Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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The Tennessean (TN)
Nashville's special education students belong in regular classrooms, served by teachers trained to meet their needs, a task force composed of parents, researchers and advocates said Wednesday. The Mayor's Advisory Council on Special Education released a six-month study of special education services. Reform could take up to five years to roll out, but Mayor Karl Dean said it's one of his top priorities.
The Daily News Tribune (MA)
After moving to the city three years ago, Denise Cummings struggled to find help for her 10-year-old son, David, who had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. She found that critical help with the Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
The Sparta Independent (NJ)
Parents of elementary students with special needs addressed the board of education this week demanding answers and action regarding what they see as deficiencies in the education their children are receiving in the district. The main complaint is the kindergarten through fourth reading program, which the parents believe is inconsistent and ineffective, and causing their children to fall behind.
Bridgewater Independent (MA)
Professor Lisa Battaglino has made it her mission to bring special education to some of the world's most vulnerable children. Battaglino said it's heartbreaking to meet kids who would benefit from intervention but aren't getting it. She's spent the past year in Belize helping the tiny Central American country develop a special education program.
The drop-off in stimulus spending by the federal government is likely to put a dent in special education programs at some New Orleans schools, with the Orleans Parish School Board planning deep cuts in its special-ed workforce ahead of the next school year.
Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Under pressure from politicians and thousands of parents of special-education students, the state education department has backed down from proposed rule changes that would limit parental consent for ending special-education services. The proposed rule changes drew 77,000 comments from the public — the most ever.
The Seattle Times
As a task force begins this spring to revamp Seattle Public Schools' approach to special education, it's likely many classrooms around the district will include more students in general-education classes and educate more special-education students at their neighborhood schools. The details haven't been worked out, but in general, the district will try to deliver services to the students instead of bringing the students to the services.
Washington Post (DC)
D.C. public schools continue to fall woefully short in meeting the needs of students with learning disabilities and physical or behavioral challenges, according to the report of a federal court monitor.
Special education students in Texas public schools are nearly twice as likely to be suspended as students in the general education population, according to a recent Texas Education Agency report to the Senate Committee on Education. The expulsion rate is also disproportionate: Though special education students make up just 10 percent of the enrollment in Texas public schools, they account for 21 percent of expulsions, according to the School-to-Prison Pipeline report published by Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit public interest law center.
Spurred by the U.S. Department of Education's $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant competition, more than a dozen states have passed laws to reform how teachers are evaluated and include student growth as a component. For most students, that growth will be measured on standardized tests. But for special education students that is considerably more complicated.
The fastest-growing teaching segment is in special needs. While growth in student enrollment overall is expected to slow, special education needs are rising, in part because of better and earlier diagnoses of developmental problems. Teachers trained in specialty areas, such as teaching children with autism or those with multiple disabilities, are expected to be in particular demand.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Part educators, part cheerleaders, Kopp and her colleagues in Arrowhead's special education department work with students with disabilities to be sure they pass the state test. They cajole students to finish their math homework, help them learn new reading strategies and prepare them for the state's annual testing regimen. The tests are given late in the fall to sophomores, meaning there's tension in the first months of the school year. Much of the tension revolves around reading.
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio educators don't expect much to come from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reaffirming that parents can send special-needs students to private school on a public school's dime. Parents still will have to appeal to the state to force unwilling school districts to cover private-education costs, state officials said. But special-education advocates called the ruling a small victory, and experts said it will put districts on notice that they must provide a "free and appropriate public education," a requirement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
While some educators remain skeptical, brain research is slowly migrating from the lab into the classroom, both in predicting which students may have learning difficulties and intervening to help students diagnosed with disabilities.
The widespread adoption of common-core academic standards is expected to accelerate a growing movement among educators to link individualized education programs for students with disabilities directly to grade-level standards. "Standards-based" IEPs allow individualized instruction in pursuit of a common goal: helping students with disabilities move toward meeting the same grade-level academic standards that general education students are supposed to meet.
The Eureka Reporter (CA)
Mikey is a special needs child, part of a growing population in Humboldt County. This article looks at what the National Institute of Mental Health has to say about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), how California is addressing the problem, and how it impacts local educators and families like Mikey's.
Times Union (NY)
A local group wants to open the city's first charter school for special education students, a proposal that comes after years of criticism from opponents who accused school operators of shunning special needs students because of the higher cost to educate them.
Burlington Free Press (VT)
Accommodations for students with disabilities aren't entirely new to higher education, but technological advances are making more learning aids possible, and not a moment too soon. Rather than retrofitting a course every time, professors might want to consider designing the course in advance for virtually everybody. The prevailing term for this in higher education is "universal design for learning," or UDL.
Press of Atlantic City (NJ)
Samantha Ravelli loves to read the Cheetah Girls books, and her mother, Beth, is more than happy to buy them for her. The books represent not just a pre-teen trend, but a major learning accomplishment. Three years ago Samantha, dyslexic and in third grade, could not read. Help for her came in the form of the specialized Wilson reading system.
Entrepreneurs share some surprising psychological traits. Julie Logan, of the Cass Business School in London, found in separate surveys in 2001 and 2007 that 20 percent of the British entrepreneurs and 35 percent of the American entrepreneurs she studied were dyslexic.