October 19th, 2009

So glad to see SpedEx on the CADRE website!

Here’s the URL…http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/ctu/practicesA.cfm?id=102

As you know from prior blogs, SpedEx is the innovative, child-centered, dispute resolution model in Massachusetts. Free to parents and schools (eight cases per year are funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). First come, first served!

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October 17th, 2009

Alas, not writing well in K-12 has consequences…

Interesting and sad…. today’s set of blogs about the fact that university professors are finding that their science students do not write well. And their law students!

What we do at the K-12 levels has legs that continue through the education and life systems…

http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2009/10/literally-doomed.html

http://www.joannejacobs.com/

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October 16th, 2009

NAEP math scores released… and upcoming hearings

LRP ran an interesting story on line about these scores and students with disabilities (SWD). Among its findings are that SWD continue to perform poorly and the gaps between student groups are pretty much as they were in 2007.

Another issue was highlighted, however. That is the fact that different states exclude different numbers of students from the NAEP testing–the range is wide. For example, on the 8th grade math tests, the range was reported to be from 9% in Arkansas to 56% in Maryland.

How are we supposed to make any sense of these numbers and how are comparisons to be drawn. The article cited my concerns about this, and I quote a small portion for you.

“This, not the gap in scores, is the real problem, according to Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, a special ed attorney and consultant. After all, she said, many students with disabilities have academic problems, which is why they’re in special ed in the first place. “If we now are supposed to close [achievement] gaps, I don’t think that’s realistic…..” she said. On the other hand, “we want this thermometer [theNAEP] to work. . . . But if we have exclusions all over the place, we have a broken thermometer.”

The July 22 report by the National Assessment Governing Board’s Expert Panel on Testing Students with Disabilities, on which I sat, urged states to have a 95 percent participation in NAEP by students with disabilities. You can find the report at http://nagb.org/newsroom/PressReleasePDFs/SD-Panel-Report.pdf. There is also a PowerPoint presentation at the NAGB website.

Finally, note the upcoming hearings in Los Angeles and Washington DC about the reports by the Expert Panels (for students with disabilities and English language learners). Information is at http://www.nagb.org/newsroom/release/release-100109.htm
Written comments due on November 10.

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October 11th, 2009

The gift of life, and its price–New York Times today

In the context of our national health care debate, today’s NY Times front-page story is fascinating… about the rise in births of twins–especially through fertility treatments. The price? Into the seven figures per births…..

As I read it, I was struck by the fact that The Times indexed the story in the Health section. Those of us who work in public schools, especially with special education, know that it should also be indexed in the Education section, as, sadly, there is a link between premature births and special education. Will The Times run the education story next?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/health/11fertility.html?hp

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October 10th, 2009

FIXING Special Education–almost published!

Dear friends of education reform,

My almost-ready-and-soon-to-be published new little flipbook, FIXING Special Education–12 Steps to TRANSFORM a Broken System is almost here. We expect a late October launch!

The book is mentioned in Joanne Jacob’s terrific blog today,
http://www.joannejacobs.com/tag/miriam-kurtzig-freedman/

This little flipbook will be availabe at Park Place Publications….
http://stores.homestead.com/parkplacepubsstore/-strse-School-Law-Pro-Series/Categories.bok

And, of course, through my website, http://www.schoollawpro.com/

This little flipbook of reforms balances the tale of special education’s success with the need for reform. 12 steps to transform this broken system for the 21st century. The 12 steps provide a framework for discussion and action–with openness, balance, common sense, and without the fear of touching this law.

Stay tuned! Onward and upward for systemic reform!

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October 4th, 2009

Another excellent op-ed about reading: Not a SKILL, but a knowledge based necessity.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/daniel-willingham/willingham-reading-is-not-a-sk.html

While this debate is going on about the national standards movement for all students, I am reminded of the many IEPs–Individualized Education Programs–for students with disabilities that schools provide across our land. Too many, focus on reading skills: decoding, encoding, reading comprehension, fluency, etc. —without relating reading to the knowledge that students need to learn and know. Reading is not an isolated skill, as this op-ed points out. if students continue with IEPs through elementary school–then middle school and even beyond, when do the knowledge-based reading programs kick in?

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