Last week, Alabama’s state school superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice spoke with families of children with special needs (and there were quite a few teachers and administrators in the audience as well!) about changes that have happened and will happen in special education in Alabama.
My thanks to the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), APEC, and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham for co-hosting this event. We have dubbed it the 1st Annual Special Education Forum, and hope to have many more in years to come. The value of putting parents and education officials in the same room cannot be over-emphasized.
Dr. Bice committed to continuing the dialogue on a quarterly basis, and while the details have yet to be worked out, we are thrilled to make this happen for our school community.
The Alabama Parent Education Center (APEC) videoed the meeting and has provided a fabulous breakdown of the meeting into 16 segments. If you would like to obtain a DVD of the entire meeting (it’s an hour and 40 minutes long), call APEC at (866) 532-7660 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to request the DVD.
Go to APEC’s YouTube channel to view the video or use the links below.
Video Segment Links
Special Education Forum – 1 – Introductions by Organizations – This is the beginning of the Special Education Forum. Each of the hosts introduced their organizations and forum ground rules and agenda were set.
Special Education Forum – 2 – State Superintendent Dr. Bice’s Opening Remarks – This segment contains Dr. Bice’s opening remarks and a bit about his perspective and the various areas of education within which he has worked.
Special Education Forum – 3 – Doing “What’s Right for Children” – Dr. Bice speaks about doing what’s right for children and how there’s no excuse for not doing it right.
Special Education Forum – 4 – Change from No Child Left Behind Is Needed – Dr. Bice shares his thoughts on NCLB’s usefulness and why change is now needed.
Special Education Forum – 5 – From AYP to College and Career Ready – Dr. Bice shares the plan to move Alabama from AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) to College and Career Ready. He briefly introduces Plan 2020, on which he elaborates in the next sections of the forum.
Special Education Forum – 6 – Plan 2020 Introduction – Dr. Bice gives a quick overview of the components of Plan 2020, the strategic plan adopted by the Alabama State Board of Education.
Special Education Forum – 7 – State Strategies for Students – Dr. Bice discusses in more depth the strategies the state department of education will implement in order to effect Plan 2020. This segment includes a discussion of the new College and Career Ready Standards that are based on the Common Core, along with the plan for school readiness (Pre-K), and how he envisions each school system having their own IEP (Individualized Education Program).
Special Education Forum – 8 – Supporting Students in Plan 2020 – Dr. Bice delineates strategies that will be used to support students, including a review of policies on attendance and truancy. Discipline strategies are shared as well. Bice shares the expectations of counselors and the already-existing-but-not-always-followed Alabama requirement that each entering 9th grader have an established 4-year plan as an outline of their high school years. He shares his vision of building coalitions of current agencies and organizations that serve children and better utilizing their services.
Special Education Forum – 9 – The “Grown Folks'” Responsibility – Dr. Bice expresses his desires for the “Grown Folks” (a.k.a., the teachers and administrators) and their responsibility to our children.
Special Education Forum – 10 – What We Learned from the Charter School Discussion – Dr. Bice presents lessons learned from the early 2012 Charter School discussion in Alabama. He talks about the need for flexibility within schools and shares examples of schools and systems that are being innovative and flexible.
Special Education Forum – 11 – Assessments and Accountability – Dr. Bice presents information on the new assessment system being implemented in Alabama. He also shares a bit of information on how schools and systems will be held accountable for progress and achievement under Plan 2020.
Special Education Forum – 12 – Changes to Diploma Options – Dr. Bice shares his thoughts on combining all diploma options into one diploma and allowing more flexibility within the high school years, offering multiple pathways to obtain a high school diploma.
Special Education Forum – 13 – Concluding Remarks and Department Personnel – Dr. Bice concludes his remarks and introduces personnel from the Alabama State Department of Education that work in the Special Education arena.
Special Education Forum – 14 – Q&A Part 1 – The Question and Answer session begins. How can you ensure that resources will not be siphoned away to implement new measures under Plan 2020? How can we better identify the abilities of children who fall between the AAA certificate and the Alabama Occupational Diploma? How can a child be properly assessed if that child cannot read?
Special Education Forum – 15 – Q&A Part 2 – Questions are asked about how the ALSDE involves families of children with special needs when they develop plans and policies, how can parents step away from the role of policing their children’s IEP (Individualized Education Plans), how to keep this dialogue between the ALSDE and families of children with special needs going, and discussion of how difficult it is for teachers to learn how to teach children with special needs.
Special Education Forum – 16 – FINAL – Q&A Part 3 – Questions are asked regarding how to remain motivated when IEPs are not followed, what kinds of opportunities are available after 12th grade, and how to advocate for your child when you feel that you have been shown no respect. This is the final segment of 16 segments.