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In unanimous decision, Supreme Court raises bar for special education (+video)

The Christian Science Monitor – Patrick Reilly

“On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of two parents of an autistic son, finding that his Colorado school district had failed to provide him with a “free and appropriate public education.” School districts are required to provide such an education under the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But the exact meaning of an “appropriate” education has remained unclear. In January, The Christian Science Monitor’s Henry Gass explained that some federal appeals courts have “held that the district is only required to provide educational benefits that are more than minimal or trivial,” while others have instead ruled that “schools must supply a ‘meaningful educational benefit.’” As a result, “it is unclear whether school districts have to provide ‘meaningful’ or just ‘more than trivial’ educational benefits to students.” In their unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court’s eight justices came down decisively against the “more than trivial” camp, a ruling that could bring major benefits to students with disabilities – especially those with “individualized education programs,” or IEPs.”(more)

Working memory as key to preventing misdiagnoses, overrepresentation of minorities in special education

Science Daily – Staff Writer

“Researchers have found a link to growth in working memory and growth in English-language reading among young English-language learning students. The findings suggest better assessment and education that considers second language acquirement, and not just curriculum, could help prevent misdiagnoses of learning disabilities in minority students.”(more)

The Benefits of Flipped Classrooms for Students with Learning Needs

Education World – Jim Paterson

“It’s been about 10 years since the idea of flipping classrooms first gained its soaring popularity and good reviews – and in that time it’s also apparently grown to help students with special needs. Greg Green, perhaps the best-known administrator advocating for flipped classrooms, discovered the process (providing students with lessons at home in videos and then homework and support in the classroom) as he began his career—working in special education.”(more)

Creative Ways To Manage Paperwork Load For Special Education Teachers

KQED News Mind/Shift – Beth Brubaker

“This time last year, Stephanie Johnson was miserable. She was in her third year teaching special education at a junior high school in Lindon, Utah, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City. On the outside it looked like she was doing great. Her classes ran smoothly, students loved her, parents loved her, but like many special education teachers, inside she felt as though she was drowning. She said she thought about leaving all the time: “I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just so much work. I just feel like I cannot do it.” It’s a very different Johnson I find this year at her new school, the Renaissance Academy, a charter school in the nearby city of Lehi. On a Friday afternoon, her classroom, which she shares with one other special education teacher, is empty of kids.”(more)

How special needs students can benefit from STEM education

The Christian Science Monitor – Cathaleen Chen

“For most of his academic career, Cullen excelled in math and computer science but struggled socially – that is, until he enrolled in a new Los Angeles private school that’s part of a nonprofit network. “It’s been a big change,” his mother, Terry Whiteside, told CNN Money. “Before he wouldn’t talk much about his day. Now he comes home and has conversations with me about what he did at school.” And here’s the kicker: Cullen has been diagnosed with autism. His school, STEM3 Academy, focuses on serving students with special needs, including those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and learning disabilities. As STEM3 joins a growing number of public, charter, and private institutions that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, education researchers have found that such specialty schools have exceptional benefits for not only those with special needs but also minority and female students.”(more)

How new tools meant to help special education students take standardized tests actually made them harder

The Hechinger Report – Laurie Udesky

“Last spring, Julia Kim’s students with disabilities at Fairmount Elementary in San Francisco were ready to take a new standardized test. They were excited that it had been built especially for them. In past years, students with visual perception disorders had test questions read out loud. This time, the students sat in front of their computers awaiting the new technology designed to help them complete the test on their own for the first time. But as soon as the first question appeared, students complained that the print was too small. The color contrast tool, which used a background to minimize visual distortions, had been developed for the Common Core test to make it easier for special education students to see. But in practice, the tool prevented the one student in Kim’s class who used it from reading questions and marking answers. “I can’t see it,” he told Kim. It was too dark to read.”(more)