Program Chair Featured Sessions


A 35-Year Odyssey to Improve Outcomes for Struggling Adolescent Learners

Leader: Donald Deshler, University of Kansas, Lawrence

Since its inception in 1978, an overriding goal of the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning has been to improve outcomes for adolescents who struggle in learning – including those with disabilities. The presenters will describe lessons learned during a journey taken by practitioners and researchers as well as the students themselves in a quest to build better learning environments that promote meaningful outcomes and success.  A part of our journey involved the process of having validated interventions adopted and used on a sustained basis in a broad array of class and school settings.

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

  1. Describe three instructional interventions appropriate for Tier 1 settings.
  2. Describe three instructional interventions appropriate for Tier 2 settings.
  3. Identify the characteristics of a strategy for effectively scaling the interventions described.

Assessing Postsecondary Education Readiness of Youth With ID and Developmental Disabilities

Leader: Jerry Petroff, The College of New Jersey, Ewing

Presenters: Rick Blumberg and Rebecca Daley, The College of New Jersey, Ewing

This session will address the skills that middle and high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities must learn to be career and college ready. Presenters will demonstrate a simple tool in the form of a rubric that can be used by students, parents, and school personnel when both planning the transition and developing school program objectives for middle and high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who plan to attend college. Preliminary results of a pilot study will be discussed.  The Postsecondary Education Readiness Rubric (PERR) includes 8 areas of focus: (1) Self-Determination, Advocacy, and Independence; (2) Community Participation and Engagement; (3) Learning Style and Accommodation; (4) Technology Skills; (5) Liberal Knowledge; (6) Literacy Skills; (7) Interactive Communication; and (8) Socialization and Sexuality.

At the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Understand the importance of preparing middle and high school youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to attend a certified comprehensive postsecondary education program/college.
  2. Know how to use a template to assess the areas necessary for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to successfully transition to postsecondary education/college.

Assumptions About Complex Text Within the Common Core:  Consequences for Struggling Readers

Leader: Elfrieda Hiebert, TextProject & University of California, Santa Cruz

The distinguishing feature of the English/Language Arts Common Core standards, relative to previous standards documents, is Standard 10.  This standard attends to whether students are reading progressively more complex texts across the grades.  The goal of having students read complex texts is both worthy and necessary, but several assumptions about measuring and reading complex texts within the Common Core have potential negative consequences for struggling readers.  These assumptions are:  (a) students will read more challenging texts when content interests them; (b) scaffolds, including read-alouds, support students' reading of complex texts; and (c) current quantitative measures of text complexity are valid indicators.  How can an understanding of these assumptions help teachers of struggling readers select appropriate texts and tasks?  With a solid understanding of what is (and isn't) based on evidence within these assumptions, teachers can involve struggling readers with accessible and content-rich texts that increase their reading proficiency and world knowledge.

At the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Understand three underlying assumptions about text complexity within the Common Core and the potential, unintended consequences of these assumptions for struggling readers.
  2. Understand alternative responses to these assumptions that can ensure that struggling readers are involved with worthy and appropriate texts that increase their reading proficiency and engagement.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Brain Development and Contributions of Intervention

Leader: Margaret Bauman, Boston University School of Medicine, MA

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are now recognized as a heterogeneous group of disorders etiologically, neurobiologically, and in terms of clinical presentation. Our understanding of the autistic brain has expanded and we now know at least some of the brain regions that are different in this disorder and how these differences are reflected in the clinical features of those affected. It has become clear that despite developmental differences in the brain, early intensive interventions can be effective in improving outcomes. Although approximately half of persons with ASD are nonverbal, many are very bright and have the potential to be successful adults. Persons with ASD are seen in all socio-economic and ethnic groups; both males and females are affected. Evidence will be presented related to the underlying neurobiology of the autistic brain and how this brain changes with age. While there is little concrete data to support the effect of intervention strategies and their potential impact on brain function, some imaging studies are emerging that suggest that this is indeed the case. Available data will highlight the need for providing appropriate and individualized teaching strategies for persons with ASD during their school years and beyond.

At the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Understand the clinical features of ASD.
  2. Understand what parts of the brain are affected in ASD and how these regions lead to the clinical features of the disorder.
  3. Learn how early intervention services and other treatment strategies can impact developmental outcomes and what treatment modalities are being used to help students learn more efficiently and become successful adults.

CATS: A Comprehension Intervention Embedding Text Structure Within Social Studies Lessons

Leader: Joanna Williams, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York 

Presenters: Lisa Pao, Jenny Kao, and Daniel DeBonis, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York

Common Core Standards at the upper-elementary grades necessitate a strong focus on the text from the very beginning of reading instruction. In this session, you will learn about a year-long intervention for second-graders at risk for academic failure, designed as Tier 1 RTI. The intervention teaches five expository text structures (sequence, compare/contrast, etc.) within lessons about Native Americans, colonists, pioneers, immigrants, and present-day city dwellers. The instruction emphasizes the close analysis of well-structured texts via both reading and writing activities. The results of a series of RCTs provide evidence of the effectiveness of the intervention, demonstrating the value of explicit instruction in reading comprehension at the primary grade level. Issues of diversity are addressed directly through the social studies content, which focuses on diverse communities that have existed during United States history.

At the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Guide students to closely analyze well-structured texts, using evidence-based strategies.
  2. Create well-structured texts and text-dependent questions that can prepare young children to do the close reading appropriate to meeting Common Core Standards in later grades.  

Connecting Research-to-Practice: From Scooby Doo to You…Eliminating Bullying Is What We Can Do!

Leader: Dorothy Espelage, University Of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Presenters: Kris Varjas, Georgia State University, Atlanta and Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network, New York, NY

Given the prevalence of bullying across children with and without disabilities, you will want to learn about exciting collaborative efforts across education, psychology, and the entertainment media to address it. Did you know that entertainment media can play a unique role in addressing bullying? Cartoon Network, researchers, and educators have an essential relationship related to bully prevention and intervention. Come learn how each discipline has a unique and important role in meeting the safety needs of our children and youth and what that means to you.

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

  1. Describe the prevalence of bullying across children with and without disabilities, cultures, gender, race, the LGBT community, and all socio-economic status groups.
  2. Identify the unique role entertainment media can play in addressing bullying by picking a media that young people independently choose to use.
  3. Describe the essential relationship among researchers, governmental agencies, educators, nonprofits, and corporations in addressing bullying.
  4. Identify three actions you can take to improve the personal well-being of all children and adults.

Contemporary Challenges for the Leadership of Special Education

Leaders: Mary Lynn Boscardin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Jean B. Crockett, University of Florida, Gainesville

Presenters: Anne Louise Thompson Granfield, University of Kentucky, Lexington and John Provost, North Brookfield Schools, Easthampton, MA

Effective leaders for special education, regardless of their positional role, put research to work in helping design innovative systems that support success for students with disabilities and other diverse learners. The panelists in this session reflect various perspectives in illustrating how they link research and policy in leading state and local educational agencies, and in developing aspiring leaders to support high quality effective special education. Presenters include a former state director of special education, a district superintendent, and university faculty who highlight how they define, gather, interpret, and use research related to special education leadership; and how they negotiate their social contexts in translating research into effective policy and practice. Panelists will engage the audience with practical strategies for (a) using staff census data, state hiring status, and research on personnel preparation and retention to inform district-level leadership training and mentoring programs; (b) identifying national special education policy and legislation debates influencing collaboration and communicating with stakeholders (parents, policy makers, employers, etc.) to shape district and state fiscal policy; (c) implementing varied leadership frameworks guiding special and general education administration leadership practices that inform the revision of state licensure statutes and regulations; and (d) selecting evidence-based practices critical to effective teaching and learning to craft districtwide training and policy guidelines, and inform the revision of state licensure statutes and regulations.

At the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Understand how to use state-level census data, hiring status, and research on personnel preparation and retention to inform district-level leadership training and mentoring programs. 
  2. Understand national special education policy and legislation debates influencing the collaboration and communication with stakeholders.
  3. Identify challenges associated with selecting evidence-based practices critical to crafting districtwide training and policy guidelines.
  4. Understand how varied leadership frameworks guiding special and general education administration leadership practices inform the revision of state licensure statutes and regulations.

Disproportionate Representation: What, Why, How, When? Raising and Answering Provocative Questions

Leaders: S. Hector Ochoa, University of Texas, Pan American and Aydin Bal, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Although this session focuses generally on disproportionate representation, it has been divided into three parts—with each part delivered by a different presenter focusing on a different aspect of the topic. The first presenter will provide an overview of the last 10 years of research on disproportionate representation. After the Donovan and Cross (2002) NRC report was published and IDEA was reauthorized (2004), a flurry of new studies was released. The presenter will present these by category and point out differences in the underlying theoretical frameworks.

The second presenter will review and discuss factors often associated with disproportionality. These factors will be addressed for culturally and linguistically diverse students and migrant pupils.  Moreover, a discussion regarding how disproportionality can be addressed via research, training, and policy will be provided.  

The third presenter will provide a specific example of disproportionality research by discussing his recent systemic intervention study, Culturally Responsive PBIS. The project focuses on disproportionality in EBD identification and on exclusionary disciplinary actions (e.g., expulsion and suspension). They also implemented Learning Lab, a process of collective and inclusive decision-making and problem-solving activities, in four Wisconsin schools to understand and address disproportionality. He will present both qualitative and quantitative data.

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

  1. Describe disproportionate representation in special education and name 3 key issues.    
  2. Name the theoretical underpinnings of different subcategories of research on disproportionate representation.

Evaluation of Tiered Instruction With Randomized Controlled and Regression Discontinuity Trials

Leader: Keith Smolkowski, Oregon Research Institute, Eugene

Presenter: Scott Baker, Southern Methodist University, Eugene, OR

Learn about two research designs, the randomized controlled trial (RCT) and the regression discontinuity trial (RDT), for the evaluation of tiered instruction, such as Response to Intervention.  Both evaluation approaches rely on strong theoretical foundations that reduce biases commonly associated with quasi-experimental trials, such as selection bias, but each type of trial also has differing strengths and limitations, which makes the two approaches complementary, an advantage highlighted in evaluations of tiered instruction.  Presenters will describe each design and then present the results of an evaluation of the Tier 2 intervention from the Enhancing Core Reading Instruction (ECRI) project, which paired an RCT with an RDT.  Although the RCT demonstrated differences between intervention and control classrooms, it could not demonstrate improvement of students in Tier 2 relative to those who only received Tier 1, core instruction.  Conversely, although the RDT demonstrated that students who received instruction in Tiers 1 and 2 began to catch similar peers who received Tier 1 only, this study could only demonstrate improvement for students very near the decision threshold for participation in Tier 2 instruction. 

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

  1. Describe the core features of RCT and RDT.
  2. Explain how these two types of experimental trials can produce different and complementary findings in the context of tiered instruction programs in education settings.
  3. Understand how these two approaches were used in a complementary fashion in the context of one intervention--the Enhanced Core Reading Instruction project, implemented in first grade.

Exceptional Lives Exceptional Stories

Leader: Jennifer Diliberto, Greensboro College, NC

Presenters: Mary Ruth Coleman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Marge Terhaar-Yonkers, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC, and Polly Haselden, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC

This panel session will provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their parents to share inside knowledge of life with a disability. Panel participants are from Pennsylvania and also include Yes I Can Awards recipients. Session leaders will facilitate a discussion in a question-and-answer format and will ask structured questions to each group and allow time at the end for questions from the audience. 

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

  1. Describe the ways a disability affects an individual's daily life.
  2. Identify strategies for working with parents of individuals with disabilities.

From Special Education to Leadership: Tips From Three Who Made the Transition

Leader: Joseph Dimino, Instructional Research Group, Los Alamitos, CA

Presenters: Judy Elliot, EduLead, LLC, Tampa, FL, Betsy Fernandez, Retired Principal, Storrs, CT, and Nancy Golden, Governor’s Office-Oregon Education Investment Board, Salem

A panel of three individuals who were former special educators and served in school districts as superintendent, chief academic officer, and/or building principal, will discuss how their experience in special education helped them leverage broader scale changes. Participants' opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues with the panel will be a key feature of this session. In particular, you will hear a candid discussion of both strengths and limitations of the leadership role with the interests of special education students in the district. Tips for making the transition will be shared. 

At the end of the session, participants will:

  1. Understand how experience as a special educator can enhance their effectiveness in general education.
  2. Identify strategies they might use to make the successful transition to general education.

Getting the Doctoral Program You Need: Preparing for the Career You Want

Leader: Cynthia Griffin, University of Florida, Gainesville

Presenters: Christine Walther-Thomas, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Maya Israel, University of Illinois, Champaign, Nicholas Gage and Meg Kamman, University of Florida, Gainesville, and Jean Kang, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Higher education researchers predict that half of all current special education faculty in institutions of higher education (IHEs) will retire within the next few years. Conversely, only half of recent doctoral program graduates will choose IHEs as career paths. Some early career faculty finish their doctoral programs underprepared for the competitive challenges of 21st century IHEs where tenure-line positions are scarce and high entry-level expectations for teaching and research productivity exist. Anecdotally, early career faculty report interest in other career paths (e.g., PreK-12 leadership, educational consultancies, business opportunities) opting out of IHEs because of personal considerations (e.g., geographic immobility, spousal employment, extended family responsibilities). In this session designed for current doctoral students and doctoral program advisors, we explore traditional faculty careers and other career options. We also discuss academic program planning considerations for facilitating effective academic and career preparation aligned with long-term professional goals. A panel of early career faculty members from various IHEs will offer advice and respond to audience questions. 

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

  1. Generate effective strategies for aligning doctoral learning experiences with career outcomes.
  2. Discuss potential career options based on both professional and personal goals.

Mindful Practices for the Exceptional Children

Leader: Carla Tantillo, Mindful Practices, Oak Park, IL

This highly interactive session will demonstrate and train participants on how to use yoga, meditation, and relaxation to empower the exceptional child to mindfully deal with anxiety, frustration and fatigue.  Through mindfulness training the exceptional child learns how to slow down, focus and concentrate, as well as integrate movement, body awareness, breathing and balance into the daily routine.  Mindful Practices enhances the natural development of a child in a holistic manner. Participants will learn strategies that can be implemented early in a child's life to assure healthy formative physical and social-emotional development.

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

  1. Recognize the dramatic impact that mindfulness training can have with the exceptional child.
  2. Understand breath work, relaxation, and meditation activities that can be used to calm and relax both themselves and the exceptional child.
  3. Perform yoga poses that can be used to integrate movement, body awareness, and balance into the daily routine of the exceptional child.

Multi-Tiered Support Systems in Transition Planning to Promote College and Career Readiness

Leader: Joseph Madaus, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Presenters: Mary Morningstar, University of Kansas, Lawrence and David Test, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Implementing tiered-intervention models to address the needs of at-risk students has been a focus of educational policies and procedures since the reauthorization of the ESEA in 2001 and IDEA in 2004. Although academic and behavioral competencies have been the typical focus, there is the potential to implement self-determination instruction, career exploration activities, interagency linkages, academic or social supports, or other practices correlated with positive postschool outcomes for secondary students at varying degrees of intensity, focused on improving postschool outcomes. This session offers a model of tiered interventions and supports in the context of preparing secondary students for college and career success. It is also relevant for a diverse group of stakeholders, as it reflects the philosophy of tiered interventions – evidence-based practices implemented for all students with increasing intensity, frequency, or supports for students with greater needs as they prepare for college and career success. 

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

  1. Describe the role of multi-tiered support systems in transition planning and assessment.
  2. Describe the role of multi-tiered support systems in preparing students to be career ready.
  3. Describe the role of multi-tiered support systems in preparing students to be college ready.
  4. Understand specific methods for applying a multi-tiered support system for transition planning at the secondary level.

National Data on Students With Disabilities: What's Available? What's Possible?

Leader: Jose Blackorby, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA

Presenters: Elaine Carlson, Westat, Rockville, MD, Debbie Shaver and Tracy Huang, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA

This session will provide an introduction and overview of existing data sources (e.g., NCES, OSEP, and other sources) that researchers and policymakers can access and use free of charge to address many important questions relating to population characteristics across the disability spectrum; types of services provided to them; and academic, social, and postschool outcomes for students with disabilities, as well as characteristics of teaching personnel. These data provide rich opportunities for analysis and publishing. You will learn how to access the data, the strengths and weaknesses of different data sources, the types of data available and analysis that are possible; as well as examples from early childhood, K-12 special education, personnel, and transition.

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

  1. Understand the range of types of data available from a variety of sources.
  2. Understand the range of questions that can be addressed and potential analyses.
  3. Identify where to find the data and how to get started using them.

Perspectives From Adult Siblings of Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Facilitator: Zachary Rossetti, Boston University, MA

Presenters: Rachel Simon, Damon Brooks Associates, Lynne Mack, and Sarah Hall, Ashland University, Columbus, OH

This panel session will feature personal perspectives from adult siblings of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Each panel member will share their experiences and the influences on their family and professional lives. Panel members include Rachel Simon, Lynne Mack of the Pennsylvania Sibling Support Network and Sibling Leadership Network, and Sarah Hall. Rachel Simon is the award-winning author of six books and a nationally-recognized public speaker on issues related to diversity and disability. Her titles include the bestsellers, The Story of Beautiful Girl and Riding the Bus with My Sister. Lynne Mack is the Pennsylvania Sibling Support Network (PSSN) representative of the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN). She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her sister, Diona, who has a significant seizure disorder. Her sister has been a huge part of her life and has been the catalyst for getting involved in the work that she has done over the years as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Sarah Hall is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Inclusive Services and Exceptional Learners at Ashland University. Her research includes the sense of belonging, relationships, and social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and the experience of siblings of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She is on the Board of Directors for Ohio SIBS (Special Initiatives by Brothers and Sisters) and is a Co-Coordinator of Sibs Looking Forward: A Retreat about transition for students with developmental disabilities and their siblings.  Dr. Hall has an older brother with multiple disabilities including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities. Zachary Rossetti will facilitate the panel. Dr. Rossetti is an Assistant Professor in the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education Cluster in the School of Education at Boston University. His research program focuses on supporting social interaction and participation of individuals with intellectual disability, autism, and other developmental disabilities. Much of his work is informed by his experiences and relationship with his brother Todd who is a huge Boston sports fan and has pervasive support needs due to cerebral palsy.  These personal stories from adult siblings of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities will provide participants with first-hand accounts that can inform the types of supports and services provided to students with disabilities – and their siblings - in order to better prepare them for adulthood. The perspectives shared will also provide useful information to attendees regarding collaboration with families of students with disabilities. 

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

  1. Describe key issues and support needs for adult siblings of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  2. Understand through these sibling perspectives the key issues and support needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. 
  3. Include the consideration of family, sibling, and individual experiences in their teaching and service delivery.

Perspectives From the Autism Spectrum

Facilitator: Susan Marks, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

Presenters: Laura Nagle, Lindsey Nebeker, David Hamrick, and Stephen Shore, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, and Chou Chou Scantlin

This panel session will feature personal perspectives from adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Each panel member will share their schooling experiences and how that influenced their adulthood experiences. Laura Nagle is an adult who learned about her autism diagnosis later in life, after years of struggling to find meaningful employment. Her story is captured in a film called Vectors of Autism. Laura will focus on how her experiences influenced her employment as an adult and what could have supported her to have achieved an outcome more commensurate with her abilities and talents. Lindsey Nebeker and David Hamrick have been the subject of several news stories, and they are currently involved in a film called Autism in Love. Lindsey and David will share how autism has affected their relationship experiences and how educators and parents can support students with ASD to learn about intimacy, dating, and relationships. Stephen Shore is an assistant professor of special education at Adelphi University. He has written and co-authored a number of books related to autism. Dr. Shore will share how his experiences with autism have influenced employment and his pursuit of higher education. Chou Chou Scantlin is a singer who performs with the Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palm Orchestra. She will share her adulthood experiences and what supported her to “find her place.” These personal stories from adults with ASD will provide participants with first-hand accounts that can inform the types of supports and experiences provided to students in order to better prepare them for adulthood.

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

  1. Describe adulthood issues for individuals with ASD.
  2. Understand how to support issues related to adulthood employment and relationships for individuals with ASD.

Reducing Risk for Young Urban Diverse Learners: What Do We Know?

Leader: Gwendolyn Cartledge, Ohio State University, Columbus

Unfortunately urban settings are disproportionately impacted by all of the factors typically associated with reading/special education risk (i.e., poverty, racial minority status, limited English proficiency, and inadequate schooling). These factors are also found to accompany behavioral disorders. The teacher-student ratio in these settings is large, approximately 29:1, increasing the likelihood that students with the poorest skills will not get the instruction they need to become successful in school. This session will identify practices based on the research literature and the presenter's own research that are most promising for reducing risk in young urban learners. Most of the studies will focus on African American and English learners but implications will be drawn for other low-performing groups as well. The presenter will discuss how to help children acquire basic reading skills by using effective interventions, cultural adaptations, technology applications, and teacher skill; and will include sample strategies and video clips of intervention examples.

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

  1. Describe reading risk factors unique to culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) urban learners.
  2. Identify cultural adaptations to reduce the reading risk of CLD learners.
  3. Identify ways that technology might aid in reducing the reading risk of CLD learners.

RTI for Behavior: Creating a Full Continuum of Prevention and Intervention

Leader: Randall Sprick, Safe & Civil Schools, Eugene, OR

In order to improve learning and engagement, students' social, emotional, and behavioral needs must be addressed. In this session you will learn about a comprehensive, positive approach to schoolwide behavioral expectations, classroom management structures, and individual student interventions that effectively address all student needs. Information on implementing these strategies at the schoolwide, classroom, and individual student levels will be shared. The acronym STOIC summarizes the major RTI strategies for achieving proactive behavioral support systems for ALL students in all schools: • Structure settings for success. • Teach expectations directly to students (in detail and with repetition). • Observe/monitor/supervise. • Interact positively with students. • Correct fluently (calmly, consistently, immediately, and respectfully). By addressing the learning environment in this way, school staff can greatly reduce the degree to which misbehavior and apathy create barriers to academic productivity and engagement. Research shows that when STOIC is implemented well by all staff in the school, a multi-tiered system of prevention and intervention is established to proactively support students' social, emotional, and behavioral needs. This multi-tiered system creates an RTI continuum for behavior and discipline.

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

  1. Evaluate their current continuum of services (identifying both strengths and areas needing improvement) and, based on that evaluation, determine at least one major priority for improving universal procedures related to safety, behavior, or climate.
  2. Identify a preliminary plan for addressing that priority using the STOIC framework.
  3. Describe a continuous improvement cycle related to RTI for behavior.

Strategies for Providing Effective Professional Development in Vocabulary: Findings From Two Studies

Leader: Madhavi Jayanthi, Instructional Research Group, Los Alamitos, CA

Presenters: Rebecca Newman-Gonchar, Kelly Haymond, Joseph Dimino, and Russell Gersten, Instructional Research Group, Los Alamitos, CA

This session highlights a professional development program using Teacher Study Groups to improve vocabulary instruction in elementary grades. Participants will learn the 5-step recursive process and the components of vocabulary instruction (e.g., selecting words, developing student friendly definitions and practice activities) that were addressed during the professional development sessions. Findings from two large-scale randomized controlled trials examining the effectiveness of this professional development program will be presented, along with a discussion of the conditions under which the professional development program appears to be more effective (e.g., PD facilitator characteristics, quality of facilitation, teacher characteristics).

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

  1. Identify the components of the Teacher Study Group professional development program.
  2. Discuss the components of effective vocabulary instruction.
  3. Understand the key aspects related to facilitating PD effectively.
  4. Describe the conditions that appear to be related to better gains in student vocabulary.

Supports for Common Core Math for Students With Special Needs

Leader: Randy Ewart, University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, CT

In this session, you will learn various strategies to address conceptual understanding and problem-solving related to CCSS in math. Student artifacts and scaffolded handouts are shared and participants will complete sample handouts. Participants are encouraged to “beg, borrow, and steal” any and all ideas and will be provided a bank of critical thinking problems and scaffolded handouts, through the presenter's blog. Forty-five of the states are adopting CCSS which means the vast majority of students will encounter CCSS and either PARC or Smarter Balanced assessments. Given this, students with special needs who are capable of accessing the general curriculum will be exposed to the curriculum and assessments related to CCSS. Presenters will provide and explain a list of evidence-based practices, making accessible a bank of critical-thinking problems, and introduce the use of scaffolded handouts and shaping critical thinking. Specifically, the session will address UDL, graphic organizers, color coding, building on prior knowledge, CRA, scaffolding, High-P, shaping and questioning. Each of these is supported by research and has been put into practice by the presenter. Because the strategies involved provide for addressing prior knowledge, UDL and multiple representations, diversity of all forms is addressed.

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

  1. Identify strategies used to support student access to CCSS standards in math and relate them to their own practice.
  2. Evaluate strategies and artifacts used to support student access to CCSS standards in math and render a rating score for usefulness in their own practice.

The Impact of Interventions Middle Schools Provide to Struggling Readers: Finding From Field Studies

Leader: Scott Baker, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

Presenter: Deanne Crone, University of Oregon, Eugene

This session will discuss findings and implications of a large-scale observation study to determine what middle schools do to support struggling readers and what impact these interventions have on improving reading skills. Between 25 and 50 schools (depending on the year) in five school districts provided reading interventions to students in Grades 6, 7, and 8. Interventions were provided to students who scored below a cut score to determine reading risk. Districts and schools determined what reading interventions to provide to students below the cut score and students who scored above the cut score did not receive these reading interventions. Classroom observation data and data from other sources, including observations from data team meetings, were used to estimate the dosage and intensity of reading intervention for at-risk students. Findings will focus on the association between dosage and intensity of reading intervention and reading outcomes, and implications will focus on practice and policy issues connected with providing effective reading intervention to struggling readers in middle schools. 

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. Summarize the overall impact of reading interventions delivered in the field by middle schools to struggling students.
  2. Discuss the association of at least three variables with intervention impact.
  3. Discuss the importance of the study in terms of how middle schools provide reading interventions to struggling students. 

The Role of Working Memory in Math Intervention

Leader: Lynn Fuchs, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Presenter: H. Lee Swanson, University of California, Riverside

In this session, Dr. Swanson will explain the importance of working memory in determining mathematics development and the role working memory plays in mathematics learning disabilities. Dr. Fuchs will then present a study in which students were randomly assigned to a nonintervention condition of one of two fraction interventions (12 weeks, 3 sessions/week, 30 minutes/session). Both interventions emphasized the measurement interpretation of fractions: One provided supplementary activities to build fluency with fraction strategies and the other provided supplementary activities to consolidate understanding about fractions. Dr. Fuchs will describe the intervention procedures and study results, in which the effectiveness of these conditions depended on students' working memory capacity. Dr. Swanson will offer comments on the study and then open up the session to audience participation.

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

  1. Describe four instructional strategies for fraction instruction.
  2. Understand the role of working memory in mathematics development and intervention design.

Three Steps and Six Strategies: A Balanced Approach for Building Literacy Skills With ELLs

Leader: Sylvia Linan-Thompson, University of Texas, Austin

Common Core State Standards have raised literacy demands for all students. English language learners, who are still in the process of acquiring English language proficiency and literacy skills, may be at a disadvantage when faced with informational text. In order to develop adequate literacy skills, ELLs with learning difficulties must develop both academic and language skills. In addition, they need to access informational text to develop content knowledge and academic vocabulary. Learn six effective strategies to ensure that students will develop the literacy and language skills they need.

At the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. State the basic differences between a learning difficulty and lack of language proficiency.
  2. Describe two instructional strategies for oral language development.
  3. Describe two instructional strategies for writing instruction.
  4. Describe two instructional strategies for reading instruction.

Urban Special Education Leadership in Action

Leader: Fred Weintraub, Independent Monitor, Los Angeles, CA

Presenters: Sharyn Howell and Jaime Hernadez, Los Angeles Unified School District, CA

The panelists in this session discuss how the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) employed a system to significantly improve the performance of its special education program. Since 1996, the LAUSD has been under a Federal court consent decree requiring compliance with laws pertaining to the delivery of special education services and the elimination of architectural barriers in schools. In 2003 the consent decree was modified, and creating performance-based outcomes with the use of a data system to inform decision making, measure progress in meeting outcomes, and hold schools and individuals accountable, was deemed essential.  The panel will engage the audience in (a) exploring how research was used to verify data, and identify and analyze the factors that promote or impede progress in meeting outcomes; and (b) assessing the accuracy of perceptions critical to a performance-based delivery system. The panel will highlight how targeted strategy planning was implemented to focus limited resources in ways likely to produce progress toward meeting the decree performance benchmarks. Last, the panelist will challenge participants to consider with them many ways special education leaders can systemically set expectations, employ knowledge-based actions, and measure progress to improve the performance of special education programs.

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

  1. Understand how a system significantly improved the performance of its special education program. 
  2. Develop an understanding of how performance-based outcomes and data systems can inform decision making, measure progress in meeting outcomes, and hold schools and individuals accountable. 
  3. Identify ways special education leaders can systemically set expectations, employ knowledge based actions, and measure progress to improve the performance of special education programs.

Why and How We Should Expect More of Special Education

Leader: Doug Fuchs, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Presenter: Mitchell L. Yell, University of South Carolina, Columbia

Indisputable evidence indicates that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of students with disabilities (SWD) are achieving very poorly in schools. The evidence comes from individualized testing of nationally representative samples of SWD at elementary and secondary levels as part of the OSEP-funded Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) and National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS), respectively. SWDs' very poor school performance is partly because IDEA has been misunderstood or knowingly disregarded, resulting in policies and administrative dictates that have watered-down instruction for SWD in general education classrooms. For years, many special education teachers, administrators, and researchers and other stakeholders have been aware of this. It is time to acknowledge the facts and change them. Instruction for many SWD must become much more intensive. We describe how this can be accomplished with evidence-based practices and discuss how this will affect the role of special educators. 

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

  1. Describe the findings from SEELS and NLTS national studies of SWDs' school performance.
  2. Identify several reasons for this poor school performance.
  3. Understand what is meant by “intensive instruction.”