August 2010 | News You Can Use

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August 2010

A pretty black teacher sits on the corner of her desk.

Special focus on teaching students with disabilities.




The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.NICHCY is pleased to send you the latest issue of News You Can Use. There are many great resources coming from OSEP’s TA&D Network (these are marked with the TA&D logo you see to the left) and from organizations beyond the network. May these help you and yours, personally and professionally.

As the summer slips through our hands, we know that school is on a great many minds. Teachers and parents are gearing up for the children heading into another school year of challenge and possibility. It’s a big job for everyone. That’s why the special focus of this month’s enewsletter is Teaching Students with Disabilities.

We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us at

Our best to you, as always.

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities



In anticipation of the new school year knocking at the door, we’d like to point you to the following resources on NICHCY’s website that might come in handy in the months ahead.

Who’s eligible for special education?
IDEA defines the categories of disability under which children may be found eligible for special education services in public school.

What are the 10 basic steps of special education?

What’s involved in evaluating children for disability?

Parent notification, consent, and right to participate in meetings and decision making.

Writing that IEP: Who’s involved, what’s in it, what goes on at the meeting.

How is a student’s placement decided?

When families and schools don’t agree: Options for resolving disputes.

Addressing behavior issues.

What about school discipline policies for students with disabilities?

Adolescence: Time to plan for transition to adult life.

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Lots of great new stuff from Matrix Parent Resource Center.
Matrix is one of 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) nationwide, providing training and information to parents of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with all disabilities – physical, cognitive, emotional and learning. Matrix also serves as the leading agency for Region 6, providing assistance to Parent Centers in eight states. Check out these two new resources:

Back to school supplies for parents
Online training: Building Confidence and Building a Better IEP

Tell ADD what issues are most important to you.
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities wants to hear what issues are most important to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. They want feedback and ideas, stories, problems, and successes. Respond to the Priority Survey at the address below—the deadline’s September 10th.

Take ARC’s Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) survey.
An informational survey is being conducted by The Arc,
to capture the perceptions of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages,and their families, on issues concerning disability support needs across the life spectrum.

It’s Our Story.
The It’s Our Story archive went live exactly 20 years after the Americans with Disability Act was signed into law. The website archive holds the most comprehensive collection of video, photos, and documents uncovering the power, pride, and personal struggle of living with a disability in America.

A Family Guide to RTI.
RTI stands for response to intervention. It’s a tiered program that provides extra instructional support to struggling students and also helps schools determine if more intervention is needed, such as special education. for parents: Encouraging your child’s higher order thinking skills.
Higher order thinking (HOT) goes beyond basic memorization and recounting simple facts. It’s the deeper kind of thinking that requires kids to do something with the facts: understand, infer, connect, categorize, manipulate, assemble in new ways, and apply. This article describes several simple ways that parents can encourage children’s complex thinking.

Child Welfare Information Gateway.
The gateway connects child welfare and related professionals to comprehensive information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families.

For family organizations: Assessing your cultural competence.
While there are many tools and instruments to assess organizational cultural and linguistic competence, none has been specifically developed to address the unique functions of family organizations concerned with children and youth with behavioral-emotional disorders, special health care needs, and disabilities. The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Family Organization Assessment Instrument was developed to fill this void.

Questions about workplace accommodations or the ADA? Ask JAN.
JAN is the Job Accommodations Network, and the info they offer about providing accommodations for people with disabilities in the workplace is extraordinary.

Adult autism and employment: A guide for VR professionals.
This guide is intended for vocational rehab professionals and employment service providers. It discusses the aspects of autism that can impact a person’s job performance and how the job and work environment can be adjusted to accommodate.

Save the Date for the National Conference on Autism and Employment.
March 3-4, 2011 in St. Louis, MO.
This conference is bringing the autism and vocational rehabilitation communities together to improve employment opportunities for adults with autism. Find out more at:

Taxi toolkit and taxicab operator’s pocket guide.
Easter Seals Project Action offers The Taxi Toolkit, a compilation of resources for taxi drivers and operators who want to provide good customer service to passengers with disabilities. The toolkit features a self-study course, a PowerPoint presentation for group training, Frequently Asked Questions on the ADA, an Extreme Taxi Overhaul Game for training, a customer service poster, and a Taxicab Operator’s Pocket Guide.

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Video: Foundations of Transition for Young Children.
This 8-minute video from Project CONNECT gives an overview of the desirable outcomes of transition, research identifying effective transition practices, as well as the legal requirements of early childhood transition.

DEC’s 26th Annual International Conference on Young Children with Special Needs and Their Families.
October 14-17, 2010 in Kansas City, MO
DEC is the Division for Early Childhood, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children. Find out about the conference, at:

The Department launches the Early Learning Initiative webpage.
This webpage will give you information about: key programs, funding opportunities, resources and publications, technical assistance, and interagency work; early learning in the Administration’s proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); and investments in early learning across departments.

Essential elements of high-performing, high-quality Part C systems.
NECTAC Notes No. 25 is available for download.

Early Childhood Research & Reference Portal.
Also from NECTAC, the portal links to national and state by state EC data sources, evidence-based practices, online journals, literature databases, and grants databases.

New from CSEFEL.
The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning offers several new videos and guidelines.

How do I decide?
Guidelines on: How to Choose a Social-Emotional Curriculum and When to Seek Outside Help for Children’s Problem Behavior.

Online videos
Two CSEFEL videos, Promoting Social Emotional Competence and Practical Strategies for Teaching Social Emotional Skills, can now be viewed online.

Literacy Express.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released an updated Intervention Report on Literacy Express, a preschool curriculum designed for 3- to 5-year-old children that aims to improve oral language, literacy, basic math, science, general knowledge, and social-emotional development.

Evidence-based practices for young children with autism spectrum disorders.
A new issue of the International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education (INT-JECSE) includes an article highlighting evidence-based practices for young children with ASD and discusses guidelines and recommendations from the National Resource Council and the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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IEP and inclusion tips for parents and teachers.
This 82-page guide is beautifully produced, very easy to read, and full of info.

iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch apps for special education.
This comprehensive list describes apps that support reading, writing, communication, organizational skills, and much more. A homework tracker, alphabet flashcards, American Sign Language, and visual whiteboards are just a few specific examples.

Dare to differentiate.
That’s the name of this wiki on differentiated instruction. It covers a rather amazing gamut of ideas, strategies, and and DI principles.

Autism modules online.
This series of online learning modules includes information on assessment and identification of ASDs, recognizing and understanding behaviors and characteristics, transition to adulthood, employment, and numerous evidence-based practices and interventions. All module content has been written by ASD experts from across the U.S. Register for free and have at ‘em!

Essential components of RTI.
This brief developed by the National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI) identifies and describes the essential components of RTI: a school-wide, main-level instructional and behavioral system for preventing school failure; screening; progress monitoring; and data-based decision-making for instruction, movement within the multi-level system, and disability identification.

Functional behavioral assessments: What, why, when, where, and who?
From Wrightslaw.

IEPs for students with behavior problems.
Another from Wrightslaw.

A national online library of professional development resources.
This library provides local educators with easy access to an array of resources that can be used or customized to meet their needs.

Effective instruction for adolescent struggling readers.
This 2nd edition from the Center on Instruction details selected research-based instructional practices associated with positive effects for adolescent struggling readers. The suite includes (a) a meta-analysis, (b) a practice brief, (c) a professional development module, and (d) training of trainers materials.

WWC reviews research on adolescent literacy interventions.
Methods designed to improve adolescent literacy are the focus of three new WWC Intervention Reports in the topic area of Adolescent Literacy. The reports examine the research on Reading Mastery, Accelerated Reader™, and Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction.

How high schools become exemplary.
A new report from the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University looks at 15 outstanding public high schools from Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland,Texas, and Washington, D.C. The main lesson is that student achievement rises when leadership teams focus on improving instruction.

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Building a successful early childhood home visitation system.
ZERO TO THREE has published a collection of resources related to its June 22, 2010 webinar on Successful Early Childhood Home Visitation State Systems. Resources include a self-assessment tool for states; 1-page descriptions of four model states; and a recording of the webinar and all webinar materials.

Central Office transformation for district-wide teaching and learning improvement.
This report on changes that help transform the focus of school district central offices from administration and compliance to improving classroom instruction is based on an in-depth study of central office reform efforts in Atlanta, New York City, and Oakland, California.

Guide to teacher evaluation products.
This tool is a searchable database of products used for evaluating teacher effectiveness. It includes detailed descriptions of over 80 products listed in eight general evaluation categories including classroom observations, portfolios, instructional artifacts, teacher self-report measures, student performance measures, value-added models, and combination models.


Challenges in evaluating special ed teachers and ELL specialists.
This brief from the TQ Center offers policy and practice recommendations for regions, states, and districts to help them create evaluation systems that reflect the measurement of academic achievement growth for their students and how to connect that growth to teacher effects.

Virtual K-12 public school programs and students with disabilities.
This policy forum proceedings document describes the current status of virtual public school programs in general and special education programs in particular, including what has been found to work in the area of virtual special education from the federal, state, rural, parent, and related service provider perspectives. Findings from the policy forum are discussed as key issues and recommendations.

Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups.
This NCES report examines educational progress and challenges in the United States by race and ethnicity.

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SPECIAL FOCUS:  Teaching Students with Disabilities

It’s time to go back to school–to new teachers, new students, new school buildings, new lockers, and new and old friends. Educating children with disabilities is a serious responsibility for schools and their staff, so we hope these resources will help administrators, educators, support personnel, and families plan for and address the special learning needs of the millions of children with disabilities in our schools.

Making classroom accommodations.
Take another look at our April 2010 enewsletter’s special focus section.

Teaching special kids: Online resources for teachers.

Intervention techniques.
Students studying special education at the University of Virginia and East Tennessee State University have read and summarized scores of research articles about teaching techniques for exceptional learners.

Visit Teacher Vision.
You won’t be sorry. What a wealth of information on teaching students with disabilities, managing classroom behavior, providing accommodations, adapting curriculum, and much more. Start with these three pages:

Adaptations and modifications

Special needs – Teacher resources

IEPs and beyond

Would the student benefit from assistive technology?
IDEA requires that IEP teams consider student needs for AT. Check out the
Assistive Technology Tool at the updated TechMatrix to find educational and assistive technology products for students with special needs. Find reviewed products, research, and resources; compare educational and AT products side by side; and explore research topics such as math, reading, differentiating instruction, and science for struggling students.

A new STAR Legacy Module: Assistive Technology: An Overview.

More on AT for students, from the experts.
The Family Center on Technology and Disability is loaded with info on specific AT products and how to use them to support the needs of students with the disabilities in the classroom and beyond.

Specific Disabilities

AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

How can teachers help students with AD/HD?

Helping children with AD/HD succeed at school.

AD/HD instructional strategies and practices.
From the U.S. Department of Education.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The puzzle of autism.
A guide from the NEA (National Education Association).

Autism: Interventions and strategies for success.

Visit Autism-World.


Behavioral/emotional disorders.

Best practices for behavior disorders in the classroom.

Strategies for teaching students with behavioral disorders.

Behavior at school.


Learning disabilities (LD).

Visit LDonline.
This is a premier source of info on LD for educators.

TeachingLD, a must-visit, too!
TeachingLD is a service of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) of the Council for Exceptional Children.

And here’s a 3rd–the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Sorry we can’t list more—-more disabilities, more resources. But we’ll be back next month! See you then.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between AED and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


Comments on our newsletter? Too long? Too short? Off-target? Right on? Suggestions for future topics? Please feel free to contact us at We’re here to help you help children with disabilities.

NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to