Week in Review - August 29, 2008

WEEK in REVIEW

Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with some of the most interesting issues that have happened this week in the field of special education.  We hope you enjoy this publication.  Feel free to send us articles for this publication or let us know your thoughts about the WEEK in REVIEW at news@naset.org. Have a great weekend. 

Sincerely,

NASET News Team

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Special Needs Scholarship Bill Pending in Ohio Legislature

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's (D) veto of a special-needs scholarship bill last year isn't stopping supporters from making another attempt to provide scholarships for disabled students to attend the school of their choice. A bill currently working its way through the Ohio General Assembly, SB 57, would create a Special Education Scholarship Pilot Program providing a maximum $20,000 scholarship for special-needs children in kindergarten through 12th grade between 2010 and 2015. Recipients could attend a public or private program of their parents' choice. The bill limits the number of scholarship recipients to 3 percent of the total number of special-education students living in Ohio during the previous fiscal year. To read more, click here

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Special Education Teacher Has Seen Sweeping Changes

Florence Palermo's 36-year career in special education tightly traces the sweeping changes the field has undergone - and the adaptations teachers have needed to make. "The first year I was at the Jefferson School in Pittston, that was a self-contained building for what was then called trainable students, which we would now call life skills," Palermo said. That was 1973, two years before the landmark federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While some today would criticize collecting special needs students into one building as "warehousing," Palermo remembers it as a "wonderful facility" and "a fantastic school" that parents "loved a lot."Before IDEA, separate special education schools were common. But a fundamental principle of the federal law is that students should learn in the "least restrictive environment." Jefferson was closed, Palermo said, even though many parents wanted it to remain open, so in 1979 she became a learning support teacher at a Pittston Area elementary school. To read more, click here

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Minnesota Officials To Examine Autism in Somali Immigrant Children

Minnesota health officials are examining a "possible surge" in autism cases among Somali immigrant children in the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. In Minneapolis, 3.6% of Somali immigrant students were in autism-related programs as of July, about twice the district average. In 2007, Somali children made up 6% of the city's school population and 14 of the 81 children, or 17%, in early childhood education autism programs in Minneapolis. The "numbers have been creeping up for several years, especially among young children," the Star Tribune reports. Anne Harrington, a special education coordinator in the Minneapolis schools, said the number of Somali children in the city's autism programs jumped from zero in 1999 to 43 in 2007. The number of Somali-speaking children in the Minneapolis school district increased from 1,773 to 2,029 during the same period, data show. To read more, click here

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In Kenya, Call To Give Students Separate Exams

The Kenya National Association of Parents wants students with special needs to sit different examinations from other students. Secretary-General Musau Ndunda said that last year 3,750 students with special needs sat  the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE),  but only five per cent of them attained the 250 points pass mark. Mr Ndunda attributed the poor performance to those with special needs being treated as normal students."The current system is locking them out of education, which is every child's right," said Mr Ndunda. To read more, click here

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Fewer Michigan Schools Meet Federal Goals

Fewer Michigan schools met the federal academic targets required under the No Child Left Behind Act during the 2007-08 school year, according to state report cards released Monday. According to the Michigan Department of Education, 8 out of 10 public schools met federal academic targets this past school year. The goals, called Adequate Yearly Progress, are required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The number of schools meeting their goals dropped from 3,153 in the 2006-07 school year to 3,003 in 2007-08, the state said. But officials from several districts criticized the rating system, in which even high-performing schools can fail to make AYP if just a small number of their students fail the tests. To read more, click here

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Pre-School Age Exercises May Prevent Dyslexia, New Research Shows

Atypical characteristics of children's linguistic development are early signs of the risk of developing reading and writing disabilities, or dyslexia. New research points to preventive exercises as an effective means to tackle the challenges children face when learning to read. The results achieved at the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research were presented at the Academy of Finland's science breakfast on 21 August. Headed by Professor Heikki Lyytinen at the University of Jyväskylä, the research has dug deep into how to predict and prevent difficulties in learning to read and write. The study involved a comparison between 107 children whose either parent is dyslexic and a control group of children without a hereditary predisposition to dyslexia. The researchers followed intensively the development of the predisposed children, from their birth through to school age. To read more, click here

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Teaching Gifted And Talented Students

Over the last number of years, we have seen an increased focus on inclusive education. The report, authored by Wayne MacKay in January 2006 titled "Inclusive Education: A Review of Programming and Services in New Brunswick", looked at many of the issues in the province. In it, MacKay reports from stakeholder interviews that the concept of providing an opportunity for each student to reach their potential was very important. MacKay continues, "In particular, gifted children, or students with enhanced intellect, were mentioned in several sessions as being a group of children whose potential is not widely maximized by the curricula and practices in New Brunswick schools." In an era when our society will need all of its citizens to be able to function at full capacity, the importance of first recognizing the need and then appropriately teaching to our gifted and talented students is more imperative than ever. To read more, click here

Board Certification in Special Education - Available to NASET Members

Through an agreement with The American Academy of Special Education Professionals (AASEP), NASET members now have the opportunity to achieve AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) at a reduced fee.  AASEP Board Certification in Special Education - (B.C.S.E.) is a voluntary choice on the part of the candidate. The candidate for Board Certification wishes to demonstrate a commitment to excellence to employers, peers, administrators, other professionals, and parents. From the standpoint of the Academy, board certification will demonstrate the highest professional competency in the area of special education. Board Certification in Special Education establishes a much needed standard for professionals, across disciplines, who work with exceptional children.   For more information on Board Certification in Special Education, click here

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Olympic Drug Line Is Blurred

American Michael Phelps's medal haul in the swimming pool at the Beijing Olympics is a remarkable accomplishment, exemplifying the Olympic goal of stretching the human envelope to include greater speeds, heights, and strength. His childhood diagnosis with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder makes his eight gold medals - besting Mark Spitz's seven-gold performance in Munich in 1972 - all the more astonishing. Or does it?

Treatment of Phelps's ADHD included performance-enhancing drugs that are normally banned from use by Olympic athletes. He and other athletes with various medical conditions receive special dispensation to ensure they are not disqualified by the use of necessary medication. But it must raise an ethical dilemma for those who are truly concerned about "drug-free" Olympics. To read more, click here

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Disparities in Youth Services

The achievement gap between minority youth and white students has long been recognized in education, inspiring the worthy aims and misdirected requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. But the gap isn't limited to school achievement - it appears in dozens of measures related to young people, including rates of incarceration and delivery of mental health services. Recognizing that imbalance, the General Assembly in 2007 called for a report addressing the disparities. After months of study, the Indiana Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services has released a set of recommendations. To read more, click here

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Shire Recalls ADHD Patches

Shire has announced a voluntary recall of two lots of its Daytrana medicine. The company said lots 2819811 and 2764211 of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication are being recalled because the patches in those batches did not meet their release liner removal specification. As a result, Shire stated that any patients using the affected patches may experience difficulty in removing them. However, the firm stressed that the voluntary recall is not related to any product safety issues. It added that all Daytrana patches can continue to be used - including those contained in the specified lots - unless the release liner cannot be removed or the patches are damaged upon opening. To read more, click here

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Henry Winkler Shares Experiences With Learning Disabilities

"School is cool" was one of the messages The Fonz spread on the 1974-85 TV show Happy Days. The actor who portrayed The Fonz is continuing that message and making sure those students with learning disabilities get the most out of school as well. Henry Winkler - also a well-known director, producer and now an author of books for young people - was at the Caboto Club for two sessions last Thursday. He spoke to a group of 500 educators at the Greater Essex County District School Board's "Vision to Practice" summer conference and in front of over 1,100 people at a function for the Learning Disabilities Association of Windsor and Essex County. To read more, click here

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Possible Cure For Dyslexia?

By the time Tianna Bailey reached the first grade, she already had problems related to academics."Bad grades, and I remember being able to read but not understand or even remember what I read," Tianna says. But it was years later before Tianna was diagnosed with dyslexia. Even now, after years of school and special tutoring, reading still doesn't come easy for her."I practice a lot with reading, just reading different things and understanding," Tianna says.Using MRI's, researchers have been able to pinpoint the defects in the brain responsible for dyslexia. Now, a new Carnegie Mellon study finds that with intense remediation, those defects will disappear. To read more, click here

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Food for Thought........

An investment in knowledge pays the best return.

                                                 Benjamin Franklin

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