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Articles: Special Ed

Cathy Boshamer is the director of special services for Spartanburg District 5 in South Carolina.

The Office of Special Education Programs revised its accountability operation in 2014 to shift the balance from a system focused on compliance to one that emphasizes results. The new framework has been a breath of fresh air, especially for those of us working in special education.

Students from Minford High School in Ohio visit with therapy dog Bella after a fellow student was killed.

Here are some tips from Jen VonLintel, of School Therapy Dogs: 

Find studies that show benefits. A binder of research and examples of dogs working in schools can be key to gaining the support of top administrators and/or the school board. Include insurance documents, training data, vet certificates and reports on progress made by students who have worked with therapy dogs.   

School’s certainly in session for canines throughout the nation: Therapy dogs, security dogs, and service dogs walk the halls alongside students in many schools. Here is a look at five more districts that have welcomed canines into classrooms in recent years.

Disabled students are in every group, including this graduating class. The national graduation rate hit a historic high of 82 percent in 2014; however, students with disabilities graduated at a rate of 63 percent. (Photo: Communities In Schools)

While national graduation rates hit an all-time high of 82 percent in 2014, the trend for students with disabilities remained flat at nearly 63 percent. In three states, students with disabilities graduated from high school at half the rate of their non-disabled peers.

A recent federal court decision on the statute of limitations for families to take legal action against schools sheds new light on compensatory services provided to special education students when IEP goals are missed. Parents may now seek several years’ worth of special education services.

Photo Essay: A ball pit, trampoline, squeeze machine, swing, balance beam and tactile boxes offer a sensory break from overstimulation—bright lights, loud noises and constant motion of a classroom—to elementary students at Woodbury City Public Schools in New Jersey.

Luvenia Jackson knows students can’t learn when they’re in jail. During 40 years in education, the Clayton County Public Schools superintendent has seen that academic performance cannot improve systemwide under zero-tolerance discipline.

A Chicago Public Schools teacher leads a social emotional learning lesson in an elementary classroom.

Social-emotional learning programs improve the grades and behavior of all learners—but special ed students may benefit even more from lessons on mindfulness, self-regulation and cooperation, experts say.

A first-of-its-kind Connecticut law allows parents to include their child’s paraprofessional in school planning and placement team meetings that create individualized educational programs.

A curriculum framework initially developed for special education students is gaining traction in general ed classrooms nationwide during Common Core implementation.

A look, from the U.S. Census, at the number of students served by the IDEA. (Click to enlarge)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The law fundamentally changed the way students with disabilities are educated in America, and the way states fund their K12 education programs.

IDEA requires the federal government to provide 40 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure in the United States, multiplied by the number of special education students in each state, to educate students with disabilities.

In the Bonneville Joint School District in Idaho Falls, Idaho, a Summit Hills Elementary School student, right, takes a speech/language therapy class with therapist Claire Plowgian, above.

More districts now deliver speech and occupational therapy online. It’s a solution for staffing shortages, especially in less populated areas, when therapists can provide therapy, participate in IEP meetings and handle other tasks remotely.

Psychologists from Boston Public Schools participate in PD events as part of the district’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.

In many schools, psychologists have time for little more than assessing students. That prevents them from using their range of skills in counseling, data analysis and preventing bullying, suicide and violence. 

The Common Core is presenting a new challenge—and offering little guidance—to special education teachers working to keep their students on pace with their peers.

In September, the Karner Blue Education Center opened its brand new doors to some 100 K8 special education students in the Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District in Minnesota.

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