NOTE: This is a transcript of a Facebook Live video filmed on 3/24/20. Click here to watch that video.
What a week! With news and information coming in at warp speed, and educators having to adapt to distance learning and counseling, we want to help. Consider us your ear to the ground so you can focus on serving your students. Each week, we’ll share top news and resources here, on Facebook live. You can also find information and resources on our blog and website, online at texasoncourse.org.
Today, our three highlights for you concern:
1) Access to food
2) Testing updates
3) Serving students with disabilities
Our first highlight: Access to food. We know your top concern is your students’ health and safety. The Texas Education Agency has created a Texas Meal Finder tool to help students and their families find free school meal pick-up locations near them. The tool is available at TXschools.gov.
Our second highlight: Testing updates. As you likely know, the governor has waived STAAR testing requirements for the year. Spring ACT and SAT tests have been cancelled. And AP tests are moving online. The TEA, the College Board, and the ACT all have webpages with updates on testing. Here’s a summary:
On STAAR: the TEA has issued a notice on grade advancement for students in 5th and 8th grades. Administrators can base advancement decisions on teacher recommendations, students’ grades, and other relevant academic information. The TEA has also issued guidance regarding a path to graduation for seniors.
On the SAT: May SAT dates have been cancelled, and registered students will receive refunds. Makeup exams scheduled for March 28 are also cancelled. The June SAT is still on for now, but the College Board is monitoring the situation. More details here.
On the ACT: the April ACT has been rescheduled to June. Students who registered for the April ACT will receive information and instructions by email. Students will not be automatically re-registered, so be sure to tell your registered students to check their email! More details here.
On the AP: There will be no face-to-face AP testing. Instead, students will take 45-minute online tests that consist of free response questions only. Each AP subject test will be offered on two different testing dates. The full exam schedule will be available April 3. Students will also have access to free remote-learning resources and practice questions. More details here.
Our third highlight: Serving students with disabilities. At this time, there’s still a lot of uncertainty over best or standard practices on this front, given the challenge we face is unprecedented. Here’s what we know:
One: Over the weekend, the US department of education issued a new fact sheet for serving students with disabilities, assuring districts they have flexibility in this effort. Here's a helpful summary from Ed Week. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services can address your questions regarding federal law and providing special education and related services through distance instruction. Contact your regional office for technical assistance. You can locate their number through the Office for Civil Rights.
Two: Here in Texas, the TEA has issued guidance on supporting special education students. These guidelines also emphasize flexibility and variety in delivery options.
Three: A number of experts and organizations have been sharing resources for serving students with disabilities. These include the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities, as well as Adam Nemeroff, a learning designer at Dartmouth College. He has written a guide on accessible teaching, and his recommendations include:
- Present material in multiple ways: text, audio, video
- When in doubt, over-communicate
- Allow students to create their own goals
- Offer several options for completing an assignment
- Use sites like Wave to ensure that links are accessible
- Ask students for feedback, and act on it
Thanks for tuning in, and please be sure to visit texasoncourse.org, where we are regularly adding information and resources for counseling and teaching in the age of covid-19. Have questions or suggestions? Leave a comment on this blog!