Is RTI a billion-$$ boondoggle?

The Concept Of RTI: Billion-Dollar Boondoggle
by Beverley Holden Johns, James M. Kauffman, and Edwin W. Martin.

The writers argue that RTI and iterations known as tiered frameworks for education (e.g., one known as a multi-tiered system of supports, MTSS) are being widely implemented without necessary research confirming their superiority to the framework created in 1975 and known generally as IDEA. Widespread implementation of RTI and similar frameworks without reliable research evidence of their superiority to IDEA could, like many other efforts to improve education without reliable empirical evidence, be a very expensive mistake.

View a copy of The Concept Of RTI: Billion-Dollar Boondoggle in your browser (or, to download and save a copy on your own computer [189 KB], right- or control-click on the link and follow the directions in the dialog box that appears).

Investigation: Texas systematically denied students sped services

Brian M. Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle published a report entitled “Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of children out of special education” that documents systematic denial of special education services to approximately 250,000 students in Texas. Over the course of more than 10 years, Mr. Rosenthal reported, the Texas Education Agency routinely scored local school agencies (“LEAs”) on their compliance with state guidelines, one of which addressed the percentage of students identified for special education.

LEAs could earn a perfect score on that part of their report card only if they identified 8.5% or fewer of their students as needing special education. In 2015 the state was identifying 8.5%, a substantial drop from the nearly 12% it was identifying in 2004.

In detailed analyses, Mr. Rosenthal and his colleagues presented compelling graphics showing these changes. He also provided documents as well as the usual journalist cases to illustrate the strains on individuals and families.

Some Texas educators argued that the decreases are a consequence of improved instructional practices (e.g., adoption of response to instruction), but that position does not hold water. Were it true, the effects would be largely specific to learning disabilities, but Mr. Rosenthal noted, the decline is evident in multiple categories of special education in Texas. In addition, as an expert on response to instruction, Douglas Fuchs of Vanderbilt University, told Mr. Rosenthal, were those reforms to be working, then reading achievement would have risen in Texas; it has not.

IDEA Celebration

IDEA 40th Anniversary Banner

ED Celebrates IDEA 40th—Live!

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), we are pleased to invite you to view two special events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

When IDEA was enacted in 1975, America pledged to provide and ensure that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents and contribute to their communities. That pledge endures today and IDEA continues to provide not only access to the school house, to assessment and to the general curriculum, but the full promise of inclusion, equity and opportunity.


The White House
November 17, 2015
9:30–11:00 a.m., EST

Please share in this exciting White House event where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Delegated Deputy Secretary John King, OSERS Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin, and OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs Director Melody Musgrove join the stage with youth impacted by IDEA, experts who will speak about the history and progress of IDEA, and families and teachers from the field who will provide their unique perspectives and celebrate this landmark legislation.

Please watch the White House event broadcast live:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/live


U.S. Department of Education
November 17, 2015
3:00–4:30 p.m., EST

The IDEA 40th Anniversary celebrations continue in the afternoon at the Department•s Barnard Auditorium with an IDEA Symposium where a panel of distinguished researchers share the state of evidence in special education and look towards the future for promoting even greater educational achievement by students with disabilities. Tune in live to the IDEA Symposium to view an inspiring slate of panelists including: Sharon Vaughn, Lynn Fuchs, Rob Horner, Lise Fox, Michael Wehmeyer, Lisa Dieker and David Test.

Please watch the IDEA Symposium broadcast live via EDstream:
http://edstream.ed.gov/webcast/Play/5948bd4d0065424d8a04c2cdd61745d31d

These two events will celebrate our past successes, but primarily focus on the future to ensure that infants, toddlers and youths with disabilities will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education that prepares them for their future. We encourage you to participate in the celebration by hosting opportunities for groups to watch the presentations and have discussions. Consider, holding your own local panel of youth, parents, teachers and other IDEA stakeholders; hosting a watch party in concert with a university class; or encouraging your school faculty to watch and engage in conversations about the history, impact and future of this legislation.

Submit Your Story

As part of our celebration of 40 years of the IDEA, we also want to hear from individuals with disabilities—especially children and youth with disabilities—parents, teachers, researchers and all other IDEA stakeholders about the personal impact this law has had on them.

  • How has IDEA made a difference to you?
  • What does inclusion, equity, and opportunity now look like for you?

Submit your art, photographs and stories by November 10, 2015 to our IDEA 40th Anniversary Web site [www.osep-meeting.org/ideaanniversary] for possible use for upcoming events in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 40th Anniversary of IDEA.

Follow us on Twitter:
@ED_Sped_Rehab

Pew Report Documents Sequestration’s Impact on Special Education

A report from the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that sequestration is having substantial negative financial effects on special education. Under the headline “Sequester Hits Special Education Like a ‘Ton of Bricks,'” Adrienne Lu reported that “a new round of special education cuts were taking hold, prompted by a 5 percent reduction in federal funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” According to a Michigan educator, Marcie Lipsitt, who was one of Ms. Lu’s sources, “It hit like a ton of bricks. Conditions are eroding and children are not being allowed to become taxpayers. They’re not being given access to independence, being productive, being ready for a global workforce.”
Continue reading Pew Report Documents Sequestration’s Impact on Special Education

Sad story that echoes fears of malfeasance

In “Ex-principal: ‘Never really told the truth’ to special ed parents—
Ex-principal: I lied to parents of special-needs kids,” Shannon Mullen of the Ashbury Park (NJ, US) Press recounts a story about Sheldon Boxer, a former school administrator who says that, as a means to save funds, he misrepresented the needs of students with disabilities and the capacity of schools to serve them. Mr. Boxer accuses an attorney working with the local education agency of leading the effort without every actually issuing an edict that the purpose was to hold down costs.

Ms. Mullen captures some he-said, he-said in her story as well as some human interest (a case of a child with substantial special education needs whose parents contend say he was not provided appropriate services). You can read Ms. Mullen’s report of this sad special education story in its original form (or snag this single-page version).

Full US IDEA funding proposed again

Over on On Special Education Nirvi Shah reported that Senator Tom Harkin and colleagues once again introduced a bill proposing that the US federal government pay its full (i.e., 40%) share of the costs of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Read her post, “Bill Would Boost Federal Spending on Students with Disabilities.”

Milwaukee parents allege voucher program discriminates against students with disabilities

Should students with disabilities get to use vouchers, too? Should private schools have to accept them? Some parents say some private schools aren’t taking vouchers from students with disabilities and they are complaining.

Journalists reported that the parents of children with disabilities in Milwaukee (WI, US) and the American Civil Liberties Union have complained to the US Deaprtment of Justice that a Milwaukee school program permitting parents to choose schools discriminates against students with disabilities. According to the complaint, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program “discriminated against students with disabilities and segregated those students in one portion of the publicly funded educational system.” The statistical basis for the argument is that 1.6% of students in the voucher-supported schools have disabilities, but nearly 20% of the students in the public schools have disabilities.
Continue reading Milwaukee parents allege voucher program discriminates against students with disabilities

Easter Seals campaigns for early intervention

Under the headline “Tell President Obama To Help Kids With Disabilities Realize Their Full Potential,” Change.org promoted a petition encouraging support for early intervention for children with disabilities. It’s got to be difficult to sell people on the idea of increasing government expenditures in a time of substantial concern about federal deficits, but the Easter-Seals-sponsored petition is seeking to accomplish just that end. Here’s the pitch.

Continue reading Easter Seals campaigns for early intervention

OSERS celebrates anniversary of IDEA

The US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services posted its official recognition of the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the signing of the landmark legislation, of Public Law 94-142, then called the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act,” but which we know now as the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” or simply “IDEA.” Interested readers can review OSERS’ tribute to this remarkable legislation by reviewing the Web site dedicated to it anniversary, “The IDEA 35th Anniversary.”

Conference on brain development and learning

From an advertisement I received….

The 2nd Biennial, International Conference on:

BRAIN DEVELOPMENT & LEARNING: MAKING SENSE OF THE SCIENCE

July 12-15, 2008 Sheraton Wall Center Hotel, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

One of the best conferences I ve been to in 20 years! (Inaugural Meeting Attendee)

Conference website: http://www.interprofessional.ubc.ca/bdl.html

This interdisciplinary conference is devoted to enriching and improving the lives of children by making cutting-edge research in neuroscience & child development available, relevant, & understandable to mental health professionals, educators, parents, & others who care about children.

This year ** ADHD** is one of the main topics of the conference.

World-famous researchers who are also outstanding speakers will present, including:

TORKEL KLINGBERG, who pioneered the role of computer games to improve working memory in children with ADHD (CogMed: www.drshred.ca/cogmed.php)

ROSEMARY TANNOCK, a pioneer in ADHD research and co- developer of integrated
multimedia resources on ADHD for teachers (www.teachadhd.ca).

In addition, famous speakers and researchers on Executive Functions and Prefrontal Cortex will be featured, including:

AMY ARNSTEN, BOB KNIGHT, BYRAN KOLB, BRUCE PENNINGTON, MIKE PETRIDES

And famous speakers and researchers on RESILIENCE in the face of Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, or Abuse, including:

WILLIAM BEARDSLEE, who will speak about his work with parents and families:
Hope, Meaning and Continuity: Lessons Learned from Developing and Adapting Preventive Interventions for Depression in Families

GIL NOAM, a Prof. in both the Education and Medical Schools of Harvard:
Resilience Development: Where Education and Mental Health Meet

A special feature of this conference:
Besides lectures, you ll have the opportunity to meet, speak informally with, and ask questions of, these world-famous speakers in a small, relaxed setting over a lunch with 2-3 speakers and no more than 30 conference participants.

For years I have seen people try to bring educators together with health specialists, or either with researchers. I have never seen any effort work as well as what you put together in Vancouver.

It was wonderful having different groups of professionals from different backgrounds and training come together in a truly collaborative way sharing research, knowledge, and experiences.

For more information and registration:

Conference website: http://www.interprofessional.ubc.ca/bdl.html

Or Call: Toll free in Canada or the US: 1-877-328-7744
From Overseas: 001-604-822-6156

Email: devcogneuro@gmail.com

Conference schedule: www.interprofessional.ubc.ca/BDL_subpages/schedule.html

More info on Speakers: www.interprofessional.ubc.ca/BDL_subpages/presenters.html

A website set up to help conference attendees find someone to share a hotel room with, a homestay, or a ride-share: http://www.devcogneuro.com/share/YaBB.pl

NCD on NCLB and IDEA

The National Council on Disability (NCD) published a document entitled “The No Child Left Behind Act
and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Progress Report” that describes changes in student outcomes, professional practices, and policies across the US. Here’s an excerpt from the executive summary that provides an overview of the document.

In 2004, NCD issued a report called No Child Left Behind: Improving Educational Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, which examined the impact of NCLB and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities. The report drew its conclusions and recommendations from interviews with disability policy, education, and advocacy leaders and identified some changing attitudes and behavioral shifts in K–12 education as a result of the new legislation.

This report provides both a follow-up and a more detailed reporting of the trends and attitudes about NCLB and IDEA over the past several years. In this study we spoke to dozens of researchers, practitioners, and state administrators from across the country about NCLB and IDEA. In addition, we conducted a study of 10 of the largest states in the nation, representing approximately half the U.S. general population.

This report is divided into four sections. Part I provides a brief overview of trend data regarding students with disabilities. Part II describes conversations with state administrators and representatives about trends and issues related to NCLB and IDEA. Part III describes similar conversations with advocates, federal officials, and other stakeholders. Part IV provides recommendations based on our findings.

Continue reading NCD on NCLB and IDEA