The biggest problem for teachers these days? Overbearing parents, according to a survey of teachers in a well-to-do suburb outside Baltimore. A Baltimore Sun article cited a soon-to-be-released survey of teachers in Howard County, Md., a district of about 48,500 students. The survey reports that 60 percent of teachers have reported harassment, primarily by parents. Those working conditions make it particularly difficult to retain special education teachers, according to the Howard County Education Association, which conducted the survey. The association is an affiliate of the National Education Association. An official with the Carroll County Education Association, the NEA affiliate ...


John McCain has been busy lately--clinching the Republican nomination for president, visiting the White House to receive an official endorsement from President Bush. Not too busy, however, to wade into one of the most controversial issues roiling the autism community. According to a recent New York Times article, McCain said during a campaign stop in Texas that “It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children." He continued, "The question is, what’s causing it? And we go back and forth, and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in ...


Kudos to Rachel A. Holler, the principal of Stewart Middle School in Norristown, Pa., and go-to special education law expert Perry A. Zirkel of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., for a recent research article that attempts to take a crack at quantifying just how many "section 504" kids are in public schools. Their work has been published in the March issue of the National Association for Secondary School Principals Bulletin. But first, a quick primer on "Section 504:" Section 504, a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, actually predates the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by two years. It ...


The National Center on Educational Outcomes, a federally funded center that provides "national leadership in the participation of students with disabilities in national and state assessments, standards-setting efforts, and graduation requirements," is promoting a number of new reports available on its Web site. I'll be examining these reports more closely for potential story ideas, but here are a few that jumped out: States’ Alternate Assessments Based on Modified Achievement Standards (AA-MAS) in 2007: NCEO doesn't try to assess the quality of these tests, which can be given to 2 percent of students who are capable of learning grade-level content, but ...


Among the most well-attended sessions at last year's huge Council for Exceptional Children convention were talks on co-teaching: bringing general education and special education teachers together in one classroom to focus on the instruction of children with special learning needs. Educators in co-teaching arrangements stressed that in order to work well, such partnerships require focus, planning, even a little chemistry. I saw this in person when I visited co-taught classrooms in San Antonio; one pair of teachers I met worked so well together they were practically able to finish one another's sentences. They were up front in saying they were ...


Perhaps the question mark betrays my reporterly skepticism. I must admit that when I heard about an ABC World News story on a nonberbal 13-year-old girl with autism who was now using a computer to express herself eloquently, I thought, hmm, is this "facilitated communication?" I know that assistive devices can be tremendously helpful for children who cannot speak. But facilitated communication, where a helper in some cases supports the hand of the person who is disabled, has had a rockier history. A critical 1993 Frontline story on the issue said that in at least some cases, the facilitator was ...


And what they've said is, they want to know about response to intervention. I lost track of the total number of questions I screened for yesterday's online chat about RTI after counting about 100. The panelists did a great job of fielding as many as they could, but to get to all of them would have required another few hours. Judging from the inquiries, there's a lot of interest in how RTI might work for older students, for English-language learners, and for students struggling in academic subjects other than reading. Educators also want some reassurance that they're doing RTI the "right...


Be sure to tune in to the Education Week website at 2 p.m. EST Feb. 20 for an online "chat" I'm moderating on response to intervention. Two researchers and two school principals will be taking questions from readers. I'll update this post with a link to the transcript once the discussion is over....


San Francisco-based school psychologist Rebecca Bell has a hilarious entry called "The Newbie" on her blog, Notes from the School Psychologist. In it, she offers words of wisdom to other new school psychologists out there: New psychs: Be patient. It took FOUR years to get the staff on board with the idea that we didn’t need to refer every child with academic or behavioral needs to special education “just to rule out a disability.” I had so much paperwork involved when there was an inappropriate referral it was ridiculous. Some parents didn’t even know that what they signed ...


Response to intervention for young elementary students is starting to take off, and now preschool educators are getting in on the act, thanks to an initiative from the New York City-based National Center for Learning Disabilities and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NCLD made a recent trip to Capitol Hill to introduce congressional staff to a response-to-intervention type process for preschoolers called "recognition and response." At the same time, they explained that NCLD has been promoting a key element of recognition and response, early screening, through a center-backed ...


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