Main content

Alert message

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Board Meeting Minutes

 August 9, 2018

Call to Order:  

Board President, Joseph Muniz called to order the training session at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

Introduction of Board Members and Audience:  

Board members present were: Joseph Muniz, President, Brenda Lee, Julie Prause, Mary Alexander, Lee Sonnenberg, Bobby Druesedow, and Dan Brown.  Michael Garrett and Michael Hanley were unable to attend the meeting.

The audience members present were:  Bill Daugherty, Superintendent; Susan Morrison, General Counsel; Valerie Bradshaw, Assessment and Accountability Coordinator; Debra Sewell, Curriculum Director; Veronica Lopez, Administrative Assistant; and Susan Houghtling, Director of Planning and Evaluation.

Training Session on Evaluating Student Performance (Valerie Bradshaw, TSBVI Assessment and Accountability Coordinator and Debra Sewell, TSBVI Curriculum Director):  

Debra Sewell introduced the Student Performance Indicator (SPI) assessments for students.  In 1998, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Texas Education Agency met to discuss how TSBVI students should be evaluated.  Many students at that time were not taking the State mandated assessments; now, more and more students are taking the assessments.  Every year in the fall, TSBVI teachers perform a pre-test evaluation for students who are enrolled by the middle of September based on TSBVI’s Student Performance Indicators.  A posttest is administered between Spring Break and the last day of school to determine progress made by each student.  This data is helpful for teachers to determine what to focus on related to instruction and writing IEPs.

Ms. Sewell explained that the Lead Teachers meet with all of the teachers on their teams to discuss the results of the Performance Indicators for each of their students.  At the beginning of each school year, lead teachers meet with teachers individually to determine which SPIs would be appropriate for the school year.  Independent living skills are addressed primarily residentially.  

Valerie Bradshaw introduced the two mandatory tests for students in third grade through high school:  the STAAR test or the STAAR Alternate 2 test. There are only those two iterations of the tests.  Testing is broken down into the grades 3 through 8 programs and then the end-of-course program which is for high school students.  For the 3 through 8 program, all students take reading and math.  At certain grade levels they might take science, writing, or social studies, in different combinations. The requirements are the same for the two different types of testing.  When students go into high school, instead of being grade-based, it is course-based.  There are 5 courses that require an end-of-course exam:  English I & II, Biology, US History and Algebra I.

The only other required exam is the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS).  TELPAS is for ESL bilingual students and is an assessment of reading, writing, listening and speaking.  This test is done at the end of the year. Students are rated on a rubric system as beginner, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high.  TSBVI students for the most part are doing these holistically rated systems for listening, speaking, and writing.  Reading is available online, in print and large print.  It has never been available in Braille.  That is not particularly concerning because TSBVI has better ways of assessing how well a student is developing their English skills in English for our English language learners. Those are the only three mandated tests.

When we look at how we report to TEA, TSBVI’s Memorandum of Understanding with TEA says that, in addition to our student performance indicators, we are required to have a state assessment passing rate that meets or exceeds the passing rate of special education students in the state of Texas.  TEA only provides the special education data by grade and subject.  We have to go through TEA’s data and pull out information for each grade and subject area and compare that to our data in order to determine whether we have met or exceeded the state levels.  At this point, we have not had any difficulty doing so; generally, our students meet or exceed what special education students are doing.

Mrs. Prause asked if we are comparing performance of students to other visually impaired students in the state or all special education students.  Ms. Bradshaw answered it is all special education students.  Mrs. Alexander asked if they break down data by sensory and Ms. Bradshaw answered they do not, just by general special education.  She added that we have asked for that because it would be very helpful.

Mr. Brown asked how the performance indicators are factored in with the STAAR-Alt data when the scores are compiled.  Ms. Sewell responded that they aren't compiled together.

Ms. Bradshaw went on to explain the testing environment for TSBVI students.  There are a number of accommodations that TEA allows of which we take full advantage.  She stated that they want the testing environment to be as much like the classroom as possible.  TEA breaks down accommodations into three different categories.  One is accessibility features that are allowed for any student regardless of special education needs, 504 classifications, or regular education. In the last few years TSBVI has worked closely with TEA to advocate for our students.  In this past year TEA has made magnification, amplification, and projection devices accessibility features.  Mrs. Alexander asked if there is an exhaustive list.  Ms. Bradshaw answered there is one and it is on the Texas Education Agency website under “Student Assessment – Accommodation Resources”.

Mrs. Alexander inquired whether or not they are providing braille.  Ms. Bradshaw answered that they are providing braille.  Braille and large print are considered designated supports and require a 504 Committee approval; you cannot just give any student braille.  There are other things that need approval; for example:  time, spelling assistance, and calculators for subject and grade areas that are not already required. TEA created content language supports when Modified went away.  It is a designated support that they call “Content Language Support”.  This online tool is a point and click system.  There are words or sentences that have a wiggly underline; when you point and click on them you receive some sort of support.  It might be a definition of a word, a formula so a student doesn't have to figure out which formula to use, scaffolding for thinking strategies, or simplifications for excerpts.  We brought forth the fact that it is only available online and not to our print and braille kids.  They have developed a system for print students.  The teacher has a guide that will give recommendations as to how to give the student verbal content language support. Ms. Bradshaw stated her great appreciation for the group working at TEA in the student assessment division or “Special Populations” as they call it. It is a very small team; they have worked very hard in the past few years with us.  Last year it was on us to make the testing accessible for our braille students.  This 2018-2019 school year they are coming out with a guide to help when you are describing a picture and the ones they sent us are detail oriented.

Mr. Brown asked if the descriptions will be tactile graphics as well as descriptive text. Ms. Bradshaw answered we are generally doing one or the other.  The tactile graphic is generally only used for things like the T-bar graphics and Venn diagrams.  Teachers go through various training sessions to prepare for giving these tests to students.

Mrs. Lee asked if there are trainings held for teachers outside of TSBVI.  Ms. Bradshaw answered that she and Lyn McAlister generally hold two webinars a year through TSBVI's Outreach program on what it is like to give a STAAR test to a visually impaired student.  There is a separate webinar for the Alt 2 test.  Ms. Alexander asked if the webinars are recorded and Ms. Bradshaw said they were.

Ms. Bradshaw explained test result terms.  The highest one is “masters grade level”, the second is “meets grade level”, third is “approaches grade level” - this is still passing, lastly is “did not meet grade level”.  For the STAAR Alt 2 test there are three levels:  “developing”, “satisfactory”, or “accomplished”.  Relatively new the last few years to the Alt 2 test are the two options that exempt a student from Alt 2 testing.  They are allowing districts to distinguish whether a student meets two of the requirements to exempt them from testing.  The requirements are “medical exception” and “no authentic academic response” (NAAR) students.

Mr. Muniz thanked Ms. Sewell and Ms. Bradshaw for the training session.  He asked if it was correct that when a student tests it is only recorded at the school where the test is administered.  Ms. Bradshaw answered that is correct.  Mrs. Alexander asked if that is only for the STAAR test.  Ms. Bradshaw answered it is only for the STAAR test.  She added we are fully accountable for our student's testing.

Recess:  

At 2:33 p.m. the meeting went into recess for the purpose of concluding board training.

Call to Order: 

Mr. Muniz called the regular meeting of the Governing Board of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to order at 2:44 p.m.

Public Comments/Open Forum:  

There were no public comments.

Consideration of Approval of Board Policies:  

Bill Daugherty gave an introduction of how the policies are described in the packet on the policy explanations sheet.

BBFA (TSBVI)          Ethics:  Conflict of Interest Disclosures

DEG                           Compensation and Benefits:  Retirement Program

DGBA (TSBVI)          Personnel-Management Relations:  Employee Complaints/Grievances

DGBA-E                     Personnel-Management Relations:  Employee Complaints or Grievances

DMA (TSBVI)            Professional Staff Development:  Required Staff Development

DNA (TSBVI)             Performance Appraisal:  Evaluation of Teachers

EHDB (TSBVI)          Alternate Methods of Earning Credit:  Credit by Examination With Prior Instruction

EHDC                        Alternate Methods of Earning Credit:  Credit by Examination Without Prior Instruction

EIC (TSBVI)              Academic Achievement:  Class Ranking

EK (TSBVI)                Testing Programs

FB (TSBVI)                Equal Educational Opportunity

FEA (TSBVI)             Admissions and Attendance:  Compulsory Attendance

FEB (TSBVI)             Attendance:  Attendance Accounting

FEC (TSBVI              Attendance:  Attendance for Credit

FFA (TSBVI)             Student Welfare:  Wellness and Health Services

FFAA (TSBVI)           Wellness and Health Services:  Physical Examinations

FFAB (TSBVI)           Wellness and Health Services:  Immunizations

FFAC (TSBVI)           Wellness and Health Services:  Medical Treatment

FFAD (TSBVI)           Wellness and Health Services:  Communicable Diseases

FFAF (TSBVI)           Wellness and Health Services:  Care Plans for Diabetes and Food Allergies

FFB (TSBVI)             Student Welfare:  Crisis Intervention

FFC (TSBVI)             Student Welfare:  Student Support Services

FFF (TSBVI)              Student Safety

FL (TSBVI)                Student Records

FNAB (TSBVI)          Student Expression:  Use of School Facilities for Non-School Purposes

Susan Morrison briefly explained each policy to the Board, particularly focusing on amended and deleted language.

Mr. Muniz stated that he and Mr. Daugherty have had conversations in regards to policy FFB on crisis intervention.  Mr. Muniz added that Mr. Daugherty has expressed that TSBVI has paid intense attention to the psychological wellbeing of students.  Mr. Muniz inquired about the response time when a situation arises with a student.  Mr. Daugherty stated that there is an immediate response.  TSBVI has an online incident reporting system that goes out to every team member.  If there is something significant, there is a report and every member that is on the particular student's team, knows about it immediately.  Mr. Daugherty added that, because of our incredible ratios, the moment a student is becoming out of sorts either during the school day or at their dorm, that team starts huddling around the student very quickly.  If necessary, social workers or counselors will get involved immediately and behavior specialist also watch students closely.

Mrs. Prause asked how the determination for adoption of a new policy is made.  Ms. Morrison stated that, when she was hired, she was given a list of priorities from team members that were prioritized number one through three.  At this point, almost every number one priority has been completed.  By the end of this calendar year, every priority will have been completed.  Mr. Daugherty added, that after the policy backlog is taken care of, policies will be revisited on a schedule determined by the Board, new state laws, or it being time to update.  Ms. Morrison added the policy recommendations come from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) but we cannot adopt them as is, they have to be reviewed and modified.  Mrs. Alexander stated that Ms. Morrison's explanations are clear and helpful. 

Lee Sonnenberg motioned to amend policies BBFA, DEG, DGBA, DGBA-E, DMA, DNA, EHDB, EHDC, EIC, EK, FB, FEA, FEB, FEC, FFA, FFAA, FFAB, FFAC, FFAD, FFAF, FFF, FL, and FNAB as presented to the Board.  Mr. Brown seconded the motion to amend policies as presented.  All board members were in favor and the motion carried.

Bobby Druesedow motioned to adopt policies FFB, and FFC as presented to the Board. Mary Alexander seconded the motion and all board members were in favor and the motion carried.

 

Adjournment:  

Bobby Druesedow motioned to adjourn the Board Meeting. Julie Prause seconded the motion to adjourn.  All board members were in favor of the motion and the motion carried.  The meeting stood adjourned at 3:06 p.m.