US Commission on Civil Rights Issues Report on Inequities in Public School Funding

The United States Commission on Civil Rights has issued a new report concerning the inequities in public school funding. The conclusion of the report is that America’s schools are profoundly unequal.

Here are the recommendations of the Commission:

We agree with the Equity and Excellence Commission that the federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools.

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A Parent’s Guide to Effective Instruction

Reading problems are the most common type of academic underachievement. Especially for students with dyslexia, learning to read and write can be exceedingly difficult. Dyslexia and related reading and language difficulties are the result of neurobiological variations, but they can be treated with effective instruction.

Effective instruction is instruction that is tied to student needs, as determined by diagnostic testing and evaluation. It is instruction delivered by knowledgeable and skilled individuals in a step-by-step fashion that leads to the achievement of desired outcomes or goals by targeting a student’s relative strengths and strengthening his or her relative weaknesses. Effective instruction also requires the ongoing monitoring of student progress to determine the ultimate course and duration of the instruction.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “Let’s wait until your child is more … before trying that”

Recall the Law: Schools must ensure that:

“All children with disabilities … who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated.” 300.111(a)

“A free appropriate public education (FAPE) must be available to all children residing in the state between the ages of 3 and 21”. “Each State must ensure that FAPE is available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade.” 300.101(a)&(c)

The IDEA includes the concept that students with disabilities should be taught in such a way that they can learn the general curriculum and progress toward the achievement level of their peers and also meet their IEP goals. If waiting would delay any of these things from occurring, then it would be inappropriate to wait.

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Annual IEP Review Meeting

An annual review is an IEP meeting required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that must be held at least once a year. The meeting brings the IEP team together to review the student’s progress and program, and plan for the following year. As with other IEP meetings, the school district must provide parents with advance written notice of the meeting and consider their availability when scheduling the meeting. The meeting has these parts:

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4 Important Signs That Your Child’s IEP Is Working

The Individualized Education Program (or IEP) lays out the school’s commitment to provide special education and related services to your child. Developed annually, an IEP must be tailored to the individual needs of your child, with your involvement and input. Once formulated, the IEP becomes your roadmap to track your child’s progress throughout the year.

Here Are Four Important Signs That Your Child’s IEP Is Working:

1. Your child’s IEP has been reviewed by all teachers and related service providers.

All school personnel involved with your child’s education should be aware of and have access to your child’s IEP. This includes general education teachers, special education teachers, and any providers of related services such as speech/language.

Everyone should be knowledgeable about your child’s learning disability and its impact on all aspects of learning and behavior.  Everyone should be clear regarding any instructional support, accommodations, or other services that must be provided your child and the role each must play in making certain they are provided consistently.

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Parent Participation in IEP Meetings

IEP meetings can be emotional and overwhelming, but knowing how to work with the education team effectively is very important. You are a key member of the IEP team with the unique perspective that comes with the long view of your child’s developmental history, dreams, and resources.

Your participation is very important. As the IDEA notes:

“Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by… strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families … have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.”

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New & Improved IEP Meetings

The words, “IEP meeting,” can strike fear in the hearts of parents and educators alike.  Anger, apprehension, dread, and a variety of other emotions may rise to the surface in anticipation of the meeting in which an Individual Education Program is written for a student who receives special education services. But we can change this!  And many of the tips from Kathie Snow’s  “New & Improved” IEP Meetings article can be used at any type of “I” meeting.

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Outcomes, Benefits and Drawbacks of Speech Therapy

What is the Desired Outcome of Speech Therapy?

The main goal of speech therapy is to improve communication. Some of the goals of speech therapy might include:

  • Improving coordination of speech muscles through strengthening and coordination exercises, sound repetition and imitation.
  • Improving communication between the brain and the body through visual and auditory aids such as mirrors and tape recorders.
  • Improving fluency through breathing exercises.
  • Enhancing the learning of language through language stimulation and the use of language through positive reinforcement.
  • Improving communication by helping a child learn another way to communicate which might include gestures, signing or augmentative communication devices (note use of these alternate forms of communication will serve to enhance speech development, not impair it).

Each child will have a different outcome depending on his or her particular challenges and abilities. The length of time in speech-language therapy depends on many factors such as severity of the problem, the frequency and consistency of therapy and the consistency of help at home.

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What Treatments are Available for Speech, Language and Motor Issues for Children with Autism?

The following therapies—also called “allied health services”—address symptoms commonly associated with autism, but are not specific to the disorder.

Speech-Language Therapy

Most autism behavioral intensive therapy programs include speech-language therapy. With a variety of techniques, speech-language therapy addresses a range of challenges often faced by persons with autism. For instance, some individuals on the autism spectrum do not speak, while others love to talk but have difficulty using conversational speech and/or understanding the nuances of language and nonverbal cues when talking with others.

Speech-language therapy is designed to coordinate the mechanics of speech with the meaning and social use of language. Such a program begins with an individual evaluation by a speech-language pathologist to assess an individual’s verbal aptitudes and challenges. From this evaluation, the pathologist sets goals that may include mastering spoken language and/or learning nonverbal communication skills such as signs or gestures. In each case, the goal is to help the person communicate in more useful and functional ways.

The speech language pathologist can provide therapy one-on-one, in a small group or in a classroom setting. Therapists who work with children have additional specialized training.

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What are Supplementary Aids and Services?

According to IDEA, Supplementary Aids and Services means, aids, services and other supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

Supplementary Aids and Services can include changes in:

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