September 2011 | News You Can Use

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Getting Organized for a New School Year!

Kids on the playground at school.

Only the kids get recess now!


Don’t agonize. Organize.

~~Florynce Kennedy.


It’s time for the kids to go back to school (or maybe they’ve been in school for weeks already). That means updating files, learning new names and places, Meet the Teacher nights, and new backpacks and binders.

This month, we’re focusing on essential information sources to get you through Back to School and the start of the school year. Whether you’re a student, parent, teacher, or administrator, the new school year brings a fresh start. We hope you’ll stash a few of these resources in your Trapper Keeper to get you through the rough spots!

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us at

Our best to you,

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities



New NICHCY “app” for android phones!
NICHCY is very pleased to offer a new app (application) for android phone users. It’s called DisAbilityConnect. With just a tap of your finger, you can find the contact information for organizations offering info on disabilities, special education, early intervention, support groups, and many more disability connections.

DisAbilityConnect is easy to download to your android phone. Just go to:

p.s. And for all you iPhone users….be patient. We’re working on a similar app for your smart phone.

Resources to help you tackle this new school year.
NICHCY has loads of info to help you address the challenges of a new school year. We’ve listed three of particular note below. You’ll find more scattered throughout the newsletter.

Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students | There are many powerful ways to support children with disabilities in regular classrooms and school activities. Adaptations and modifications, designed to fit a student’s needs, can make all the difference in the world!

Using What Works | Connect with the “how-to’s” of what really helps students with disabilities learn: learning strategy instruction, peer tutoring and cooperative learning, explicit instruction, mnemonic instruction, graphic organizers, study aids and guides…very exciting for teachers and students alike.

Parental Rights to Participate in Meetings | The right to participate in meetings related to their child is one of the most important and powerful of parent rights.

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Collection on Specialized Instructional Support Personnel
Personnel in every role in the school community need to know how they and their colleagues can collaborate and contribute to reach the goal of success for all. Here’s a collection of resources that will help them do just that.

The collection focuses on specialized instructional support personnel—SISP, for short. The SISP collection includes tools to learn about the roles that support personnel play in school and how to more fully use their skills and talents in school improvement. The collection includes:

  • three tools to learn about the perceptions of the school community on SISP,
  • a customizable workshop with PowerPoint slides,
  • a Presenter Guide and activities;
  • Dialogue Guides to support your conversations about the topic,
  • a ‘plain English’ glossary of terms, and
  • links to additional resources.

Virtual mentoring on using the collection is available to local education agencies committed to starting a dialogue and leading change on important issues with its stakeholders. For more info on virtual mentoring for this collection, or others at the IDEA Partnership, contact:
Diane Oglesby at

Find the collection itself at:

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Find your parent center!
Do you know about the Parent Center Network? It’s a great source of information about supports that are available to families of children with disabilities at the federal, regional, and state levels. Find your local parent center (from over 100!) by clicking on a map at:

Back-to-school resources for parents, families, and students.
Getting organized? Putting that best foot forward? You may find these resources useful to you and yours.

Setting kids up for success this school year.
This is the theme of LDonline’s August 2011 newsletter.

Back-to-school countdown.
10-9-8-7 tips from About Special Children, including helping your child with homework and how to communicate with his or her school. And next week the countdown continues….

Meet your IEP team: A parent’s guide to special-education players.

May a member be excused from an IEP meeting?

Before you sign your child’s IEP.

Want to know more about the Common Core State Standards?
Wondering what the common core standards are in English language arts and math that more than 40 states have adopted? This guide will help you find out. It’s available in both English and Spanish.

Report on the “state” of learning disabilities in the U.S.
About 5% of public students (2.5 million) in the U.S. have a learning disability, of which almost two-thirds are male. Find out key facts and current statistics about LD, as well as info about LD in secondary schools, postsecondary education, and the workforce. From the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).

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Early learning: Content resources!
The Center on Instruction has added a new category of content resources to its website: Early Learning. Highlighted are resources that have been reviewed by COI experts for quality, relevance, and usefulness in this content area.

NICHCY resources for you.
While early intervention and early childhood classrooms aren’t exactly “back-to-school” in the classic sense, there’s plenty of start-ups and welcomings going on. Looking for info to help the little ones with delays or disabilities? These resources might be useful.

Good overview to share with families new to early intervention.

Our overview in Spanish.

All about parent participation.
Two sections here: one for families, one for EI providers. Includes info on responding to cultural and linguistic diversity.

Need technical assistance or expert guidance?
Go to our “who’s who in early intervention” page.

 Value of early education long-term: A special issue of Science.
“Investing Early in Education” looks at three longitudinal studies and explores what they have taught us about the long-term value of high-quality early intervention.

Dialogic reading practices: Check out this web-based module.
CONNECT offers a new online module for early childhood practitioners. Meet Tenisha, a pre-K teacher who notices that some children are not paying attention during storybook reading, and learn how she implements dialogic reading practices to engage the children and help them develop language and literacy skills.

Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers.
This comprehensive report from the National Research Council synthesizes the findings on early childhood education, language acquisition, and emergent skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Read about the science of learning (cognitive development), the impact of cultural variations, preschool program quality, curriculum and pedagogy, assessment, preparation of early childhood professionals, and program and practice standards. The report also makes recommendations for scientifically based instructional practices.

Read the report online

Listen to a podcast summarizing the report’s findings

Videos galore at Results Matter.
Results Matter is an early childhood initiative of the Colorado Department of Education, but the videos emerging from the project can be used nationwide by early childhood educators individually or as part of professional development, team meetings, observation practice, and parent orientation. More than 30 videos have been added recently to the video library, so there’s lots to choose from, use, and share.

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Give students materials that are accessible!
It’s the law, for one. But it also makes sense that students with disabilities can actually use their textbooks and workbooks. Some can’t, because of print disabilities. But there’s lots of help in getting them AIM—accessible instructional materials. Then everyone’s off to the same start!

What the law says about schools’ responsibilities to make AIMs available to students.

Where to learn about AIM, including contacts in your state.

Educator’s guide to getting accessible materials for your students.

Other great resources of accessible materials.

Would assistive technology help this student?
Tens of thousands of students with disabilities can benefit from assistive technology (AT), which supports their learning, communication, and participation in school. Each student’s need for AT must be considered by the student’s IEP team, and that’s just the start of it. Find out more with these resources.

Definitions, considering AT, and your state’s AT projects.

Family guide to AT: In English and in Spanish.

For the IEP team: Does this student need AT?

Find AT products forstudents with disabilities.

Inclusion: How-to’s and resources.
Including students with disabilities in the general education classroom isn’t a new idea or practice, but each year it brings challenges to both schools and families. Try these resources to help you get organized and effective.

8 reasons to be more inclusive, peer arrangements for inclusion, and differentiating instruction.

School inclusion: Making it happen.

Starter set of resources.

Increasing student learning time.
Doing What Works initiative offers a suite of resources on its website, featuring elementary schools, increased learning time programs, partnerships, and schools with extended learning day initiatives that successfully implement research-based practices connected to increasing learning time. Practitioners can learn about the research base for schools and programs seeking to increase student learning time, see how these practices are implemented in schools, and access professional development tools and planning templates.

Addressing challenging student behavior.
NICHCY’s Behavior Suite (a series of 5 separate webpages) will connect you with sources of information for helping children who have behavior challenges.

English language learners: An IRIS module for school staff.
Today’s schools include students who speak more than 400 different languages. So knowing how to address the needs of those who are learning English (ELLs) may be on your agenda! Try the IRIS Center’s new professional development module on the subject. It’s free, it’s online, and it will tell you about topics such as second language acquisition, sheltered instruction, differentiated instruction, vocabulary instruction, and more.

Retain new teachers!
Schools struggle to maintain a well-qualified staff, especially special educators, novice teachers, and paraprofessionals. Here are two resources to help you start the new school year off by building in supports for your staff that will encourage them to stay.

Recruiting and retaining teachers.
Connect with summaries, guides, how-to’s, what the research says, organizations to know, and resources on mentoring new teachers.

Addressing the revolving door: How to retain your special education teachers.
This IRIS Center module is designed to help frame discussions at the state and local level to address special education teacher retention issues.

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Intensive TA available.
The Personnel Improvement Center (PIC) is now accepting applications for intensive technical assistance services to states that will begin October 1, 2011. The PIC offers these services to SEAs and Part C lead agencies to increase their capacity to recruit and retain early intervention, special education and related services personnel. The application package is available at:

ED Data Express.
This new website will help you view some of the important data that the U.S. Department of Education collects from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. You can easily find information on your state (“State Snapshots”) and even build your own state table. The site includes options to download information into Excel or manipulate the data within the website.

What competencies should early educators have?
Find out in this concept paper from the National Professional Center on Inclusion (NPDCI). The paper identifies issues and provides guidance to states as they develop early educator competencies in the context of inclusion.

How the recession has impacted children and families.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which provides the most current information about 10 key measures of child well-being over the last 20 years. This year’s report looks at how the recession and the job and foreclosure crises have affected children and families, showing that the number of children living below the child poverty rate increased 18% between 2000 and 2009.

Download the full report at:

See your state’s profile on the 10 indicators of child well-being at:

DOJ releases technical assistance guide on enforcing the Olmstead decision.
The U.S. Department of Justice has released a technical assistance document describing the obligations of public entities and individuals’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1999 landmark Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C. The Olmstead decision held that the ADA requires public entities to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when such services are appropriate; the individuals do not oppose community-based treatment; and community-based services can be reasonably accommodated. DOJ has also created a new section of its ADA website that provides information and resources about the Olmstead decision and its enforcement.

Students with disabilities at postsecondary institutions: An NCES report.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released Students with Disabilities at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions, a first look at national estimates of students with disabilities at 2-year and 4-year Title IV eligible, degree-granting institutions for the 2008-09 academic year. The report includes national data on services and accommodations provided to students with disabilities, institutional policies regarding students with disabilities, and various aspects of institutional accessibility including universal design and website accessibility.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between FHI 360 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.

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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