because MAP identifies skills the student needs to develop and the skills the student has mastered based on the state’s standards.
As a matter of fact, my child is dyslexic and that comes with its own set of challenges. For me, I do not put much measure in what a test says about my son. One test does not give me a full picture of who he is or the struggles he has overcome or where he can go. The only thing a test can tell me is whether or not my son has grown academically. Period. Accommodations are no. Is he doing better than he was? I use the fall MAP as a baseline for him (realizing that some regression is expected because of the summer break). What I want for him is to learn— it does not need to be at an accelerated pace. I want the teachers to meet him where he is and help him to grow. For me, it was not worth the anxiety and stress to put my child through the test again. However, I wish you and yours well.
@formerdekalbteacher you’re 100% correct. In DeKalb we aren’t given the option to keep our special ed staff with an assigned LTSE for more than one school year. Every single year it’s a battle and every single year the special ed staff knows our children and their accommodations better than whoever is assigned to the school. Some of the LTSE’s have been amazing. We lost one last year and I still have a hard time with the fact DeKalb didn’t even give her passing the time of day. She was amazing and went above and beyond. She’d email us or text us from 6am til 3am. She cared that much about the kids and her staff and her job. We’ve had some I’ve had to point blank kick off my sons IEP team. I’m not even mad at the LTSE’s or the staff inside the schools. I’m upset at the way the district behaved towards the BOE as well as myself and other parents that caught this. Someone at some point in time is going to need to step in and fix this at the central office level.
@bella okay so my child is a unicorn of a dyslexic child. But I attribute most of that to having him diagnosed by six years old and firing up his IEP and pull out services in first grade. He’s been able to maintain straight A’s thanks to Orton Gillingham certified staff inside our school. I’ve pushed for so many children inside this district to be granted the same education my child has because I’m the squeaky wheel. Testing sucks. My son actually hates being inside the classroom with his “normal” peers while testing. So for me yea this is a big deal. When his anxiety spikes because he’s made to test in an area he’s not used to or comfortable with, no one is getting his true academic anything because he’s more concerned about rushing through it so he blends in. And he’s more than earned his gifted status by refusing to let anything stop him from proving he’s just as smart as everyone else. He prides himself on being Dyslexic. He comes from a very long line of extremely intelligent dyslexic family members who weren’t afforded the same accommodations and education he’s had. So you do you. You accept what you think is best for your kid. Meanwhile imma keep doing what I do and continue helping children who need it because parents like you make the rest of us seem crazy for wanting our children to be given access to their federal rights.
In regard to counselors leading the 504 it seems absurd that that is protocol. In the schools I worked in counselors might be invited as members of the 504 or IEP meeting, but never as the coordinator. It’s not a core function of their job, definitely not what their graduate degree training prepares them for.
It appears that the DC school system does not communicate with the GA State Dept of Ed re testing procedures & regulations for students with disabilities. If they are receiving the required testing regs & implementations, but not in servicing the principals & testing coordinators at the schools, not providing oversight & monitoring of all regs, then the result is these types of violations. Dekalb County Schools leaves itself wide open to harming children and parental requests of hearings & law suits.
IEPs & 504 are not new!
There are well-paid administrators in DCS whose responsibility it is to carry out all GA state regs & procedural requirements.
YAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The amount of hush money to keep parents like myself quiet and out of the media or off the states radar with complaints is ridiculous! I would love nothing more than for a federal fight to take place so they could come in and see just where all that money’s been going and why. All those “weakness materials” that keep popping up in the audits can and have been traced back to special education. That will continue to happen until someone takes over.
My daughter, 5th, has an IEP (SLD for dyslexia) at MES. We’ve been told numerous times that accommodations are not allowed for the MAP testing. We have not received a notification re: accommodations for the recent testing. We will reach out.
Your last sentence is uncalled for and diminishes the importance of this entire thread.
“Parents like you make the rest of us seem crazy for wanting our children to be given access to their federal rights.”
Each child can have different needs and each parent has choices in the way they approach addressing those needs. Handling things differently isn’t in an attempt to make one parent seem “crazy”. Phrasing it this way is no different than calling someone else’s child “stupid” because they are dyslexic, a “behavior problem” because they have ADHD, or “difficult” because they have anxiety.
Please think about how you advocate to other parents and how you portray yourself on public forums like this. We all want the best for our kids but need to do it in productive and respectful ways.
@sydney yea sure thing. Mind you I’ve had quite a few mother’s from my sons own school speak to me the same way “Bella” spoke to me so I get a bit defensive when approached that way. I’m not going to tone down how i advocate to other parents when I tend to be ganged up on by mothers and teachers at my sons school. So I’m sure you understand why I replied the way I did. I can almost bet that Bella and maybe even yourself are from MES and doing exactly what I’ve been attempting to point out to the district for years.
But as you see in the post above yours, our school still hasn’t communicated to kids so there is that. Let’s keep ignoring it and maybe it will all just go away right
I received this update from Dr. Linda Frazer today …
This was just shared today by the district’s ELL (ESOL) office:
“Per the assessment department, accommodations are now allowed on the universal screener (MAP).
Please note that the Gifted Formal Evaluation Assessment refers to the MAP test.
Please indicate that the student will participate in MAP testing by marking the check box next to “Gifted Formal Evaluation Assessment (Universal Screener and NRT)”
Please list the student’s accommodations for MAP in addition to their standardized tests (GKIDS, EOG, EOC, GAA).”
ESOL teachers received at the beginning of the school year a checklist to be completed by Sept. 30th. Accommodations are to be filled out by then, which many teachers have already done since they need to be sent home to be signed, and then uploaded to Infinite Campus. But then today the ELL office sent the communication saying that a new form must be used.
Definitely someone over at the assessment dept. is dropping the ball.
@Kind Educator….. Her name would be Allison Scott
@Stan this is why I said to post this. I knew they wouldn’t communicate otherwise. Thanks for the update from Stacy. Let her know my complaint is still being investigated and will remain in that status until this has been rolled out all over the district
As a Special Education Teacher in the South (yes, that matters), let me make a few things clear:
1. You don’t last at schools if you speak-up for students. You have to have private conversations with parents.
2. You don’t get promoted or get leadership opportunities if you speak-up for students.
3. You can have your evaluations negatively affected if you speak-up for children. If you have adverse evaluations, you can lose your certification.
4. I always make sure my kids get their accommodations. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. We were told there are no accommodations for MAP. NWEA makes it clear that districts decide whether to allow accommodations.
5. If you want to change what goes on in schools, you need to talk to teachers and make it known to administrators and board members that you will do what you need to do to keep good teachers in the buildings.
We are tired. We did not receive notification prior to MAP testing this year regarding accommodations. Letters went home this past week at my school. I didn’t need to send any home because I made sure my students tested in my room.
I’m especially concerned about parents of our students in ELL programs. Is the info going home in a language they can understand????
We have a lot of work to do.
Interestingly, the AJC has an article about savvy parents seeking 504 plans to get more time on tests. Definitely not saying that is the case with this topic but the article does shed light on something that many educators (and others) have known for years.
There are many interesting comments on the FaceBook page for the blog also.
Article from the ACT on test anxiety: https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/pdfs/R1713-test-anxiety-2018-08.pdf
Special Ed Vacancies
@Lauren, I would love to connect with you as I a parent in Dekalb I’m having A LOT of challenges right now with my son getting his IEP addressed and getting a BIP that will actually be implemented correctly. Yet he’s still getting referrals for behavior. I would love to talk!