Project Forum docs May-07

I received an announcement from the Project Forum folks that the following documents are now available for download:

Project Forum also plans documents on these topics:

  • Consumer and Parent Participation in State Monitoring;
  • Crosswalk of INTASC principles and select specialty program association standards;
  • Early Childhood Part C State Technical Assistance Systems: State of the States;
  • Including Youth with Disabilities in Statewide Initiatives;
  • Reading First and Special Education: Collaboration between General and Special Education;
  • Standards-based IEP Exemplars;
  • State Support for Mentoring of Special Education Teachers; and
  • Statewide Electronic Data Collection

Project Forum documents

Paula J. Burdette, Ph.D., of Project Forum at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, reported the release of the following new Project Forum documents. These materials are prepared under Federal Cooperative Agreement H326F050001 and are designed to be useful for special education professionals who prepare initiatives, develop technical assistance plans, design policy, and so forth.

* Reporting on State Assessment Data for Students with
Disabilities: Synthesis of the 2007 NCEO Report

* This In-Brief Policy Analysis is a synthesis of a detailed document produced by the National Center on Educational Outcomes in which they conducted nine analyses of the public reporting of state assessment results for students with disabilities. Results show that all 50 states reported some disaggregated general assessment results for students with disabilities; 36 reported participation and performance data for all general assessments; 12 reported participation and performance for some general assessments; and two reported only performance data for all tests. More states reported all assessment data publicly for assessments that are considered for NCLB accountability. This synthesis document summarizes assessment performance, trends and other information. Recommendations for reporting are given.

* Public and Parent Reporting Requirements: NCLB and IDEA

This In-Depth Policy Analysis lists the requirements in the No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act regulations separately. State reports, additional public information and reporting to parents are each explained separately for IDEA regulations. Similarities and differences between NCLB and IDEA and concluding remarks are included.

Visit the Project Forum Web site

Winklemans’ day in court

The New York Times reports the hearing before the Supreme Court yesterday about the rights of parents to represent their child in a Federal Court. While it may have little to do with the actual education of any child, I always find it fascinating when our nice, tightly defined special education system, for which most folks outside of those involved don’t give a hill of beans, actually impacts the great big world out there. So it is with this case with the following issues reported in the article:
Continue reading Winklemans’ day in court

RF inquiry

On 22 September 2006 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published a document entitled “The Reading First Program’s Grant Application Process: Final Inspection Report” (3.3 Mb PDF) in which the Office of the Inspector General reports the results of an audit of certain aspects of the Reading First program. Reading First is a central piece of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. According to the report, the OIG audit of the grant award process indicates that

  1. FINDING 1A— The Department Did Not Select the Expert Review Panel in Compliance With the Requirements of NCLB.
  2. FINDING 1B— While Not Required to Screen for Conflicts of Interest, the Screening Process the Department Created Was Not Effective
  3. FINDING 2A— The Department Did Not Follow Its Own Guidance For the Peer Review Process
  4. FINDING 2B— The Department Awarded Grants to States Without Documentation That the Subpanels Approved All Criteria
  5. FINDING 3— The Department Included Requirements in the Criteria Used by the Expert Review Panels That Were Not Specifically Addressed in NCLB
  6. FINDING 4— In Implementing the Reading First Program, Department Officials Obscured the Statutory Requirements of the ESEA; Acted in Contravention of the GAO Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government; and Took Actions That Call Into Question Whether They Violated the Prohibitions Included in the DEOA

My observations (numbered to correspond with the OIG findings):

  1. FINDING 1A— Having been chair of one of the subpanels, I was a bit surprised by the concern about the review panels; it’s a pretty august group (a list of the panelists follows). One OIG concern is that the subpanels, each composed of five members, did not include someone nominated by each of the legally stipulated entities (the Secretary of Education, the National Institute for Literacy, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). As the report notes, ED created a 12-member panel that did fit the criteria; as I recall, this was composed of the subpanel chairs.
  2. FINDING 1B— The conflict reported is that OIG’s review of 25 panel members’ vitae reveals that 6 panel members had “significant professional connections” (undefined) to Direct Instruction. I don’t know whether my vita was reviewed (it’s available here for those who want to examine it). Fortunately, about 72 of 72 panelist appear to have had significant connections to evidence-based practice. I do not recall reviewing any application that expressly recommended what I suspect the OIG report identified as a DI program.
  3. TFINDING 2A— he critique of the process is that ED Reading First employees sent summaries of the panel reviews to the applicants rather than sending them the longer report of the panel chair. As a panel chair, I know my co-panelists and I labored over our individual reports and that I put a lot of work into summarizing everyone’s concerns when I prepared our summaries of our meetings. I’m sorry the applicants didn’t get to see them.
  4. FINDING 2B— Here the problem OIG reports is that some applications were funded even though the subpanel reviewing them had not determined that the proposal met standards on all the criteria. As I recall, this could not have been the case for any of the proposals reviewed by our subpanel, as we reviewed them all until all criteria met standards.
  5. FINDING 3— [Begin correction based on comment] The finding refers to the fact that some of the language used to describe the minimal standards to which panels held applications went beyond the criteria specified in the law. I do not remember whether any of the proposals our panel reviewed would have been funded after fewer reviews had the standards reflected the law rather than the revisions included in the review criteria.
  6. FINDING 4 [End correction]— This is a multi-part finding. (a) OIG’s concern here is that the development of documents providing guidance to applicants and reviewers were more stringent than the actual law; as I recall, reviewers’ packets include both the criteria and the law itself. (b) Reading First folks acted to publish a report for which NIFL had contracted. It’s the same report that, earlier in the OIG’s report, the Inspector General identified as a product a representative of Nevada applicant said would have been helpful in developing Nevada’s application. (c) Reading First folks indirectly encouraged consultants to one of the applicants to include Reading Mastery on it’s list of approved core reading programs. (d) The Reading First administrators recommended to another ED employee that the employee discourage local education agencies from using reading materials that would not pass muster as scientifically based and discouraged others themselves. Apparently this was not an appropriate exercise of oversight or monitoring of state and local education agencies’ compliance with the Reading First process.

For those who are interested in the composition of the panel, a list of the members’ names and affiliations follows.

  • Maria Elena Arguelles, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, University of Miami
  • Janet Sloand-Armstrong, Ed.D. Managing Director, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network
  • Rebecca Barr, Ph.D., Professor of Education, National Louis University
  • Donald Bear, Ph.D., Professor of Curriculum & Instruction, College of Education; Director, E.L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy, University of Nevada-Reno
  • Marsha Berger, Former Deputy Director of the Educational Issues Department at the American Federation of Teachers
  • Muriel Berkeley, President, Baltimore Curriculum Project
  • Frances Bessellieu, M.Ed., Director of Reading and Reading Excellence Act Coordinator, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)
  • Pauline Bigby-Jenkins, Ph.D., Title I and ESL coordinator for Ann Arbor Public Schools, Michigan Reading Association Board of Directors
  • Carmel Borders, M.A., President, Tapestry Foundation; Presidential Nominee, National Institute for Literacy,
  • Susan Brady, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Rhode Island
  • Kathleen Brown, Ph.D., Director and Clinical Assistant Professor at the Reading Center in the Graduate School of Education, University of Utah
  • Joanne Carlisle, Ph.D., Professor, Educational Studies, Research Scientist, Communicative Disorders Clinic, University of Michigan
  • Margaret Carnes, R.N., Managing Director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Education Foundation
  • Mary Cirillo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OPCENTER, L.L.C, Hudson Ventures
  • Carl Cole, Ph.D., Director of Special Services, Bethel School District
  • Anne Cunningham, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education and Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education, University of California-Berkeley
  • Shirley Dickson, Director, Statewide Curriculum Initiatives and Director of Reading, Texas Education Agency
  • Jan Dole, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, University of Utah
  • Rebecca Felton, Ph.D., Educational Consultant
  • Jack Fletcher, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Associate Director of the Center for Academic and Reading Skills at the University of Texas, Houston Health Science Center
  • Barbara Foorman, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center for Academic and Reading Skills
  • Anne Fowler, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Haskins Laboratories
  • Catherine Froggatt, R.N., Michigan State Director, The National Right to Read Foundation
  • Alice Furry, Ph.D., Chief Administrative Officer; Project Director, UCLA Extension/Los Angeles Unified School District, Governor’s Reading Initiative PreK-6, California Professional Development Reading Institutes
  • Norma Garza, Director, United Way of Southern Cameron County “Success by Six” Initiative; Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Commission
  • Russell Gersten, Ph.D., Professor, College of Education and Director, Eugene Research Institute, University of Oregon
  • Diane Haager, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Special Education, California State University, Los Angeles
  • Susan Hall, M.B.A., Consultant, International Dyslexia Association; Member, State of Illinois Reading Committees
  • Karen Harris, Ed.D., Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Maryland
  • Marlene Henriques, Ed.D., Teacher in Residence in Assessment Development, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • Janie Hodge, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Special Education, Clemson University
  • Estella Holliday, Director, South Carolina Reading Initiative and Assistant Director, Office of Early Childhood Education, South Carolina Department of Education
  • Stephen Hooper, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Departments. of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Mark Hopper, Ph.D., Vice President, Accountability Initiatives; Partner and Vice-President, Henderson, Hjermstad, Hopper, L.L.C
  • Kathy Howe, Academic Collaborative Planner, St. Croix River Education District (Minnesota)
  • Dawn Hubbard-Miller, Ph.D., Educational Trainer and Consultant, Northeast Kansas Education Service Center
  • Joseph Jenkins, Ph.D., Professor, Special Education, College of Education, University of Washington
  • Linda Jenkins, Assistant Superintendent for K-12 Curriculum Development and Implementation, Bremerton School District (Washington)
  • Ellin Keene, M.A., Director of Literacy and Professional Development, University of Pennsylvania
  • Martin Kozloff, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Specialty Studies, University of North Carolina-Wilmington
  • Sharon Kurns, Supervisor Instructional Services, Special Education Division, Heartland Area Educational Agency (Iowa)
  • Zoee Larose, M.A., Reading Connections Specialist, Alabama State Department of Education
  • John Lloyd, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education and Chief Technology Officer at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
  • Marie Mancuso, Director, Arizona Reading Initiative, Arizona Department of Education; Co-chair, Arizona Reading Initiative Leadership Advisory Board
  • Robert Marino, Baltimore City Public Schools
  • Patricia Mathes, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the Medical School, Principal Investigator, Center for Academic and Reading Skills, University of Texas-Houston
  • Michael McKenna, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Coordinator of Graduate Reading Programs, Georgia Southern University
  • Leslie McPeak, M.Ed., Director of Literacy and School Support, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Modesto, California
  • Katherine Mitchell, Ph.D., Director, Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Department of Education
  • Darryl Morris, Ph.D., Professor of Language and Reading and Reading Clinic Director, Appalachian State University
  • Kelly Mueller, M.Ed., Teacher, Jackson Park Elementary School, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Laura Murphy, Teacher and Consultant
  • Caroline Novak, Co-founder and President, A+ Education Foundation
  • Jean Osborn, M.Ed., Consultant, Center for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois (retired)
  • Stan Paine, Ph.D., Elementary School Principal, Springfield School District (Oregon)
  • Charles Perfetti, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Linguistics and Director of the Laboratory for Reading and Language, University of Pittsburgh
  • Kristen Powell, Ed.D., Administrator for School and Community Services, Orange County Department of Education, California
  • Craig Ramey, Ph.D., Professor and Co-director, School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University
  • Sally Shaywitz, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Yale Center for Learning and Attention, Yale University
  • Mary Siano, M.A., Certified ETS Trainer and Associate Developer, Educational Testing Service
  • Tim Slocum, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department. of Special Education, Utah State University
  • Susan Smartt, Ph.D., Reading Specialist and Consultant, Smartt Johnson and Associates
  • Janet Spector, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, University of Maine-Orono
  • Pam Stecker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Education and Acting Director of the Learning with Disabilities Program, Clemson University
  • John Stevens, Texas Business and Education Coalition
  • Joseph Torgesen, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Florida State University
  • Lucia Townsend, Human Resource Development Specialist, Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System
  • Fran Warkomski, Director, Bureau of Special Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Ann Watanabe, M.S., State Reading Resource Teacher, Pihana na Mamo Project, Maui District Office, Hawaii Department of Education
  • Joanna Williams, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Rhonda Wolter, Title I Reading Specialist and Reading Coordinator, Bethel School District (Eugene, Oregon)
  • Elaine Zimmerman, Executive Director, Connecticut Commission on Children

Here are links to the news coverage. (Note that the International Reading Association promptly issued a press release about the story).



IDEA portal

The US Department of Education has launched IDEA – Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004, a Web site designed to provide ready access to resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.

This site was created to provide a “one-stop shop” for resources related to IDEA and its implementing regulations, released on August 3, 2006. It is a “living” website and will change and grow as resources and information become available. When fully implemented, the site will provide searchable versions of IDEA and the regulations, access to cross-referenced content from other laws (e.g., the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), etc.), video clips on selected topics, topic briefs on selected regulations, links to OSEP’s Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA&D) Network and a Q&A Corner where you can submit questions, and a variety of other information sources.

Link to the home page or, alternatively, jump to the graphical splash page.

Lawyered up

Eric Louie of the Contra Costa Times (CA, US) reported that Guy Houston, are representative in the a California Assembly, convened a meeting of parents to hear about their complaints about the Contra Costa local education agency’s (LEA) operation of special education programs. Parents complained that their children are “Not getting the special-ed services to which they’re legally entitled, getting unqualified instructors and getting schoolwork that was too far below their learning level.” Parents pointed at six- to seven-fold increase in the LEA’s expenditure of legal fees as an index of the problems. Mr. Houston is reported to have said, “Everyone’s lawyered up.”

Administrators at the LEA dispute the claims. Read Mr. Louie’s story here.

Call Time Out on FC

We the undersigned register our dismay about Time magazine’s support of Facilitated Communication in the 10 May 2006 article entitled “‘Helping’ Autistic People to Speak” and 15 May issue entitled “Inside the Autistic Mind” by Claudia Wallis. Time might as well have endorsed cold fusion or phlogiston as give Facilitated Communication a favorable review.

Facilitated Communication has been repeatedly debunked with well-controlled experiments. In these studies individuals with autism and their non-disabled facilitators are each shown a different picture. When people with autism are asked to write the name of the pictures they see, they more frequently name the one shown to the facilitator than the one they see—that is, it is the facilitator who is communicating, not the individuals with autism. This and related studies have been repeated many times, with consistent results (see reviews listed at the end of this note).

In contrast, almost all of the studies claiming positive effects of Facilitated Communincation have relied on anecdotal evidence and have been conducted by promoters of the technique. Despite the devastating evidence against it, desperate parents and some well-intentioned professionals continue to endorse the practice. This is tragic because there are scientifically validated ways to teach individuals with autism to communicate independently. Employing unvalidated procedures in hopes of miraculous results simply delays the employment of methods that are known to produce beneficial, if not miraculous outcomes.

We are glad that Time provided coverage to the substantial problems of individuals with autism and their families. Autism is a topic worthy of greater public understanding. We believe, however, that Time did the public a disservice by giving sympathetic coverage to Facilitated Communication.

We understand the power of anecdotes and their utility in journalism, but in our view journalists have a duty to use anecdotes carefully. Ms. Wallis and Time acted irresponsibly by simply remarking that Facilitated Communication is “controversial” and disregarding the research about it. We urge Time to revisit the topic of Facilitated Communication, employing a scientifically grounded reporter who will investigate the facts thoroughly and compare Facilitated Communication to its scientifically validated alternatives. Then Time will be able to publish a report that serves the public.

Admin note: To indicate your support for this statement or to see a list of co-signers, please click comments at the top of the entry (prior registration required; once registered, click the link labeled “comment” and scroll to the bottom of the statement). In addition to your comment, please give your full name and affiliation.


George H. S. Singer, Ph.D.
University of California,
Santa Barbara
Lewis Polsgrove, Ph.D.
Indiana University
John Wills Lloyd, Ph.D.
University of Virginia


Cummins, R. A., & Prior, M. P. (1992). Autism and assisted communication: A response to Biklen. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 228-241.

Green, G. (1992, October). Facilitated communication: Scientific and ethical issues. Paper presented at the E. K. Shriver Center University affiliated Program Service-Related Research Colloquium Series, Waltham, MA.

Green, G. (1994). The quality of the evidence. In H. C. Shane, (Ed.) Facilitated communication: The clinical and social phenomenon (pp. 15-226). San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing.

Hudson, A. (1995). Disability and facilitated communication: A critique. In T. H. Ollendick & R. J. Prinz (Eds.), Advances in clinical psychology, (Vol. 17; pp. 59-83). New York: Plenum Press.

Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A., & Schwartz, A. A. (1995). A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscienscience, and and antiscience. American Psychologist, 50, 750-765.

Mostert, M. (2001). Faciliitated communication since 1995: A review of published studies. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 31, 287-313.

Simpson, R. L., & Myles, B. S. (1995). Facilitated communication and children with disabilities: An enigma in search of a perspectivetive. Focus on Exceptional Children, 27, 1-16.