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Teachers, Principals, Paraprofessionals
The BasicsTeacher Litigation Qualified Teachers l  Classroom Life  
Working with Parents l Research Based InstructionGraduation
Routes to the Classroom l  NCLB Hotline  l Newsletters l Free PubsBooks l Useful Sites

Your Role

"I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. My personal approach creates a climate. My daily mood makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be the tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor. Hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized." - Haim Ginott, clinical psychologist, child therapist, educator, and author

The Basics

Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - law, regulations, articles, cases, news.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act - FAQs, articles, cases, accommodations, modifications, news.

Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) - FAQs, articles, cases about privacy and records.

No Child Left Behind - law, regulations, publications, research based instruction, information directories, flyers, news, fact sheets, and education statistics.

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What You Need to Know About IDEA 2004

IDEA 2004: Requirements for Highly Qualified Special Ed Teachers - Learn about new requirements for special ed teachers; limits of what teachers who are not highly qualified may do; how teachers can demonstrate their competence.

IDEA 2004: IEPs, Highly Qualified Teachers, IEPs, & Research Based Instruction
- Learn about new language in IDEA 2004 that is designed to ensure that children with disabilities are taught by highly qualified teachers and receive research based instruction. This article includes new requirements for personnel training, IEPs, and scientifically based instruction.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About Functional Goals in IEPS - Pat Howey answers questions about functional goals in IEPs. The IDEA 2004 statute and federal regulations include specific requirements about using present levels of functional performance to develop functional goals in the IEPs for all children with disabilities. Pat also teaches you how to find answers to your questions in references that are available on Wrightslaw.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs for Children with Behavior Problems - IDEA 2004 and the special education regulations include specific requirements for IEPs of children whose behavior impedes their learning or the learning of other children, including training teachers to use positive behavioral interventions and strategies.

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEPs & IEP Meetings - How did IEPs change under IDEA 2004? What does the law say about developing, reviewing and revising IEPs? Who may be excused from IEP meetings, when, how? When can the child's IEP be changed without an IEP meeting? What services must be provided when a child transfers to a district in the same state? A different state? What are “multi-year IEPs”?

IDEA 2004: What You Need to Know About IEP Team Members & IEP Team Attendance -
Learn about IEP team members and IEP team attendance, when team members may be excused from a meeting, and what parents and the school district must do before a team member may be excused.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) highlights from the U.S. Department of Education.

Elementary and Secondary Education Policy Guidance.

Teacher Litigation

Linda McGreevy v.
Stroup, Tsosie, Soltis, Bermudian Springs Sch. District
- U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that school administrators may be officially and individually liable for retaliating against a school nurse who advocated for children with disabilities.

Doing the Right Thing: Court Vindicates School Nurse in Retaliation Case -
Linda McGreevy is a licensed professional nurse, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and a certified school nurse. During the first five years when she worked as a school nurse in the Bermudian Springs Elementary School, she received excellent performance evaluations. Suddenly, her her evaluations dropped to unsatisfactory levels. What caused her fall from grace?

Pamella Settlegoode v. Portland Public Schools - U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholds jury award of one million dollars to fired special ed teacher; importance of free speech for teachers. (April 2004)

Retaliation! The Inside Story of the One Million Dollar Verdict

Help for Teachers Who Are Being Pushed Out of Their Jobs - Describes requirements for highly qualified teachers, how teachers can demonstrate competence in subjects they teach, professional development & training, responsibilities, and timelines.

Fales v. Garst: Analysis of Teachers' Lawsuit Against Principal. Three teachers alleged that principal violated their rights to freedom of speech and association by instructing them not to discuss incidents regarding special education students and their rights to equal protection by lowering their evaluations.

Fales v. Garst. Decision by U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
attempts to balance the teachers’ interest in free speech versus their employer’s interest in efficiency. 

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Highly Qualified Teachers

National Board Certified Teachers More Effective
. Study by University of Washington and the Urban Institute finds that teachers who earned national certification are more effective in raising student achievement than other teachers. (March 16, 2004)

Congress Orders Study of Teacher Ed Programs. The mandated study about coursework requirements, how reading and math are taught, and how programs are aligned with scientific evidence may lead to standards, norms, and professionalization of teaching. (March 2004)

State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2017 - Progress on Teacher Quality: How the States are Faring. NCTQ's bi-annual 2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook grades states on how well their programs and policies raise the quality of the teachers in their schools. Executive Summary here. Scroll down to page 5 for findings about the preparation of special education teachers.

What Education Schools Aren't Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning. The National Council on Teacher Quality examined what aspiring teachers learn about reading instruction in college. NCTQ analyzed a representative sample of reading courses to assess the degree to which students are taught the five essential components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Teacher Education: Coming up Empty - Describes a study in which leading teacher educators admit that there’s little evidence to prove the effectiveness of teacher ed.

Improving Teacher Quality.

Improving Teacher Quality - Non Regulatory Guidance, U. S. Department of Education (Rev. 9-12-03)

Title 1 Paraprofessionals - Draft Non Regulatory Guidance, U. S. Department of Education (11-15-02)

Meeting the Highly Qualified Teacher Challenge: The Secretary's Second Annual Report on Teacher Quality, U. S. Department of Education (2003)

Meeting the Highly Qualified Teacher Challenge: The Secretary's Annual Report on Teacher Quality
- U. S. Department of Education (2002)

Highly Qualified Teachers Revised State Plans (2006)

NCLB: Toolkit for Teachers, U. S. Department of Education (2002)

Information and Complaints (all states), U. S. Department of Education

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Classroom Life

Stop Bullying - Prevention at School Training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time. There are no federal mandates for bullying curricula or staff training. The following are some examples of options schools can consider.

Fighting the Good Fight: How to Advocate for Your Students without Losing Your Job by Rick Lavoie. One of the greatest blessings of my professional life is the opportunity I have to talk with hundreds and hundreds of my Special Education colleagues. These conversations confirm my long-held belief that some of the finest people on the planet are toiling daily in America's classrooms…and particularly in our Special Education programs! LDonline (2008)

A Good Grade for Teach for America What makes a good teacher? Experience helps. But a new study of Teach for America (TFA) – education's version of the Peace Corps – shows that their students do better on end-of-course exams than those of other teachers. TFA teachers' impact is even greater than that of teachers with three or more years of experience relative to new teachers. Article in pdf format

Using Data to Influence Classroom Decisions by the U. S. Department of Education.

Discipline & Positive Behavior Supports from Wrightslaw.

Grade Retention and Mental Health Outcomes from the National Association of School Psychologists.

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Working with Parents toward Common Goals

A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Improving School Achievement and Closing the Achievement Gap. Hanover Research Report examines best practices for improving student achievement, including strategies for engaging students and imporving student outcomes. Best practices and case studies examine achievement levels and approaches for certain student sub-groups, academic programs, and innofvative solutions at high-needs schools. .

Autism Speaks New School Community Tool Kit. The purpose of this kit is to provide information about autism – the features, challenges and strengths -- as well as some of the tools and strategies that may result in more positive interactions for all members of a school community. This tool kit is not intended to be a curriculum for special education for students on the autism spectrum, but rather a support for the general education and administrative school staff who interact with students with autism in various capacities. However, it is envisioned that this tool kit will provide valuable information and resources that can be employed by special education and administrative staff in their efforts to plan for and support students in general education environments and involvement in the school community as a whole.

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Research Based Instruction

IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. “Reading difficulties are the most common cause of academic failure and underachievement." These Standards provide a content framework for courses and delineate proficiency requirements for practical application of this content (e.g., interpretation of assessments, delivery of differentiated instruction, and successful intervention with a child or adult with a reading disability).

Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science, What Expert Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do from the American Federation of Teachers.

Put Reading First - The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read - Makes evidence-based reading research available to educators, parents, policy-makers, and others who want to help all people learn to read well.

Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence
published by Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of U. S. Department of Education. A "user-friendly" resource for education officials and educators seeking to improve educational and life outcomes for children. "Perhaps the most effective resource we have for improving American schools is scientifically-valid knowledge about which strategies work and which don't work . . . offers...concrete, easily-accessible assistance in finding and using strategies that have been validated in rigorous studies." - Rod Paige, Secretary of Education

More resources about Research Based Instruction

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Keeping an Eye on Graduation

Transition of Students With Disabilities To Postsecondary Education:
A Guide for High School Educators
from the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Reaching New Heights: Turning Around Low-Performing Schools
from the National Governors Association.

From the Margins to the Mainstream from Jobs for the Future.

High Schools That Work Conference Recognizes Good Work in Education.

Southern Regional Education Board, High Schools That Work. These six design principles — when properly funded and implemented by school and district leaders and supported with a range of related services offered by SREB and HSTW — can help more youth prepare for a full range of postsecondary options.

Gateway Institute for Pre-College Education - A rigorous academic program that prepares students for college and careers; Gateway operates a school and runs programs in ten public high schools.

College and Career Academy Support Network - Programs that organize instruction in academic subjects, enabling students to fulfill requirements for college entrance while learning how their academics relate to something outside high school.

Talent Development Secondary, Johns Hopkins University - Our mission is to provide evidence-based models, tools and services to the most challenged secondary schools serving the most vulnerable students in the country.

Raising Our Sights: No High School Senior Left Behind - The National Commission on the High School Senior Year from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). Students in a college preparatory program receive academic and motivational support from college students, work in collaborative groups, and use a curriculum focused on writing.

Early College Designs - Reinventing High Schools for Post Secondary Success.

Factors Affecting Mathematics Achievement for Students in Rural Schools by Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

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Different Routes to the Classroom

National Institute for Effectiveness in Teaching.

National Council on Teacher Quality.

Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) - Boston Teacher Residency drives student learning and achievement by equipping new teachers to make an immediate impact in the classroom.

New Jersey's "Alternate Route" to Teacher Certification.

Teacher Advancement Program - Focuses on professional development and ways to expand supply of high quality educators.

Alternative Teacher Certification Information.

Troops to Teachers Program is located within the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), a component of the Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA).

American Board: Your Community, Your Teachers The American Board is a nonprofit program dedicated to placing qualified individuals in the classroom through alternative teaching certification.

Teach for America.

Educating the Military Child

AASA Toolkit: Supporting the Military Child. Guidance from the American Association of School Administrators for school leaders on meeting the unique educational needs of children whose parents are deployed or in transition. Includes Resources for Supporting the Military Child, Q & A for Meeting the Military Child's Needs, Videos, and Tips for School Leaders.

Military K-12 Partners
As military families move to accept new assignments, children often face many challenges related to education. DoDEA's Partnership program provides information and support to increase understanding of the unique needs of military children as well as academic support to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for military children.

Special Education Professional Development - Training Modules.

Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission.

Support to Civilian Schools Educating Military Children

Working with Military Children — A Primer for School Personnel

An Educator's Guide to the Military Child During Deployment

Military and Department of Defense Special Education

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Policy Guidance - Toll Free Hotline Numbers

US Department of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Toll-Free Numbers and Hotlines.

The Information Resource Center (IRC) is the home of 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327), the telephone number for information on the Department of Education's major education improvement priorities (e.g., reading, family involvement, technology).

The local number in Washington, D.C. is 202-401-2000. Spanish speakers are available (se habla español). TTY: 1-800-877-8339.

Elementary and Secondary Education - Policy Guidance.

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Free Newsletters

Free Newsletters
- A comprehensive list of free newsletters about education, special education, education law, No Child Left Behind, and disabilities from Wrightslaw.

The Achiever - (Archived) Newsletter with information, events and announcements about No Child Left Behind.

The Beacon: The Journal of Special Education Law and Practice - Electronic journal of articles and essays for those who are interested in special education law and practice. Each issue focuses on a theme and includes practical and theoretical articles.

Newsletters and Journals about educational issues from U. S. Department of Education.

OSERS / IDEA Newsletters: Stay informed with the latest news coming out of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Education.

Subscribe to the Early Learning at ED Newsletter.

Subscribe to Department of Education updates.

EdWeek Update (free weekly alert about what's new at Education Week)

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Free Pubs

Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools Educator Manual, second edition from the National Autism Center (2015). The manual outlines the current state of research findings, professional judgment and data-based clinical decision making, values and preferences of families, and capacity building. Each chapter sets a course for advancing the efforts of school systems to engage in evidence-based practice for their students on the autism spectrum. Free download (pdf)

Accommodations Manual:  How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities. Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students.

The Accommodations Manual presents a five-step process for individualized educational program teams, 504 plan committees, general and special education teachers, administrators, and district-level assessment staff to use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations by students with disabilities. The guidance in the manual pertains to students with disabilities who participate in large-scale assessments and the instruction they receive.

Improving Accommodations Outcomes: Monitoring Instructional and Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. (2009) Third in a series of three CCSSO publications for states addressing accommodations and students with disabilities. This publication provides a comprehensive professional development guide for states to establish or improve quality accommodations monitoring programs.

Accessibility: A Guide for Educators - Empowering students with accessible technology that enables personalized learning. This guide from Microsoft provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology.

Recommended Books - See also Effective Education

Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years
by Susan Hall, Louisa Moats, and Reid Lyon

A Basic Guide to Understanding, Assessing, and Teaching Phonological Awareness
by Joseph K. Torgesen, Patricia G. Mathes

Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers by Louisa Cook Moats

Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills by Judith R. Birsh (Editor)

Dysgraphia: Why Johnny Can't Write - A Handbook for Parents and Teachers by Diane Walton Cavey

Other Useful Sites

American Association of School Administrators

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

Education Policy (Brookings Institute)

Center on Education Policy

Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE)

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

Council of the Great City Schools

Education Commission of the States

Education Excellence

Education Next

Education Trust

High Schools That Work

Institute for Educational Leadership

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
A national professional association dedicated to special education teachers, professors who teach future special education teachers, students who are working towards their teaching certification in special education, and inclusion classroom teachers working with children with special needs. NASET provides practical information, useful resources, member benefits and an extensive special education database. 

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

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Revised 05/01/18

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