Consultant gives Clear Creek ISD several recommendations to improve special education program

Clear Creek ISD’s special education program is doing several things right, but “there is room for improvement” outlined in over two dozen recommendations consultants presented to the district March 4.

CCISD hired education consulting and research firm Gibson last summer after several parents of special-needs students publicly protested and pointed out faults in the district’s special education program. After months of research, data analysis, interviews, surveys, campus visits and more, Gibson presented its findings to the board March 4.

According to the data Gibson gathered, special education student achievement is improving at CCISD, though some areas are behind state targets. Part of the improvement is related to the district’s effort to increase the number of students in “inclusionary settings,” Gibson Project Director Keri Munkwitz said.

Transition plans for special education students are well-written, comprehensive and “exemplary.” There is a good ratio of special education teachers to paraprofessionals, and the district uses paraprofessionals effectively, Munkwitz said.

Gibson sent a survey to over 4,600 parents of special-needs students, and 27 percent responded.

“That’s actually a pretty high number for a parent survey,” she said.

The survey, focus groups and interviews with parents showed most are satisfied with the quality of special education services, but there are pockets of dissatisfied parents. The recently created Special Education Parent Advisory Committee is a step in the right direction, Keri said.

Despite everything Clear Creek ISD is doing right, Gibson made 27 recommendations to improve the district’s special education program further.

One recommendation is to monitor special education outcomes data to ensure academic and behavioral progress in all special-needs students. CCISD has a larger percentage of special education students in discretionary placement compared to general education students, which is something the district should take a look at, Gibson Special Education Consultant Cindy Elsberry said.

Two recommendations called for improving communication. Gibson said the district should provide more relevant data to parents through the district’s website and social media and should give parents more detailed feedback on their children’s academic and behavioral performance.

“The parents expressed they want more specific information on what their children are learning in the classroom,” Elsberry said.

CCISD Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen said the board will not take action on the recommendations but that they will be implemented at the administrative level.

“The district will review the recommendations and develop action plans to address them,” she wrote in an email to Community Impact Newspaper. “The district administration will provide an update to the school board once district leaders can discuss the recommendations with a larger staff audience.”
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By Jake Magee

Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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