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Just as it has every June since 2006, the U.S. Department of Education last month delivered a rating to each state and territory based on the performance of its special education programs. But when you ask state and federal officials if the effort has led to better education for students with disabilities, the answer that comes back is: We're not sure.
The Press-Enterprise (CA)
Eric Atkinson says he has struggled with dyslexia throughout his education, but after being diagnosed while attending community college, has found ways to work around it. In fact, he has earned three postsecondary degrees, is working on a fourth, and won first prize in the prestigious Randolph Edmonds Young Scholar program at the annual Black Theatre Network conference. His award-winning paper compares the origins of hip-hop with the development of bebop jazz 60 years ago.
The New York Times
Playing action video games may improve reading in children with dyslexia, Italian researchers have found. The small study, published online last week in Current Biology, involved two groups of 10 dyslexic children. One group played action video games for nine sessions of 80 minutes each, while the other followed the same routine with nonaction games.
Sandwich Broadsider (MA)
Former "Happy Days" star Henry Winkler said he never thought he could write a book because of his dyslexia. But he just recently finished the 15th book in the Hank Zipzer series. "I have done a lot of things in my career and — outside of my children — I am the proudest of these books," Winkler said.
Woodbury Bulletin (MN)
As children return to school this week, we should all be encouraged that Minnesota state and local schools are going the extra distance to ensure our youngest students reach that first major milestone of success: learning to read.
Virginia officials are moving to sharply limit an alternative testing program that many schools in the Washington, DC suburbs use to measure the abilities of special education students who traditionally have fared poorly on the state's Standards of Learning exams.
News Leader (VA)
S. Gordon Stewart Middle School of Fort Defiance, Virginia hosted a Disability Sensitivity Day on Tuesday. Sharon Blatz, assistant professor in the exceptional education program at James Madison University and the other coordinators of the day at Stewart wanted students to come away from the various activities with a new understanding of what their peers living with physical, cognitive and learning disabilities go through each day.
The Virginian-Pilot (VA)
Seth Porter bursts with questions and answers. But at his old school, his raised hand often was ignored. It's different in Jared Setnar's history class at Chesapeake Bay Academy. At this private school on Baker Road, most students have struggled or failed in other settings. They have learning disabilities that can make school frustrating for them despite natural intelligence. Setnar, 29, understands. "I'm learning disabled, too," he said.
Virginia education leaders moved this week to introduce a standardized test for students with disabilities and phase out a widely used alternative that many officials say is undermining the state's accountability system. The modified multiple-choice test is expected to be more objective than the flexible, portfolio-style exam that thousands of students in Northern Virginia are assessed with now. A small sample of schools will try it this spring.
You have probably said or heard the phrase "My eyes are playing tricks on me." Local doctors say that if your child is underperforming in the classroom or on the playing field, he or she may be suffering from a problem that literally plays visual tricks on eyes. You've likely heard of dyslexia, but that's not the only vision issue your child may face. The issue begins with two seemingly interchangeable words: vision and sight.
Smarthistory & Khan Academy
"Traditional textbooks are prohibitively expensive for many and do not take advantage of the digital technologies that are reshaping education. For example, textbooks often use only a single image to represent a work of art, they speak with an authoritative but impersonal voice, and they rarely incorporate the many valuable resources that universities, libraries and museums make available."
"We built Smarthistory to emphasize the experience of looking at art by using unscripted conversations recorded in front of the work of art whenever possible, by incorporating numerous images and video, and by curating links to high-quality resources on the web."
"Smarthistory joined Khan Academy in October 2011. Our missions are perfectly aligned—we are all working toward a 'free world-class education for anyone anywhere.'"
Visual mathematics is an online tool that clearly illustrates high school-level math concepts. Math homework frustration could soon be a thing of the past...
The New York Times
Take a look at the Learning Network's (NYT) weekly feature done in collaboration with Visual Thinking Strategies. They publish a NYT image without a caption or any other clues about its origins, then invite students to write in to discuss what they see in it. Full information about the image is posted 24 hours later.
Sioux City Journal (IA)
Randy Geyerman claims the Sioux City Journal was to blame for his volunteering with Western Iowa Tech Community College's Adult Literacy program. Following the publicity in the newspaper about four years ago, Geyerman contacted WIT to offer his services. WIT provides training and materials and strategies for working in a one-on-one situation with adult learners, said Derek Albert, WIT adult literacy coordinator. The program needs between 10 to 15 volunteers each year.
The Arizona Republic (AZ)
A $5 million voucher program for disabled and foster children that was cut from the state budget has been reinstated, tapping unused dollars in the state's public-education fund. It means that the estimated 400 children who benefited from the program last year will be able to continue in private schools, and ends ongoing dispute over the program.
Arizona Daily Star
Devon Dobbins was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder in elementary school. When her family learned the state was offering scholarships to special-needs students to go to the school of their choice, including private schools, they jumped at the chance to send her. Devon is among 225 students statewide with special needs whose scholastic fates will be determined by the Arizona Supreme Court, which will hear arguments Tuesday about whether it's legal to send state dollars to private schools to educate special-needs and displaced foster children.
The Washington Times (DC)
In the second part of their editorial, two Manhattan Institute fellows look at the benefits of special-ed vouchers, finding that the current special-education system is an arrangement that only lawyers could love. Adding vouchers to the mix changes the dynamics for the better by giving families an alternative mechanism for getting what they need.
News 8 Austin (TX)
Seventh grader Perry McGill and his mom want Wiley Middle School in Waco, TX to stay open. "In this school, mama, you can do a lot more things," he said. Among the many things Perry is referring to is getting the special instruction he needs as he has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, (ADHD). "My son has been through so much. He's been all over. They have sent him from place to place," McGill said. Principal Kermit Ward said Perry is part of the 25 percent of students at Wiley Middle School with unique needs.
Bellingham Herald (WA)
Marlene Easley uses the three-dimensional nature of clay to help break through the barriers to learning that are created by dyslexia. The 58-year-old Bellingham, WA teacher can list hundreds of students, age 6 to 62, whom she has helped overcome both reading and math dyslexia during intense one-week programs through her business, Dyslexia Unlearned.
Government Technology Magazine
A Seattle-based library that offers services to thousands of blind and visually impaired individuals is joining state government as a division of the Secretary of State.