Week in Review - September 19, 2008


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


Welcome to NASET's WEEK in REVIEW.  Here, we provide you the latest publications from NASET for you 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.</font><font face="Times New Roman"> Have a great weekend.

NASETNews Team



New This Week on NASET:  Parent Teacher Conference Handout & Classroom Management Series


Providing Your Child's Teacher with Useful Information at the Beginning of the School Year

As a teacher in special education, you will be faced every year with trying to learn as much about a student as possible to insure a smooth transition, more practical intervention strategies, and knowledge that may allow you to develop a closer relationship. A great deal of this information can be gained from parents especially if they are aware of what it is you need to know. This Parent Conference Handout will provide parents guidelines for providing useful information to you at the beginning of the new school year.

To access this new issue of the Parent Teacher Conference Handout - Click Here - (login required)


National Child Abuse and Neglect Glossary

The final issue of Series III of the Classroom Management Series provides glossary of commonly used words and terminology used nationwide for child abuse and neglect.   To access this new issue of the Classroom Management Series - Click Here -(login required)


In NYC, Department of Education Bus Cuts Hit Children with Special Needs Hardest

Logan King Bascom, a 6-year-old wheelchair-bound girl with autism from Manhattan, was assigned to the wrong school bus last week, and ended up lost. Jacob Hicks, a 6-year-old speech-impaired autistic boy from the Bronx, missed his speech therapy class because his bus made so many stops he arrived 45 minutes late. And Mahnoor Mujahid, a 5-year-old Queens girl who suffers from a degenerative neuromuscular disease, was left without any school bus at all.  The three are among scores of horror stories that have poured in since the Daily News first reported last week that bus cuts have hit special needs children hard.
"For budgetary reasons," said Maggie Moroff, director of special education for Advocates for Children, "routes have been consolidated. They are taking longer paths, and they are picking up at more than one school." To read more,
click here


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Becoming an Autism Educator

For the first time in my six-year teaching career, I am not completely freaked out by going back to school. I have, however, more than paid my dues to reach this stage of teacher emotional stability. In my first year of teaching, I freaked out not only in September, but pretty much every day (and well into every night) of the school year. At the time, I taught teenagers with learning disabilities in the South Bronx, including many emotionally disturbed students. I somehow managed to stick it out, and the next year, I met a Bronx teenager who would change my life and set me on my current career path. Jeremy has Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. As guilty as I feel admitting this as a teacher, there's no denying that Jeremy was my favorite student. He may always be. While other teachers seemed exasperated by Jeremy's autistic quirks, I got along with him easily. To read more, click here


Special Education Students Take Exit Exam for First Time

The 2007-08 California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) results released on Tuesday by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell, show that the estimated passing rates for all first-time test takers in the Berkeley Unified School District are lower than the state rate in math and slightly higher in English. All California public school students are required to pass both sections of the CAHSEE to graduate from high school and must take it for the first time in tenth-grade. Students who fail to pass the test as tenth graders can take the test twice in 11th grade and if they continue to be unsuccessful, then they get five more opportunities as seniors. Students who do not pass both the English language and math portions of the exit exam by the end of their senior year can continue to take the exam until they meet both requirements. 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


Nova Scotia Teen with Disability Did Not Understand Rights, CourtRules

The Supreme Court of Canada has restored a Nova Scotia youth's acquittal in a dangerous-driving case because he likely did not understand what he was doing when he waived his right to have counsel and remain silent. The 15-year-old defendant suffered from a learning disability, which had a crucial effect on his ability to understand, Mr. Justice Morris Fish said. In addition, Judge Fish noted that a police officer who read the teen his rights spoke in a rapid-fire monotone and did not engage in eye contact with the boy - factors that caused his trial judge to have "grave concerns" about whether the boy genuinely appreciated what he was being told. "Parliament has considered it right and necessary to afford young persons rights and procedural safeguards which they alone enjoy," Judge Fish wrote. To read more,click here


Doctors to Lead Research on Brain Injuries, PTSD

The Department of Defense has awarded the largest grant ever for study of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury to a nationwide network of research centers led by the UCSD School of Medicine. The $60 million in funding will allow doctors at the University of California San Diego and nine other research hospitals - collectively called the PTSD/TBI Clinical Consortium - to pursue novel treatments for the growing number of troops and civilians with either condition. To read more, click here


Bus Change for Special-Needs Students Worries Parents

Quietly lost during this year's furor over having children walk farther to bus stops is a major change in how Hillsborough transports students with disabilities. Thousands of students with special needs are now riding the bus with everyone else. Even parents who support greater mainstreaming are upset that school officials failed to notify them in advance. Hillsborough school officials say they are providing accommodations and meeting their obligations. The change for these vulnerable students has been overshadowed by the many parents unhappy about longer walks and the loss of after-school busing. But concerns for special-needs children go beyond speeding cars and sexual predators. Parents worry about their difficulty with communicating discomfort or self-destructive behavior if routines are thrown off. To read more,click here


D.C. Special Education Chief Takes Leave of Absence

The D.C. school system's deputy chancellor for special education, Phyllis Harris, has taken a leave of absence for unspecified reasons. Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, said personnel regulations prohibited her from discussing the nature of Harris's leave, which began Tuesday. She did deny a report, posted Wednesday on the blog The Washington Teacher, that Harris had been fired. Efforts to reach Harris at her office and home this week were unsuccessful. Her leave comes less than two weeks after a federal judge admonished the District for its lack of progress in serving children with learning disabilities and physical or behavioral challenges. To read more, click here


Parents: Special-Needs Students Physically Restrained Too Often

Claire Lester's behavior was a challenge. She yelled and repeated phrases from movies. When upset, the 12-year-old girl with autism sometimes shoved papers off her desk or waved her arms and kicked her legs toward approaching teachers.The staff at her Orange County public school responded to her behavior, her father said, by grabbing his 80-pound daughter, forcing her to the ground and then holding her there. This happened 44 times during the 2006-07 school year, according to school records the family shared with the Orlando Sentinel. She was held once for an hour and, on average, 22 minutes at a time, the records show. At least one incident in her class for children with autism left her back badly bruised, her father, Steve Lester, said. Lester of Winter Park is one of many parents who want Florida schools to curtail the practice of restraining students with disabilities.  To read more,click here


When Are Students Ready for Gifted Classes?

Many parents believe that their children are brilliant or gifted in one way or another. But does being an A student mean your child is ready for gifted classes? Meet McKenna Rowley. She's in second grade now, but she's been reading at a fourth-grade level since first grade. She's in the gifted and talented program at Fox Hills Elementary because regular classes weren't challenging enough. "It was really easy for me, the math. I was just like, 'Oh it's easy. I can just do it right now.' In this program they make it harder for you," she said. Her father, Russ, says they noticed signs that their other children also may have been gifted, but they never had them tested. They almost didn't have McKenna screened, either. To read more, click here

NASET Offering Members Two Million Dollar Educator Liability Insurance for Less Than $10.00 a Month

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,click here


U.S. Secretary of Education Unveils Indicators to Track Nation's Education Progress

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings this week unveiled five education indicators that will complement No Child Left Behind by providing a snapshot of national trends. These indicators-Achievement, Achievement Gap, High School Graduation, College Readiness, and College Completion-show educational performance over time to inform future debate on reform. In her address at the Aspen Institute National Education Summit at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., before approximately 300 education, business, civil rights and community leaders from across the U.S., Secretary Spellings discussed the state of the American education system and the future of the accountability movement in education. "Test scores are up and the achievement gap is narrowing," said Secretary Spellings. "According to the Nation's Report Card, since 2000, more kids are learning reading and math. In math, especially, we're making great progress. And the children once left behind are making some of the greatest gains. That includes low-income children, students with limited English proficiency, and students with disabilities." To read more, click here


Testing of Special Education Students Should Be Re-Examined

The predictable result came in last week from forcing students with disabilities to pass a high school exit exam in order to earn a diploma. Nearly half failed. Failed. A demoralizing word for some kids who struggle daily to perform tasks most teens carry out with ease. The psychological damage "is horrific," says Sid Wolinsky, director of litigation for Disability Rights Advocates, which fought unsuccessfully for alternative ways to measure the knowledge of special education students. "We had dozens of sworn declarations from parents about the deep depression that their disabled children went into when they didn't pass the exit exam," Wolinsky says. "When you're a child with a disability, you start with problems of stigma, societal stereotyping and self-confidence. "Then you're shattered when you can't pass the exit exam. You blame yourself and have terrible problems with self-worth."  To read more,click here


Teen Drivers with ADD a Problem on the Road

It was hard to miss the bright yellow Student Driver bumper sticker on the back of the car driven by Tosha Mulligan. Getting a driver's license is a rite of passage for many teenagers, but the process was a bit more challenging for 19-year-old Mulligan of Acworth, Georgia. She has attention deficit disorder. When she gets behind the wheel, she said, "Sometimes my mind wanders off." She's not alone. Researchers reported driving can be a serious problem for teens with ADD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Motor vehicle accidents already are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts such as Russell Barkley say ADD and ADHD compound the problem.  To read more,click here


Special Olympics Funding Gets Cut in Hawaii

An organization that helps kids with special needs faces a major financial setback Monday.  Special Olympics Hawaii's funding from the state Department of Education got cut last Thursday afternoon, leaving many special education programs in jeopardy. "To have us completely cut out without any knowledge whatsoever beforehand to testify, it was a shock to us," said Nancy Bottelo, president and CEO of Special Olympics Hawaii. Close to a $130,000 -- the entire Department of Education's Special Olympics budget -- has been eliminated.  To read more, click here


Vanderbilt Researchers Seek to Make Standardized Tests Accessible

Standardized testing is an inescapable part of modern education; however, these tests often fail to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities.  Vanderbilt University Learning Sciences Institute researchers Stephen N. Elliott, Peter A. Beddow and Ryan J. Kettler have developed a decision-making instrument called the Test Accessibility and Modification Inventory (TAMI) to address the issue of accessibility for students with special needs.  "This tool, the TAMI, should help all test developers systematically apply principles of universal design to advance the accessibility of tests for all students, not just students identified with disabilities. TAMI is helping test developers achieve their dual goals of better tests and better testing practices," Elliott, Dunn Family Professor of Education, director of the Learning Sciences Institute and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Educational Psychology, said. To read more,click here



Food for Thought........


Combine a tough mind and a tender heart.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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