As the recognized leader for special education professional standards, CEC develops standards, ethics and practices and guidelines to ensure that individuals with exceptionalities have access to well-prepared, career-oriented special educators.
Through the vision and dedication of more than 28,000 members, CEC sets the standard for high quality education for children and youth with exceptionalities. And, CEC is known as THE source for information, resources and professional development for special educators.
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Special Education Topics includes information about the different exceptionality areas; international special education; hot topics in special education; and professional practice topics such as assessment, evidence-based practices and inclusion.
This week, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled its new initiative for students with disabilities – Results Driven Accountability (RDA). For the first time in IDEA’s near 40-year history, states were rated on how well they implement IDEA by combining compliance with student outcomes. Here’s the scoop:
Each year, every state is required to submit data to the U.S. Department of Education about how students with disabilities are faring in the classroom. Previously, states were asked to submit only compliance indicators – i.e. meeting timelines for evaluations of students with disabilities, how much of a student’s day is spent in the general education classroom.
The revised RDA evaluation process, for the first time in history, also took into account educational outcomes – based on how students with disabilities fare on state assessments and the National Assessment for Educational Progress – to determine how states are meeting the goals and implementation of IDEA.
Adding a new layer of student outcomes has shed a new light on how students with disabilities are faring in the educational system (see map above, left). Some 62% of states fell into the “needs assistance” category labeled yellow, while three states and the District of Columbia were in the category “needs intervention,” labeled red. Fifteen states were categorized as “meets requirements,” labeled green. By significant contrast, if student outcomes were not included and only compliance with IDEA was in the calculation, 40 states would have been declared “meets requirements,” labeled green (see map above, right).
It’s important to recognize that while this data is helpful at looking at broad trends, we mustn’t lose sight of the reality that there are areas of excellence and challenges in each state. Click here to see the details for your state.
For a long time we have heard how “crossing t's and dotting i's” was a major concern when implementing IDEA as it focused too much on procedures and not enough on student learning. We hope this combined approach will raise the importance of focusing on how to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In looking ahead, it is important to use this data wisely, recognizing the overall story it conveys. That’s why CEC has been advocating for:
In response to this new initiative rating how well states implement IDEA by combining compliance with student outcomes, we asked some CEC leaders for their ideas on improving outcomes for students with disabilities and a resource recommendation or two for members who want to learn more.
“Effective co-teaching teams in schools are the key to improving instruction for students with disabilities. The five keys to leading co-teaching are: knowing what co-teaching is and when it is needed; recognizing that co-teaching is a marriage and you are the matchmaker; scheduling is a priority; planning is critical; and monitoring success, giving feedback and ensuring evidenced based practice.”
Wendy Murawski, Executive
director & Eisner Endowed Chair of the Center for Teaching & Learning at California State University, Northridge; President of CEC's Teacher Education Division (TED)
Recommended reading: Leading the Co-Teaching Dance: Strategies to Improve Outcomes
“Four words: Universal design for learning (UDL). UDL is a framework that's supports options and choice in all learning environments for all students. In my school district, UDL is the framework for everything we do: teaching, learning, professional development and evaluations of teachers – and we’ve seen greater academic and social-emotional outcomes as a result.”
George Van Horn, Director of Special Education, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, Columbus, Ind.; CEC Board Member.
Recommended reading: from TEACHING Exceptional Children, “The Digital Media Writing Project: Connecting to the Common Core” (TEC 46-1) and “A Unit-Based Approach to Adaptations in Inclusive Classrooms” (TEC 46-2); National Center on UDL; CAST
"Every student needs effective special and general education teachers who work collaboratively. Determining 'effectiveness' can be tricky, especially in our new teacher evaluation systems. What's most important to remember is that our evaluations should be tailored to our unique role as special educators to drive high-quality, relevant professional development."
Danielle Kovach, Special Education Teacher, Hopatcong, N.J.; 2014 Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year.
Recommended reading: from TEACHING Exceptional Children, “Trends in Teacher Evaluation: What Every Special Education Teacher Should Know" (TEC 45-5); CEC's Toolkit on Special Education Teacher Evaluation
"Those of us who live in remote areas can find it challenging to have a professional learning community we can lean on and get ideas from. But with technology it’s becoming easier to share instructional strategies, resources, tools and experiences – even for those of us who are in rural communities. It’s so important to have other special educators you can talk to – even if they’re thousands of miles away!"
Laural Jackson, Assistant Superintendent & Special Education/504 Director, Delta/Greely School District, Delta Junction, Alaska.
Recommended reading: Anything in the CECommunity!
“Many children with disabilities are performing poorly in school because of an absence of intensive instruction that’s delivered by instructional experts. To improve outcomes we have to match services to needs. For this to happen, we have to work hard to ensure that many things are in place, including that there are indeed instructional experts.”
Doug Fuchs, Professor and Nicholas Hobbs Chair in Special Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University.
Recommended reading: TEC Special Edition on Intensive Intervention; National Center on Intensive Intervention
“ Well prepared teachers are key to ensuring that evidenced based instruction is delivered to every student resulting in improved outcomes. CEC’s ethics, and preparation and practice standards are an invaluable resource for faculty developing curriculum and seeking CEC national recognition, state policy makers evaluating state licensure requirements and special educators planning their professional growth.”
James McLeskey, Professor, School of Special Education; Director, Center on Disability Policy and Practice, University of Florida; Chair, CEC Professional Standards and Practice Committee.
Recommended reading: What Every Special Educator Must Know: Ethics, Standards, and Guidelines
“As a new teacher, it’s clear to me that we must focus just as much on managing student behavior as we do on academic needs. If we tackle this issue from a whole school approach that emphasizes positive reinforcement rather than a punitive, classroom by classroom endeavor, we can have better outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities. Without a school-wide positive behavior support plan, behavior issues can take center stage and students have a hard time learning.”
Benjamin White, Paraprofessional, Plymouth, Mich.; CEC Board Member
Recommended reading: Behavior Management Basics Webinar; When Behavior Makes Learning Hard; The Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
"We should look at students who begin school already knowing another language as having a head start over their peers. If we nurture their bilingualism and capitalize on their linguistic, cultural, and experiential strengths – helping them feel “smart” rather than “at risk” – then we will be able to give them every opportunity to use academic language, engage in higher level thinking, and contribute in their classrooms and schools in meaningful ways.”
Amy Eppolito, Research Associate and Instructor, University of Colorado-Boulder BUENO Center for Multicultural Education
Recommended reading: English Language Learners: Differentiating Between Language Acquisition and Learning Disabilities