By Richard Bammer
After nearly 40 years in education — all but one in special education — Kerri Mills said the most satisfying aspect of her work is resolving difficult problems.
“I really like challenges,” she said during an interview at her office in Vacaville Unified’s Educational Services Center.
Named the district’s new special education director in mid-September, Mills characterized her skills as “pretty good” when reaching for desirable outcomes to complex situations involving special education students and their parents, guardians or advocates.
via New Vacaville Unified School District special education director likes ‘challenges’ – The Reporter.
By Richard Bammer
In no-surprise unanimous votes, Vacaville Unified trustees on Thursday approved two sizable contracts, one to pay for computers, the other for a special education study.
Meeting in the Educational Services Center, the seven-member governing board gave the go-ahead to buy 1,100 refurbished Google Chromebooks for $367,000 from Chicago-based Computer Dealers Inc. Common Core money, provided by the state, will be used to purchase the technology, at $334 per computer.
Trustees then authorized a $28,000 contract for a special education study from Total School Solutions, a Fairfield firm that serves the interests of school districts and students, in areas ranging from budget and finance to operations and technology.
via Vacaville school leaders OK pair of purchase contracts – The Reporter.
By Christina Samuels
Bullying of students with disabilities such as diabetes, depression, or food allergies could result in a denial of those students’ right to a free, appropriate public education—and as such requires immediate steps on the part of the school to remedy the situation, according to guidance in a “Dear Colleague” letter released Oct. 21 from U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights.
The most recent guidance refers specifically to students covered by Section 504, a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by organizations that receive federal money, such as schools.
via Ed. Dept. Expands Guidance on Bullying and ‘504’ Students With Disabilities – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
The Common Core State Standards are well on the way to implementation across the country, but many special educators are still finding it a struggle to connect those standards to their students’ individualized education programs—and still meet their students’ varying needs.
That was one of the takeaways during a Twitter chat held Oct. 1 that focused on the topic. Some participants said they had received specific training on the issue and had been writing standards-based IEPs for a long time. But there were also teachers who said that they had been given no specific guidance, and their questions showed they were still worried about how best to help students, for instance, having to write goals related to early literacy for a student who is a junior in high school.
via Creating Common-Core-Aligned IEPs Still a Challenge for Many Teachers – On Special Education – Education Week.
Vacaville Reporter Posted:
VUSD trustees face light agenda tonight
When they meet tonight, Vacaville Unified leaders face a relatively light agenda, of superintendent and trustees comments, the consent calendar, and approval of a geometry textbook for the independent study program.
The consent calendar, items routinely approved, typically, with little or no discussion, includes contracts between the district and a special education and rehabilitation services company and with the Placer County Office of Education.
Trustees are expected to approve a contact, not to exceed $107,952, with Alpha Vista, a Sunnyvale-based company, for occupational therapy and speech and language services. The PCOE contract, not to exceed $35,350, is for consulting services, according to wording in agenda%2
via Vacaville school trustees face light agenda tonight – The Reporter.
By Christina Samuels
Want to help improve the focus of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Try some jumping jacks before class.
That’s the main finding of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Vermont who examined 200 kindergarten, 1st and 2nd-graders, about half of whom were deemed to be at risk of developing ADHD. Students were randomly placed in two groups: one group participated in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise before the school day, while the other group engaged in more sedentary activities.
Over the 12 weeks that the children were studied, those who were exercising before school saw benefits across a broader range of outcomes than children who were spending time doing low-key activities.
via Exercise Before School Can Ward Off ADHD Symptoms, Study Finds – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
Students receiving accommodations under Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act—a law that predates the Individuals with Disabilities Act and creates a more expansive definition of disability than the IDEA—are more likely to be white, male, and enrolled in a school that is not eligible for Title I funds, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data published in the Aug. 7 edition of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.
(Note: The abstract of the study, linked above, gives an incorrect summary of the racial breakdown of “504 plan” students. The lead author of the study said in an interview that the abstract will be corrected.)
Students covered under Section 504 could have a variety of disabling conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, diabetes or mobility impairments. The overall percentage of students who are given accommodations under Section 504 is small, however; about 1 percent of all students, according to the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection. This compares to about 12 percent of all students who are covered under the IDEA.
via Students With ‘504 Plans’ More Likely to Be White, Enrolled in Non-Title I Schools – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
Senate Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are upset about the U.S. Department of Education’s recent decision to evaluate states’ special education systems based on the academic performance of students with disabilities.
“This is clear influence and coercion, if not direct control,” the GOP committee members wrote to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a letter dated Aug. 4. “It is troubling that the department made unilateral changes to the [Individuals with Disabilities Act] compliance framework without seeking legislative approval, disregarded congressional intent, and appears to have violated the clear letter of the law.”
In June, the department rolled out of a revised evaluation process. The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that states submit data to the Education Department about how students with disabilities are doing. But before this year’s annual report, states were only graded on what are called “compliance” indicators, such as whether students were evaluated for special education in the appropriate amount of time, or whether due process complaints were resolved in a timely fashion. Now, states are being checked on factors such as test scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, and the gap between those scores and the scores of children in the general population, in addition to compliance.
via Special Education Evaluation Process Under Fire From Senate Republicans – On Special Education – Education Week.
To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.
Until now, the Department’s primary focus was to determine whether states were meeting procedural requirements such as timelines for evaluations, due process hearings and transitioning children into preschool services. While these compliance indicators remain important to children and families, under the new framework known as Results-Driven Accountability (RDA), the Department will also include educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state’s annual determination under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
via New Accountability Framework Raises the Bar for State Special Education Programs | U.S. Department of Education.
By Christina Samuels
Evaluating states on the academic performance of students with disabilities—rather than focusing on how states comply with deadlines and paperwork—is an important shift away from “complacency,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press call Tuesday.
The department is continuing its media rollout of a revised evaluation process that it calls results-driven accountability. The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that states submit data to the Education Department about how students with disabilities are doing. But before this year’s annual report, states were only graded on what are called “compliance” indicators, such as whether students were evaluated for special education in the appropriate amount of time, or whether due process complaints were resolved in a timely fashion.
via Education Secretary Lauds Revised Special Education Evaluation System – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Jane Meredith Adams
After a frenetic effort to count every high-needs student in the California public school system, the first official tally under the sweeping new K-12 finance law is in – and the results are mixed.
In three of the five largest school districts, the number of students who stand to benefit from the law is lower than expected, a consequence, some say, of inflated estimates, complicated data requirements and insufficient efforts to collect paperwork from parents.
“Districts are going to have a choice: Are we willing to be OK with being somewhat undercounted every year, or are we really going try to develop an outreach strategy upfront?” said Oscar Cruz, president of Families In Schools, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that works to increase parent involvement in schools.
via First official count of high-needs students under new funding formula is in | EdSource Today.
By Arianna Prothero
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., is introducing a bill Thursday that, in part, aims to increase school-choice programs for students in military families and students with disabilities.
The CHOICE Act (Creating Hope and Opportunities for Individuals and Communities through Education) would also make some tweaks to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives need-based scholarships to District of Columbia children to attend private schools.
Rokita is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. U.S. Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced the Senate companion bill earlier this year.
Rokita said in a statement that the legislation would benefit the children of servicemen and women who may not have access to quality schools on a base, “by ensuring funding directly benefits and follows the student, not an education bureaucracy if it
via New School Choice Bill Targets Military Families, Special-Needs Students – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
States and school districts would be charged with thinking much more critically about how to help students who have been in special education transition into the workforce and post-secondary education, under a bipartisan, bicameral bill to renew the federal Workforce Investment Act.
The provision, which was championed by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a longtime advocate for students with disabilities, would essentially take the idea of “inclusion,” which has become a hallmark of K-12 settings, and bring it into the workforce. (As most special educators know, “inclusion” requires students in special education to be in the least-restrictive environment possible, learning alongside their general education peers.)
via Bipartisan Workforce Bill Would Help Students Leaving Special Education – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
With music from Pharrell to the Village People, special education students in Solano County danced the morning away Friday in Armijo High School gym.
About 200 students filled the gym floor, some in motorized wheelchairs, a few with white canes used by the blind.
One couple, Lacey Culloty and Kristian Galvante, slowed danced to almost every song. A bevy of adults looked on, snapping pictures as the couple easily moved across the dance floor.
Nearby, a circle formed around those willing to give their break dancing skills a try. As a new dancer entered the inner circle, they were greeted by cheers. It was the same response for those who spun on the gym floor, then hopped up and out of the inner circle to watch others showcase their skills.
via Special ed students dance morning away at Armijo Daily Republic.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
Adam Wisnieuski loves to run.
That’s probably why the 9 year old from Dan Mini Elementary School got a first-place ribbon in the 50-yard dash Thursday during the Vallejo Special Olympics.
“Hercules!” Adam said, smiling and flexing his arms after competing in the javelin throw.
Nearly 200 Vallejo and Benicia students attended the event at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field. Braving the sunny weather, students competed in the 50-yard-dash, the hurdles and the javelin throw (using pool noodles rather than the more traditional weapon). Participants included students from the Vallejo City Unified School District, Benicia Unified and Spectrum School.
via Vallejo, Benicia students compete in Special Olympics – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Kimberly Fu
Joy bubbled over in Dixon Friday as hundreds of “differently-abled” youths from all over Solano descended on the May Fair grounds for a taste of fun before the event opened to the public.
Hurriedly streaming off school buses in waves shortly after 9 a.m., the students, their helpers and myriad school officials surged onto the fairgrounds for the annual Special Needs Kids Day event, sponsored by the Vacaville Rotary Club.
via Special Needs Kids Day a hit in Dixon – The Reporter.
By Christina Samuels
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, wants to see a big increase for federal special education funding, to the tune of $1.5 billion, in the next spending bill for the U.S. Department of Education. That would bring aid for special education to $13 billion, and the federal share of such spending up to 18 percent of the excess cost of educating a child with disabilities.
The feds originally pledged to pony up 40 percent of that funding when Congress first approved what is now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act back in the 1970s. But they’ve never come close to that threshold, and right now it’s about 16 percent. On Tuesday, Kline sent a letter asking for the increase to lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee. He was joined by Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., who oversess the House education subcommittee that deals with K-12 policy, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who has a son with special needs.
via House Education Chairman Seeks Special Education Funding Increase – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Barry Eberling
Youth and community members who work with special education students will be recognized for outstanding service on April 29.
The Community Advisory Committee recognition awards ceremony will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Solano County Office of Education, 5100 Business Center Drive. Awards are given to one person each from the Fairfield-Suisun, Vacaville, Travis, Dixon and Benicia school districts, as well as the Office of Education.
via Special education volunteers to receive honors Daily Republic.
By Barry Eberling
The Transition Information Fair will explore what may be the next step for students in middle school and beyond who have disabilities and students who are in special education programs.
It will provide information on various programs and agencies that assist with higher education, training, employment and independent living. More than 30 agencies will be present at the fair.
via Event to help special education students Daily Republic.
By guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell
The disparate rates at which schools suspend and expel African-Americans students and those with disabilities drive up the dropout risks for these already academically vulnerable students and help propel them into the juvenile justice system, according to a new set of reports that take a sweeping look at discipline practices across the nation’s public schools.
Likewise, Latino students, girls of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students also are disproportionately kicked out of classrooms for bad behavior, concludes the report by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative, a group of 26 experts from the fields of social science, education, and civil rights.
via Discipline Practices Fall Hardest on Minorities and Students With Disabilities – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.