The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
May 24, 2005

Issue - 311
ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

1. How to Disagree with IEP Team Without Starting WW III

2. Child Passed Courses, Denied Diploma - What Can Mom Do?

3. Cool Tool-SchoolMatters

4. IDEA Regs on Fast Track, Expected in Early June

5. Any Resources to Help College Kids?

6. Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

7. Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 - Available Soon!

8. Wrightslaw Coming to Hawaii

9. Subscription & Contact Info

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At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need to navigate the changing world of special education.

Highlights: How to disagree with the IEP team without starting WW III; child successfully completed all courses, denied a diploma; cool tool - SchoolMatters; IDEA regs on fast track, expected in June; self-advocacy and resources to help college kids; scholarships for students with disabilities; Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 available soon; Wrightslaw coming to Hawaii.

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1. How to Disagree with the IEP Team Without Starting WW III

As IEP season continues, many parents have questions about what to do when they are presented with an IEP that is not appropriate for their child. Pete Wright has some suggestions:

"You should advise the IEP team that you don’t think the IEP is appropriate, that it does not provide your child with enough help or the right kind of help. You should use facts to support your position (i.e., facts from an evaluation of your child from a private sector evaluator, graphs of your child's test scores).

Be polite but firm. Think how Miss Manners handles difficult situations and use this to guide you."

In How to Disagree with the IEP Team, Pete Wright answers your questions about IEPs and how to disagree with the IEP team without starting a war. Learn about the Rules of Adverse Assumptions, how to use tape recordings and thank you letters to clarify issues, and how to deal with an IEP team bully. Read article.

More articles by Pete & Pam Wright.

2. Doing Your Homework: Child Passed All Courses, Denied Diploma

"My daughter just finished high school. She passed all courses in grades K-12. She did not pass the the state exam in English. She will not get a high school diploma."

"What message are we sending? We are telling children who worked hard and attended schooled for 13 years that this means nothing. What can be done? Have lawsuits been successful?"

Your daughter must be devastated.

Yes, there have been successful lawsuits about high stakes testing and graduation. Most were class action suits that settled before children were denied diplomas. High-Stakes Testing News

Pete says high-stakes testing is the The Next Wave of Special Education Litigation.

You need a plan that you can implement now. In Exit Exams Can Be Optional If You Plan Ahead, Sue Heath describes a simple strategy that will allow your daughter to graduate with a high school diploma - with or without a graduation ceremony. Then she can get on with her life.

Sue writes about creative advocacy strategies in her column, Doing Your Homework, which appears in The Special Ed Advocate and on Wrightslaw.com.

As the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, Sue speaks to groups of parents, advocates, and educators about No Child Left Behind, reading, research based instruction and strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Learn more

3. Cool Tool: SchoolMatters.com

The main goal of No Child Left Behind is that all students will be proficient in reading and math by the end of 3rd grade. NCLB was enacted in 2001 - what percentage of kids in your state are proficient in reading and math now?

If you have a minute or two, go to SchoolMatters.com. Select your state. Your state's page has education facts and information about how students performed on state tests of reading and math. If you scroll down a bit, you'll see another set of scores - how students performed on national tests of reading and math. When we went to the page for Virginia, we were surprised at the difference between the state and national percentages of children who are proficient in reading and math.

Proficiency on State Tests
Reading Proficiency: 74.8%
Math Proficiency: 76.8%

Proficiency on National Tests
Grade 4 Reading Proficiency: 35%
Grade 8 Reading Proficiency: 36%
Grade 4 Math Proficiency: 36%
Grade 8 Math Proficiency: 31%

Grade 4 Reading Proficiency: 74.8% - or 35%?
Grade 4 Math Proficiency: 76.8% - or 36%?

How can there be such huge differences on tests of reading and math proficiency? Are the state tests too easy? Are the national tests too hard? We need to find the answers to these questions. If your child attends public school, you probably need to find answers to these questions too.

SchoolMatters provides data about student performance, demographics, and resource centers for parents, educators, district leaders, and state leaders. You can even compare states (handy if you are planning to move)

SchoolMatters is service of Standard & Poors. Why SchoolMatters says, "Despite a 50 percent increase in per pupil spending over the past two decades, nearly one third of public high school students fail to graduate, and two thirds of all students leave high school unprepared for a four-year college . . . SchoolMatters gives policymakers, educators, and parents the tools they need to make better-informed decisions that improve student performance."

We can't argue with that mission! (But we do need to find out how many 4th and 8th graders our state are proficient in reading and math . . .)

If you are interested in school improvement, the New Hampshire Branch of the International Dyslexia Association has a fantastic databank of resources on this topic.

4. Alert! IDEA Regs on Fast Track, Expected in Early June

On May 18, 2005, Troy Justesen, Acting Director of the Office of Special Education Programs, was interviewed by Rachel Kosoy of the Disability Law Resource Project. Dr. Justesen said he expects the proposed regulations for Part B of IDEA to be available in the first or second week of June. (Proposed regulations for Parts C and D will be issued separately.)

Read IDEA Regulations on Fast Track, Expected in Early June.

When the proposed regulations are published, we will send out an Alert that includes a link (or links) to the proposed regulations.

You need to read these regulations. They will have a profound impact on how children with disabilities are educated. If you want a regulation changed or think a regulation is not clear, you need to advise the Department of Education about the specific changes you want made and why. To learn more about this process, please read this article.

IDEA 2004

IDEA 2004 Page (includes news; updated often )

Changes in IDEA 2004: Documents from OSEP

IDEA 2004 Publications, Reports & Resources Page - links to reports and publications by legal, educational and disability organizations.

5. Do You Have Resources to Help College Kids?

"Do you have any resources about how to dig in and fight your way through college? My son is struggling but the school won't provide a 504 Plan."

The transition from high school to college is difficult - and the transition is usually harder for kids with disabilities. Although college students with disabilities are protected from discrimination under Section 504, some professors take a dim view of students who request accommodations.

How can you help your college-bound child make a successful transition to college?

College-bound students need to learn self-advocacy skills - how to present information about their disability and accommodations so professors want to help. If students master these skills, they are more likely to make a successful transition from high school to college.

Resources in our Help for College Students with Disabilities Flyer are divided into three categories:

* Rights and Responsibilities under Section 504
Planning and Preparation
Keys to Success

Your Strategy

We suggest that you print two copies of Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, What You Need & How to Get It - one for your child, one for yourself. (Don't forget to read Nancy's success story at the end of this article)

Print two copies of the Help for College Students with Disabilities Flyer - one for your child, one for yourself. After you and your child have reviewed these resources, sit down and discuss what you learned.

More Flyers from Wrightslaw

6. Scholarships for Kids with Disabilities?

"My son has a learning disability. He worked hard and has been accepted into a college. Do you know of any scholarships that can help pay for his education? We still have two kids at home and are financially strapped."

The New Hampshire branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) has a list of scholarships for students with disabilities.

FinAid has information about financial aid for students with disabilities, including scholarships and fellowships.

The U. S. Department of Education offers information about financial aid and how to apply for scholarships and loans. The "Student Portal" has info about how to find and pay for college.

7. Coming Soon! Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004

Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 (ISBN: 1-892320-05-3) is the new publication by Pete and Pam Wright that will be published this summer (2005) by Harbor House Law Press.

Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 includes the full text of Parts A and B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004), extensive commentary, strategies, changes from IDEA 97, and cross-references. The format, layout, and statutory explanations are similar to Wrightslaw: Special Education Law and Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind.

Subscribers to The Special Ed Advocate newsletter will receive advance notice before Wrightslaw: IDEA 2004 is available to the public. Watch your email box - we'll keep you posted.

Learn more about IDEA 2004.

More Wrightslaw publications - and one cool DVD!

8. Wrightslaw Programs in Hawaii

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training Programs focus on four areas: special education laws including significant changes in IDEA 2004; how to use the bell curve to measure educational progress & regression; SMART IEPs; and advocacy tactics & strategies.

Hilo, HI - July 29, 2005 - LDA Conference (Keynote Speakers & Presenters)

Hilo, HI - July 30-31, 2005 - Boot Camp

Schedule l Programs l Speakers l FAQs

9. Subscription & Contact Info

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

Law Library Seminars & Training
Advocacy Yellow Pages for Kids
No Child Left Behind Free Newsletter
IDEA 2004 Newsletter Archives

Contact Info
Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: https://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletter@wrightslaw.com

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