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Special education advocates are greeting the burgeoning common academic standards movement with a mixture of optimism and caution.
Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Serious problems with some Ohio school districts' special-education programs have gone unnoticed because of weak state oversight, a new federal audit says. The U.S. Department of Education visited in October to test how well the state Department of Education keeps tabs on schools' special-needs practices. Federal reviewers found that some of the school districts they spot-checked were blatantly violating the law and failing to properly educate disabled students.
The Washington Post (DC)
The Virginia State Board of Education approved revisions to special education rules yesterday that omitted two proposals that parents of disabled students had said would severely restrict their rights. But some parents said they are still worried about the state's procedures for evaluating children with special needs.
19-year-old Lena Rominscaia spent years in Portland public schools where she couldn't read lessons on the overhead projector, with teachers who failed to give her Braille textbooks or materials in extra-large print. Once she enrolled in the Oregon School for the Blind last fall, she was taught to write Braille and for the first time she can easily read her own writing. The 135-year-old school, which educates Rominscaia and 31 other students who are visually impaired, may close in three months due to a rise in favor for educating blind individuals in their local schools.
The Georgia Board of Education will vote today on new rules for providing vouchers to students with disabilities who want to transfer to other public or private schools. The policy was crafted to clear up confusion about application criteria, parent notification and qualifications for private schools receiving students in the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program.
Saying that many special-education students are being shortchanged academically, the state is considering changing the "IEP" diplomas awarded annually to thousands with severe disabilities. Controversial options include a change in the name from "diploma" to "completion credential" or "certificate." But some Long Island parents say a name change would unnecessarily embarrass teens with disabilities.
The Tennessean (TN)
A new law effective this month aims to keep disabled children safe from unreasonable, unsafe or unwarranted discipline. Previously, Tennessee had no laws or rules governing the use of restraint or isolation of special education students.
Roanoke Times (VA)
William Fleming High School Principal Susan Willis and four other school administrators inappropriately kept 31 students with disabilities out of state tests over the past two years, according to a report from the Virginia Department of Education. Administrators altered class schedules so that lower-performing students would not take Standards of Learning tests, the report said. That practice may have artificially boosted William Fleming's overall pass rates and made it more likely the school would meet state and federal benchmarks.
Des Moines Register (IA)
Iowa has joined a nationwide push to curb the use of physical force and "timeout" rooms in schools to discipline the most unruly students. "I don't believe that teachers or building administrators set out to be unkind or cruel or harmful to children. In the rare occasion that that happens, it happens really because of ignorance as to what to do. This should help alleviate any instance of that." said Susan Myers, a mother who heads the Access for Special Kids Family Resource Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Gotham Schools (NY)
A new push by the state to standardize the way school districts plan which services special needs students should receive is rattling parents across New York. The state wants to implement one Individualized Education Plan (IEP) form for all schools. Advocates worry that this would weaken parents' ability to insure that their child receives services.
For the second year in a row, the federal government is bracing for more states to request a pass on requirements that they hold special education spending harmless as they struggle to balance their budgets, leaving school districts to find ways to meet all students' needs with less money.
The fear of due-process hearings looms large in disputes between parents of children with disabilities and schools. But more than 80 percent of requests for due process mdash; a legal remedy outlined in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mdash; never get to the point at which a hearing is held, according to the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, a national technical-assistance center on resolving special education disputes.
"Arizona is the place to be when it comes to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a new national ranking. The listing is part of a report set to be released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy, which ranks disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."
At least three states have asked for permission to cut back on the money they provide districts for special education, under a built-in escape clause in the federal special education law that is aimed at financially struggling states.
U.S. News and World Report
New evidence suggests that a cholesterol-lowering drug widely prescribed for adults may not help children with a fairly common genetic disorder. Zocor (simvastatin) did not improve cognitive function in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a disorder which can involve learning disabilities.
The Daily Orange (NY)
Caleb Sheldon's eyes darted around the room, until a phone call awoke him out of his train of thought. His mom was on the line. But he heard only half of what she was saying; the other half belonging to the bouncy ball that exploded with light as it hit the floor in front of him. Sheldon, a junior economics and math major, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and he's not alone. According to Syracuse University Health Services, 8 to 9 percent of SU students have it, too.
The Daily World (LA)
The St. Landry Parish School District held its first official training session Monday to address the over-representation of minorities for special education services. Approximately 60 teachers, instructional specialists and special education staff crowded into the district's pupil appraisal center to learn System to Enhance Educational Performance, or STEEP.
New York Times
The transition from high school to college is tough for most students. But for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, university life poses a host of academic, medical and personal challenges. Although some children appear to outgrow the disorder as they age, doctors say that as many as two-thirds have symptoms that persist into adulthood.
Learn about accomodations, supports, and specialized instruction that can enable students with LD to thrive in the classroom.
Los Angeles Times
Movies helped Steven Spielberg cope with his dyslexia, the director of "Jaws" and "Schindler's List" said in a rare interview about being diagnosed with the learning disability five years ago. "It was like the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I've kept to myself all these years," Spielberg, 65, told the website "Friends of Quinn."