“Regional Chats” with the Bureau of Special Education’s Bureau Chief, Dr. Isabelina Rodriguez

With a focus on “Evolving Relationships that Work for Kids”, special education directors are invited to chat with Dr. Isabelina Rodriguez during a series of six sessions around the state designed to foster an open dialogue and address topics important to the field. With the first session scheduled for November 20th and the final session for June 17th, Dr. Rodriguez plans to discuss topics such as:

  • Partnerships Aligned with State Regulations and New Laws,
  • Building Capacity of General Education Administrators,
  • Working with Families in the Places Where They Live,
  • Creating Advocacy Opportunities for Students with Disabilities within Boards of Education and Central Office,
  • Working Together to Racially, Culturally, and Linguistically Diversify Our Special Education, and
  • Director’s Workforce, and Developing Community Partners.

For a complete list of sessions, locations and times, please see the following link:

Regional Chats with the Bureau Chief

 

 

Assistive Technology Resource Guide

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has published a resource document on assistive technology (AT) called the Connecticut’s Resource Guide of Assistive Technology, Supports and Accommodations for Daily Instruction and Formative, Interim and Summative Assessments.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) states that AT must be considered in the development of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students often need assistive technology supports to access instruction and participate in assessments.

The purpose of Connecticut’s Resource Guide of Assistive Technology is to inform educators, instructional staff, parents and students about available resources for consideration during instruction and highlight elements for individualized supports/accommodations that mirror supports utilized during instruction for assessment such as on the Connecticut’s Alternate Assessment (CTAA) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Utilizing these resources in conjunction with the Connecticut AT Guidelines during instruction as well as assessment, provides students access to enriched educational experiences, prepares them to be career and college ready, and ensures that positive educational outcomes can be realized for all students.

If you have questions related to the AT Resource Guide and/or AT Guidelines, please contact Thomas Boudreau, Bureau of Special Education, at 860-713-6925 or thomas.boudreau@ct.gov.

 

Paraeducator Needs Assessment Results

Earlier this school year, the University of Connecticut (UCONN) University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) conducted an online statewide survey of paraeducators’ training needs. This survey was based on the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC’s) Special Education Paraeducator Common Core Specialty Set (SEPCCSS). SEPCCSS contains 10 professional development guidelines and specific knowledge and skills that paraeducators working with children with disabilities should possess.

Participants were asked to rate their perceptions of their knowledge and skills within each of the SEPCCSS domains: Foundations; Development and Characteristics of Learners; Individual Learning Differences; Instructional Strategies; Learning Environments and Social Interactions; Language; Instructional Planning; Assessment; Professional and Ethical Practice; and Collaboration. In addition, participants were asked one open-ended question concerning the specific topics on which they desired additional training.

Responses were received from 2,438 paraeducators working in public schools in Connecticut. Information about the sample of paraeducators responding to the survey and the students they support is shown below:

  • The sample provided services to students across the PK-12 system, though more paraeducators appear to work in elementary school (1- 4; 31 percent) versus middle (7-8; 13 percent) or high school (9-12; 14 percent).
  • The majority of paraeducators working for greater than 10 years (54 percent) did not have a bachelor’s degree (59 percent) and were not certified as teachers (91 percent).
  • Paraeducators primarily provided services to students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) receiving special education services (85 percent). However, fewer paraeducators had read the relevant pieces of their students’ IEPs (71 percent) or had their roles and responsibilities as mandated by the IEP explained to them (67 percent).
  • Twenty percent of the paraeducators reported not receiving any training in the previous 12 months; of those who reported receiving training, there was considerable variation in the number of training hours reported. Paraeducators also indicated a preference for small group/one-day workshops (51 percent) that were held during school hours (79 percent). Responses also indicated their desire for training on the following topics: specific disabilities, behavior management, technology, general education, language and communication, medical needs of students and the special education process.For additional results from the needs assessment, please visit the UCEDD Web site at: www.uconnucedd.org.

Leveraging Funds to Support Reforms

At a meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and the National Association of State Title I Directors (NASTID) Board Members held in August, representatives identified use of funds and “funding flexibilities” as a need for further conversations and technical assistance. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and the Office of Special Education Programs are working together to clarify use of funds and identify funding flexibilities within the contexts of current laws.

On September 13, 2013, the United States Department of Education (USDOE), the OESE and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issued a memorandum to state directors regarding leveraging funds to support reforms, particularly in Title I schoolwide programs. Along with the memorandum, a USDOE resource document titled, Maximizing Flexibility in the Administration of Federal Grants – IDEA, Title I, Title II and Non-Federal Funds in Schoolwide Programs was included. This document is designed to identify, at a high level, examples of how these funds may be used by state education agencies and local education agencies to support college and career ready standards and assessments; state-developed differentiated recognition, accountability and support; effective instruction and leadership; and positive school climate.

To review the memorandum and the resource document, please visit the link below.

Leveraging Funds to Support Reforms memorandum and resource document

Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities Scholarship

The Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities (GCYD) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1996 with the mission of recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of Connecticut high school students with disabilities and promoting educational opportunities to help students achieve their career goals. The GCYD seeks a diverse applicant pool of students for this scholarship.  All applications are due no later than December 31, 2012.

To be eligible to apply for the GCYD scholarship, a student must:

  • be a current graduating high school senior planning to attend a post-secondary school or training program,
  • be a permanent resident of Connecticut (CT residents attending high school outside of the state are eligible), and
  • have a disability under Special Education Law or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

All applications are reviewed by a panel of judges. Scholarship recipients are selected based on a number of factors including:

  • completeness of application and ability to follow application instructions including adhering to page limits and specifications as well as including the required attachments;
  • the manner in which candidates have managed their disabilities to address obstacles in various aspects of their life;
  • the degree to which the candidates have contributed to their school and community through service, leadership, and being a positive role model; and
  • the candidate’s desire for a successful career.

To apply for this scholarship or to assist someone in applying, please access the application through the link below.  Additional information about the scholarship may be found at www.gcyd.org, or e-mail questions to gcydinfo@gmail.com.

2013 GCYD Scholarship Application

Common Core State Standards: Implications for Students Receiving Special Education Services

In February 2011, the International Center for Leadership in Education published a document discussing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Special Education. This publication offers a national perspective as well as guidance related to the implications of the CCSS for students receiving special education services. For an opportunity to review this publication, please follow the link below.

CCSS and Special Education

Position Statement on the Education of Students with Exceptionalities

On February 10, 2012 the Connecticut State Board of Education approved a Position Statement on the Education of Students with Exceptionalities. To review that document along with policy guidance on the position statement please go to:

http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/LIB/sde/pdf/board/exceptionalities.pdf