Strands are your opportunity to explore important educational topics in depth through a series of three to four conceptually and developmentally linked sessions. Exchange ideas with colleagues and with strand leaders and presenters--all experts in their field.  

Strand A: School Based Mental Health: Promising Practices and Interconnecting Systems for Success

Strand Leaders: Douglas Cheney and Eric Bruns, University of Washington, Seattle

Strand Overview – School-based mental health services (SBMH) are frequently discussed in the professional literature and popular media as necessary in public education to enhance social/emotional/psychological development and decrease societal problems related to mental illness, violence, aggression, and interpersonal relations. Presenters will discuss contemporary practices of SBMH as related to the multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS)  that is recommended in education and mental health. Evidence-based mental health practices that have been successfully integrated into school’s MTSS at the universal, secondary, and tertiary tiers will be presented.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Define the characteristics of SBMH services at the three tiers of the MTSS model.
    2. Identify how they might select and use evidence-based mental health services at each tier of the MTSS model.
    3. Describe how they might improve service integration among schools and mental health providers.

View Strand A sessions

Strand B: Achieving Excellence in Education for Military Children With Special Education Needs

Strand Leaders: Antoinette JG Hill and Martha Blue-Banning, Beach Center on Disability, University of Kansas, Lawrence; Jacquelyn Alexander, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, TX

Strand Overview – Military children with special education needs have unique challenges that affect the health and well-being of the family, and the readiness and retention of the force that defends our nation. The variation of special education programs offered throughout the country presents special challenges for building educational continuity for military children, most of whom frequently relocate. Educators often say “no” when asked if they have military children in their schools.  The reality is that almost every district in the nation has military connected children but they are often anonymous and silent about their parents’ service. Educators can help ameliorate their challenges by becoming aware of and sensitive to those challenges. The Military Family Strand presenters will include high-ranking senior military commanders, family members, military-connected service providers, researchers, and advocates who will share current research and best practices related to military children with special needs, existing resources to assist in serving military children with special needs, tested models implemented at the local level, and the latest information on the inclusion of special education issues in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the presence of military-connected children with special education needs in school districts across the United States and the unique challenges these children face.
  2. Understand the critical role educators play in supporting military families who have children with special needs.
  3. Understand the latest research and best practice relating to serving military children with special education needs
  4. Identify tested models that enable educators to support military children with special needs in their school district.
  5. Develop action steps for advancing collaborative partnerships within their local communities to strengthen support of military-connected children with special education needs.

View Strand B sessions 

Strand C: A Detailed Look at the Common Core Math Standards in Grades K-8

Strand Leader: John Woodward, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA

Strand Overview – This strand will discuss four of the strands or “domains” in the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics at Grades K-8.  Presenters will make brief observations about key standards in: (1) Numbers and Operations in Base Ten, (2) Numbers and Operations – Fractions, (3) Ratios and Proportions, and (4) Expressions and Equations.  They will also show example items from the national assessments (i.e., SmarterBalanced and PARCC) that are currently being developed around the Common Core.  Presenters will also discuss research efforts to date that can assist students with high-incidence disabilities in these four Common Core domains. The strand sessions will highlight the challenges that students with high-incidence disabilities face in meeting standards as well as research-based interventions for addressing their academic needs.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Describe key standards in each of the 4 domains from the Common Core and how they impact the learning of students with high-incidence disabilities.
    2. Describe the implications of SmarterBalanced or PARCC test items on interventions for students with high-incidence disabilities.
    3. Describe key research-based practices that can be employed in the classroom to address each domain.

View Strand C sessions 

Strand D: Supporting Vocabulary Development: Research Informing Practice

Strand Leader: Michael D. Coyne, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Strand Overview – Vocabulary knowledge is essential for language development, reading comprehension, and deep learning across all content areas. An essential role for teachers and schools is to support the vocabulary development of all students, including students with disabilities and students experiencing learning difficulties. This strand includes four sessions that present findings from programs of research that developed and evaluated instructional interventions to support vocabulary development. Each session will emphasize how research-based findings can inform instructional practice.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Identify strengths and challenges of using cross-age peer tutoring principles to support vocabulary learning.
    2. Discuss the procedure for choosing vocabulary in complex informational and narrative texts.
    3. Develop research-based vocabulary lessons.
    4. Understand the importance of vocabulary to comprehension.
    5. Understand how time and completion rates influence reader outcomes.
    6. Understand the need to support vocabulary within a tiered framework.
    7. Discuss opportunities and challenges associated with supporting vocabulary within a tiered framework.

View Strand D sessions 

Strand E: Postsecondary Transition Issues for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Strand Leader: Susan Marks, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

Strand Overview – This strand will focus on some of the current considerations and importance of planning for meaningful and effective postsecondary transition services for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As the number of students with ASD has increased, the need to understand the postsecondary issues for this student population has taken on greater urgency. Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 will set the stage for why this important area of need must be addressed. In addition, the identified needs from educators, parents, and adults with ASD will be presented in order to highlight how they view postsecondary transition needs that can support students with ASD to achieve meaningful adulthood outcomes. Finally, this strand will highlight an overview of promising programs and what has been learned from them. We will bring together the diverse perspectives from personal, research, and professional experiences, because it is through the intersection of all of these perspectives that the future direction of effective postsecondary transition services for students with ASD can result in meaningful and valued outcomes.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Understand the postsecondary transition needs of students with ASD.
    2. Identify critical postsecondary issues for students with ASD.
    3. Identify the characteristics of effective postsecondary transition services and programs for students with ASD.  

View Strand E sessions 

Strand F: Improving Fraction Learning in Students With or at Risk for Mathematics Difficulties

Strand Leaders: Nancy C. Jordan, University of Delaware, Newark and Robert Ochsendorf, Institute of Education Sciences, NCSER, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

Strand Overview – Competence with fractions is essential for learning algebra and more advanced mathematics as well as for daily life functioning, such as managing personal finances and doing home repairs. In this strand, we will present recent findings from our IES-funded Center for Improving Learning of Fractions in children with mathematics difficulties.  In particular, we will discuss predictors of fraction learning; a randomized study that evaluated the efficacy of fraction intervention for children with learning disabilities in mathematics; and a computer game that is designed to improve understanding of fraction magnitudes. Students in each of our projects include children of diverse SES and ethnic backgrounds. Implications for teaching and educational policy will be addressed.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Identify key predictors of success with fraction learning.
    2. Describe instructional strategies for fraction interventions.

View Strand F sessions 

Strand G: Making the Common Core Standards Common for Special Education

Strand Leaders: Gloria Campbell-Whatley, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; Teresa Dais, Independent Educational Consultant, Kissimmee, FL; Irene Meier, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA  

Strand Overview – The Common Core State Standards connects what is expected of students at each grade level, allowing special education leaders to properly plan to equip teachers to establish appropriate benchmarks. The Standards focus on core concepts starting in the early grades giving students the opportunity to master them. As these standards are applied across states, new challenges arise as school-based leaders identify special education as a major topic of concern. Students with disabilities are noted in the Standards and because there is the expectation for them to function within the general curriculum, leaders wrestle with the common core and how special education students will fair in the curriculum. It is important that evidence-based techniques that have a positive effect on students with disabilities be used as solutions.  Because of the many existing principles and evidence-based practices already in effect (e.g., inclusion, Response to Intervention, Universal Design for Learning, and other shared concepts), leaders must effectively problem solve and appropriately apply and integrate these concepts.  School-based and special education leaders must now merge the Common Core Standards into these standing strategies and methodologies. 

Other Common Core Standard considerations include the environment and locale. The urban school for example, has students with all the concerns that accompany this type of setting. School-based leaders have to plan for English Language Learners students who have limited english proficiency. These students will be held to the same high standards in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Because many of these initiatives are implemented in the general education setting, special education leaders must collaborate to assure effective application. This strand will provide solutions for the issues and challenges they encounter and will offer viable options for effective inclusive practices.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Understand practical situational analysis and applicable solutions as related to the Common Core Standards.
    2. Understand the challenges, legal issues, and advice for special education leaders. 
    3. Identify strategies that can be implemented in classrooms today.   
    4. Identify a variety of evidence-based methodologies and strategies for effective special education leadership practices.

View Strand G sessions 

Strand H: Overview of Recent IES Practice Guides in Writing and Mathematics

Strand Leader: Barbara R. Foorman, Florida State University, Tallahassee

Strand Overview – This strand will provide overviews of recent Practice Guides in writing, and mathematics from the Institute of Education Science’s What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The Practice Guides are:  Teaching Elementary School Students to be Effective Writers (released June 2012), Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8 (released May 2012), and Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RTI) for Elementary and Middle Schools (released April 2009).  The Strand Leader will briefly explain the rigorous methodology employed by the WWC in reviewing the literature in order to answer causal questions about what works in writing and math instruction. Each session leader will then explain the recommendations for practice made by their practice guide and the implications for current classroom practice as well as implementation of the Common Core.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Describe four recommendations for improving elementary students’ writing.
    2. Describe five recommendations for improving students’ mathematical problem solving in Grades 4-8 and eight recommendations to use RTI for the early detection, prevention, and support of students struggling with mathematics.
View Strand H Sessions

Strand I: Using Intensive Intervention to Meet the Academic and Behavior Needs of Struggling Learners

Strand Leaders: Louis Danielson and Rebecca Zumeta, National Center on Intensive Intervention, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC  

Strand Overview – In this strand, staff, senior advisors, and consultants to the National Center on Intensive Intervention will provide participants with an overview of how principles of intensive intervention may be applied to students with severe and persistent learning needs across reading, mathematics, and behavior. Each of the three content-oriented sessions, respectively, will address identification of students with intensive needs, relevant instructional strategies, and progress-monitoring procedures intended to help teachers determine students’ response to individualized instruction. In addition, a panel will address common implementation issues associated with provision of intensive services, including but not limited to staffing, scheduling, resource allocation, communication with families, and meeting the needs of diverse populations. This final session will include significant audience participation, as the majority of the time will be devoted to panelists responding to questions from the audience.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Understand strategies for identifying, intervening, and evaluating progress for students with intensive intervention needs in academics, specifically reading and mathematics.
    2. Understand strategies for identifying, intervening, and evaluating progress for students with intensive behavioral needs.
    3. Identify approaches to addressing common implementation challenges when planning for intensive intervention for students with severe and persistent academic and behavior needs.

View Strand I sessions 

Strand J: Supporting Adolescents With Emotional and Behavioral Challenges

Strand Leaders: Lee Kern, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, and Tim Lewis, University of Missouri, Columbia

Strand Overview – Adolescents with social, emotional, and behavioral problems continue to experience very poor outcomes with respect to academic achievement, school completion, and mental health status.  Further, limited research has been conducted with this age group to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based academic, behavioral, and mental health interventions as well as enablers and barriers to implementation.  This strand will describe a variety of evidence-based interventions implemented with high school students and the strength of research to support their effectiveness, including a recently completed national randomized control trial investigation of a multi-component intervention. We will also describe contextual variables in high school settings that influence adoption and implementation of interventions.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Understand an assessment model to identify effective interventions
    2. Understand the evidence to support five effective interventions for adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems
    3. Describe three significant barriers to intervention implementation with adolescents and how to overcome those barriers.

View Strand J sessions 

Strand K: Bully Prevention and Intervention: Giving Voice to Victims Through Compassionate Collaboration

Strand Leaders: David Houchins and Zachary G. Johnson, Georgia State University, Atlanta; Wendy Peia Oakes, Arizona State University, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Mesa

Strand Overview – This strand focuses on translational research across public and private organizations targeted at eliminating bullying and victimization of students with and without disabilities. There are numerous types of bullying caused by both children and adults including cyber, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. The facts are startling. One in seven students indicates they have been victims of bullying. Students with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied as compared to their nondisabled peers. Nine out of 10 LGBT students report that they are bullied for their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Approximately 71% of students report that bullying is an ongoing problem in their community. All too often, bystanders of bullying acts feel ill equipped to intervene in the behaviors of others.

National awareness of the necessity to address the needs of both the victims and perpetrators of such maltreatment is increasing. In 2010, President Obama held the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention stating: “If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.…It’s not.” Within a wide range of initiatives from the international “It Gets Better Project,” to national and state legislative branches, individual schoolhouses, entertainment media, and universities, actions have and continue to be implemented to eliminate bullying. If you are interested in identifying and implementing specific strategies on how you as a parent, citizen, teacher, student, or faculty member can make a lasting difference in the lives of those impacted by bullying and victimization, please attend this important strand.  

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Indicate three relevant statistics associated with bullying and/or victimization across various settings and segments of our society.
    2. Indicate four legal and/or ethical considerations related to children and adults associated with bullying and/or victimization.
    3. Identify four actions researchers, parents, governmental agencies, educators, nonprofits, and corporations can use to address bullying and/or victimization.
    4. Identify three predictors of bullying and/or victimization.
    5. Describe three evidence-based strategies that can be implemented across school, home, and community settings to eliminate bullying and/or victimization.

View Strand K sessions 

Strand L: The U.S. Office of Special Education Research to Practice:  IDEAs That Work

Strand Leaders: Larry Wexler and Renee Bradley, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

Strand Overview – This strand will include a variety of critical issue topics in special education and early intervention, highlighting the transfer of the best we know into classrooms, natural environments, schools, and communities. Well-known presenters from around the country, supported by the IDEA Part D National Programs, will present evidenced-based findings, practices, and technology that will lead to improved outcomes for children with disabilities and their families. Each session will begin with an overview to set the national context for the topical issue and include current evidence, next steps in practice, and resources for follow-up. Sessions are designed for practitioners, school and district leaders, early intervention providers and teacher trainers and are designed as stand-alone sessions so you can attend one or all of them. Time will be scheduled for questions and answers and resources will be shared in each session.  

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Describe the current status of: (a) implementing systems and practices to support students with intensive academic and behavioral needs, (b) effective practices in the preparation and development of teachers, and (c) implications and information of the Department of Education Discipline Guidance.
    2. Access resources, tools, information, and training modules developed by IDEA- funded projects and the Department of Education.

View Strand L Sessions

Strand M: Response to Intervention at the Secondary-School Level: How Do We Measure Progress?

Strand Leaders: Christine Espin, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Strand Overview – There is increased interest in RTI at the secondary-school level for students with learning disabilities, however, a major barrier to implementation is the lack of validated progress measures. If RTI is to be implemented with fidelity at the secondary level, educators must have validated progress measures at their disposal. Systematic use of technically adequate data for measuring progress should result in more effective instructional programming for secondary-school students with learning difficulties. In this strand, participants will learn to design, administer, and score measures for screening and progress monitoring within RTI at the secondary level. Progress measures for secondary-school students in reading, content-area learning, writing, and mathematics will also be addressed. Results of technical adequacy studies at the secondary-school level have provided support for the reliability and validity of these measures, and have revealed that measures for younger and older students may differ in terms of type of measure, time frame, scoring procedures, or administration procedures. It is important that these differences be communicated to secondary schools. Students who are monitored within an RTI system are at risk for learning disabilities and often come from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Second-language factors affecting progress monitoring will also be discussed.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Judge the technical adequacy of progress measures for secondary-school students, focusing especially on differences in measurement procedures for the elementary- and secondary-levels.
    2. Know how to administer and score measures and discuss implementation within secondary-school RTI.

View Strand M sessions 

Strand N: Helping English Language Learners in Special Education Succeed in the Common Core Classroom

Strand Leader: Deborah K. Reed, Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University, Tallahassee

Strand Overview – The number of English learners continues to significantly outpace the growth of the general school population, therefore, all teachers, including special educators, must be knowledgeable about the language and literacy skills these students need to be successful in school. The Common Core State Standards present additional challenges for both English learners and their teachers as academic demands increase for students who are learning rigorous content at the same time they are learning English. This strand will provide educators with the latest research on critical issues in the education of English learners including the academic language demands associated with literacy development for ELs; reading intervention studies, one with middle/high school students with intellectual disabilities and one with at-risk fourth graders; and information and tools for identifying English learners at-risk for reading difficulty as early as Kindergarten.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Describe the academic language required for literacy development.
    2. Identify components of literacy instruction for English learners with intellectual disabilities.
    3. Understand how to identify English learners at-risk for reading difficulties in the early grades.

View Strand N sessions 

Strand O: Implementation of Universal Design for Learning: Research ↔ Practice

Strand Leaders: David Rose, Patti Ralabate, Skip Stahl, and Tracey Hall, CAST, Wakefield, MA 

Strand Overview – Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based educational framework that emphasizes proactive design for knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm. Recognizing variability in all learners, the UDL guidelines help educators plan and implement instruction from access to executive functioning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

Often, attempts to ameliorate barriers for individuals in “the margins”--those with disabilities, or cultural, linguistic or socio-economic diversity, for example--focus on remediation, emphasizing how individuals can overcome the ways in which they are different from “average.” UDL posits that the most effective innovations actually occur when efforts are made to meet the needs of the most marginalized individuals from the outset by creating environments that leverage their strengths, thereby expanding opportunities for all learners.   

This strand focuses on UDL implementation as a process of systemic change throughout elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational settings. The sessions will take participants along a journey of change guided by the UDL principles. Resources from CAST’s UDL implementation process will be highlighted. Presenters, including national UDL experts and voices from the education community, will draw on the growing body of research and exemplars from the field.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Understand that those who implement UDL successfully are knowledgeable about UDL and systems change, motivated, goal-directed, and strategic in their planning.
    2. Recognize and explore UDL implementation as a process of change, including research and practice, from a case study perspective.
    3. Identify the phase-based sequence of the UDL implementation process and explore its application in their instructional contexts.

View Strand O sessions 

Strand P: Evidence-Based Practices Supported by the National Center for Special Education Research

Strand Leaders: Joan McLaughlin and Rob Ochsendorf, National Center for Special Education Research, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC 

Strand Overview – This strand will present research-based educational practices and measures for toddlers and adolescents at risk for language and mathematics disabilities. The presenters, who are researchers funded by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, will address interventions which address receptive and expressive language and problem solving in mathematics. Participants will hear about intervention efficacy and receive practical tips on how they can incorporate the practices in their classrooms. Attendees will also learn about a valid and reliable measure used for behavior screening in elementary schools as well as recent research on academic trajectories for students with disabilities.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Identify two interventions that have evidence of efficacy.
    2. Describe one evidence-based practice to improve mathematics outcomes.
    3. Describe one evidence-based practice to improve language skills in toddlers with language delays.
    4. Describe a valid measure of behavior screening and progress monitoring.
    5. Describe academic trajectories in math and reading for students with disabilities.

 View Strand P sessions

Strand Q: How Is Online Learning Impacting Students With Disabilities? 

Strand Leaders: Donald D. Deshler and Diana Greer, University of Kansas, Lawrence; David Rose, CAST, Wakefield, MA; Bill East, NASDSE, Alexandria, VA  

Strand Overview – Today, online learning is leading to dramatic changes in the educational landscape. State virtual schools, full-time online schools, or both now exist in 48 states and Washington, DC. It is estimated that by 2019 approximately 50% of instruction will be delivered online. Increasingly, students with disabilities (SWDs) are being included in online courses. However, only a very small number of states have specified policies and safeguards for SWDs. Although online learning holds great promise, there is a paucity of research addressing the pedagogical implications for SWDs. In 2011, OSEP funded the Center on Online Learning and Students With Disabilities (COLSD) whose mission is to research how online learning can be made more accessible, engaging, and effective for K-12 SWDs. Our work has focused on identifying trends and issues related to the participation of SWDs in online learning including accessibility, patterns of student participation, and effects of different formats and content on student outcomes.  Additionally, our work has involved the identification of promising approaches and designs of online environments and the necessary supports to ensure student success. Each of the sessions in this strand is designed to describe data that has emerged from the broad array of studies conducted by the COLSD and to examine the implications of these findings for teachers, parents, and administrators in meeting the needs of SWDs in online environments.

At the end of this strand, participants will be able to:

    1. Identify major trends related to the involvement of SWDs in online instruction.
    2. Understand how many of the most frequently used online environments are designed relative to textual, linguistic, organizational, and visual characteristics and the impact of these defining features on the learning of SWDs.
    3. Understand how learner, contextual, and design variability influences the degree of participation, engagement, and achievement by SWDs in online environments.
    4. Understand various instructional and support strategies that can be used in school and nonschool settings to improve the participation, engagement, and achievement of SWDs in online learning experiences.

View Strand Q Sessions