Using the School Years to the Max!

Public school is the last mandated service that a student with a disability can access. After graduation, a person must apply to get services and supports and prove eligibility through income as well as disability. Public school is the last opportunity for free education, with a wide range of modifications and a requirement for parent input. Make the most of public school services as you plan for your youth’s transition to adulthood. Here are a few ideas to consider while you and your youth plan in the school setting:

Create a vision for the future. Ask for a planning session at school to discuss your youth’s future. Many districts have planning tools and interest/vocational inventories in place to help with this process. Invite your youth, family and friends, as well as relevant school staff, to your planning meeting. Be sure that you are clear on when your youth will graduate (ask staff to explain graduation options) and that your youth has a voice at the meeting.

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How Can We Help Kids With Transitions?

Many children struggle with transitions, which are common triggers for behaviors that range from annoying (whining, stalling) to upsetting (tantrums and meltdowns).

There are many ways parents and teacher can help kids have an easier time with transitions — and be able to behave better—but  it may take a little experimentation to find out what clicks with each particular child.

These tools are useful  to help kids of all stripes with transitions. But for kids with ADHD, anxiety, autism, or sensory processing, this kind of scaffolding is particularly crucial and can make the difference between a good day and a bad one. Over a period of time it can help pave the way for success.

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TEA Guidance on Inviting Agency Representatives to an ARD/IEP Meeting

The following information is excerpted from the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) webpage Guidance for Inviting Agency Representatives to Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee Meeting:

Current federal regulations govern the provision of services for sixteen-year-old students with disabilities or for younger students if determined appropriate by the admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committee. These provisions require that a student’s individualized education program (IEP) include measurable postsecondary goals as well as the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals (34 CFR §300.320(b)). Further, provisions at 34 CFR §300.321(b)(3) require a local educational agency (LEA) to invite a representative of any agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services to the transition meeting.

LEAs must also comply with 34 CFR §300.622(b)(2), which protects a student’s confidential information from unauthorized disclosure to agencies that participate in the ARD committee meeting. Specifically, this section requires the LEA to obtain parental consent, or the consent of an eligible student who has reached the age of majority (adult student), for the release of personally identifiable information to officials of participating agencies that will provide or pay for transition services. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) further specifies the requirements for the protection of privacy of parents and students under Section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act as amended.

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2017 Texas Bills Regarding Education

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist, shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation. Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.


HB 1866

“Sec. 8.061.  DYSLEXIA SPECIALIST. Each regional education service center shall employ as a dyslexia specialist a person licensed as a dyslexia therapist under Chapter 403, Occupations Code, to provide school districts served by the center with support and resources that are necessary to assist students with dyslexia and the families of students with dyslexia.”

Currently, students in kindergarten thru second grade must be tested for dyslexia and related disorders.  Now students in kindergarten and first grade must also be screened at the end of the school year.  The question becomes, will the Texas Education Agency (TEA) feel that schools must do much if anything different than what they are currently doing.

TEA must annually develop a list of training opportunities regarding dyslexia.  At least one of these must be available online.  These opportunities must comply with the knowledge and practice standards of an international dyslexia organization, enable an educator to understand and recognize dyslexia as well as implement instruction that is systemic, explicit, and evidence-based to meet the educational needs of a student with dyslexia.

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Tips for Surviving Your Freshman Year of College

One of the first things I figured out after I graduated from high school and went to college was that college has a lot more responsibilities and work than high school.  In high school, you may have had a whole posse (group of people to support you) behind you, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc.  In college, you are on your own to find the help you need, even if you do not know what that need is yet.  The following is a tip sheet to assist you in your quest for higher education.

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Advocating for Yourself in Middle School and High School: How To Get What You Need

You should always be able to have the accommodations you need in school for your disability or health care needs. Sometimes it just takes some extra effort to get what you need. Just because you have a disability it doesn’t mean you can’t do as well as the other kids in school, you have the same rights to succeed. By law every school has a process [a set way] for you to talk to teachers and others about what you need. Sometimes this plan or process is called an Individual Education Plan [IEP], a 504 plan, or sometimes something else.

Step 1: Evaluate what you need

Sit down with your parents and decide what accommodations you need based on your disability. For example, extra time on tests, a note taker, or two sets of books. Only pick accommodations that are necessary for your disability. For example, I knew I didn’t need a program on my computer that read my book to me, so I didn’t ask for it. People with different disabilities need different things.

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Texas Legislative Update for June 2017

Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist,  shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation.  Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.

HB 657 

An ARD committee (IEP team) may promote a student to the next grade level if the committee concludes that the student has made sufficient progress in the measurable academic goals contained in the student’s IEP despite not passing the STAAR.  At the beginning of each school year, a district must inform parents of the options of the ARD committee if the student does not perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument.  Effective immediately

HB 1645 

If a district allows a student to participate in a Special Olympics event, they must allow the student to earn a district letter.  This seems to be addressing a “fairness” or discrimination issue.  Effective immediately

SB 160

TEA may not adopt or implement a performance indicator in any agency monitoring system, including the performance-based monitoring analysis system, that solely measures a school district’s or open-enrollment charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students who receive special education services.  TEA may still collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the state and in the school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.  Effective 5/22/2017

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Texas Success Initiative and Postsecondary Education

Traditionally students with disabilities could enroll in any educational institution (community college, junior college, four year college/university), trade school or technical institute that would accept them. Recently, Texas passed legislation (Texas Success Initiative – TSI) designed to help postsecondary institutions determine, if a student is ready for college level coursework.

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Transitioning Between Schools

When we have children with disabilities, we hear the word “transition” a lot. And most of the time, we are talking about our children’s transition into adulthood.

But even though that is an important transition, it isn’t the first one your child will face. There are transitions between home and preschool, preschool and elementary school, middle and high school – and maybe even between school districts, if your family moves. A child with a disability may be in school past the age of 18 and have even more transitions.

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IEPs and School Transfers

IDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools if the transfer is not completed in a timely manner.

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