Week in Review - April 9, 2010

WEEK in REVIEW

New NASET Publications and Articles of Interest in Special Education That Were Reported This Week

Dear NASET Members:

Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you with the latest publications from NASET to read and download, as well as 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

New This Week on NASET

The Practical Teacher

The Good Behavior Game

The Good Behavior Game is an effective strategy for managing a classroom-but don't overdo it! Allow breaks from the Game during the school day. A caution should be kept in mind when involving your students in the Good Behavior Game: Generally, the Game should be scheduled for a maximum of 1-2 hours per day in any classroom. After all, students will need some time to relax, socialize, and "be kids." Of course, minimum standards of acceptable classroom conduct remain in place whether the Game is in effect or not.
 
The Good Behavior Game is an approach to the management of classrooms behaviors that
rewards children for displaying appropriate on-task behaviors during instructional times. The class is divided into two teams and a point is given to a team for any inappropriate behavior displayed by one of its members. The team with the fewest number of points at the Game's conclusion each day wins a group reward. If both teams keep their points below a preset level, then both teams share in the reward. The program was first tested in 1969; several research articles have confirmed that the Game is an effective means of increasing the rate of on-task behaviors while reducing disruptions in the classroom (Barrish, Saunders, & Wolf, 1969; Harris & Sherman, 1973; Medland & Stachnik, 1972).
 
The process of introducing the Good Behavior Game into a classroom is a relatively simple procedure. The focus of this issue of The Practical Teacher is to present and explain the five steps involved in putting the Good Behavior Game into practice.
 
 
To read or download this issue - Click Here
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Parent Teacher Conference Handouts

How Your Child May Be Evaluated Without the Use of Tests

Schools use a variety of ways to determine the different academic, social, intellectual, behavioral, and emotional levels of children in school to help resolve issues that may be interfering in their ability to learn. Some of these measures you may be aware of which are called standardized or norm referenced  tests like the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, California Tests of Basic Skills, Stanford Achievement Test, Metropolitan Achievement Test. These tests may be given to your child once or twice a year and the results are given in what we call percentiles.
 
If you imagine a line of 99 children with the first child having the lowest score and the 99th child having the highest score on a test, you would want to know where your child would be on that line. Percentiles go from 1-99 and should not be confused with percent which goes from 0-100. When we talk about percentiles, a percentile of 50 would place your child tight in the middle of that line of 99 children. You would then be able to say that 49 children did better and 49 children did worse that your child.  If your child scored at the 75th percentile where would he be on that line of 99 children? You would be able to say that 24 children did better but he did better than 74 of the children on that line.Therefore When you see scores in the paper which report a school's scores as a percentage -- "the Lincoln school ranked at the 49th percentile" -- or when you see your child's score reported that way -- "Jamal scored at the 63rd percentile" -- the test is usually a norm referenced standardized test.
 
Within the past few years there has been a great deal of criticism on schools that only use standardized norm referenced tests to measure children's abilities. Many experts are concerned because these tests do not measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. As a result schools now use a combination of these standardized tests and other what we call non-standardized forms of assessment to find out a child's strengths and weaknesses in order to resolve issues that may be a problem.  This Parent Teacher Conference Handout will explain many of these evaluation tools used by schools.
 
To read or download this issue - Click Here

Quick Links To NASET

Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs, Study Finds

Only dopes use dope," goes the memorable warning about drugs. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher cautions that the same goes for cigarettes. A study led by Prof. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychiatry and the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. Tracking 18- to 21-year-old men enlisted in the Israeli army in the largest ever study of its kind, he has been able to demonstrate an important connection between the number of cigarettes young males smoke and their IQ. The average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers' average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, the study determined. The IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. An IQ score in a healthy population of such young men, with no mental disorders, falls within the range of 84 to 116. To read more, click here

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New Program Addresses Special Education Routing

A new program in several Wichita Falls schools is rescuing students from being enrolled in special-education classes when they don't need to be there. The program, called Response to Intervention, is addressing a longtime problem in Wichita Falls schools of students being mislabeled and mis-assigned to special-education classes when all they really need is more focused help in their problem areas. The typical situation: A teacher struggles to teach a child in her classroom who is quickly falling so far behind that he can no longer keep up with his class. Unclear about what to do and burdened with the daily responsibility of teaching the other 20 children in her classroom, she recommends him for assignment to a special-education class. That effectively turns his education over to someone else and lets her continue with the remaining 20 students in her classroom. To read more, click here

DID YOU KNOW THAT......

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2008), in the general education school population males and females are enrolled in equal proportion, but in special education approximately 2/3 of the students are male and 1/3 are female.

Special Education Teachers in Florida Decry Salary Legislation

Teachers and others employed in Pasco schools are taking their frustrations with proposed legislation to the streets and to their legislators' offices. Teachers are upset with a bill in the Legislature that would, among other things, put all teachers on a one-year contract and have them judged on how their students do on a standardized test. Last week, just as school was ending, and as students biked and walked home, teachers at Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel prepared their signs of protest. They're worried about legislation being proposed in Tallahassee that may change the way they teach, the way their performance is reviewed and how they're paid. The signs and shouts of protest are against Senate Bill 6. Teacher Stephanie Sheridan is concerned about the part of the bill that would tie teacher salaries to student performance on standardized tests. To read more, click here

NBA Ties Up With Autism Speaks to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

The NBA is reported to have conglomerated with international organization Autism Speaks in recognition that April is National Autism Awareness Month. The month will witness the league and its teams raising fan awareness related to autism with the help of a variety of events. In a bid to spread awareness for autism and to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, various prominent buildings in cities across North America are revealed to be lit blue as part of Autism Speaks "Light It Up Blue" campaign. To read more, click here

NASET Member Benefit - Group Savings Plus from Liberty Mutual 

Liberty Mutual Savings

As a member of NASET you qualify for a special group discount* on your auto, home, and renter's insurance through Group Savings PlusĀ® from Liberty Mutual. This unique program allows you to purchase high-quality auto, home and renters insurance at low group rates.
See for yourself how much money you could save with Liberty Mutual compared to your current insurance provider. For a free, no-obligation quote, call 800-524-9400 or visit www.libertymutual.com/naset, or visit your local sales office.
Group discounts, other discounts, and credits are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state.  Certain discounts apply to specific coverage only.  To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify.  Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA.

Meta-Cognitive Therapy More Effective for Adult ADHD Patients

Mount Sinai researchers have learned that meta-cognitive therapy (MCT), a method of skills teaching by use of cognitive-behavioral principles, yielded significantly greater improvements in symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults than those that participate in supportive therapy. The study is now published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Mary Solanto, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center examined the effectiveness of a 12-week meta-cognitive therapy group. The intervention was intended to enhance time management, organizational, and planning skills/abilities in adults with ADHD. To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator's Liability Insurance

Every day, special educators are faced with the stresses and potential liability issues involved in dealing with children with special needs. As a result you may be vulnerable to lawsuits, which have been on the rise over the last few years, from parents, or students themselves. In the past decade, the number of suits filed against educators and administrators has risen dramatically, causing the cost of insurance to increase as well. While some special educators may feel that they do not need this type of coverage and they are protected by their district, they should think twice. Even if you are 100% innocent of the charges or accusations, legal costs alone could run into the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. In special education today, parents - and students - are more aware of their rights, and the laws that govern special education and hold teachers/educators to high standards. Don't try to convince yourself that the expense of your professional and public liability protection is unnecessary or unjustified. Experience shows that the cost of such coverage is by far lower than the risk a teacher takes by not having such protection. Why take a chance for less than $10.00 a month? To learn more about educator liability insurance available through NASET and our partnership with the Association of American Educators (AAE), click here

Indiana Schools Asks for Clarity on Teaching License Guidelines

Dozens of teachers are worried, and South Bend Community School Corp. officials say they still are puzzled. At issue is whether up to 300 teachers are in jobs that correctly fit their Indiana teaching licenses. In the end, local officials say it may mean a big reshuffling of teachers. It could have a ripple effect on teachers who are in sync with their licenses but who are bumped to make room for teachers with more seniority. South Bend officials say nothing is certain until they get clear answers from the Indiana Department of Education. "It's a very frustrating experience," said Superintendent James Kapsa, adding that his staff has gotten conflicting answers from DOE staff. "We have every intent of following the guidelines." "Our message has been the same all along," responded Pat Mapes, the Indiana DOE's director of licensing. The dilemma affects some - though not all - teachers of special education and English as a new language, along with some seventh- and eighth-grade teachers. To read more, click here

DID YOU KNOW THAT......

Approximately 6.4 percent of the school population in the United States is identified as gifted and talented, with females slightly outnumbering males.

Michigan Teachers Say They Lack Training in Autism Education

A Michigan State University study finds many special education teachers don't feel well-equipped to teach children with autism. Preliminary findings from the MSU study show some special education teachers don't feel confident in their skills, and many say they don't have high expectations for their students. Sharif Shakrani was the lead investigator in the autism study. "It is a very wide spectrum and that is one of the problems. It varies from a very severe disability, compared to a very mild one -- Aspberger disability - so the types of services will vary accordingly," he says. To read more, click here

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Power of Plants Harnessed to Fight Hemophilia

Hemophilia, a disease linked with legends of European monarchs, frail heirs and one flamboyant charlatan called Rasputin, still afflicts many people today. And the very treatments that can help can also put patients' lives at risk. The standard treatment is infusion with an expensively produced protein that helps the blood to clot. But in some patients the immune system fights the therapy, and in a subset of those, it sets off an allergic reaction that can result in death. Now researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida have devised a way that potentially could help patients develop tolerance to the therapeutic protein before they are in need of treatment. To read more, click here

Early Education a Smart Investment

The Beaufort County School District of South Carolina serves high-risk preschool children. Abundant, solid research indicates that effective pre-kindergarten programs reduce costly grade retention and special education services, while decreasing dropout rates, crime and delinquency. Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman concluded that money spent educating children before their fifth birthday produces substantially more benefits than money spent on adult job training, high school or college. High-quality preschool education produces students with improved reading and math skills, and positive social/emotional skills. The district serves 4-year-olds deemed "at -risk" by state criteria, as well as 3-year-olds with special needs, both funded by federal grants. Early Head Start and Head Start share space in some schools in a collaboration model. To read more, click here

Puppy Watches Over Children with Autism

It was the dog trainer's honesty that won Lisa McMillan over. When McMillan asked the trainer whether she was able to train a dog to assist with her autistic twin boys, the dog trainer said, "I don't know anything about autism." The mother did. And Kelli Collins knew how to train dogs. Together, they would train and raise a puppy to be a companion to the then-3-year-olds, Eric and James. Collins would work with the puppy, Caleb, on learning the boys' scent so he could find them when they bolted. He soon would learn to comfort them, almost instinctively, when they needed a friend. To read more, click here

DID YOU KNOW THAT......

In the United States, almost half (44%) of first-year special education teachers are not fully certified

Jobless Rate for People with Disabilities Sees Little Change

The employment picture remained largely steady for people with disabilities in March even as the economy as a whole posted big job gains bolstered by temporary work. The unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 13.9 in March, compared to 13.8 percent the previous month. Meanwhile, the number of people with disabilities considered "in the labor force" - or those who are employed or are seeking work - grew. Overall, the economy gained 162,000 jobs in March, but many of those employment opportunities are temporary with the Census alone hiring 48,000 new temporary workers. Further, the job boost did little to alter the unemployment picture even among the general population, with unemployment dropping to 10.1 percent from 10.3 percent in February. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted. To read more, click here

Advances Reported in Quest for Drugs Targeting Childhood Cancer

Investigators believe they have identified the founding member of a chemical family they hope will lead to a new class of cancer drugs, the first designed specifically against a childhood tumor, according to research led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists. The chemical is the first small-molecule inhibitor to target the MDMX protein. Excess MDMX is a hallmark of the childhood eye tumor retinoblastoma as well as certain cases of breast, lung, prostate and other cancers. Nationally about 300 new cases of retinoblastoma are identified each year. The discovery was reported online in advance of the April 2 print edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. An overabundance of MDMX or its sister protein, MDM2, can promote tumor progression by binding and suppressing a protein called p53. The role of p53 in normal cells is to induce death in cells that begin the unchecked cell division that is a hallmark of cancer. To read more, click here

DID YOU KNOW THAT.....

Females consitute 85% of special education teachers in the United States

Kansas Legislature Pares State Aid for Students with Sp[ecial Needs

After cutting more than $33 million this year from Johnson County's three big school districts, Kansas lawmakers snipped an additional $6.5 million last week. Lawmakers said school districts and legislators from outside Johnson County were unhappy with the amount of catastrophic special education funding the three districts qualified for this year. Sixteen years ago, lawmakers created a fund known as "catastrophic aid" to help local districts pay for special education students whose schooling was expensive - more than $25,000 per pupil. Last year, Shawnee Mission began calculating special education costs differently, adding costs for services such as busing and classroom instruction, even though those expenses are covered by other funds.  To read more, click here

Next Decade Offers Promise for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

Although new developments in the management of spinal cord injuries (SCI) are on the horizon, any eventual cure for the condition is more likely to involve a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from expertise in several fields, according to a review article published in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) According to Ranjan Gupta, MD, chair of the department of orthopaedic surgery and professor of orthopaedic surgery, anatomy and neurobiology, and biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine, newer therapeutic approaches including stem cell therapy and novel drug formulations, hold special promise for management of SCI patients. To read more, click here

Progesterone Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Study Underway

Patients who arrive at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with traumatic brain injuries may end up as a part of a widespread study to determine whether or not progesterone injections help to mitigate some of the effects of the injury. Progesterone has been found to correlate with less-severe long-term damage after a brain injury, and this study aims to gather conclusive evidence to that effect. After a brain injury, doctors are faced with very few treatment options to stop the brain from swelling and leading to more damage. The military has taken notice and pledged millions of dollars of funding toward brain injury research since so many troops have returned home with brain injuries. The increase in money and attention has allowed the study of progesterone, among others, to be conducted on a massive scale. To read more, click here

DID YOU KNOW THAT......

Approximately 1/3 of all paraprofessionals working in the field of special education are fluent or almost fluent in languages other than English

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RTI Goes Mainstream

In more districts than ever, Response-to-Intervention programs are gaining ground, nipping learning problems in the bud and keeping more students out of unnecessary special education classes, which, of course, is the goal. According to the Response to Intervention Adoption Survey 2009, which was conducted by Spectrum K12 School Solutions with the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Administrators of Special Education, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, 71 percent of respondents indicated their districts are piloting RTI , or are using RTI , or are in the process of districtwide implementation, compared to 60 percent in 2008 and 44 percent in 2007. RTI , a multi-tier intervention used to diagnose and address potential learning or behavioral problems early, is also increasing in popularity across all grade levels. To read more, click here

United Spinal Association to Host Disability Leadership and Policy Summit

United Spinal Association will host its inaugural Disability Leadership and Policy Summit on April 15th in Philadelphia, commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law on July 26, 1990 and prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law was amended in 2008 to offer more protection to disabled workers. During the summit, United Spinal will honor Senator Arlen Specter, Dick and Ginny Thornburgh, and Liberty Resources, Inc. with this year's 2010 Visionary Award, for their leadership, extraordinary service, and outstanding commitment to advancing the lives of people with disabilities. To read more, click here

Review Of Low Wages For People With Disabilities Prompts Concern

As a senator weighs congressional hearings on a law allowing workers with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage, employers are worried that a change could force them to downsize. Organizations like Goodwill often pay those with disabilities far less than minimum wage, which is allowed under federal law if employers obtain a government certificate. The law is intended to account for the slower pace with which some people with disabilities might perform a job function. Workers in these situations are paid according to their productivity. However, questions about the practice surfaced last year when it was discovered that employees with intellectual disabilities were being paid just $65 a month to work at an Iowa meat processing facility where they were housed in questionable conditions. Now, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, wants Congress to take a hard look at the the law and its application to ensure that people with disabilities aren't being taken advantage of. To read more, click here

Food for Thought.......

A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.

                 Anonymous

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