Week in Review - December 10, 2010

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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.

NASET News Team

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New This Week on NASET

The Practical Teacher

 A Reading Strategy for Content-Area Teachers
Parallel Reading Intervention 
Difficulty in learning to read has prolonged consequences.  Students with poor reading skills are locked into underachievement patterns that persist and become greater each year.  In middle school and high school, poor reading skills are barriers to academic success.  The resulting embarrassment and repeated failure take an emotional toll. Students feel alienated and demoralized and are at risk of failing and dropping out of school. Even when students remain in school, poor reading skills take a toll on students and their teachers.

Reading researcher and " Adolescent Struggling Readers: Removing the Barriers to Success" author Matthew Glavach, Ph.D., found that when struggling readers' focus is on multisyllable words there are many advantages, even when the words are above their tested reading levels. He published a study on his high school struggling readers which showed that when focusing on multisyllable words organized by suffixes and consistent endings, words such as information, education, communication, and cooperation, struggling readers made exceptional reading progress and most succeeded in content-area classes (science, history, biology, and English) because the words were from their textbooks and taught in a brain efficient way.

This issue of NASET's Practical Teacher reviews the author's reading strategy, which he calls parallel reading intervention, and gives examples and research support.  Content-area teachers use the strategy based on words derived from their own content-area textbooks. United States History teachers can use the words presented in the article and add words from their own textbooks.  
To read or download this issue - Click here    

Parent Teacher Conference Handouts

Diagnostic Symptoms of Dysorthographia - (Spelling Disorders)

Many parents may not understand the specific symptoms in reading, math, spelling or writing that may signify a serious learning disability. This Parent Teacher Conference Handout provides parents with the symptoms that may reflect a serious learning disability in the area of spelling. 

To read or download this issue - Click here 

Classroom Management Series

Research Based Strategies for the Classroom
Part #9 - Providing Feedback

Providing the right kind of feedback to students can make a significant difference in their achievement. There are two key considerations. First, feedback that improves learning is responsive to specific aspects of student work, such as test or homework answers, and provides specific and related suggestions. There needs to be a strong link between the teacher comment and the student's answer, and it must be instructive. This kind of feedback extends the opportunity to teach by alleviating misunderstanding and reinforcing learning. Second, the feedback must be timely. If students receive feedback no more than a day after a test or homework assignment has been turned in, it will increase the window of opportunity for learning. Feedback is a research-based strategy that teachers, and students, can practice to improve their success.

To read or download this issue - Click here    

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U.S. News and World Reports 50 Best Careers in 2011: Special Education Teacher

Whether teaching a class of special-education students or working with individual students in a general-education classroom, as a special-education teacher, it's your job to ensure that these students learn despite their disabilities. You may spend your day using sign language to teach deaf students, or working with students who were born with mental retardation. Or maybe you'll work with students who have learning disabilities, ensuring that they receive the necessary test-taking accommodations, such as removal of time limits. Your responsibilities may also include helping general-education teachers adapt their lesson plans for students with learning disabilities, working with parents on ways they can help their children at home, or learning about assistive technologies that could improve the classroom experience for your students. To read more, click here

Beyond Nature v. Nurture: Parental Guidance Boosts Child's Strengths, Shapes Development

Why does a child grow up to become a lawyer, a politician, a professional athlete, an environmentalist or a churchgoer? It's determined by our inherited genes, say some researchers. Still others say the driving force is our upbringing and the nurturing we get from our parents. But a new child-development theory bridges those two models, says psychologist George W. Holden at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Holden's theory holds that the way a child turns out can be determined in large part by the day-to-day decisions made by the parents who guide that child's growth. To read more, click here

Probe Finds Jackson Schools Violated Disability Laws

Jackson Public Schools has a month to improve its special education services following a state investigation this fall that found the district was in violation of federal laws meant to protect students with disabilities. The investigation by the state Department of Education's Office of Special Education follows a complaint filed by advocates in September on behalf of nine students, alleging JPS denied them "free and appropriate education." The complaint states students with emotional and behavioral disabilities were more likely than their peers to be punished for minor disruptions or wearing the wrong uniform colors, suspended, expelled or sent to alternative schools. It also stated students with disabilities who transferred to JPS from another district did not receive timely or appropriate services. To read more, click here

Children's High Blood Pressure May Increase Learning Disability Risk

Children with high blood pressure may be at risk for learning disabilities, according to a new study. In the study, children with high blood pressure, or hypertension, were three to four times more likely to have a learning disability than those without hypertension. The results were true regardless of whether children were taking medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which can increase blood pressure. The researchers had previously shown that kids with high blood pressure perform worse on tests of mental performance than those without hypertension. The findings underscore the importance of identifying children with hypertension, and understanding how the condition may affect the brain, the researchers said. About 4 percent of children in the United States have hypertension, but many cases may go undiagnosed. To read more, click here

Did You Know That......

Validity is the most essential quality needed in a measuring instrument.  Validity addresses the question of, "Does the test measure what it is supposed to measure"?

'Sensitive Santa' Helps Children with Disabilities and Their Parents During the Holiday Season

With a serious look, Jason Montefusco walked toward Santa, keeping a cautious eye on the man with the white beard. Slowly, the 5-year-old climbed up into the seat, slid closer to Santa and reached out to touch the white pouf atop his red hat. His 3-year-old brother took a seat next to him. A photographer snapped their picture. Jason wasn't smiling. But his mother beamed enough for the both of them as she celebrated a holiday milestone with scores of other parents of children with autism. "Oh my gosh, I finally have a picture for my frame," Yesenia Montefusco, of Valrico shouted as she led her sons out of Santa's Wonderland at a Tampa mall Sunday morning.

To some, it may seem like a small thing. For Montefusco, having a photograph of her son with autism with Santa means the world. On Sunday morning, more than 170 people from throughout Tampa Bay lined up for the chance to capture a moment many had thought impossible. To read more, click here

Read 180 Program at Middle School Helps Address Specific Reading Needs

With a program like the one Scholastic Education is offering, it's become much easier for students to do a "180" in the classroom. Through the Read 180 program, Brownstown Middle School students are getting specialized reading materials and lessons to address their specific needs. The school got on board with the Scholastic program about three years ago. It is designed to help improve the performance of students with lower reading scores. Students in the program often have been identified by other teachers as potentially benefitting from assistance. The school has sixth- and seventh-grade general education reading and writing programs through Scholastic. There also are special education reading and writing classes. Hilary Plagens teaches the sixth-grade general education class. After seeing the tremendous progress many students made, Plagens said she often is teased that she could do commercials for the program. To read more, click here

A New College Try: Opportunities Grow for Students with Disabilities

Like many of his peers, Ben Majewski had a lifelong goal of going to college. Now, the 20-year-old who has Down syndrome and hearing problems is living out his dream despite his disability. Majewski, a graduate of Newton North High School, is in his first semester at Massachusetts Bay Community College's Wellesley Hills campus, taking a psychology class in career and life planning, getting tutoring, going to the gym, and making new friends."I got a buddy here, he has Down syndrome, he's a veteran around here,'' Majewski said. "He's showing me the ropes, teaching me where everything is, and helping me meet new people.'' Higher education used to be out of the question for students with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders, but now, there are increasing opportunities for such students to go to college in part because of a recent infusion of state and federal funds. In Massachusetts, the Inclusive Current Enrollment Initiative, a partnership between public high schools and seven community colleges that started in 2007, is helping students ages 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities pursue higher education. To read more, click here

Stunting Growth 'Ethically Acceptable' for Some with Disabilities, Group Says

Four years after a group of doctors sparked controversy for stunting the growth of a girl with severe disabilities, a panel now says the practice is "morally permissible" in some cases. The 20-member working group composed of pediatricians, lawyers and philosophers in addition to family members and those with disabilities from across the country, debated what's come to be known as the "Ashley treatment," named for the 6-year-old who was given estrogen to limit her growth. The treatment was initiated at the request of Ashley's parents who said she would be easier to care for at a smaller size. What's more, they said their daughter, who has not gained abilities mentally or physically past those of a three-month-old, would be more comfortable and less vulnerable to abuse if she did not mature sexually. To read more, click here

Scientists Find Genes Related to Autism

Scientists combing the human genome in recent years for autism-related DNA have uncovered dozens of genes related to the disorder and note that countless more genes have yet to be found. New gene discoveries announced this year - including one just last week - are helping to shape a narrative that autism spectrum disorders are largely genetic conditions. "A consensus is emerging that many of the individual genes associated with autism underlie a number of other brain disorders," said Dr. Joseph Buxbaum, director of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, which is participating in the Autism Genome Project. To read more, click here


Guess the answer to this week's trivia question and we'll recognize you in next week's Week in Review.
Congratulations to: 

Catherine Cardenas, Christie Miller, Ellen Karnowski, Lisa Rotella, Sabrina Yacoub, Gloria J. Ortiz, Michelle Uetz, Curt Shelley, Heather McClelland Driggs, Joyce Onischewski, & Gretchen van Besouw 

who correctly identified the answer to last week's trivia question: A manifest determination hearing must occur within how many school days after the date on which a decision was made to suspend or expel a student with a disability? ANSWER: 10 Days  



 What exceptionality was added to the special education classifications in 1991?
If you know the answer, send an email to contactus@naset.org 
All answers must be submitted no later than Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:00 p.m.


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Detroit Launches 'Full Inclusion' Effort

Detroit Public Schools is mainstreaming about 5,000 high school special education students into general education classrooms, a "full inclusion" model that it says is better for students and required under federal rules, according to The Detroit News. The transition has left some parents and teachers unhappy with the level of training and student support, The News reported. The shift encourages children to do more by setting a higher bar, allows students to earn a diploma rather than a certificate of completion, and means students are no longer isolated in special education classrooms, officials told The News. Another reason for the move is that the district faces a 20 percent reduction in special education funding if it does not reach inclusion targets, The News reported. To read more, click here

A Family's Worst Nightmare: A Child with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Sandy Tyler's letter began simply enough: "Dear Somebody."Her son had suffered a brain injury in a 2006 car accident at age 23. After a lengthy hospital stay and a stint in a rehab center, he returned to Tyler's Yorktown home. But the part of his brain that controlled his impulses no longer worked. He punched and kicked and bit her. After seven months, Frank Leonardi moved to a nursing facility in Hampton, but less than a year later, he hit an elderly woman in the face.

Administrators told Tyler she had 30 days to find another home for him. She couldn't. So she wrote a letter asking for help and sent it to the governor, legislators and officials across the state: "He is not paralyzed. His brain just does not control his body. He can hold a fork and feed himself. Other than that he is left being aware of his situation, now 25, sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home with elderly people. He hates his situation. He is angry. He has no impulse control, and when he gets mad he swings and hits or bites. He is like a 2-year-old grown man." While rare, stories like Tyler's are becoming more common. To read more, click here

Did You Know That......

Reliability in assessment refers to the consistency of measurements.  In assessment, reliability relates to the confidence in an instrument to give the same score for a student if the test were given more than once.

Minimal Requirements for Classroom Aides, Substitutes in NY BOCES Programs

The classrooms in Monroe County's BOCES special education programs are some of the most intense in the public school system, a pressure-cooker atmosphere where challenges are great and progress comes in tiny increments. They are where some of the area's most vulnerable students with disabilities go to learn life's simplest tasks - walking, talking, feeding themselves or using money - with the hope that they will gain some measure of independence. Others have mental issues so severe that they cannot control their behavior. But to get a job working with these students, applicants do not need to have finished high school. The minimum educational requirement to work as a classroom aide at one of the two BOCES programs serving special needs children in Monroe County is a General Educational Development, or high school equivalency, degree. Board of Cooperative Educational Services 2 in Ogden asks for a year of experience working with children, but in lieu of that the program will take applicants with a year of clerical experience. To read more, click here

Developing a Biological Test for Autism

U.S. researchers are developing a biologically based test to detect autism that so far is testing with 94 percent accuracy. Dr. Janet Lainhart at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Nicholas Lange of Boston's Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital say the trial of the Lainhart-Lange test examined subjects previously diagnosed with high-functioning autism, using the standard subjective scoring system and a control group of normally developing individuals. "This is not yet ready for prime time use in the clinic yet, but the findings are the most promising thus far," Lange said in a statement. To read more, click here

Should You Reveal a Disability in a Job Search?

I have an unusual problem, but I hope you and your readers can give me some pointers. The situation is this: I suffer from fibromyalgia, which occasionally (about twice a month, on average) is so painful that I literally can't move. I'm taking medication for it, so it's much better than it used to be, but it is unpredictable. In my last job, I managed to work around it, but now I'm unemployed and seeking a new position. I want to be totally honest with job interviewers, but I'm afraid that, in this shaky job market, if I tell them I have this condition, they won't hire me. I know employers are prohibited by law from asking candidates about medical issues, but should I bring this up anyway? If so, when is the best time to mention it? 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 Educationestablishes a much needed standard for professionals, across disciplines, who work with exceptional children.   For more information on Board Certification in Special Education, click here

Nicotine Exposure in Pregnant Rats Puts Offspring at Risk for Learning Disabilities

Exposure to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in adult stem cells and a change in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus of the offspring, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego in November. Researchers say this could be a possible cause for behavioral problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) seen in children whose mothers smoked. Adult stem cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain most connected to learning and memory, continue to divide and produce new cells over a lifetime. The UAB team showed that exposing rats to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in the number of new cells in the hippocampus. To read more, click here

8 Steps for Students with Learning Disabilities Who Want to Go to College

Most of the 3 percent or so of teens who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities struggle so much in their high school classes that they give up on hopes of college, setting back their job and career prospects, according to statistics compiled by the National Center for Learning Disabilities. But there are new reasons for hope for anyone with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, or other common learning challenges. A growing number of colleges, services, and technologies are helping students earn admission to, and diplomas from, college, counselors say.

College admissions officers and learning disability counselors from around the country say  students with learning disabilities interested in college should follow 8 steps. To read about these 8 steps, click here

Did You Know That.......

A norm-referenced test is designed to compare student performance to that of other students.  In special education, almost every norm-referenced test compares a student's score against national averages.

Educator Teaches Life Lessons Along with Unspoken Language

A silent classroom. Is learning taking place in there? Of course it is. They let their hands do the talking. Leading that classroom of quiet communication is Kyle Januszewski. Mr. J to his students. He is teaching American Sign Language. It is the newest "foreign" language taught on the Whitehouse High School campus. Januszewski fell in love with sign language when he was a sophomore in high school. But the voiceless vocabular y did not completely bloom for him until college. Januszewski moved back and forth between living with his mom in Leander and his dad in Brenham. He started college at Blinn and later ended up at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. "I was a junior in college by the time I found an ASL class I could take," Januszewski said. "My professor only had an interpreter for the time he went over the syllabus." His professor, Robert Blair, was deaf from birth. His teaching style was emersion. From the moment the syllabus was explained through the inter- preter, the learning of sign language began.

Januszewski says the idea was a bit frightening but before long knew this would be the best way to learn. To read more, click here

Kindergarten Child Voted Out of Class Given $350,000 in Settlement

The mother of Alex Barton, the child with autism voted out of his St. Lucie County kindergarten class about three years ago, has reached a $350,000 settlement with St. Lucie County education officials, according to federal court documents. The proposed settlement still requires a review by a guardian ad litem, a third party designated to consider the best interests of the child, before the agreement can be finalized in the courts. About $200,000 of the settlement, reached Nov. 24 in Miami, is to be paid within 30 days of the court entering the order, the documents show. The remaining amount will be paid in a structured settlement beginning in 2020, when Alex is 18 years old, and ending in 2032, the documents state. In May 2008, Alex, then 5 years old, returned to his kindergarten classroom at Morningside Elementary after being sent to the principal's office twice for discipline referrals. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, brought him to the front of the class and asked other students to tell him how his behavior affected them. She then asked the class to vote on whether Alex should stay in the class. Alex, who was in the process of being tested for Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, lost the vote. To read more, click here

Food for Thought........

Life is a series of problem-solving opportunities. The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you - depending on how you respond to them.

        Rick Warren


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