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Your Favorite Special Education Posts of 2015

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If you have a few extra moments to read during this winter break, take some time to revisit this blog's most-read posts from the past year. 

IEPs Must Be Aligned to Grade-Level Standards: As a part of the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance reiterating the fact that student educational plans must be aligned to grade-level standards. Easy to state, but so complicated to do in reality, judging by the comments that this blog post received.

Co-Teaching for Rookies: Building Trust and Looking at the Big Picture  and Co-Teaching for Rookies: Classroom Organization and Managing Details: When a beginning teacher wrote in asking for advice on co-teaching, readers of this blog came through in a big way. These two blog entries, made up entirely of your advice, were the result.

Increased Autism Prevalence: Untangling the Causes: Everyone knows that the rate of autism diagnoses has increased dramatically over the past decade or so. But what is behind this? (Spoiler alert: scientists aren't sure. But they're zeroing in on a combination of genetic and environmental factors.) 

It's Fine for Districts to 'Say Dyslexia,' According to New Ed. Dept. Guidance: Many schools have shied away from using the term "dyslexia," but the Education Department reminded school districts that there is no reason to avoid the term. 

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to 'Stay Put' Ruling: My colleague Mark Walsh wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear a case on a complex provision of special education law having to do with student placement during educational disputes. 

What We (Don't) Know about English-Learners and Special Education: Research in this area is thin, but the Regional Laboratory West at WestEd, in a paper examining the issue, outlines some best practices.

More States Meet Requirements Under Federal Special Education Rating System: Nineteen states earned a "meets requirements" assessment from the Education Department for their special education programs, up from 15 the year before. 

What Does ESSA Mean for Special Education?:  A taste of what the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act may mean for students with disabilities. Look for many more articles on this issue in 2016. 

It's Not Your Imagination: Special Education Lingo Getting Harder to Grasp: This was one of my favorite blog posts from the past year and well as a favorite of readers'. Sarah Nagro, now an assistant professor of special education at George Mason University in Virginia, researched how special education documents have gotten more dense over the year, despite awareness that simple language is better. The entire blog post is written at a 6th grade level, which experts suggest is the level that teachers and districts should aim for in their communications with parents. 

See you next year! 

Photo: Paraprofessional Vicky Henderson works with a 3rd grader, Payton, during story time in his special education classroom at Clinch County Elementary School in Homerville, Ga.—Melissa Golden for Education Week


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