NLDline

Subj:    THE SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE, JULY 31, 1999 (V. 2, No. 16)
Date:    7/31/99 9:42:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From:    webmaster@wrightslaw.com (Special Ed Advocate)
Sender:    owner-special-ed-advocate@wrightslaw.com
To:    special-ed-advocate@wrightslaw.com

==================

The Special Ed Advocate

The Online Newsletter About

Special Education and the Law

July 31, 1999 Vol. II, No. 16

Visit us today at:

http://www.wrightslaw.com

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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. Back issues
of The Special Ed Advocate are archived at our web site -

http://www.wrightslaw.com

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 is at the end of this
newsletter.

If your email address changes, please unsubscribe your old email address
and subscribe your new email address.

This newsletter is never sent unsolicited. You received the newsletter
because you subscribed to The Special Ed Advocate.

For a "printer friendly" copy of the newsletter, go to

http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/nwltr/1999/nl_99_0731.html

================

1. SUMMER ASSIGNMENT FOR PARENTS

2. WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW: PRE-PUBLICATION OFFER ENDS
TONIGHT!

3. LETTER TO WRIGHTSLAW ABOUT THE RETENTION EPIDEMIC
HELP! MY SCHOOL DISTRICT RETAINED 25% OF K-2 KIDS THIS YEAR

4. NEWS! FROM OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

6. CONTACT INFORMATION

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1. SUMMER ASSIGNMENT FOR PARENTS

School is stressful for most kids with disabilities. Parents feel the
stress too. By Spring, many parents and children are counting the days -
and hours - until school ended for the summer.

School-related pressure is off. Maybe the problems will go away next
year.

Not yet! Here is your Summer To Do List.

* * JOIN DISABILITIES ORGANIZATIONS * *

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

Why do we make this recommendation?

All of 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.), National Attention
Deficit Disorder Association, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for
the Deaf, the National Tourette Syndrome Association, the Autism
Society, and others publish informative newsletters for their members.

These newsletters are an excellent source of information about advocacy,
special education, and medical and legal issues. When parents join these
groups - and read these newsletters - they learn new ways to help their
children.

* * ORGANIZE YOUR CHILD'S FILE * *

Do you have a complete copy of your child's entire file? Are all
documents filed in reverse chronological order?

Very few parents have a complete copy of their child's file. Because
special education generates so much paper, many parents toss documents
into cardboard boxes or bags. When you do this, you will not be able to
find what you need!

First, get copies of all evaluations, IEPs, correspondence, medical
reports, and other information. For more information about how to do
this, read the "Crisis! Emergency! HELP! "article in the Advocacy
Library at

http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Crisis.html

You are entitled to a complete copy of your child's file from the
school. The school may charge a "reasonable" photocopying fee.

Organize your child's' file in chronological order. File all documents
in reverse order. When you finish, the oldest document will be on top,
most recent document will be at the end.

* * LEARN HOW TO MEASURE EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS * *

Do you know if your child is benefiting from special education? Is your
child making progress? Is the child falling further behind? Do you have
objective evidence to support your position?

Read our article Understanding Tests and Measurements." The article is
available on our website. (To master this information, you need to read
this article several times.)

http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/tests_measurements.html

* * CHART OUT YOUR CHILD'S TEST SCORES * *

You need to chart out your child's test scores. If you use a spreadsheet
program like MS Excel, it is easier. After you plug in your child's test
scores, you can make charts of your child's progress or lack of
progress.

Here is a link to a short slide show about charting educational
progress:

http://www.wrightslaw.com/slideindex.htm

TIP: Use the Wizard in your software program to help you create graphs
of educational progress.

* * LEARN ABOUT SPECIAL EDUCATION RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES * *

Read the law and the regulations. Portions of the statute, along with
Pete's comments, are on the site at

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/20USC1400MyOverview.html

When the new special education regulations were released in March, we
had them up in a few hours. You can read or print the regs in html and
pdf formats.

The main "Regs Page" is at

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/Index_IDEA_Regs_990313.htm

TIP: Use a highlighter when you read the law. Expect to read and re-read
the law several times.

Our new book, WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW contains the full text
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and implementing
regulations, pertinent text of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,
and FERPA along with the implementing regs.

http://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/ourbooks/Law_Book_Announce_99_0712.htm

* * LEARN TO TOUCH-TYPE * *

If your child has a disability, the child needs to learn to touch type.
The process of writing by hand (or handwriting) is extremely difficult
for most children with disabilities. One neurologist told us "Writing is
the most complicated neurological process that a human being must
learn."

Children learn from their parents. If you "hunt and peck," do you think
your child will want to learn how to touch type? Of course not.

When you use a typing software program like "Mavis Beacon Teaching
Typing" 5 to 10 minutes a day, 3 times a day, you will be typing 20-30
words a minute in about three months.

If you hunt and peck, your goal is to touch type at 30 wpm or more by
the end of the summer. If you are learning how to touch type, you can
expect and require your children to learn too.

After a week or two, they will 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!

* * BECOME AN EDUCATED CONSUMER * *

During the summer, continue to check web sites for educational and legal
information. In addition to the Wrightslaw site and the Special Ed
Advocate newsletter, visit LD Online at

http://www.ldonline.org

and EdLaw at

http://www.edlaw.net

Monitor your home state's Department of Education website. You may be
surprised at the interesting information you can pick up.

===============

2. WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW: PRE-PUBLICATION OFFER ENDS
TONIGHT!

The pre-publication offer for Wrightslaw: Special Education Law
continues until midnight, July 31, 1999.

For more information about this book, reviewer comments, and a sneak
preview of the first four chapters of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law,
go to

http://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/ourbooks/Law_Book_Announce_99_0712.htm

You can order the book on our secure e commerce store. You can also
order e mail, fax, or mail. For ordering information, go to

http://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/ourbooks/Orderform.html

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3. LETTER TO WRIGHTSLAW: RETENTION EPIDEMIC

HELP! MY SCHOOL DISTRICT RETAINED 25% OF K-2 KIDS THIS YEAR

Please help. I am fighting with my school district about their policy of
retaining children. My child is in 2nd grade. In her class of 28
children, 7 were retained. This means 25% of these second grade children
were retained!!!!

Most of these children are held back in Kindergarten through second
grades. The school says the children are being retained because of "lack
of maturity". When we expressed concerns about this - and the
possibility that some of these children are under-performing because
they have a learning disability - the school system told us "It won't do
any good to have these children tested for special ed because they won't
qualify!"

A few years ago, they retained my daughter in first grade. I insisted
that they test her. They said it would be "a waste of time." When I
insisted, they tested her, then told me that she didn't qualify for
special ed. She is now in 5th grade and is still struggling.

Recently, a psychologist tested her again. He said she "may have a
learning disability," is "on the edge of being borderline ADD," and that
she ranks "above 95% of the girls her age in anxiety."

He didn't recommend special education or any other educational help. He
wanted her to start in counseling and be re-tested after school starts.

ANSWER FROM WRIGHTSLAW:

We continue to receive lots of mail about the retention epidemic. Most
parents don't realize that their local school system is a bureaucracy.
Bureaucracies resist change and tend to muddle along doing things "like
we've always done."

How can you get an organization that has limited accountability to
change course?

First, you find facts that support your position. Next, you learn how to
persuade the decision-makers in your school system. Who makes decisions?
Who has the power to change course? Learn how to influence public
opinion.

Gather your facts, then write a letter to the editor. Organize a group
of parents and request a meeting with your school board. Provide the
board with hard facts about the hidden costs of retention (see below)

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 monies."

"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.

If you are trying 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)

Read the article, "Promote or Retain" at

http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Promote_or_Retain.htm

In April we posted a letter from a North Carolina school psychologist
who warned about a wave of retentions and educational policy that will
damage the most vulnerable children and pit parents against educators.

To read this letter, go to

http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/ltrs/ltr_NCschoolpsych_retention_990415.html

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4. NEWS! FROM OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

The U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs,
has created 14 Topic Briefs on changes to the Individuals With
Disabilities Education Act:

* General State and District-wide Assessments
* Regular Education Teachers as IEP Team Members
* Graduation with a Regular Diploma
* Discipline -- Changes from Proposed Rules
* Children with ADD/ADHD
* Use of "Developmental Delay" by States and LEAs
* Definition of "Day; Business day; School day"
* Public Charter Schools
* Parentally-placed Children in Private Schools
* Provisions of Special Interest to Parents
* Provisions of Special Interest to Teachers

To review these Topic Briefs, go to

http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/IDEA/Brief-1.html

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5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

To subscribe to The Special Ed Advocate, send an email to

majordomo@wrightslaw.com

In the beginning of your message, insert the following words exactly,
with the hyphens, all lowercase

subscribe special-ed-advocate

You will receive an automatic, computerized confirmation that your
request "has been forwarded to the owner of the special-ed-advocate list
for approval and that it is a closed list." Within a couple of days, you
will receive a message confirming that you are a subscriber.

To unsubscribe to The Special Ed Advocate, send an email to

majordomo@wrightslaw.com

In the beginning of your message, insert the following words exactly,
with the hyphens, all lowercase

unsubscribe special-ed-advocate

===========

6. CONTACT INFORMATION

Pete and Pam Wright
c/o The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Phone: 804-257-0857

Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: webmaster@wrightslaw.com

The resources at this website are copyrighted by the authors. They may
be used for non-commercial purposes only. They may not be redistributed
for commercial purposes without the express written consent of Peter W.
D. Wright.

It is not necessary to obtain our consent to link to our website or
copy, print and distribute our articles and newsletters for nonprofit
purposes so long as the material is reproduced in its entirety and
credit is given to Pete and Pam Wright and "wrightslaw" including the
URL -

http://www.wrightslaw.com

Copyright 1999, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights
reserved.

END