Annual Report

January 27, 2020




Dear Parents and Community Members:


We are pleased to present you with the Annual Education Report (AER) which provides key information on the 2018-19 educational progress for the DSISD Learning Center. The AER addresses the complex reporting information required by federal and state laws. The school’s report contains information about student assessment, accountability, and teacher quality. If you have any questions about the AER, please contact Lacy Lauzon for assistance.


The AER is available for you to review electronically by visiting the following web site or using this direct link to our Learning Center’s Combined Report, or you may review a copy in the main office at your child’s school.


For the 2018-19 school year, schools were identified using definitions and labels as required in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) school is one that has at least one underperforming student subgroup. An Additional Targeted Support (ATS) school is one that has a student subgroup performing at the same level as the lowest 5% of all schools in the state. A Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) school is one whose performance is in the lowest 5% of all schools in the state or has a graduation rate at or below 67%. Some schools are not identified with any of these labels. In these cases, no label is given.  Our school has not been identified by one of these labels given that we are a center-based program for students with moderate to severe disabilities. 


Our students participate in Mi-Access, which is an alternate assessment that allows for our students to be tested using adapted materials categorized under three categories based on need – Functional Independence, Supported Independence, and Participation.  None of our students met the criteria for utilizing the Functional Independence option as this option is typically used for students in our local districts who require adaptations as well as accommodations to participate in assessment.   Since the 2017-2018 school year, we have increased our focus on schoolwide “Foundations of Communication” in a unified effort to increase student access to learning, socializing, and gaining independence as many of our students have limited to no verbal communication skills and require Alternative Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).  The primary focus of this initiative is the use of a low-tech core vocabulary board that is accessible to throughout the school, at home, and in the community.  We believe that all students have the right to communicate and have a strong desire for our school environment to provide multiple opportunities to do so with the supports they need.  We have realized many successes throughout this initiative, which remains the focus of our School Improvement Plan as communication is undoubtedly the foundation for learning and will remain our priority in supporting students toward the achievement that can help close persistent gaps in their growth and progress despite their disabilities.  It is important for us to recognize that data from the “Combined Report” is only a snapshot of the results from state standardized testing in academics and does not reflect the functional skills that are so important for our students who require extensive supervision and personal care.  The reality is that working with families to develop student goals that can be shared between school and home has been helpful in accelerating student growth and strengthening each student’s educational team.  Based on achievement data provided from Learning Center teachers, over 70% of our students made significant progress toward the goals established in their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).  


We want to continue to expand upon our methods for teaching academics while also increasing our focus on their functional applications.  Additionally, the Annual Education Report from the Michigan Department of Education indicates that our on-track attendance rate (students that miss fewer than 10% of the days possible) was 29% as compared to the state average, which was 79%.  This was the first year attendance was measured in this way, so it is difficult to compare the results to last year’s average daily attendance rate of 87.95%.  However, given the medical/physical needs of many of our students, it is understandable that our attendance rates by any measure might be low but, even so, there is room for improvement which is reflected in our updated attendance policy.  We are also committed to preventing the spread of illness amongst our fragile students who are most frequently absent by working hard to establish a consistent cleaning and sanitizing (including hands) protocol to help reduce absences and model healthy habits in our school environment that can also be practiced at home.  We also work together with families to establish individual student goals that support increased engagement at school to encourage the attendance of students who struggle with their school routine.


The Learning Center team believes that parent involvement is an essential part to student success.  We consider parents (or guardians) to be the most important contributors to our educational team. We solicit and appreciate the feedback provided from parents and take every comment into consideration for improving our program.  We make efforts to support parent involvement by engaging in some of the following activities: 

  • Regular Home-School Communication
  • Annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meetings
  • Parent/Student Handbook
  • Parent Support Activities
  • Parent Volunteer Activities
  • Parent/Teacher Conferences and Quarterly Progress Reports
  • Involvement in decision-making about each student’s educational needs
  • Participation in school functions or events which may include holiday programs, graduation, talent shows, dances, open houses, school carnivals, etc.

We additionally began implementing a weekend food program with the financial support of the Community Foundation of Delta County in cooperation with Feeding America.  An average of 55 students were able to take home enough food for three dinners, two lunches, two breakfasts, and snacks.  It is just one more way for us to connect with families and support student success. 

Status of School Improvement Plan

a.         Goal 1 – The Learning Center staff will share our mission and beliefs to support increased opportunities for disability acceptance and inclusion in our community.

  • We have been collaborating to seek out opportunities for our students to interact with typically developing peers.This has included weekly lunches and gym time for our transition students at the Escanaba High School and also sharing the Lemmer playground on occasion.We have also shared press releases that have resulted in the publication of positive news about our students in newspapers, social media, and television.This year, students from the Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), helped with a school dance in April.


    b.         Goal 2 – Within the next 3 years, the Learning Center will become an interactive, positive learning environment where all students have access to communication partners fluent in the use of CORE boards. 

  • CORE boards have been posted throughout our school in all areas – classrooms, hallways, bathrooms, gym, music room, buses, etc.All staff have also been given smaller versions of the CORE board to wear on a lanyard for easy access.Parents have been introduced to the CORE board during IEPs and are offered copies of the CORE board for home use.Project boxes addressing all subject areas have been created to promote practice in using the CORE board.Our communication/school leadership meets monthly to review progress and plan or continued implementation.We also collected pre/post surveys from staff and observed target students at three points during the year.Staff surveys showed an increase in staff comfortability with the use of the CORE board and student observations indicated steady progress toward communication goals using the CORE board within the classroom.We believe communication is the foundation of all the learning that takes place at the Learning Center, home, and in the community and are committed to continued professional development in this area.


Learning Center Philosophy Statement

It is the philosophy of the DSISD Learning Center that students have the right to, and can benefit from a free public education.  These students deserve to be treated, taught, and cared for with the same positive techniques, respect, dedication, creativity, and kindness that we would expect for ourselves.  We believe that these students share the same rights as others for the opportunity to develop, to succeed and fail, to take risks, to have social interaction, to develop meaningful relationships, and to make choices. 

Districts We Serve

  • Bark River-Harris
  • Big Bay de Noc
  • Escanaba
  • Gladstone
  • Manistique
  • Mid-Peninsula
  • Nah Tah Wahsh PSA
  • Rapid River


School Description

The Learning Center, which is part of the DSISD and housed in Escanaba, consists of 7 classrooms. The school building is rented from St. Anne’s Church, which is attached.  The Learning Center is staffed by 6 teachers and 24 instructional aides as well as support professionals.  Transportation is contracted with McKnight Transportation whose fleet includes 4 buses run by 4 drivers and 4 bus aides. 

The Learning Center program is designed to meet the educational needs of students 2.6 to 26 years of age, from Delta and Schoolcraft counties, who meet eligibility requirements and, need a placement other than that which is available in the traditional school setting.  Eligibility may be determined in the following areas under Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE):

  • Speech and Language Impaired (SLI)
  • Early Childhood Developmental Delay (ECDD)
  • Cognitive Impairment (CI)
  • Severely Multiply Impaired (SXI)
  • Physical Impairment (PI)
  • Other Health Impairment (OHI)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


Students with other disabilities or functional levels of impairment may be placed in this program if it is determined that their individual needs can best be met within the Learning Center’s program structure and through interaction with peers whose functional levels are similar.  This will be determined by the Individual Education Program Team (IEPT) after thorough consideration for the student’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). 

Program Services

  • Music Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • School Social Work
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consultation
  • Vision Consultation
  • Sign Language Interpreting
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Integrated Opportunities in Local Districts
  • Swimming at the YMCA


Educators at the Learning Center work with local districts and families to provide center-based programs and ancillary services to students as determined through the IEP and referral process. Ancillary services provided by the DSISD may include: Occupational and Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Vision and Hearing Services, School Social Work, and Psychology. The Learning Center does not enroll students independent of local involvement.

Core Curriculum

The Learning Center’s curriculum is based on the Common Core Standards, but also includes the use of Teachers Pay Teachers interactive lessons to complement Unique Learning Systems, Michigan Model, News-2-You, Reading A-Z, Starfall, and other programs designed to best meet the needs of our students with moderate to severe disabilities and complex communication needs. Utilizing a variety of tools allows us to match instruction to student need based on age, grade level and performance. We also access Functional Independence, Supported Independence, and Participation Curricula that have a primary focus on promoting independence for students. Areas of focus include:

  • Leisure and Productivity
  • Social Interactions
  • Communication
  • Personal Care, Health, and Safety
  • Mobility
  • Domestic Activities
  • Personal Work
  • Community
  • Group Situations
  • Unexpected Events/Potentially Harmful Situations
  • Time Management
  • Self-Determination
  • Functional Academics


The foundational goals for all students are socialization and independence.  For our preschool students, the goal is to transition the majority of students to their local district’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to attend Kindergarten or First Grade, while the adult transition program has a goal of preparing students for independent or supported living and employment. 

In 2017-2018, 5 preschool students were transitioned to their local school districts for Kindergarten; 3 additional primary/elementary students were also transitioned to their home elementary schools; and we celebrated with 5 graduates from our adult transition program. 

We are proud of the achievements of our Learning Center students and the compassion and dedication of our staff.  The Learning Center team works cooperatively to increase opportunities for our students, families, and the greater community and helps to create a network of support to address the individual needs of each of our exceptional students.   We strive for continuous improvement to better serve the wide range of student needs in our program and are grateful for the support of our school family in maintaining a nurturing school environment that allows for students to reach their fullest potential. 



Lacy Lauzon

Program Supervisor/Principal

DSISD Learning Center