LEWISTON — Lewiston’s special education program has made strides in improving its literacy program, but more work is left to be done to bring the district to where it should be.

That was the overall message detailed in a 2021 report from American Educational Consultants, which noted that Lewiston’s special education program needed to improve its literacy program, citing data from the 2018-19 school year. The report also encouraged the district to offer more training for writing and implementing individual education plans, as well as improving communication with families, among other items.

Consultants also identified several strengths of Lewiston’s special education program, including the staff’s strong commitment to improvement and their concern for students. The built-in time for professional development and on-time reevaluations were also cited.

A little over 1,100 of Lewiston’s more than 5,000 students and approximately 350 staff members are affiliated with the district’s special education program.

American Educational Consultants previously conducted audits at the district’s request in 2011 and 2020. In the 2020 audit, American Education Consultants found that the Lewiston school district was spending too much money on its special education program. Consultants recommended that the district reduce the number of ed-techs and its reliance on outplacement programs and contracted services to save money.

The 2021 audit is a follow-up to the 2020 audit. Consultants were previously unable to visit the district in person due to COVID-19 related  travel concerns, Special Education Director Kirsten Crafts said.


Crafts was previously an assistant principal at Lewiston High School before stepping into the director of special education position in early October. In her 17 years with the district, she has taught in general and special education classrooms and was a member of a committee for the 2020 audit.

“I’m 100% committed to improving teaching and learning for special education students in the district,” Crafts said in a conversation Tuesday. “I’m hoping I can take my past experiences that have led me up to here, being a teacher and an administrator in a building to use those experience to improve special ed, and that’s for teachers, ed-techs, and students.”

She said she aims to build trust and increase transparency with families to make the special education program a positive experience.

She explained that the district has already taken steps to address several areas identified for improvement, particularly literacy, but the report’s findings have reinforced their focus.

“I truly believe that even last year, the district was on that right path,” she said.

According to the report, in the 2018-19 school year, 89% and 94% of students with disabilities tested below or well below expectations in English language arts and math, respectively, in comparison to 41% and 53% of students districtwide. Consultants suggested that the district create an early literacy action team.


A second theme for improvement was addressing inconsistencies in student IEPs. Consultant’s analyzed 130 of the district’s IEP plans using a rubric and compared their findings with 61 IEPs analyzed by Lewiston staff. Both groups had similar findings.

“Generally, we found that the quality of the IEPs do not reflect the care and hard work of administrators, supervisors, teachers, and educational technicians,” the report reads. “The IEPs can be difficult to read and do not present a flow of information necessary for a depth of understanding critical to parents, teachers and service providers.”

The report added that required information, including signatures, objectives and progress monitoring indicators, were missing.

To address this issue, Crafts said the assistant director of special education, Anna Mathieu, will focus on providing professional training for staff to improve IEP writing and consistency. She added that the special education team is considering creating a strategic multi-year plan to define the objectives of the special education program.

The report further prompted the district to implement “significant systematic improvements” to the program’s education model, starting in general education classrooms. It encouraged staff to create a consistent standard for special education instruction in the least restrictive environment.

Correction: A previous version of this article misattributed the findings of the 2021 audit by American Educational Association to their 2020 audit.

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