The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
June 11, 1998

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The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal issues, cases, tactics and strategy, educational methods that work, and Internet links.

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. Back issues of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -


As a subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you will receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases and other events. Contact, copyright, and subscription information can be found at the end of this newsletter.


If you want the new IDEA 97 to apply to your child's IEP, ensure that the last IEP meeting is held after July 1.

IDEA 97 was revised and effective June 4, 1997. However the parts of the new law about IEPs did not become effective for another 13 months, i.e., July 1, 1998. Schools and some organizations are complaining that 13 months is "not enough time" for them to understand the new law and regulations - nor to develop legally correct IEPs.

Read 20 United States Code Section 1414 yourself. It is at our website.

The statute is clear and easy to read. IEPs do not have to be complicated. IEPs can be short and simple - but they must have clear benchmarks, goals and objectives. If you want your child's IEP to be controlled by the new law, ask to have an IEP meeting and signing after July 1, 1998.

In a subsequent newsletter, you'll learn about Shannon Carter's IEP. Shannon's IEP was controversial. Ultimately, her school district appealed this case to the U. S. Supreme Court case. Shannon's IEP is one of the better IEPs I've seen. Why? Shannon's IEP contains clear measurable goals and objectives.

In our workshops and seminars about "How Advocate for Your Special Ed Child," we tell participants that they must join three disabilities organizations for one year.

Why do we make this recommendation?

The disabilities groups - the International Dyslexia Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDAA), Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (Ch.A.D.D.), the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, the National Tourette Syndrome Association, and others publish informative newsletters for their members.

These newsletters are an excellent source of information about law, advocacy, education, and medical issues. When parents join these groups - and read these newsletters - they learn about recent developments that help their child.

Let's take a look at some articles from two recent newsletters that have come across our desk.


Parents have to make tough decisions. If you have a child with a disability, the end of the school year may bring another tough decision. If your child isn't learning, should you hold the child back?

Many schools offer two "solutions" to children's learning problems: retention and referral to special education. All too often, schools fail to offer the critical third "R" - remediation.

What are the FACTS about retention? Does retention help? Does an extra year allow children to catch up?

In March 1998, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) issued their position paper on grade retention. Below are some excerpts from "To Promote or to Retain."

"Flunking is an expensive fad that wastes taxpayer money."

"Grade retention costs as much as $13,000 per child per year." Retained children DO NOT catch up. "Retained children fall further behind and are at greater risk for dropping out of school."

"The weight of the evidence of literally hundreds of studies shows that retaining children does not produce higher achievement."

"Rather than flunking students, schools should provide high quality instruction for children who find learning difficult," says Sylvia Richardson, MD, Chair of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.

"Flunking penalizes children for the failure of school systems to develop effective instructional plans for children who need more and better instruction if they are to succeed. More of the same just does not work," Dr. Richardson explained.

Are you trying to decide how to help a struggling child? What are the alternatives?

Studies show that the most effective strategy for these children is intensive tutoring by a qualified teacher. Intensive tutoring works.

"Children who find learning difficult benefit more from high quality instruction. Providing a daily period of intensive tutoring by qualified personnel could cost half as much as retention - and intensive tutoring reliably enhances achievement. Retaining children does nothing to address the problems that make learning difficult for some children."

From "LDA Newsbriefs" (Vol. 33, No. 2, March/April 1998)


DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . The average deaf child (who has at least average intellectual ability) is able to read at the 4th grade level - at the end of 12th grade?

DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . 54 percent of deaf and hard of hearing children are mainstreamed?

DO YOU KNOW . . . about the Education of the Deaf Act? Congress passed the EDA in 1986 to authorize federal funding of research in technology and education. The Bell Association wants to ensure that this research reflects the needs of ALL students who are deaf or hard of hearing - those in residential programs - and the 54 percent who are mainstreamed.

The Bell Association also wants more research into effective practices - what and how deaf students are taught - with rewards for higher achievement, graduation rates, and language proficiency.

DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . fewer than 20 percent of newborns are screened for hearing loss?

DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . children who are diagnosed with hearing loss after 6 months of age have more significant language and social development delays than children diagnosed soon after birth?

The Bell Association is lobbying for universal newborn hearing screening. Congressman James Walsh proposed a bill to support states that establish early detection and intervention programs for all children.

From "Voices" newsletter, published by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf (Vol. 5, No. 2, March/April 1998)

Lesson: For all disabilities - hearing impairments, learning disabilities, autism - early diagnosis, early identification and early intervention is the key. Advocacy begins early.



Are you counting the hours and days until school lets out for the summer? Are you ready for a break? Sorry - not yet - you have homework this summer. The pressure from school is off - you hope that the school problems will vanish. Of course, you have lots of time on your hands. Here is your list:

  • Join parent disability organizations.
  • Collect copies of your child's file. You want copies of all evaluations, IEPs, and other information.
  • Organize your child's' file in chronological order. File all documents this way: oldest document first, most recent document last.
  • Read our article Understanding Tests and Measurements." The article is available on our website. (To master this information, you should read this article several times.)
  • Learn to use a spreadsheet program like Excel.
  • Chart out your child's test scores. Develop charts of your child's progress or lack of progress. (TIP: use the wizard in your software program to learn how create graphs of educational progress - or lack of educational progress.)
  • Read the new IDEA-97. Use a highlighter to help you master the important parts of the new law. Read the new law several times. (The new law is in the Law Library of our website.)
  • Learn how to touch type. Your child needs to learn how to touch type. Children learn from their parents, and model them. If you can only "hunt and peck," do you think your children will be motivated to learn touch typing? Of course not.
If you use a typing software program 3 times a day for 5 to 10 minutes, you will be able to type 20-30 words per minute in about three months. If you hunt and peck, your goal is to touch type at 30 wpm or more at the end of the summer. If you learn to touch type, you can expect and require your children to do this too. After a week or two, you'll notice that they begin to compete with you and will try to increase their speed over yours. Your children will thank you for being such a great role model - in about 10 years!

During the summer, continue checking websites for educational and legal developments. In addition to "wrightslaw dot com," visit LD Online, EdLaw, and the U.S. Department of Education's site. Pay frequent visits to your home state's Department of Education website. You'd be surprised at the interesting information you can pick up there.



We receive lots of letters from people with questions.

Occasionally, we receive letters from people who disagree with our positions and opinions. Check our web site for some of these opinions during the next few weeks.

Different views, tactics, strategies, beliefs, opinions, and prejudices make for interesting reading. After all - Wright's way is not necessarily the only way!

If you have a favorite tip, tactic, or strategy that you’d like to share with us, send it to


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