TAUNTON – Superintendent John Cabral is pleased to report that Tonton’s public schools have received a positive report from the state on the district’s ability to meet the needs of special education students.
On Monday, Feb. 7, the Massachusetts Department of Primary and Secondary Education (DESE) informed the county that Tonton Public Schools have met the 2022 definition of special education under Part B of the Education for People with Disabilities Act.
Each year, DESE is required to identify the specific needs of “Local Education Agencies,” also known as LEAs, for technical assistance or special education interventions. Each LEA is assigned a category that may be eligible, in need of assistance, requiring intervention, or in need of substantial intervention.
DESE has revised the special education accountability system from 2021 to provide a transparent process with a focus on outcomes for students with disabilities. When calculating each level of LEA determination, the heading containing the following elements is taken into account:
- Five-year cohorts of graduation rates for students with disabilities
- Annual dropout rate for students with disabilities
- Data on the suitability of special education obtained from the monitoring of public schools
- Production plans for special education
- Any conclusions of significant disproportion
Tonton Public Schools received 24 points out of 32 possible in the column. With this determination DESE has classified the district as eligible and does not require the district to participate in any targeted assistance activities. This is an improvement over last year when the district was categorized as in need of assistance.
“With the support and guidance of Tonton High School and Alternative High School counselors, special education teachers, and general education teachers, students at Tonton Public Schools with Disabilities can meet state and local graduation requirements,” said Head Cabral. “Over the past year, significant efforts have been made in the district to identify specific needs and implement special education solutions, and it is very important for DESE to recognize this in the assessment.”
With regard to the five-year graduation of a cohort of students with disabilities, the administration and staff of THS and TAHS have worked with families to increase the number of MCAS appeals to the state. The county also uses the MCAS waiver process that DESE allowed because of COVID-19, providing students with disabilities access to relevant courses to meet waiver requirements.
With regard to the annual dropout of students with disabilities, the appeals and denial process has allowed more Taunton students to complete their studies on time.
To obtain data on the suitability of special education obtained from the monitoring of public schools, the district continued to monitor the high-quality services provided to students with disabilities by highly qualified providers. The Tonton District Administration and School Committee have supported the hiring of TEAM chairpersons and other service providers to ensure that the county complies with IEP student compliance with both state and federal regulations.