Week in Review - November 26, 2010


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.

NASETNews Team

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New This Week on NASET

NASET Q & ACorner 

Questions and Answers on Educational Placement

Once the IEP team has decided what services a child needs, a decision must be made about where services will be provided. Where the child's IEP is carried out is called placement. Parents have the right to be part of the group that decides the child's placement. In deciding the child's placement, the group must make sure that the child has the maximum opportunity appropriate to learn with children who do not have disabilities-in academic, nonacademic, and extracurricular activities. This part of IDEA is called Least Restrictive Environment or LRE. 

The focus of this issue of the NASET Q & A Corner is to address educational placements for students with disabilities.

To read or download this issue - Click here 

Resolving Disputes with Parents Series

The Due Process Complaint

In this Issue:
IDEA requires school systems (called public agencies) to have procedures in place that make due process available to parents and public agencies to resolve a dispute involving any matter arising under Part B, including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process complaint. This includes both the due process complaint (summarized in this issue of Resolving Disputes with Parents Series) and the due process hearing (described in the next issue).
A due process complaint is pretty much what it sounds like: a letter/complaint filed by an individual or organization on matters of conflict related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. There's a lot to know about filing a due process complaint; use the summary in this issue to learn how this type of complaint works as a dispute resolution approach. 

To read or download this issue - Click here 



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Study Finds Evidence of Gender Bias When Diagnosing Boys with Autism

Social factors can play a key role in whether or not a child is diagnosed as autistic, a new study has found. Boys were more likely to receive a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) than girls, even when symptoms were equally severe, according to researchers at the universities of Exeter and Bristol. "We wanted to find out what distinguishes those children without diagnosis but with autistic traits from those who have received a formal ASD diagnosis in the clinic," explained lead researcher Ginny Russell, from Egenis at the University of Exeter. "We thought that there may be social and demographic factors that explain why some children are diagnosed and others are not. Understanding social factors that act as access barriers may provide useful insights for clinicians in practice." To read more, click here 

For ADHD, Lots of Snake Oil, But No Miracle Cure

As the mother of a teenager who got a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 2004, I wasn't surprised to read the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said the number of ADHD cases in children jumped by 22 percent between 2003 and 2007 - an increase of 1 million kids. From the day my son started school, I've watched popular awareness of disabling distraction rise, to the point where it's easy to believe the CDC estimate that one in 10 U.S. children - a total of 5.4 million kids - now has ADHD, as reported by their families. This might even be positive news, in that at least some kids who need medical attention are getting it. Except for one problem. Growing along with those numbers is one of the most aggressive, lucrative, bewildering and often just plain useless sales forces humanity has ever seen - call it the ADHD-industrial complex. This includes not only the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, which by one measure sells more than $5 billion worth of ADHD medications each year - and which only in the United States and New Zealand may market directly to the public - but a growing league of all-but-unregulated, usually costly and sometimes wildly imaginative alternatives, including herbal supplements, complicated exercise regimes to stimulate specific brain regions, magnetic mattresses, personal coaches and therapy "assisted" by dolphins.

To read more, click here 

Student-Teacher Ratios: Does Class Size Really Matter?

Does classroom size matter? Those who have spent time teaching children say yes . . . and no. It's a factor that's been shown to increase achievement in certain settings, particularly in the primary grades. But it's not the only factor - and quite possibly not the most important one.

"It really has a lot to do with how people teach. Experience and teaching style really make the difference," said Rowan University's Patrick Westcott, associate professor of teacher education in the university's Department of Education. "If you teach in a lecture style, classroom size is probably not going to make a difference. But studies show that classroom reduction really makes sense in kindergarten through grade three," he said. To read more, click here

Gene Links to Anorexia Nervosa Identified

Scientists at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have identified both common and rare gene variants associated with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. In the largest genetic study of this psychiatric disorder, the researchers found intriguing clues to genes they are subjecting to further investigation, including genes active in neuronal signaling and in shaping interconnections among brain cells. Anorexia nervosa (AN) affects an estimated 9 in 1000 women in the United States. Patients have food refusal, weight loss, an irrational fear of weight gain even when emaciated, and distorted self-image of body weight and shape. Women are affected 10 times more frequently than men, with the disorder nearly always beginning during adolescence. AN has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders, and successful treatment is challenging. To read more, click here

Did You Know That.....

Research studying dropout rates suggests that the overall dropout rate for secondary students with disabilities ranges from 28% to 37%

Government Wants to Update the ADA for Cyberspace

Emergency call centers could be equipped to communicate by text message. Websites might need to be programmed to speak to blind users. Movie theaters might have to install technology to allow the deaf to read captions on small screens mounted at their seats. These and other proposals will be on the agenda this week as federal officials begin seeking ideas for expanding the Americans with Disabilities Act. Twenty years after the law was adopted, the government wants to move the regulations beyond wheelchair ramps and accessible elevators into cyberspace and personal technology. The updated regulations could mean sweeping changes across many industries and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. To read more, click here

Father's Anti-Bullying Speech Moves Students, Teachers to Tears

The assembly started like any other. Roosevelt students filed into the gymnasium, taking their seats, quietly talking amongst themselves while waiting for the main event to start. Principal Stewart Carey stepped on the stage to give introductory remarks, talking about how the next 90 minutes were going to have an impact on the over 700 students, faculty and parents gathered before him. You could almost hear students questioning whether they could sit through 90 minutes. John Halligan then took the stage, saying that before he could talk about his son, Ryan, he needed to introduce his son to the crowd. Playing a short DVD filled with video and photos, students saw Ryan on the beach, at family events, spending time with friends and blowing out the candles on his 13th birthday cake in December 2002 - the last time he would ever do so. Taking the stage again, John Halligan forcefully started to describe a phone call he got in the early morning of Oct. 7, 2003, when the then IBM executive from Vermont was on a business trip in Rochester, NY. "It was my wife, Kelly, crying hysterically, saying 'John you need to come home, our son is dead, and he killed himself,'" Halligan said. To read more, click here

New Approach Finds Success in Teaching Youth with Autism

As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase, the one thing that won't change is the need for those children to develop social skills. Statistics show that if these students are able to communicate effectively, they can achieve success in the classroom, and later, in the workplace. In addition to the challenges facing each individual student, educators find themselves facing dwindling resources. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social competence curriculum, with a virtual classroom component, that could help educators meet the demand of this growing population. Janine Stichter, a professor of special education at the MU College of Education, and her team have developed a curriculum that has shown success in an after-school format and is now being tested during daily school activities, with help from two three-year grants from the Institute of Educational Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education. The key factors in Stichter's curriculum focus on specific needs and behavioral traits within the autism spectrum. By doing this, the instructor is able to deliver a more individualized instruction within a small group format and optimize the response to intervention. To read more, click here

Opinion: 'All Together Now' Meets Differentiated Instruction

I walked out of a sixth-grade classroom yesterday with my head spinning, having watched a long discussion, lead by a veteran teacher, about why little Mary was upset and couldn't concentrate on her math. I was stunned, but not surprised; thanks to Mary's problem, none of the class was learning math! As luck would have it, I came home to a copy of Mike Petrilli's new story for Education Next in my (Internet) mailbox: "All Together Now?  Educating high and low achievers in the same classroom." Mike tackles the age-old question of what to do with performance diversity, but he suggests that it is now "the greatest challenge facing America's schools." Indeed, it's one thing to think, rather generically, about the achievement gap between races and socio-economic groups, but as I saw up close and personal in that sixth-grade classroom yesterday and as Mike makes vividly clear in his Ed Next story, our relatively recent headlong rush to celebrate diversity-and integration and "mainstreaming"-has brought with it new achievement gap challenges. To read more, click here 

In Maine, Schools Scramble to Meet Shifting NCLB Standards

While most area elementary schools are passing muster according to federal No Child Left Behind Act standards, all 14 of the Mid-coast region's public middle and high schools came up short in the 2009-10 round of testing. The Maine Department of Education this week released its annual report on the progress of state schools under the federal law, which requires students to meet higher testing scores each year. When contacted about the results, local school officials largely acknowledged the value of having the latest data for self-evaluation purposes. But many Mid-coast superintendents renewed arguments that the federal goals are unrealistic, and added that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) faces an uncertain future as President Barack Obama and the new Congress consider changes to the program. Under the law as it currently stands, a school is considered to not be making "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) if any identifiable subgroup of the student population fails to reach the targeted test scores in either math or reading. In Maine, elementary school students are judged on New England Educational Assessment test scores, while high school students are rated by performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. 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:
Gretchen van Besouw
Christie Miller

who correctly identified the answer to last week's trivia question: Why are children who are gifted and talented not considered eligible for special education even though they are "exceptional" students?  ANSWER:  Because children in special education must have a "disability", and being gifted and talented is not considered a disability under the federal law.


According to controlled studies in research done of the effects of Ritalin on children with ADHD, what percentage of school-aged children with ADHD respond positively (e.g., reduction in hyperactivity, increased attention and time on task, increased academic productivity, and improvements in general conduct) to the stimulant medication, Ritalin? 
If you know the answer, send an email to contactus@naset.org
All answers must be submitted no later than Monday, November 29, 2010 at 12:00 p.m.

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

Behavior Disorders Boost Crash Risk for Teen Boys

Male teens with disruptive behavior disorders have a one-third increased risk of being seriously injured in a traffic crash, either as a driver or a pedestrian, new research has found. Their increased risk is similar to that of epilepsy patients, said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, from the University of Toronto in Canada, and his colleagues. Disruptive behavior disorders include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. The seven-year study, published in the Nov. 16 online edition of the journal PLoS Medicine, included 3,421 male teens aged 16 to 19 who were admitted to the hospital after a traffic crash. The increased risk associated with disruptive behavior disorders remained after the researchers accounted for factors such as age, social status and home location. To read more, click here

Number of Students Classified with Learning Disabilities Continues to Drop

Two months ago, I wrote an article about the the declining numbers of students identified as having "specific learning disabilities," the largest of the 13 categories that are included in Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act. When I wrote the story, the latest data available to me were population counts from the 2007-08 school year. Now, data from fall 2008 is available from a different source, and the numbers appear to show the same downward trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2007 approximately 2.573 million youth ages 3 to 21 were classified as having specific learning disabilities, out of 6.606 million children covered by the IDEA. A specific learning disability is defined as a psychological processing disorder that impairs learning but not a student's overall cognitive ability. The IDEA Data Accountability Center, which collects more up-to-date data from the states, says that a year later, in fall 2008, 2.537 million 3- to 21-year-olds were classified as having an SLD, out of 6.593 million children covered by the IDEA. To read more, click here

Bipolar Disorder and ADHD Show Similar Symptoms in Children

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers were among the first to test memory and emotion in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or bipolar disorder. Both bipolar disorder and ADHD cause children to have attention problems, become easily irritable, and act impulsively. Researchers used brain scans from magnetic resonance images (MRI) to analyze brain activity and determine if children having either disorder showed additional similar symptoms. Children were asked to recall images of faces showing a variety of emotions while the scans took place. To read more, click here

Time Runs Out for School Restraint Seclusion Bill

Efforts to establish federal limits on the use of restraint and seclusion in the nation's schools appear to be dead, at least for now, disability advocates are acknowledging. In a meeting last week, Senate staffers who worked on legislation designed to curb the use of restraint and seclusion told representatives of several disability advocacy groups and education organizations that time had run out and the bill would not be voted on before the end of the year, according to a Senate aide and advocates who attended. The news comes nearly a year after lawmakers introduced legislation that would have established first ever federal oversight of restraint and seclusion tactics in schools following a series of reports highlighting hundreds of cases of abusive and even deadly uses of the practices. To read more, click here

Despite Test Gains, Most Seniors Miss Benchmarks

High school seniors in the nation are performing slightly better in math and reading than they did in the middle of the past decade, new test results show, but a large majority continue to fall short of the federal standard for proficiency. Results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, made public Thursday morning, document a modest rise in achievement for 12th-graders since 2005. Reading scores rose two points on a 500-point scale, and math scores rose three points on a 300-point scale. But analysts said the federal test results offer plenty of reason for concern. The scores mean that 38 percent of seniors demonstrated proficiency in reading and 26 percent reached that level in math. Also, reading scores remain lower than they were in 1992. And the study found essentially no progress in closing achievement gaps that separate white students from black and Hispanic peers. To read more, click here

Did You Know That.....

According to the U.S. Department of Education, dropout rates for secondary students with disabilities vary considerably by disability type, ranging from about 17% for students with autism and visual impairments to 61% for students classified with emotional disturbance

Novel Approach Shows Promise for Cystic Fibrosis

An investigational drug targeting a defective protein that causes cystic fibrosis has been shown to improve lung function in a small study of CF patients, according to findings published Nov. 18, 2010, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The investigational drug, VX-770, appeared to improve function of what is known as CFTR--the faulty protein responsible for CF. It is among the first compounds being developed for CF that specifically targets the root cause of cystic fibrosis. Patients who took VX-770 for 28 days showed improvements in several key indicators of cystic fibrosis, including lung function, nasal potential difference measurements and sweat chloride levels. Excessive sweat chloride is a key clinical indicator of CF. The sweat test is the traditional diagnostic test for CF. To read more, click here

IQ Scores Fail to Predict Academic Performance in Children with Autism

New data show that many children with autism spectrum disorders have greater academic abilities than previously thought. In a study by researchers at the University of Washington, 90 percent of high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders showed a discrepancy between their IQ score and their performance on reading, spelling and math tests. "Academic achievement is a potential source of self-worth and source of feeling of mastery that people may not have realized is available to children with autism," said Annette Estes, research assistant professor at the UW's Autism Center. Improved autism diagnosis and early behavioral interventions have led to more and more children being ranked in the high-functioning range, with average to above average IQs. Up to 70 percent of autistic children are considered high-functioning, though they have significant social communication challenges.To read more, click here

 Food for Thought........

Kindness is the language in which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

        Mark Twain

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