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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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High School Students Reading at 5th Grade Levels

Huffington Post

"High school students today are reading books intended for children with reading levels far below those appropriate for teens, according to a recent report. A compilation of the top 40 books teens in grades 9-12 are reading in school shows that the average reading level of that list is 5.3 -- barely above the fifth grade."

Fall TV Lineup Focuses on Characters with Disabilities

Disability Scoop

"Television appears to be embracing disability more widely with network executives announcing this week a handful of new shows that prominently feature characters with special needs. Of the 17 new shows NBC plans to debut during the 2013-2014 season, three have main characters with disabilities."

Ditching The Deficit Model


"Children are more than one test, once a year, in one sitting. It seems as if many schools and districts have lapsed into a deep state of amnesia of Maslow's hierarchy of needs -- a possible lingering hangover from NCLB. So here's a radical assertion: When assessing and teaching children, the time has more than come for education to embrace the whole child. This approach calls for schools and educators to curtail the deficit model and replace it with the abundance model."

Career Advice from Adults with Dyslexia

Career Planning and Adult Development Network

"This article explains dyslexia and presents a Career Interest Inventory that is quick and easy to administer and will be useful to career counselors. A wide array of career choices is presented in an appendix that contains the names and professions of 60 highly successful successful men and women with dyslexia."

More States Requiring Students to Be Held Back

Huffington Post: Literacy

"Thousands of third-graders may have a sense of déjà vu on the first day of school this year: The number of states that require third-graders to be held back if they can’t read increased to 13 in the last year. Retention policies are controversial because the research is mixed for students who are held back, but a report published on August 16th by the Brookings Institution suggests that at least for younger children who struggle with reading, repeating a grade may be beneficial."

Literacy by 3rd Grade: A Renewed Priority

Huffington Post: Politics

'Thirty-two states have passed legislation designed to improve third-grade literacy, according to the Education Commission of the States. Retention is part of the policies in 14 states, with some offering more leeway than others. "Passing children up the grade ladder when we know they can't read is irresponsible – and cruel," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in announcing in his recent State of the State address that third-graders should demonstrate an ability to read before being promoted. He also proposed a $12 million program for improving third-graders' reading skills.'

Learning Powered by Technology

U.S. Department of Education

"The National Education Technology Plan, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, calls for applying the advanced technologies used in our daily personal and professional lives to our entire education system to improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement."

Find out more about the plan's specific goals!"

Game-Based Learning: What to Know

LearningWorks for Kids

"If we are to help children generalize the use of game-based thinking skills to real-world activities, first us adults must recognize the potential that technology play has for improving the thinking and academic skills of our children. Maximizing the generalization, or transfer of learning, from one setting to another in the real world requires a series of steps to ensure that the skill is learned effectively, appropriately applied in a new context, and then maintained over time."

Find out how to make gameplay productive in this article!

Attention-Deficit Drugs Face New Campus Rules

The New York Times

"Various studies have estimated that as many as 35 percent of college students illicitly take these stimulants to provide jolts of focus and drive during finals and other periods of heavy stress. Many do not know that it is a federal crime to possess the pills without a prescription and that abuse can lead to anxiety, depression and, occasionally, psychosis."

"Although few experts dispute that stimulant medications can be safe and successful treatments for many people with a proper A.D.H.D. diagnosis, the growing concern about overuse has led some universities, as one student health director put it, 'to get out of the A.D.H.D. business.'"

Expert Advice on Understanding ADHD

The Washington Post

"ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is indeed real. It is a complex condition with variable symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) estimates that 3-5 percent of kids have it. The biological basis is becoming better understood, but is still not completely clear. Fortunately, it is treatable, and the treatments that you have no doubt heard about—stimulant medications—are effective for most children. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence that purely behavioral or talk therapies are as effective as medications."

Visual Art Education Resource

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.'"

iPod Use Among Students with LD

Special Education News

"Computers like laptops and desktops are a common sight in classrooms nowadays and children are being taught using various computer programs. However, special education schools are now starting to see the effectiveness of using iPods as part of educational tools."

Epilepsy and Learning Disabilities

The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education

"Some children with epilepsy experience marked learning problems. Children with epilepsy may or may not have learning weaknesses that fit the traditional definition of a “specific learning disability”. A learning disability (or disorder) refers to a condition in which a person is reading, writing and/or arithmetic skills are significantly weaker than expected based on their intellectual ability (i.e. their IQ). A learning disability needs to be distinguished from a low intellectual ability (e.g., a mental handicap or borderline intellectual functioning), which is typically associated with difficulties in most academic skill areas."

What Makes a Teacher Qualified?


"Teaching performance is difficult to improve in part because the profession is so large. With about 4 million teachers in the profession, efforts to boost quality tend to take place on the margins. Many efforts focus on expanding the pool of new teachers entering the workforce, and on encouraging more teachers to work with special education and low-income students."

In a Decade, Childhood Disabilities Rise 16%

Disability Scoop

"Significantly more children have disabilities today as compared to a decade ago, largely due to increased diagnosis of neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions, researchers say. The prevalence of disability in children grew more than 16 percent in 10 years, according to findings presented Sunday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, a gathering of four leading pediatric organizations held in Washington, D.C."

"It’s unclear what’s behind the rise in disability prevalence, though greater diagnosis of autism could be at least partly responsible, said Amy Houtrow of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who is lead author of the study."

States Get Ranked On Disability Services

Disability Scoop

"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."

The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge Starts Today!


"ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is indeed real. It is a complex condition with variable symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) estimates that 3-5 percent of kids have it. The biological basis is becoming better understood, but is still not completely clear."

The 1in5 Initiative: New Resource for 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."

In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History

The New York Times

"Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web. 'Kids are wired differently these days,' said Sheryl R. Abshire, chief technology officer for the Calcasieu Parish school system in Lake Charles, La. 'They’re digitally nimble. They multitask, transpose and extrapolate. And they think of knowledge as infinite.'"

Dyscalculia: The Importance of Math in the LD Equation


"When children who struggle with learning are the topic of conversation, the spotlight is most often turned to reading. And with good reason. Trouble with reading is by far the most prevalent characteristic of specific learning disabilities (LD). That said, math is not far behind, and it is not unusual for individuals with LD to have trouble in both of these areas of learning and performance."

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