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As 2014 comes to a close, CASE would like to wish its members, partners and other industry professionals a safe and happy holiday season. As we reflect on the past year for the industry, we would like to provide the readers of the CASE Weekly Update, a look at the most accessed articles from the year. Our regular publication will resume Monday, Jan. 5.


The Common Core is tough on kids with special needs
The Atlantic
From March 3: In a recent discussion board thread on reading comprehension challenges in autism, a special-education teacher commented that her students can't understand the assigned reading passages. "When I complained, I was told that I could add extra support, but not actually change the passages," she wrote. "It is truly sad to see my students' frustration." Why must this teacher's students contend with passages that are too complex for them to understand? She attributes this inflexibility to the Common Core, new standards — created in 2009 by a group of education professionals, none of them K-12 classroom teachers or special-education experts — that have been adopted by 45 states.
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Common Core accused of leaving special needs students behind
Deseret News
From July 14: There are 6.5 million special-education students in the U.S. today, and most are falling further behind their peers under Common Core standards. "The latest government figures show that the dropout rate for students with disabilities is twice that for non-disabled students," NPR's Claudio Sanchez reported. "Two-thirds of students with disabilities are performing well below grade level in reading and math. By the eighth grade, that figure rises to 90 percent." Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the rising problem of special education failing under Common Core in a press conference, expressing his disregard for schools claiming it's enough that they are following the standards of Common Core in their special-education classrooms.
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ADHD: Tips to help kids with ADHD improve focus
Psych Central
From Aug. 18: The upcoming school year is getting closer and closer. All kids who are headed back to school will have to manage some level of transition. For basically all kids, this requires them to become more focused, more disciplined, and more organized. Kids with ADHD may have an even more difficult time with this transition particularly if their summer has allowed them much more flexibility, freedom and less demands than the school year.
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A 'major shift' in oversight of special education
National Public Radio
From July 7: The Obama administration said the vast majority of the 6.5 million students with disabilities in U.S. schools today are not receiving a quality education, and that it will hold states accountable for demonstrating that those students are making progress. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced what he calls "a major shift" in how the government evaluates the effectiveness of federally funded special education programs.
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Children with dyslexia can succeed in school
The San Diego Union-Tribune
From Oct. 20: It's the most common learning disability, affecting roughly 1 in 10 Americans and 20 percent of school-age children. Yet in many cases, it goes largely undiagnosed. It's dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that results in problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor reading and decoding abilities. If left undetected, it can lead to frustration with school or low self-esteem. And while there's no "cure" for the condition, there are treatments that can allow those who have it to function as well others.
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Better academic support in high school crucial for low performers with ADHD
Medical Xpress
From Nov. 3: New research reveals that high school students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are using an unexpectedly high rate of services for their age group, yet many low achievers with ADHD are not getting the academic supports they need. Scientists from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and several other universities published the findings in School Mental Health after examining data for a large national sample of high school students with ADHD.
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Data is key to improving outcomes for students with special needs
The Huffington Post
From July 21: For far too long, we as a nation have set unnecessarily low education expectations for students with special needs, limiting their choices and opportunities for success. But thanks to a new U.S. Department of Education directive, things are changing for the better. The department is shifting to a new approach for the nation's 6.5 million children and youth with special needs by focusing on student outcomes instead of simply on how well states comply with procedural requirements.
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Does the way a classroom is decorated affect learning?
The New York Times
From June 23: A new study tries to determine whether there might be a correlation between how a room is decorated and kindergartners' learning. The researchers wanted to know if too many decorations could actually be distracting or overstimulating for young minds. But similar questions could be asked about how classroom environment might influence older students' academic performance as well. Does the way your classroom is decorated affect your learning?
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Dyslexia and the English learner dilemma
Language Magazine
From April 14: The American educational system has a difficult time understanding dyslexia and an even harder time identifying children with dyslexia in order to provide the correct intervention for students who are native English speakers. When a school has the added challenge of identifying struggling English language learners, the task becomes an even more complicated process, and often, these kids are completely missed. But that does not have to be the case. Children who are learning English are just as likely to have dyslexia as their native-English-speaking counterparts, and there is a way to identify dyslexia in these children. The difference is that dyslexia might appear in the native language quite as vividly as it will when they attempt to learn English.
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Can special education students keep up with the Common Core?
The Hechinger Report
From Aug. 11: On a morning in late May, the pace was slow and deliberate as seven students formed a semicircle around their teacher to work on a lesson about finding the main idea in a story. "I have a surprise for you on my phone," said Nicole Papa, before starting an audio recording of "Smart-Speak," a nonfiction article about bullying and peer pressure. Pencils in hand, the third- and fourth-grade students followed along with the recorded voice. "Now, let's read it again, just a little bit closer, and think about the main idea, or gist, of each section," said Papa, reading the first section aloud. "What's it mostly about?"
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15 top special education blogs
eSchool News
From April 21: Special education resources are in high demand, and while each student with special needs is different, special education teachers and support staff benefit from sharing best practices and strategies. Technology enables global communication, and this is especially true for educators — special education teachers from across the country can collaborate online to share their favorite tools and interventions.
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States' special education services face tighter oversight by the Obama administration
The Washington Post
From June 30: The Obama administration is tightening its oversight of the way states educate special needs students, applying more stringent criteria that drop the number of jurisdictions in compliance with federal law from 38 to 15. Under the new criteria, Maryland is among the states that no longer meet federal requirements, joining the District, which has been out of compliance for the past eight years. Virginia meets the demands of federal law under the new rules.
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    Study: Language problems common for kids with ADHD
    HealthDay News via WebMD
    From April 28: Children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are nearly three times more likely to have language problems than kids without ADHD, according to new research. And those language difficulties can have far-reaching academic consequences, the study found. The study, published online April 21 in Pediatrics, looked at 6- to 8-year-olds with and without ADHD in Australia. "We found that 40 percent of children in the ADHD group had language problems, compared to 17 percent of children in the 'control' group," said Emma Sciberras, a clinical psychologist and post-doctoral research fellow at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia. "Rates of language problems were similar in boys and girls with ADHD," she added.
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    Due process hearings on decline
    Disability Scoop
    From Oct. 6: Fewer special education disputes between parents and school districts are escalating to due process hearings, a new government report finds. The number of due process hearings nationwide declined from over 7,000 during the 2004-2005 school year to 2,262 by the 2011-2012 academic year, according to a review released Wednesday from the Government Accountability Office. The shift was largely due to "steep declines" in New York, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. — locations which accounted for over 80 percent of the nation's hearings — the report indicated.
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    Expert: Teachers are 'most important variable' for dyslexic kids
    The New Canaan Advertiser
    From April 7: "English is a great language, but it's part of the problem." Words of wisdom from Margie Gillis, project director at the Haskins Literacy Initiative at Yale University, delivered earlier this month to a room of parents and educators at Royle School in Darien, Conn. Gillis's visit was sponsored by Darien's Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, and she spoke for roughly two hours about dyslexia being both a blessing and a curse. As with any learning disability, teachers make the biggest difference with students and their ability to learn, Gillis said. "They are the most important variable," she said.
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    CASE Weekly Update
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