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 New York Times
The number of New York students passing state reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported, unsettling parents, principals and teachers and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.
The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
As the Ohio state-mandated school testing season kicks into high gear, some testing coordinators and special-education teachers are scrambling because of a shortage of a an adapted test form required for special needs kids. A number of districts did not receive any or all of the booklets required for students who must have the Ohio Achievement Test read aloud to them by an aide or for those who listen to it on a CD, creating a chaotic situation for special education teachers as they prepare for testing.
The Star (Canada)
The Toronto Star's three-part article paints a portrait of a child moving from grade to grade without learning. Yesterday's article showed how a psycho-educational assessment of a student is done. It was an extraordinary look at a process usually cloaked in mystery. Today, 13-year-old Josh and his mother Linda (whose names we have changed to protect their privacy) get the test results — and, perhaps, a lifeline.
Kalamazoo Gazette's Family Talk Magazine (MI)
Parents may wonder when to ask teachers whether their children qualify for special education services. Experts say the sooner the better. When the school follows through with an assessment, several different processes begin.
Perhaps no topic has as thoroughly vexed officials who oversee the nation's leading test of academic progress as the wide variation among states and cities in the proportion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency whom they exclude from taking the exam or provide with special accommodations for it.
Dallas Morning Star
The moment Jordan Malone's dreams of the 2006 Turin Games died, after he'd skated at the U.S. Olympic short-track speedskating trials on a broken right ankle, he headed straight for his No. 1 teammate in the stands: his mom. Almost four years later, Malone's improbable story has continued. In September, Malone will try again, this time for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Malone has battled more than injuries to stay on the ice. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. Because of banned substance regulations, he takes only an herb to try to control his ADHD, and skating has always helped.
Fort Worth Star Telegram (TX)
When McKenzie Hightower learned that her essay had won a national writing award, she wrote a jubilant note to her teacher that wrapped up her thoughts succinctly. "Omg." Hightower's e-mail read, short for "oh my gosh." But don't mistake the informality for a stunted vocabulary. Hightower's ability for expressive composition is earning her accolades. Her evocative account of growing up with dyslexia won a gold medal in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition.
Beaumont Express (TX)
A bill in the Texas Legislature proposes education options for families of children with disabilities. Authored by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, it would provide scholarships to parents of children with disabilities. Those could be used in special education programs in either a public school in another district or a private school.
Waco Herald-Tribune (TX)
Lindsay Gray, 8, is mailing 170 Christmas cards to veterans and service members to send them a bit of holiday cheer. She's sending one card to each of the 168 veterans' hospitals across the country, as well as to the military hospitals at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. "She has dyslexia, so this has helped with her concentration more," said Lindsay's mother, Kara Lowe. "Even though she memorized what she wrote in the cards, she's still writing and not getting her letters mixed up."
The New York Times
Despite sharply reducing state testing requirements for Texas high school students, the 83rd Legislature brought only conditional relief from high-stakes exams for students in lower grades, who take a total of 17 state tests before going to high school. For parents and educators who want less time spent on state exams in elementary and middle school, hopes are pinned on the new legislation, but with a big caveat: it is likely that Texas must first obtain a No Child Left Behind Act waiver from the federal Department of Education.
Wicked Local (MA)
Behind the classic hipster he played on "Happy Days", Henry Winkler was an insecure kid who suffered from dyslexia. Winkler's children's book series "Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever" is based on his real life struggle with learning disabilities. Winkler will appear at the Sandwich High School auditorium on Today, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. to promote the newest Zipzer book "The Life of Me (Enter at Your Own Risk)" and to talk about how he overcame dyslexia.
The 1in5 Initiative
Learning Ally has created a new online support community and dyslexia resource. The site is explore1in5.org. It's a place where people who have or know others with dyslexia can find others "not only seeking answers, but also dispensing advice. 1in5 is an oasis, rich in audio and video communication, where you can upload your stories and experiences, and watch the stories and experiences of others."
"Finding apps isn’t difficult. Finding education apps is only a bit more challenging. Finding free education apps is also possible. Finding free education apps worth downloading is a different story entirely."
"The following is our list for the 55 best apps for learning we can find. Some are formal learning–math drilling and phonics, for example–while others are RSS readers, social media platforms, and the like. These are purposely not all purely academic, “training” apps that focus on individual skills, but rather the an array of apps students could use daily to improve their ability to think, connect, and use information."
"In a world as fast-changing and full of information as our own, every one of us — from schoolchildren to college students to working adults — needs to know how to learn well. Yet evidence suggests that most of us don’t use the learning techniques that science has proved most effective. Worse, research finds that learning strategies we do commonly employ, like rereading and highlighting, are among the least effective."
Gabbi Urban, a senior at GlenOak High School, doesn't let dyslexia keep her from communicating. Art has become her outlet. "A lot of people are afraid of learning disabilities, but it's not a negative — we just learn differently."
It's only in recent years that ADHD is becoming better understood in girls and women. But we still have a long way to go, according to Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and coach who specializes in ADHD. She noted that we need to improve how we identify girls with ADHD, evaluate them and administer treatment.
The New York Times (NY)
This "Really?" column looks at claims, widely promoted online and advocated by various companies, that eye exercises can reduce the need for glasses and ease learning disabilities. The bottom line: Eye exercises are useful for some problems, but they do not seem to relieve myopia or dyslexia.
RTI Action Network
The legal dimension of response to intervention (RTI) has been the subject of considerable confusion. This brief article provides an overview of the prevailing misperceptions, or what may be termed the “common lore,” and the corresponding objective recitations, or the actual law, regarding RTI. Many of the misinterpretations are due to the professional norms or particular preferences of scholars from the various fields—including school psychology and developmental neuroscience—that intersect at special education.
Like one in five students, Jacob has language-based learning disabilities that affects his reading and writing abilities. His challenges include dyslexia, dysgraphia, slow processing and decoding issues. When asked what's hard about reading, the fourth grader answers, "Sounding out words. Sounding out words, yeah. It shouldn't. I just feel I have no time and I have to rush. So, it was hard for me to sound out words or read words or memorize words."
The Wall Street Journal
As a mother of two children with ADHD, The Wall Street Journal's Work and Family reporter Sue Shellenbarger wonders, "How can you tell whether all that splintered energy will help your own child succeed? And how can you help channel all that mental voltage productively?" She asked a few famous ADHD sufferers and their parents for answers, including the founder of JetBlue airlines, the founder of Kinko's, and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" host Ty Pennington. Ty's mother, Yvonne, says that while many viewers get emotional watching her son deliver remodeled homes to deserving families, she cries for different reasons. After being told years ago that her unruly son was the worst kid in his school, she says, "my tears come from the joy, at how far he has come."