Subj:    THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE, VOL. 1, NO. 13 (OCTOBER 12, 1998)
Date:    10/12/98 11:49:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Pete and Pam Wright)

The Special Ed Advocate

The Online Newsletter about Special Education and the Law

October 12, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 13

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

We publish this newsletter occasionally, when time permits. You can read
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IN THIS ISSUE: October 12, 1998

(1) Letter from a Portland Oregon school psychologist who has some ideas
about an appropriate educational program for a child with dyslexia.

(2.) Letter from parent of a child diagnosed with PDD - she is worried
that her son will have to fail before he gets help.

(3) Letter from a parent who was told that her child's flat (and
declining) test scores were really good news. She's not so sure . . .

(4) Letter from a teacher who wants information about education law and

(5) Important Addition to the Advocate's Bookstore

(6) Subscription Information

Last week, The Special Ed Advocate was different. We used a letter from
a parent to answer a question and to tell you about related issues. Kate
was trying to get the school district to provide an appropriate program
for her dyslexic son. After three years of special education, her son
had made just one year of progress. Kate requested a reading program
that was xx. The school offered to use a more appropriate program - two
days a week. For the rest of the week, the school would use the program
that had failed - this was called a "compromise."

Several Special Ed Advocate subscribers wrote to offer their thoughts
and reaction to Kate's dilemma.

(1) An Oregon school psychologist wrote:

I am a school psychologist who has worked in the public schools for many
years. My advice to this mother is the same as I would give any parent
in this situation.

Insist that the resource teacher demonstrate with data that her reading
instruction is working. Do not rely on the Woodcock-Johnson or other
standardized test scores because they were never designed to measure
academic growth . . . their samples are far too small to accomplish
this. All these tests measure is the student's relative standing.

What this mother needs to see are pre-post criterion-referenced
curriculum-based data. There ought to be significant changes in the
number of words he can read correctly and the fluency with which he
reads them.

I would advocate very strongly for a direct instruction corrective
reading program. I refer you to Ziegfried Engelmann's research which
provides substantial proof for the efficacy of this approach.

Whole language and other fads, fashions and folderol do not work with
this population and actually do damage because they make remediation
more difficult.

This mother should neither give up nor should she move her kid to
another school . . . he has the right to FAPE in his home school.

Bill Brant
Licensed School Psychologist
Portland Public Schools
Portland, Oregon

(2) The parent of a child diagnosed with PDD wrote:

Wonderful and timely newsletter! Our district is mostly whole language.
My first grade son is bringing home flashcards that we are supposed to
use to help him memorize. Nuts to that! I have the Distar book "Teach
Your Child to Read in 100 Days" and will commence with it.

BUT his fraternal twin, now in kindergarten, is my PDD/LKS-variant
child. He WILL NOT be able to learn diddly from whole language. Our
speech language pathologist says so, our ABA consultant says so, and our
pediatric neurologist agrees.

Do I HAVE to make him do the entire first grade program and fail reading
BEFORE taking action?

Can I go into his next IEP meeting this spring and request that they
provide alternative reading instruction based on recommendations of the
SLP, ABA consultant, neurologist?


If your school only uses a whole language reading program and you have
been advised that your PDD child cannot learn to read with a whole
language reading program, don't wait for him to fail. Don't wait for
school to convene an IEP meeting next Spring.

You are a member of your son's IEP team. You can request an IEP meeting
- you don't have to wait until "IEP meeting time" next spring. You
should provide the school with supporting information from the experts
who know how your child learns.

Be prepared to attend more than one IEP meeting. Remember - school
systems are bureaucracies. Many school systems resist change. This
resistance seems more pronounced when change is requested by parents. To
get your school district to do something different, you'll probably have
to go to more than one meeting. It seems like schools call meeting after
meeting, hoping to wear parents down. In too many cases, it works.

Don't give up. For your son, the window of opportunity to learn language
is open now. It won't be long before the window will begin to close.



Anne wrote to ask if her child's stagnant and declining test scores were
really evidence of progress:

I read your article about evaluations and test scores and found it very
helpful. I went into an IEP meeting thinking that I had a handle on the
results of her recent evaluation. But I was really thrown for a loop.

My daughter has Key Math test results from the Spring of 1997 and
September 1998. When I looked at the results I saw that some of the
scores had not changed and assumed there had been no progress.

The school said "No change is good."

This doesn't make sense to me. What is the real story?"

To read this story, go to:




I am doing a paper on Discipline and Disabilities and I was wondering if
you could point me in the direction of some court cases on this topic.


There are lots of cases - it will be best if you can locate the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter, a publication that
issues new decisions twice a month. Your university law library or
regular library may have it. A large school district will have it, a
special education department will have it. I expect that an attorney who
handles special ed cases may have it. You can find a listing of private
attorneys at

First, start with the constitutional basis about children's rights,
theme, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, then narrow
down to special ed.

Read the Mills case (the kicker that caused 94-142 to be implemented).
Include the original U.S. District Court decision in Malone v. Prince
William and the Fourth Circuit appeal of the same case. Include the U.S.
Supreme Court case Honig v. Doe.

The Overview of the new statute is at

The section that addresses discipline is at

This will give you a comprehensive outline that begins with the
historical basis. When you locate IDELR, look up "discipline" in the
index. Read the summaries of the hundreds of discipline cases. Then go
back to the legal historical roots, i.e., Tinker, Mills, Prince William,

This should give you an award winning paper!


Many of our readers have questions about tests and evaluations. When we
began to build the Advocate’s Bookstore, we asked psychologists, special
educators, attorneys, advocates, and private sector experts to recommend
their favorite books about testing and assessment.

One book was on every expert's list - Assessment of Children by Jerome
Sattler. Sattler's book is THE BOOK for psychologists who evaluate

Curious about what psychologists study in school? Here is the short
version of the Table of Contents for Sattler's book. To review the
complete Table of Contents, you'll have to visit our Advocate's

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Challenges in Assessing
Chapter 2: Useful Statistical and Measurement Concepts
Chapter 3: Historical Survey and Theories of Intelligence
Chapter 4: Issues Related to the Measurement and Change of Intelligence
Chapter 5: Testing Children
Chapter 6: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children: Description
Chapter 7: WISC Subtests
Chapter 8: Interpreting the WISC-R
Chapter 9: Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)
Chapter 10: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Revised (WAIS-R)
Chapter 11: Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition
Chapter 12: Assessment of Intelligence and Infant Development with
Specialized Measures
Chapter 13: Assessment of Academic Achievement and Special Abilities
Chapter 14: Assessment of Visual-Motor Perception, Auditory Perception,
and Motor Proficiency
Chapter 15: Assessment of Adaptive Behavior and Behavior Problems
Chapter 16: Assessment of Behavior by Interview Methods
Chapter 17: Assessment of Behavior by Observational Methods
Chapter 18: The Assessment Process
Chapter 19: Assessment of Ethnic Minority Children
Chapter 20: Assessment of Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Pervasive Developmental
Disorder, and Sensory Impairments
Chapter 21: Assessment of Mental Retardation and Giftedness
Chapter 22: Assessment of Brain Damage
Chapter 23: Report Writing
Chapter 24: Issues in Consultation

To read more about Assessment of Children by Jerome Sattler, go to


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Copyright 1998 Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights

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Pete and Pam Wright,
The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008,
Deltaville, Virginia 23043.