The great equalizer: Sports program pairs special, general-ed children – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

The smile on Dominic Miller’s face couldn’t have been any wider.

The 5-year-old who attends Dan O. Root Elementary School was one of about 560 children who participated in a special event Thursday at Fairfield High School’s Schaefer Stadium.

The gathering was the first since the Fairfield-Suisun School District partnered with Special Olympics Northern California to launch a unified sports program with eight elementary schools.

via The great equalizer: Sports program pairs special, general-ed children.

Benicia girl with a big heart raises money for special friends – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

A Benicia special education teacher had no idea that the friendships that began at the play ground during recess time would turn into something much bigger.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Tammy Harley, Mary Farmar Elementary School special education teacher.

Harley said it was the beginning of this school year when third grader KayLee Ingle came to her and told her that she has a surprise.

“She told me she’s been fundraising for my class during the summer,” she said.

via Benicia girl with a big heart raises money for special friends.

Special Education Spending Flexibility Focus of GAO Report – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Loosening the reins on state and district special education spending could lead to more innovation without damaging student services, says a report released Monday from a congressional watchdog agency.

The Government Accountability Office was asked to look into special education spending—specifically the provisions around “maintenance of effort.”

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires, with few exceptions, that school districts and states spend the same amount or more on special education from year to year. That eliminates wild swings in funding, and insures that spending can only go up, not down.

via Special Education Spending Flexibility Focus of GAO Report – On Special Education – Education Week.

States Vary in Proportion of Students With Disability-Related 504 Plans – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Almost 5 percent of students in New Hampshire have disabilities that are covered solely by “Section 504,” which offers protection to students who have a “physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” These disabilities might include conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, food allergies, depression, or mobility impairments.

In contrast, in New Mexico and Wisconsin, less than half a percent of students have such plans.

These findings come from a recent analysis of Section 504 enrollment conducted by the Advocacy Institute of data from the U.S. Department of Educations Civil Rights Data Collection. That data collection covers the 2011-12 school year, and about 16,500 school districts, 96,500 schools, and 49 million students were included.

via States Vary in Proportion of Students With Disability-Related 504 Plans – On Special Education – Education Week.

Vacaville native, music conservatory bring music therapy to children with disabilities – The Reporter

By Ryan Chalk

A Vacaville native has taken her lifelong passion for music to help children with developmental disabilities transform their lives, one song at a time.

It’s happening inside a Davis Street home that once housed a longtime Vacaville photography business, now home to a bustling music education and performance studio called the Young Artists Conservatory of Music. A hub of activity, in one room, you might hear a student attempting to master Beethoven on piano, a budding saxophonist running a jazz scale, and in another, Brianna McCulloch, a board certified music therapist, leading a child in song.

via Vacaville native, music conservatory bring music therapy to children with disabilities.

Special Education Bill Offers Flexibility on Maintenance of Effort – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

School districts would have more permission to reduce their special education spending under a bill introduced in Congress today by Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican.

Currently, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act only allows district special education spending cuts in limited circumstances—for example, if a highly paid special educaton teacher retires and is replaced with someone who earns a lower salary. Other permitted reasons to reduce funding include a student who requires expensive services leaving the district, or an overall decline in special education enrollment. This so-called “maintenance of effort” provision is intended to keep funding, and thereby services to students, stable.

Walbergs bill would allow districts to cut back on special education spending if theyve found other ways to reduce costs while keeping services intact. If a district negotiates a contract with its teachers that reduces personnel costs, for example, the bill states that the district should be able to adjust special education spending to account for that.

via Special Education Bill Offers Flexibility on Maintenance of Effort – On Special Education – Education Week.

Postsecondary Transition for Students in Special Education: The Road Ahead – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students in special education graduate from their high schools.

And then what happens?

In the 10th annual edition of its Diplomas Count report, Education Week tries to answer that question. The report is a blend of journalism and reseach: the Education Week Research Center delved into federal data to offer an important snapshot of where students with disabilities end up after they leave high school. My journalist colleagues and I give life to those numbers by talking to students as they make important future decisions about college and about work.

For example: Do students with disabilities tell their colleges about their special needs, or do they try to go without any of the supports they may have used in high school? (The answer: most of them do not disclose.) For students who are headed directly to the workplace, have they been taught how to advocate for themselves? (The answer: its hit-or-miss.)

via Postsecondary Transition for Students in Special Education: The Road Ahead – On Special Education – Education Week.

Study Finds No Connection Between Eye Problems and Dyslexia – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

There appears to be no connection between vision or eye disorders and reading impairments, according to a study of about 5,800 children that will be published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

The sample of children was taken from a longitudinal study of families living in the Bristol, England area. The children were all 7 to 9 years old, and 3 percent tested as having severe reading impairments.

The researchers then tested the vision of those children. Four out of five had normal eyesight. A small minority of children displayed minor anomalies in depth perception and fusing abiilty, or the ability to use both eyes properly at the same time.

But theres no evidence from this study that therapies to improve eyesight will do anything to help with dyslexia, the researchers concluded. “The best evidence is for intensive interventions involving instruction on phonics, word anal

via Study Finds No Connection Between Eye Problems and Dyslexia – On Special Education – Education Week.

New Autism Research Outlines Gender Differences in Social Interactions – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Boys and girls with autism spectrum disorder may share difficulties in communicating, but how those problems manifest themselves differs between the sexes—an important element for educators to remember, according to new research examining children with autism and their peer interactions.

For example, because boys tend to play more structured games, its easier to spot when a boy with autism is being excluded. Socialization among girls tends to be more fluid, so a girl with autism may appear to be fitting in with her peer group—but a closer look might reveal less-obvious rejection.

The research also shows that in general education classrooms, girls remain more connected to peers when they are in larger classrooms—21 students or more. Boys tended to have better social connections when they were in classrooms of 20 students or fewer. Researchers hypothesize that boys might do better with more individualized attention, while girls may thrive if they have more friendship options.

via New Autism Research Outlines Gender Differences in Social Interactions – On Special Education – Education Week.

Alternate assessments for special education students delayed | EdSource

By Laurie Udesky

Some California educators say the state’s students with the most severe cognitive disabilities will not have the same opportunity this spring to have their learning assessed as other students taking the Common Core-aligned assessments.

Approximately 39,000 of the state’s students with cognitive disabilities that are too severe for them to function or live safely on their own are eligible to take the new California Alternate Assessment this spring, according to the California Department of Education. However, some educators are uncertain how well the new assessment will work.

In particular, they say the assessment was developed hastily and distributed to teachers with no time to prepare themselves or their students for it. They also have no assurance that the test will measure what their students are learning in the classroom. They say that’s because the alternate assessment is based on simplified adaptations of the Common Core State Standards that have not been formally adopted by the state and disseminated in advance for teachers to plan their instruction.

via Alternate assessments for special education students delayed | EdSource#.VVI1iWctHGg#.VVI1iWctHGg.

Solano recognizes those who make special ed process easier – Daily Republic

By Bill Hicks

Education in general, and special education more specifically, is a difficult and often thankless task.

The Solano County Office of Education, the Solano County Office of Education Community Advisory Committee on Tuesday recognized educators, students and community members who are part of the lives of special education students to ensure it’s not always thankless.

Honorees came from all areas in Solano County. Some of those recognized had dedicated much of their lives to the service of special education students. Others, like bus driver Joe Mackenzie or student Damondre Pierre, for instant, made smaller but not less significant contributions to better the lives of the county’s special education students.

via Solano recognizes those who make special ed process easier Daily Republic.

Inconsistent training leaves special education staff struggling | EdSource

By Jane Meredith Adams

Every day in special education classrooms across the state, teachers and aides oversee students whose emotional and behavioral disabilities can trigger violent confrontations. In some cases, teachers and aides wrestle these students to the floor, pin them against classroom walls, and escort or drag them into seclusion rooms.

Operating outside the restrictions of general education, special education staff are authorized by the California Education Code to declare a “behavioral emergency.” That determination allows staff members to initiate emergency interventions that are defined only by what they may not be: electric shock, denying access to bathroom facilities, noxious sprays to the face, and interventions that can be expected to cause excessive emotional trauma.

via Inconsistent training leaves special education staff struggling | EdSource#.VTZ6dmctHGg#.VTZ6dmctHGg.

California Task Force Seeks Sweeping Changes to Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Improving the academic outcomes for California students with disabilities will require an extensive revamp of the states education system, a task force said Wednesday. Among them: a revision of teacher preparation, support for early learning, and an overhaul of special education financing with an eye to more local control and accountability.

Those recommendations are part of a 100-page report drafted by Californias Statewide Task Force on Special Education and submitted to the state board of education. (The task force also released an executive summary of its findings, as well as four subcommittee reports.)

About 613,000 students ages 6 to 21 receive special education services in California, about 10 percent of the nations total special education population of 5.8 million in that age range. The graduation rate for California students with disabilities is about 60 percent, compared to 80 percent for the student population as a whole.

via California Task Force Seeks Sweeping Changes to Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week.

Vacaville district sets out to improve special ed program – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

Members of the Vacaville School District governing board heard the good, the bad and the corresponding recommendations Thursday during a comprehensive special education report designed to help curb escalating program costs and help enhance the $18 million program.

The report, presented by Maureen Burness and Caryl Miller of Total School Solutions, touched on four areas: fiscal operations review, comparative data and analysis, staffing analysis and program evaluation.

via Vacaville district sets out to improve special ed program Daily Republic.

Vacaville district gets special education blueprint – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

Board members will hear the results Thursday of a special education report contracted by the district to an independent company in November primarily to curb escalating special education program costs and also to look for ways to enhance the program.

The report, prepared by Total School Solutions of Fairfield, met with a variety of stakeholders in preparing the multiple-page report that focuses on four areas: fiscal operations review, comparative data and analysis, staffing analysis and program evaluation.

“There was a lot of effort put into the report – a lot of in-depth work,” said Ken Jacopetti, superintendent of the Vacaville School District. “They’re really peeling back the financial situation. They’re coming forward with some really healthy recommendations for us.”

via Vacaville district gets special education blueprint Daily Republic.

Special needs students love bowling event – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Starla Rupp had three generations on hand to watch her bowl at the annual Joy Graham Bowling event, which took place Wednesday and Friday.

The Grange Middle School seventh-grader was missing in action – briefly. Her great-grandmother, Pat Wooten, sat at a table hoping to see the teen throw a strike.

Linda Rupp and her daughter, Misty Rupp, Starla’s biological mother, rounded her up from the arcade area of Stars Recreation to join her fellow students at the adapted physical eduction event.

“She loves bowling,” Linda Rupp said of the granddaughter she’s raising. “She ice skates, too.”

via Special needs students love bowling event Daily Republic.

Joy Graham Bowling Event gives special needs students a day of fun – The Reporter

By Melissa Murphy

Grins from ear to ear, hands in the air and high-fives all around were just the beginning of a day outside the confines of a typical middle school classroom for a group of local students with special needs.

Raul Calberon sat quietly at a table at Stars Bowling Center among the hustle and bustle of fellow classmates cheering, and the loud drops of bowling balls onto the wooden lanes and the crash of bowling pins.

When it was his turn, Calberon confidently picked up a neon yellow bowling ball and tossed it with ease. He didn’t even need the bumpers to earn his first strike for the day. His peers and teachers cheered loudly, and just as if nothing happened, the 13-year-old quietly sat back down.

via Joy Graham Bowling Event gives special needs students a day of fun.

Pre-K Pays Off By Lowering Special Ed Placements : NPR Ed

By William Huntsberry

Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.

The study examined 13 years’ worth of data from students enrolled in More at Four, a state-funded program for 4-year-olds in North Carolina. By the third grade, the researchers found, children in the program were 32 percent less likely to end up in a special education program. Children who were part of Smart Start, a health services program, saw a 10 percent drop. Combined, the two programs accounted for a 39 percent reduction.

via Pre-K Pays Off By Lowering Special Ed Placements : NPR Ed : NPR.

Smarter Balanced Field-Test Data Show Large Score Gaps Among Students With IEPs – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Most students with individualized education programs scored in the lowest achievement level on the field tests administered last spring by the Smarter Balanced Achievement Consortium, according to data released by the test-development organization.

The range of students with IEPs scoring at level 1, the lowest of four levels on the test, ranged from 61 percent in 4th grade math to 77 percent in 7th grade English/language arts. In comparison, 27 percent of all students scored at the lowest level in 4th grade math, and 34 percent of all students scored at the lowest level in 7th grade English/language arts.

Students with disabilities performed best in 3rd grade math, where 18 percent scored at level 3 or above, indicating they are proficient in the skills and knowledge for their grade. For all students, 39 percent were able to clear that bar.

via Smarter Balanced Field-Test Data Show Large Score Gaps Among Students With IEPs – On Special Education – Education Week.

Study: Harmful Weight-Loss Behavior More Common in Teens With Disabilities – Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

A study examining weight and physical activity in adolescents found that teenagers with disabilities are more likely than their typically developing peers to be obese, and also more likely to engage in harmful activities intended to drop that weight, such as using laxatives and vomiting, taking diet pills, or fasting.

The findings were presented at the Nov. 17 meeting of the American Public Health Association. The lead researcher was Mia Papas, an assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition at the University of Delaware in Newark.

To draw her conclusions, Papas examined questionnaires that were given to nearly 10,000 adolescents in Delaware, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Rhode Island as part of the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, asks students about a variety of risk behaviors.

via Study: Harmful Weight-Loss Behavior More Common in Teens With Disabilities – On Special Education – Education Week.