This'll be a light blogging week as I work on another story, but I wanted to pass this along: I have heard some parents of children with disabilities suggest that it is difficult to have "soft skills" included on their child's individualized education program. This study, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, suggests why such skills are important. According to a University of Illinois professor who studies the sociology of education, high school sophomores who were rated by their teachers as having good social skills and work habits, and who participated in extracurricular activities in high school, made more ...


Arizona's voucher program for students with disabilities and students in foster care was invalidated today by the state's high court. The unanimous decision stated that the $5 million program, which I wrote about last June, violates a state law that prohibits state funds from going to private schools. From today's story from the Associated Press: Though supporters argued that students and their parents were the true beneficiaries of the programs, the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling said the programs still tripped up against the Constitution's prohibition against appropriating money for private education. "These programs transfer state funds directly from the state ...


The student newspaper at North Carolina State University, the Technician, reported that the university will be cutting some specific special education programs to meld them into a more general special educator degree. The students in the Master of Education in Special Education will still be taught different strategies for teaching students with different special needs, just not each in a separate class. Students will have the skills to handle more general situations, but they may not be as highly specialized for dealing with specific special needs students, according to Ellen Vasu, the department head for instruction and counselor education. "The ...


I'm embarrassed to say I just didn't hear this when I was watching the president on Jay Leno last night, possibly because I was reading and listening at the same time. The dangers of multitasking. Appearing on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, the president told host Jay Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129. Then he remarked: "It was like the Special Olympics or something." The audience laughed, but the White House quickly recognized the blunder. The Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is a global, nonprofit ...


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 ...


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