SEC News February 2016

Fulton County Schools

Amy Penn, Director, Services for Exceptional Children

Dr. Yolanda Williams, SEC Coordinator

FOCUS ON:

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

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For some time now, the participation of students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency in national, state, and district assessments has been a topic of considerable discussion and research effort, to the point that the National Research Council formed committees and conducted studies to address the issues. Accommodations frequently are cited as one of the key avenues for increasing the participation of students with disabilities in national and state assessments.

Generally defined, accommodations are changes in testing materials or procedures that allow students to show their knowledge and skills rather than the effects of disability or limited English proficiency. Through the IEP planning process, a team of professionals, family members, and the student makes decisions about which accommodations the student needs for instruction and for state and district testing programs. The teams consider the student’s learning and behavior characteristics. The student’s disability category alone does not determine whether an accommodation is needed or what type of accommodation should be used.

In order to help facilitate the accommodations selection process, the IEP team should use guiding questions to address the accommodations needed to address the student, the student’s environment, performance tasks required for the student to complete, and tools that the student will need to be successful.


The Student: Learner Attributes and Abilities

• What does the student need to be able to do that is now difficult or impossible to do independently?

• What are the student’s special needs related to the area of concern?

• What are the student’s strengths and current abilities?

• What are the student’s desires and expectations?

The Environment:

• What materials and equipment are currently available in the environment?

• What is the physical arrangement? Are there special concerns?

• What is the instructional arrangement? Are changes likely?

• What supports and resources are available to the student and staff?

• What are the attitudes and expectations of staff, family, and others?

• What are the specific issues regarding access to technology, physical environment, and instructional activities?

The Tasks: What the Learner Must Do

• What naturally occurring activities take place in the instructional environment?

• What instruction and assessment activities support the student’s curricular goals?

• What are the critical elements of the activities?

• How might the activities be adapted to accommodate the student’s special needs?

• How might technology or other strategies be used to support the student’s active engagement in those activities?

The Tools: What Helps the Learner to Achieve

• What no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech tools should be considered when developing an instructional system for this student?

• How might these tools be tried out with the student in the typical environments in which they will be used?

• What differentiated instructional strategies might be used to increase student performance? • What other accommodations, services, and supports does the student need to be actively involved and make progress in the educational program? • Does the student have a significant cognitive disability and need curriculum modifications (access points)?


When considering accommodations, it is important to obtain input from everyone involved—including the parents, special education teachers, and general education teachers who will be responsible for delivering the accommodations. The team should also include the student (when appropriate) when making decisions about accommodations. The student can provide important insights into accommodations that are both acceptable and needed. If a student refuses to use a particular accommodation because it makes him or her look different from peers, the team should consider other options. It is important to measure the effect of the accommodations to verify the student’s need. Data collected before and after the implementation of the accommodation can show whether the accommodation improves student performance. The IEP team should also base their decision for continuation of the accommodation on student data.

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Resources for Teachers: Tips for Using Technology

Use of Computer Technology to Help Students with Special Needs

SOURCE: Ted S. Hasselbring, Ed.D., Candyce H. Williams Glaser, Ph.D. Published in The Future of Children, Vol 10. No. 2 Fall/Winter 2000.


Devices to Assist Students with Visual Impairments


1. Closed-Circuit Television Magnification (CCTV): CCTV is designed to enlarge any type of text or graphic material by using a small vertically mounted video camera with a zoom lens directly connected to a monitor for displaying the image. The text or graphic material is placed under the camera lens on a sliding reading stand and the image is projected on the attached video monitor. CCTVs allow the user to adjust the magnification, contrast, brightness, and focus, and to change the background display to either black or white, or in some cases, color. Older CCTVs, while still useful for many classroom applications, are expensive and cumbersome to move. But the newer, smaller versions of this technology are portable, and thus much easier for students to use


2. Computer Screen Magnification: Most computers sold today allow for the magnification of the screen through the use of special software. Typically, the user can select a portion of the screen and then enlarge that section up to 16 times the original size. Although the user is somewhat inconvenienced by having to view a smaller portion of the original screen as the magnification increases, this technology makes it possible for students with visual impairments to use computers in ways similar to their nondisabled peers.


3. Screen Readers: Screen reader software represents what is known as a text-to speech application, which analyzes letters, words, and sentences and converts them into synthetic or digital speech. Today, text-to-speech software is common in many software packages, including many word processing and educational software programs in math, reading, and spelling. In some instances, the student can adjust the volume, pitch, and speed of reading, and even choose between a male or a female voice. With synthetic speech, the computer reads text passages, analyzes the phonetic structure of words, and attempts to reconstruct the words by putting together a string of synthetic phonemes that are then “spoken” by the computer.




This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on the Use of Technology to Help Students with Special Needs.

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Facts!

Technology can be the great equalizer in a classroom with diverse learners. Whereas teachers can find it difficult to differentiate instruction for 30+ students in one class, all with different needs and abilities, “assistive technology” (devices and software to assist students with disabilities) can often help teachers personalize lessons and skills enhancement to each child. Children with learning disabilities often have better technology skills than their teachers and are drawn to computers and other gadgets, so using them in the classroom makes perfect sense. For children with physical disabilities, technology can give access to learning opportunities previously closed to them. E-readers help students turn book pages without applying dexterity, and voice adaptive software can help students answer questions without needing to write. Computers are engaging and more advanced than the typical modified lesson allows. The widely-used teacher education textbook Educating Exceptional Children has a special section in each chapter focused on assistive technology explaining how it is used with exceptionalities ranging from giftedness to autism.

Assistive technology is not always just for students with disabilities; it can be used to help any student with motivation, academic skills, and social development

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Compliance Corner

Cristy S. Smith, Executive Director

Jennifer Butler & Tris Gilland, Coordinators of Compliance

IEP Meeting Planning is Essential!

In order to ensure timeline compliance, it is essential that you begin planning annual reviews in advance so as to make sure they are held on time. Because all team members have busy schedules and many other commitments/responsibilities, it is beneficial to facilitate the planning process by having the meeting invitations go out about 1 month in advance. It is also important to contact the parent(s)/guardian(s) at least 1 month in advance as well. This allows the parent ample opportunity for meaningful participation in the IEP process. Remember, if you do not receive a response from a parent/guardian upon initial contact, continue to try to make contact -- using various modalities -- to fulfill the 3 required attempts to contact them. You might consider contacting them by phone, email, and/or certified mail. After documenting the 3 attempts, should you still not receive a response, you may move forward with scheduling the meeting.

It is equally important that all relevant and appropriate team members are notified of the meeting. This could include: Speech/Language Pathologist, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Deaf/Hard of Hearing teachers, Vision Teachers, other applicable Itinerant teachers, Nursing Services, Services for Exceptional Students Coordinators (if needed), the student (if applicable), School Administrators (if appropriate), etc. If you find out the parent/guardian is bringing an advocate/attorney, you will need to contact your Learning Community Coordinator immediately. The meeting cannot proceed if you do not have Fulton County legal counsel, or other designated representation, in attendance.

Lastly, when sending the invitation to the parent(s)/guardian(s), include Parental Rights Regarding Special Education and documentation requesting parent comments/concerns. The parent comments sheet is a great way to include parental input in the draft IEP prior to meeting with the team.

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PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Behavior Think Tanks

February 19, 2016 - The Meadows

February 26, 2016 - North Learning Center

March 18, 2016 - The Meadows

March 25, 2016 - North Learning Center


Time: 12:00pm - 3:00pm


** All participants are strongly encouraged to bring their individual or class-wide data.

**All participants should arrive no later than 2:00P.M to receive the appropriate attention needed for discussion and create action plan.

SEC Professional Learning Day Options - March 11, 2016

1. Co-Teaching (Ester Jackson, 8:30-4)


2. How to Facilitate an Effective IEP (Asa Hillard, 8:30-11)


3. IEP Data Collection 102 (Sandtown, 8:30-11 or 1:00-4) *only for Data 101 participants*


4. IEP Placement & LRE (Westlake, 1:00-4)


5. Data Collection/FBA & Function Based BIPs (North Learning Center and The Meadows, 8:00-4)


6. Snap and Read & Co-Writer Universal (North Learning Center and The Meadows, 8:30-11:30 or 12:30-3:30)


7. Deep Dive Into Unique Learning (Johns Creek and Langston Hughes, 8:00-4) *ID/AU/PSE teachers only*


8. Think Social (Northwood, 8:30-4) *SLPs & AU 3 Teachers only*


9. Best Practices for ES School Therapy (Cambridge, 8:30-4) *SLPs only*


10. Therapy Strategies for the Adolescent (Banneker, 8:30-4) *SLPs only*


11. Make & Take Therapy (Woodland ES, 8:30-4) *OT/PT/OI Teachers only*

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