The blog Disability Scoop is featuring a question-and-answer session with a New York-based transition coordinator. I was interested in her answer to this question about people with cognitive disabilities and support after high school: ....do not leave school before you must. If you have not completed the requirements for graduation, you are entitled to stay in school until the year you turn 21! For all the struggles you may face within the school system, school services are mandated by law. Adult programs require meeting eligibility requirements, which often makes services far less comprehensive and user friendly. I recently wrote an ...


Two years ago, I wrote an article about the growing popularity of voucher programs for students with disabilities. But that was before someone let the air out of the economy. Now, with state budgets pinched, some programs are having to cut back the number of voucher recipients they pay for. From a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: About 1,600 students statewide receive vouchers under Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program, up from nearly 900 in 2007-08, the program’s inaugural year. Although the enrollment has nearly doubled, the funding, which is based on a student’s diagnosis and individual ...


Earlier this week, I blogged about two teachers in Washington who were suspended for refusing to give state assessments to students with severe cognitive disabilities. Now, the state is forming an advisory group to look into the issue of state testing of students with disabilities, though it appears the recent suspension controversy wasn't a direct factor in the formation of the group. State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn already is convening a special needs advisory committee to figure out what can be done to change the state assessment system while still complying with the federal No Child Left Behind law, said ...


Get ready for more teacher training, more technology, and perhaps more resources for early intervention programs as school districts start to get their hands on the $12.2 billion allocated by the federal government for special education stimulus funds. There are still a lot of unresolved questions, superintendents told me for a story I wrote this week. (Story here.) Though we in Washington have focused on the U.S. Department of Education, superintendents don't work directly with the federal government on issues like these. The state departments of education are the entities that monitor district compliance and program quality, and ...


I'm sure you may have heard about two teachers in Seattle who were suspended for 10 days without pay for failing to give tests to their students with severe cognitive disabilities. Lenora Stahl and Juli Griffith each were suspended for 10 days without pay for not following through with training and reports required for the Washington Alternative Assessment System (WAAS), a version of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning intended for students with special needs. "I understand that you are taking this position as a matter of principle," says a March 2 letter to the teachers from Seattle Schools Superintendent ...


The Council for Exceptional Children has invited several heavy-hitters in the world of response to intervention to write on a monthly basis about different aspects of the educational framework on a monthly. This month's blog series will be written by Janette Klingner, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a specialist on special education for bilingual students. Last month's entries were written by Lynn Boyer, the director of special education for West Virginia, on how to implement RTI on a statewide basis. All of these experts offer useful insight into the complexities of implementing RTI in an ...


I have wondered if there's anything in the stimulus bill that offers assistance for students with gifts and talents. Unlike Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, there is no federal mandate for gifted programs. Instead, the cost of gifted education is borne by the states. But when I spoke to Jane Clarenbach with the National Association for Gifted Children last week, she said that the stimulus could mean that more beginning teachers will leave college prepared to teach gifted children, as well as students with disabilities, students who have limited English proficiency, and students with low literacy ...


Quick! The Secretary of Education is having a conference call with reporters tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:30 p.m. In the unlikely event that I'm able to get a question in, what are some things you want to know? Friend-of-the-blog Jim Gerl has a great set of questions up on his own site, but they are detailed and unlikely to be answered in this format. But I'm sure I can get an interview at a later date, and this can help steer my coverage. UPDATE: As I might have predicted, the department wasn't prepared today to talk about special education. ...


Here's something fun: five high school engineering teams that have invented assistive technology will compete against each other this week. The program is a part of the fourth annual National Engineering Design Challenge (NEDC) Finals Competition. The competition, sponsored by the AbilityOne Program and the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS), attracts teams of students from across the country who design and build an assistive device for a person with a disability to use in his or her workplace. Last year's winning team created a device that allowed a user to change a tie trash bag with only one hand. (This, ...


A few months after I started this blog, I came across the news of a due-process hearing in a small district in Michigan. What caught my attention was that the father of the student at the center of the case was also a school board member of the district he was suing. Also, the 150-student district, with just one K-12 school, had budgeted an eye-popping $250,000 for the hearing, which dragged on for months. (See here and here.) Earlier this month, the issue was finally resolved, in favor of the parents. The 142-page decision said that the Northport School ...


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