Town Hall Meetings

The Common Core State Standards for K-5 ELA: Are We Ready for Implementation?

Leader: Karen Harris, Arizona State University, Tempe

Presenters: Barbara Foorman, Florida State University, Tallahassee and Devin Kearns, Boston University, MA

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading and writing present new opportunities and challenges for teachers of children with disabilities. The CCSS are rigorous, high-level standards, and many scholars have concluded that children with or at risk for learning disabilities can meet these standards provided they receive high-quality instruction. Some children, however, will struggle to meet these standards, and it is not always clear how to support them. In this Town Hall, the panel and participants will discuss (1) the standards, (2) how they are being implemented, (3) what can be done now to improve implementation, and (4) what teachers, school leaders, and researchers should do next.

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

    1. Describe critical features of the CCSS in ELA for Grades K-5.
    2. Understand strategies for adapting the Standards to meet the needs of their students with disabilities.


The Virtues of the Common Core Math Standards (With Caveats)

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

This Town Hall session will be an opportunity to debate the impact of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics on students with disabilities. The focus of the positive (or “pro-Common Core”) position will be on students with high-incidence disabilities. This is largely a function of the academic nature of the Common Core and the fact that so many of these students participate significantly in mainstream classrooms where they will be assessed on Common Core-related tests. The positive position will also acknowledge the limited attention to students with disabilities in the CCSS as well as the challenges that students in poverty face in achieving high academic standards. In this regard, the positive position on the CCSS comes with caveats.


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

    1. Understand the content and rigor of the CCSS in mathematics
    2. Understand the arguments for common standards in mathematics
    3. Understand why not all of the math standards necessarily apply to students with disabilities.


RTI in Adolescence: Dilemmas, Recurrent Problems, and Successes

Leaders: Russell Gersten, Instructional Research Group, Los Alamitos, CA and George M. Batsche, University of South Florida, Tampa

This Town Hall session will be a group discussion of issues related to mature implementation of RTI. The presenters will facilitate the discussion about the following topics: (1) RTI in mathematics, (2) RTI at the secondary level (including credit recovery and issues of double dose), and (3) problems in determining slope with less than 12 data points.

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

    1. Understand RTI at the high school level and identify successful strategies for implementation.
    2. Understand RTI in mathematics and current strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Identify weakness of reliance on conventional progress monitoring measures and discuss alternatives.


Teacher Evaluation and Special Education: Moving Beyond the Challenges

Leader: Nathan Jones, Boston University, MA

Presenter: Jennifer Mahdavi, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

States and districts are quickly adopting new teacher evaluation systems, with a focus on multiple measures of teaching quality, including student achievement and teacher observations, the former a requirement of the federal Race to the Top grant program. Teacher evaluation systems that are perceived as fair and useful can lead to improvements in teacher quality and consequently the quality of schooling that students with disabilities receive. However, there are several unanswered questions about how to measure teaching effectiveness for teachers of students with disabilities. Major challenges include how to best measure the learning outcomes of students with disabilities and account for the fact that responsibility for students with disabilities is often shared across teachers.

Practitioners lack guidance from the research community about how to account for students with disabilities in teacher evaluation systems. In this town hall session, we will offer research-based recommendations for fair and valid evaluation of general and special educators teaching students with disabilities. We will also provide an overview of current practices used by states and districts to respond to existing challenges. The Town Hall session includes time for the two presenters, but reserves half of time for questions from participants.

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

    1. Discuss current research on evaluating educators of students with disabilities.
    2. Identify strategies to consider for implementing district/state teacher evaluation systems.
    3. Access to technical reports on topics presented.


Transition Assessment: Best Practices and Emerging Issues

Leader: Dale Matusevich, Delaware Department of Education, Dover

Presenters: Debra A. Neubert, University of Maryland, College Park; James Martin, Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, University of Oklahoma, Norman; Colleen A. Thoma, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

The transition assessment process serves as an excellent learning opportunity and means to involve students, family, and educators into the transition planning process.  This town hall session will examine transition assessment "best practices," explore emerging issues, and discuss concepts from the recently published DCDT position paper on Transition Assessment. The need for locally developed transition assessment guides by postschool outcomes across grade and age levels will also be examined, as will the role of validity evidence, including the need to use assessments that yield nonbiased results across gender, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, and other similar factors. Concepts of universal design, linking academic assessment into the transition planning process, and unmet transition assessment needs will also be discussed. Join the discussion on transition assessment issues, help identify emerging issues, and discuss what the transition assessment process should be in the future.

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

    1. Describe the major concepts included in the recently published DCDT position paper on transition assessment.
    2. Identify the types of validity evidence needed to support use of transition assessments at different stages of the transition education process.
    3. Understand at least three emerging issues that will need to be addressed to improve the transition assessment process.


Disproportionality in Special Education and Discipline: Where Do We Stand and Where Are We Going?

Leader: Russell Skiba, Indiana University, Bloomington; Eleanor White, Michigan Department of Education, Lansing; and Dan Losen, Civil Rights Project, University of California, Los Angeles

The landscape regarding disproportionality in special education and school discipline remains highly complex. This town hall will provide a status report of where the field stands with respect to policy regarding racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education and discipline. Presenters will also address many questions concerning this topic, such as: What are the policy mandates addressing disparities? What types of local or state initiatives are addressing disproportionality? What are the obstacles to addressing disproportionality and how might they be addressed? What key attitudes, perspectives, and knowledge might be required to be effective in moving this issue forward?

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

    1. Understand where the field stands of policy regarding disproportionality in special education and school discipline.
    2. Answer questions concerning how the field can address disproportionality in special education and discipline in the future.