Sept. 9 Dept. of Teaching and Learning Update: Services for English Learners, Special Education and Gifted Students

APS Families:

As we start the school year via distance learning, this message is being sent from the Department of Teaching and Learning to share information about services and instructional strategies in support of students with disabilities, Gifted students and English Learners. These biweekly messages are designed to keep families informed and up-to-date during distance learning.

Students with Disabilities
IEP teams are still busy collaborating with families to determine what supports students will need for Distance Learning, and preparing to welcome and support students on September 8th. To supplement APS’ recently posted distance learning parent handbooks, the Office of Special Education (OSE) has provided additional guidance for families. The Special Education Fall Guidance can be found here, and includes information on considerations for IEP Teams, Recovery Services, ATSS and Student Support Processes, and Re-opening FAQs.

OSE has also established two working groups. The first work group is working on how to bring in a small group of students to receive adult support to help students access distance learning. This group meets once a week, and as plans come together, we will update the community. The second work group focuses on ensuring all students, staff, and families can fully access all of our instructional resources, facilities and transportation. Both groups have parent representatives.

Parent Academy: The OSE has added a video to the newly re-launched APS Parent Academy. Getting Ready for Fall 2020: A session for families of students with unique talents and learning needs was created by a panel of staff members from the Office of Special Education and the Special Education Parent Resource Center (PRC). The video shares suggestions for creating a successful learning environment for students with disabilities at home, and provides a brief overview of special education services and supports that are available in Arlington Public Schools during this time of distance learning. Watch the video here.

On August 25 the Office of Special Education provided a professional learning opportunity to transportation staff. The training discussed characteristics of disabilities and strategies to support specific student needs. Topics included supporting students in the areas of social communication, executive functioning, information processing, and emotional regulation.

English Learners (EL)
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is hosting EL Family Webinar Series. Supporting School at Home for English Learners Webinar is created for families of English Learners. See the PDF of the flyers for dates, times, and Zoom links. The webinars started on August 26 and continue in different languages until September 8th. The slides and recording for each session will be posted here for use and sharing once all materials are finalized. The first slide of each presentation will include the link to the recording.

Parent Academy videos were created for parents to learn more about APS. There is a video specifically for parents of English Learners. The video was created by the Office of English Learners and it provides a brief overview of English Learner services available in Arlington Public Schools. It addresses how English Learners (ELs) will be supported both academically and emotionally during this time of distance learning. It gives information that will be helpful to parents as we begin the school year in distance learning.

Gifted Services APS Parent Academy
An Overview of K-12 Gifted Services  video was created for the APS Parent Academy site.  Parents, Family and community members will hear from a panel of resource teachers for the gifted representing elementary, middle and high school and the Supervisor of Gifted Services. The goal of the video is to provide a brief overview of how services are delivered through a collaborative cluster approach in Kindergarten through Grade 12. Panel members share their perspectives on how services need not change in a distance learning model even though the primary mode for how teachers deliver gifted services will change.

New to Arlington Screening and Eligibility for Gifted Services Students who are new to APS and who have been previously identified for gifted services will be eligible for the same level of service as outlined by the previous school district. In this situation, it is not necessary to go through the screening process since this already occurred in another school district. Parents/Guardians are asked to share the previous record of gifted services and/or previous record of eligibility for gifted services with the school registrar and/or the resource teacher for the gifted (RTG) and/or the principal. Upon receiving this information, your child will then be clustered in their area of identification and begin receiving gifted services. For additional information, please visit the Eligibility section and the FAQ section of the Gifted Services webpage.

Returning Arlington Families
Due to schools moving to remote learning in March, the universal screening ability assessments scheduled for after this time were not given. Without universal screening ability assessments at grades 1, 2 and 3, screening at these grade levels could not occur per the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) gifted regulations (8 VAC 20-40-40).  Since we were able to give an ability assessment in the fall in certain grade levels, the screening and identification process did occur at the following grade levels:

  • 4th grade
  • New to APS 5th grade students
  • New to APS 6th grade

VDOE confirmed that ability assessments will still need to be part of the screening and identification process for the 2020-2021. At this time, we have included the ability assessments in the testing calendar for this year. Given that we are starting the year in a virtual teaching and learning mode, more information will be shared once a comprehensive plan is in place.

For additional information, please visit the FAQ section of the Gifted Services webpage.