Week in Review - Apr. 25, 2008


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. 


NASET News Team

Senate Approves Bill to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded the Senate for unanimously approving legislation last week to help treat Americans living with traumatic brain injury (TBI). "The costs associated with having a traumatic brain injury are high, and this legislation helps give people access to the therapies, interventions, community services and supports that are needed," Enzi said. "In Wyoming, single car accidents and resulting injuries including TBI are widespread. According to the CDC, Wyoming has the highest per capita rate of TBI and TBI-related deaths in the country. The Brain Injury Association of Wyoming estimates there may be as many as 15,000 people living with TBI in our state, not to mention another 648 people are hospitalized each year because of a traumatic brain injury.  Of those hospitalizations, 229 Wyomingites are left with a lifelong disability." Enzi co-sponsored the "Reauthorization of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act" (S. 793), which will establish a study through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the incidence and prevalence of traumatic brain injury, identify common therapeutic interventions, and develop rehabilitation guidelines.  To read more, click here


Young Girls Have Higher Rate of Consussions Than Males

Concussions occur when a violent blow to the head causes the brain to slide forcefully against the inner wall of the skull. They can range from mild to severe, but regardless, concussions all temporarily interfere with the way the brain works, affecting memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination. Many people do not even realize they have a concussion because most times, they don't lose consciousness after the initial impact.  Confusion and amnesia are the two most common symptoms of concussion. Amnesia almost always involves the loss of memory of the head injury that caused the concussion. Other symptoms can include headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea or vomiting and slurred speech. Within the first five years after a concussion, people are at twice the risk of developing epilepsy. Sports are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among 15 to 24 year-olds. Every year, about 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries occur -- most of them concussions.  To read more, click here


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Proposed Cuts Pose Greater Challenge

If a proposal by Mobile County schools Superintendent Roy Nichols is approved by the school board, the system's ratio of special-education students to teachers would increase from 16-1 to 20-1 next academic year, according to Shelia Martin, director of special-education for the Mobile County Public School System. Martin said the budget-reducing proposal to cut 86 special-education teachers and 107.5 special-education aides would change the way all teachers do their jobs. "It's always a challenge," Martin said. "This will be more of a challenge." For example, many special-education students, through a process known as inclusion, attend classes with regular students. The classroom teacher gives the lesson, and the special-education teacher or aide provides individualized help for the students who need it. Up to one-third of the class can be special-education students, Martin said. With the cuts, the special-education teachers and aides would have to rotate between classes, leaving the regular classroom teachers with more responsibility for the special-education students. To read more, click here


The Creative Energy Behind ADHD


While many viewers get emotional watching Ty Pennington deliver remodeled homes to deserving families on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," his mom, Yvonne Pennington, cries for different reasons. After being told years ago that her unruly son was the worst kid in his school, she says, "my tears come from the joy, at how far he has come." That's because Mr. Pennington has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some 7.8% of children ages 4 to 17 have been told by a doctor or other health professional that they have or might have ADHD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The behavior disorder, which often causes children to struggle mightily in school and in life, can be "impairing," says Mark Wolraich, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' clinical guidelines on diagnosing ADHD. To read more, click here

Department of Education Lowers Gifted Admission Standard


In a special session last week, the Panel for Education Policy unanimously approved a Department of Education measure that lowers the admissions cut-off for the city's Gifted and Talented programs. Under previous guidelines, students who tested at or above the 95th percentile on gifted tests would qualify. That cut-off was put in place for this year's testing, which ended in February. It was the first year a single standard had been imposed on schools citywide. Under the new rules, students who test at or above the 90th percentile will now be accepted into the program. The change applies to tests taken earlier this year, for fall entry.  Andrew Jacob, a spokesman for the DOE, said the change was made mostly because there was room for more students in the program than had been estimated previously. "It's difficult to predict what the final number of students who qualified would be," he said.  To read more, click here


Peanut Butter and Deadly Taunts:  A Combination of Bullying and Peanut Allergies Put Some Kids in the ER


Late last spring, 14-year-old Sarah VanEssendelft of Mastic, N.Y., experienced bullying worthy of a teen movie. "There was a group of five girls ... and they decided they didn't want me sitting at their lunch table anymore," said VanEssendelft. To get her to leave, they all brought in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For VanEssendelft, it might as well have been arsenic. Two weeks later, a boy in the back of her class opened up a peanut butter cup. The smell was enough to trigger VanEssendelft's peanut allergy and send her to the emergency room with breathing problems. "My throat felt tight and my lips were getting really swollen, really fast," said VanEssendelft. "I looked like Angelina Jolie." On the one hand, mean tricks or sneaking candy looks like mild behavioral problems to school administrators. On the other hand, given VanEssendelft's serious peanut allergy, those sandwiches might very well have been weapons. To read more, click here

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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</font


One in Four Students in Salem Classified in Special Education

One in four students in Salem, MA is in special education, in part because of a system that mislabeled students for years, according to the director.  That number is 9 percent higher than the state average, according to Karen Malio, director of pupil personnel services. She told School Committee members this week that the special education department used to operate by placing struggling children in special education services, when they really could have used other help, such as reading and math programs or remedial support.  "Parents have said to me, 'I was told my child cannot be educated in the Salem schools,'" she told the committee during a budget presentation. "... Absolutely it was a practice, and many of the principals could attest to that." To read more, click here


In Great Britain, Special Needs Students 'Missing Out'

Schools are leaving children with special needs under the supervision of classroom assistants instead of fully qualified teachers, research has suggested. Teachers warned that vulnerable primary school pupils could be missing out on the quality tuition they need. The finding came in a study as part of the Primary Review, the biggest inquiry into primary education in England for 40 years. The report, by Hilary Burgess, from the Open University, examined the impact of Government reforms to school staffing. Changes designed to cut teachers' workload have seen soaring numbers of teaching assistants employed to help out in schools. To read more, click here


Technology Puts More Students in the Mainstream

The children in Dana Romanczyk's classroom at the William Carter School in Boston have severe special needs. They are unable to speak and are in wheelchairs. Yet they can activate a blender in cooking class or tell a teacher they have papers to take home with the help of technology.  At Watertown's Hosmer School, a fifth-grade boy who has reading difficulties works with occupational therapist Beth Lloyd and can participate in his classmates' project on explorers, thanks to a computer program that reads to him. The schools are part of a movement in education to integrate technology into mainstream curriculum and general classrooms so students with disabilities such as mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, blindness, and dyslexia can join their peers.  Bringing assistive technology into the mainstream curriculum and classroom, a process known as universal design, makes education accessible for all children, allows children with special needs to feel included in a school's social life, provides for a more equitable education, and better prepares them for life outside school, supporters say. To read more click here 


Catching Problems Early, Schools Try to Avoid Special Education

When her son Dylan was just 6 years old, Kristen Wahlmeier noticed that he had to be bribed to read: A surfing trip here or a pair of new shoes there before he'd pick up a book.  Worried as she watched him struggle, a gnawing fear crept into her stomach: Her only son, with big blue eyes and the jones for Star Wars, might be headed for a special education classroom. Instead, teachers at his suburban Portland school intervened immediately, putting him into extra reading and vocabulary tutoring every day before school. It paid off. Now, officials in districts across the country are rapidly adopting similar early intervention programs, hoping that steering a child away from expensive special education classes later will pay off for them, too, in cost savings.  The adoption of these programs comes at a time when districts have been trying to also cut down "overidentification" - too many poor and minority kids being shunted off to special education who don't need to be there. Not everyone is so pleased about the early help, known as "response to intervention" or RTI.  To read more, click here


Food for Thought........

You teach a little by what you say. You teach the most by what you.                                                                           

Dr. Henrietta Mears


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