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Wrightslaw Short Course Series

Wrightslaw Summer School or Back to School is a series of self-study activities that will help you prepare for the next school year.

The series usually runs for four to six weeks during the summer. In 2010 and 2018, we featured a Back to School series.

During these self-study short course series, you'll receive your reading and written assignments - and maybe even a quiz or two. When you complete the series, you'll get a certificate for a job well done!


2019: Transition - Planning for Your Child's Future

It's never too early to plan for your child's future. Transition planning should be done with your child, not for your child.

  • IDEA focuses on transition services . . . an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities.
  • IDEA provides the legal requirements for transition services to support your child's goals after high school.

Hopefully, you have been working closely with your child’s IEP team through high school to ensure that the team established appropriate transition goals. You should have also measured and documented your child's progress toward these goals.

Summer School 2019: Transition you will take a close look at IDEA transition requirements, transition assessments, and transition planning to ensure that your child is prepared for further education, employment, and independent living. You'll find advice, transition checklists, and tips to help your child make a successful transition.


2018: Mistakes People Make

As the school year begins, it is a good time to reflect back on any frustrations, disappointments, and mistakes made last year!

It's a great time to think about avoiding unnecessary mistakes next year.

Caution! Common mistakes that are often made by -

  • Parents
  • Independent Experts
  • Evaluators
  • Advocates
  • School Districts

Back to School 2018: Mistakes People Make Anxious about this school year? Remembering the frustrations, disappointments, and mistakes made in the past? Need help steering clear of disagreements with the school team? The stakes are high. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. Find out what you need to learn and what skills you need for effective advocacy and how to avoid common mistakes.

2017: Present Levels in the IEP. What's so Important?

How can you know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you started? Start here!

Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.

In this four part self-study series, Summer School 2017, you will learn:

  • what Present Levels are and what they describe
  • where Present Levels information comes from
  • how to use Present Levels to get the program, placement, or education your child needs

Summer School 2017: Present Levels in the IEP. What's so Important? Learn the requirements for Present Levels in IEPs. Parents must learn how to design current and accurate Present Levels if you want good IEP goals! All goals need Present Levels. Find out why parent input is so important during this part of developing the IEP.

2016: Tape-Recording IEP Meetings, Transcribing Follow-Up Letters

There should be no conversation at an IEP meeting that cannot be repeated or taped. Learn how to put your recordings to good use!

If you are in Due Process, how can you "tell" the administrative law judge or hearing officer what happened in your IEP meeting?

Your tape-recordings and follow-up letters can “testify” for you.

In this four part self-study series, Summer School 2016, you will learn about:

  • tape-recording meetings
  • transcribing the tapes
  • writing follow-up letters that will testify for you

Summer School 2016: Tape-Recording IEP Meetings, Transcribing Follow-Up Letters will provide a self-help study guide that will explain why, and how, to tape-record IEP meetings and provide tips for taping. You will learn the three levels of follow-up letters, how to transcribe tapes, and a step by step guide for writing follow-up letters that can testify for you.

2015: Self-Study Advocacy Plan for the New Parent

mom and daughter at computerUntil now, parents have been barred from effective advocacy by lack of information and isolation. The Internet is changing the status quo. Raising children is hard work. If you have a child with a disability, you’ll work harder and longer. We want to teach you to “work smarter.”

In this six part self-study series for Summer School 2015 you will learn:

  • new skills, strategies, techniques
  • about your child's disability
  • what works - effective educational practices
  • about legal rights & responsibilities
  • how to measure your child's educational progress
  • about tests and measurements
  • to negotiate and persuade

Summer School 2015: Self-Study Advocacy Plan will provide a self-help study plan that good parent advocates need to have. You'll learn how to plan and prepare to be an effective advocate, and find out where to go to get the information you need.

2014: Parent Rights & Responsibilities in the IEP Process

IEP MeetingAs your child’s parent, you are a key member of the IEP team. You are not a spectator. You are an active participant.

IDEA gives you the power to make educational decisions for your child. Do not be afraid to use your power. Use it wisely. Don’t be afraid to take charge.

In this six part self-study series for Summer School 2014 you will learn to see your role in the IEP process as equally important as the educational professionals. You will learn:

  • about your active parent role as a member of your child’s IEP team
  • how to be an equal participant in IEP meetings
  • some simple but effective tools for taking and maintaining control
  • how to ask questions and make suggestions at IEP team meetings
  • how to be prepared to both collaborate and negotiate with the IEP team

In Summer School 2014: Parent Participation in IEPs learn the law and regulations about your parental role in the IEP process and how to add parent input at IEP meetings.

2013: So You Want to Be an Advocate?

advocates meetingHave you thought about becoming an advocate but don't know where to start?

I am interested in becoming an advocate for children with special needs and their families. Is there a certification process?

I am a retired school administrator. I am interested in training to become a special education advocate. Is there an organization I can join, training I may receive? Where should I begin?

I was a certified special ed teacher and I would like to become a parent advocate. I'm not sure how to get started.

In this four part series, Summer School 2013: So You Want to Be an Advocate?, you will:

  • get the basics of becoming a special education advocate
  • read what advocates do to improve the lives of children with disabilities and their families
  • find out what training and certification, if any, is required
  • learn where and how advocates train

2012: Organizing Your Child's File: Do It Right!

woman with mountains of unfiled paperworkThe special education system generates mountains of paper. After you organize the information about your child into a file, you will have a clearer understanding of your child's disability and needs. If you don’t have a file for your child, it is time to create one. If you have already started a file, it’s time to review and update the file.

Your goal this summer...

  • learn how to create a document management system
  • organize your child's special education file.

In Summer School 2012: Organizing Your Child's File, you will learn where to start, what supplies you will need, and how to develop your Master Provider List. Learn how to review your child's record and request copies of all necessary documents. Get tips for writing effective request letters. Find sample letters. Find out how to generate your Master Document List and locate a document in your child's file in seconds.

2011: Advocating Through Effective Letter Writing

parent advocate writing a letter If you have issues or concerns with the school, you must document these problems in writing. You will not resolve these problems by waving caselaw at school personnel or by writing letters that demand, blame, or complain.

You use letters to build relationships, identify and solve problems, clarify decisions that were made and not made, and motivate people to take action. You write letters to request information, request action, provide information or describe an event, decline a request, and express appreciation.

In the Summer School Short Course 2011: Advocating Through Effective Letter Writing, you will:

  • learn to use tactics and strategies when you write effective letters to the school to clarify events and what you were told
  • learn the Rules for good letter writing
  • learn the qualities of good letters and how to avoid the pitfalls of letter writing
  • find editing tips and presentation techniques that will enhance the effectiveness of your letters to the school
  • learn how to write three levels of follow-up letters that hit the highlights of your IEP meetings and are accurate, cordial, and factual
  • find samples of four letters to help you hone your letter writing skills

2010: Back to School Seriesfamily together hands raised

August and September can be two of the most trying months of the year.  Families everywhere are planning for the return to school - trying to get back on track in old routines or create new ones.

For parents of children with special educational needs, back to school means the start of a new IEP advocacy year. To be an effective parent advocate, you must know the steps to take to ensure that your child receives an appropriate education.

In Back to School 2010, you'll find information and advice, advocate's tips and effective advocacy strategies, and legal resources to help you start the year off right. You will learn how the effective parent advocate stays focused, anticipates problems, and avoids mistakes.

2009: Summer School for Advocates

boy and teacherIf you are the parent of a child with special educational needs, you need to develop and hone your advocacy skills. If you are a teacher or special ed service provider, you may want to fine-tune your advocacy skills on behalf of your students.

Whether you are a parent advocate, teacher advocate, or professional advocate, you need to become an expert on the child, the child's disability, understanding evaluations, understanding the laws, and knowing where to find experts when you need to consult one.

In Summer School for Advocates 2009, you'll find a refresher course in effective advocacy skills...gathering and organizing information, planning and preparing, documenting, problem solving. Review important caselaw, complete some practice questions, then test your knowledge with the special education law final exam.

2008: Summer School for Parents

IEP AlertHow did it go at the IEP meetings this year? Were you able to maintain a positive parent-school relationship? Were stress levels too high?

It's time to relax, re-evaluate, and ratchet down that stress level by ramping up your advocacy skills.

You'll find a summer "to do" list that will encourage you to spend time with friends and family, re-charge your batteries, and brush up on your advocacy skills and technique..

In Summer School for Parents 2008, you've been reading, learning statistics to measure progress, completing written assignments, submitting answers to quizzes, improving your skills for becoming a more effective parent advocate.


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