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NOTICE
Third Annual Excellence in Urban Education Awards
SPOTLIGHT
Truth in Labeling: Disproportionality in Special Education
PEOPLE IN EDUCATION
Dr. Bryan Brayboy
RECOMMENDED READINGS
Assessing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: A Practical Guide (Guilford Practical Intervention in the Schools) by Robert L. Rhodes
TOOLS YOU CAN USE
Equity in Special Education Placement: An NCCRESt School Self-Assessment Guide for Culturally Responsive Practice
RESEARCH BASED PRACTICE
Culturally Competent Assessment: More than Nonbiased Tests
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE UPDATE
Technical Assistance Application
FEATURED NCCRESt STATE WORK
Texas
FEATURED NIUSI DISTRICT WORK
Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, Colorado
FEATURED NIUSI-LeadScape PRINCIPAL WORK
Carol Kindt, Chain of Lakes Middle School, Orlando, FL
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
FEATURED WEBSITE
http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com
DID YOU KNOW …
UPCOMING EVENTS
Leveraging Resources: 3rd Annual Joint Meeting of OESE Comprehensive & Equity Assistance Centers & OSEP TA&D Projects
FOR PARENTS
Parents' Roles and Rights in the Referral Process
FOR STUDENTS
Dealing with Test Anxiety


NOTICE

Third Annual Excellence in Urban Education Awards

The National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University is currently accepting applications for the 2008 Excellence in Urban Education Awards. The NCUST Symposium will be held May 7-9, 2008 at The Westin Horton Plaza in San Diego, where up to ten schools will be recognized for their success in urban education. To date, 27 schools from across the country have been honored as finalists and winners. Schools in urban areas with a majority of low-income students demonstrating an environment of learning success, positive growth and equality for all students may compete for the award. Winning schools will receive a $1000 cash award in addition to recognition on the NCUST website. Representatives from each of the winning schools will share their successful strategies as presenters at the 2008 NCUST Symposium.

"As a nation we give lots of attention to those schools that are in need of improvement, but there's far too little attention paid to the schools that are serving children exceptionally well.....By celebrating and learning from these schools, we build a national, professional learning community.....We help each other learn from our best practices in educating urban children and youth." -Dr. Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of NCUST.

For an application and a full list of award criteria, please visit http://www.ncust.org/ email ncust@mail.sdsu.edu or call (619) 594-7905.


SPOTLIGHT

Truth in Labeling: Disproportionality in Special Education

The NEA Education Policy and Practice Department in collaboration with the National Association of School Psychologists has published a new educators' guide, Truth in Labeling: Disproportionality in Special Education.

Overrepresentation of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CLD) in special education programs and under-representation of CLD students in gifted and/or talented programs is an important issue to address in efforts to close the gaps in student achievement. This guide speaks to the need to ensure that all children are receiving appropriate educations, addresses the definition and contributing factors of disproportionality, examines the implication it has for students, schools, and the community, and provides recommendations for addressing disproportionality at the classroom, school, and community levels. Also included are helpful research references and resources.

The 56 page Truth in Labeling guide can be purchased online from the NEA Professional Library.

Other educator's guides available in the online NEA professional library include: The Puzzle of Autism, and The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma.


PEOPLE IN EDUCATION

Dr. Bryan Brayboy

Picture of Dr. Bryan Brayboy

Dr. Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, President's Professor of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Borderlands Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University.

His research, teaching, and service focuses on American Indian students and faculty in higher education including strategies used to achieve academic success, and the cultural, emotional, psychological, political, and financial costs and benefits of this success.

In 2002, he founded the University of Utah American Indian Teacher Training Program, which aims to prepare Indigenous educators to return to their communities and work with Indigenous children. The foundation of this program is Brayboy's belief in self-determination through self-education, social justice, and contributing to indigenous communities in every way possible. In addition to this program, Brayboy is consulting with the United States Department of Education's Office of Indian Education in creating a series of workshops for teachers of indigenous children.


RECOMMENDED READINGS

Assessing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: A Practical Guide (Guilford Practical Intervention in the Schools) by Robert L. Rhodes

Picture of the book: Assessing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: A Practical Guide

Disproportionate over-representation of minority students in special education programs and current law regarding the assessment of these populations require teachers, administers, and school psychologists to be knowledgeable about the impacts of culture and language on student achievement and behavior. This book synthesizes a complex body of literature in a manner that is easily understandable and practical. It offers research-based strategies and tools for assessing culturally and linguistically diverse students in K-12 settings. The authors address topics such as bilingual education, equity in pre-referral, working with diverse families and using interpreters as well as offer practical ways to conduct accurate, unbiased assessments of academic achievement, intellectual functioning, and language and acculturation proficiency. This book also features reproducible worksheets, questionnaires, and checklists in both English and Spanish.


TOOLS YOU CAN USE

Equity in Special Education Placement: An NCCRESt School Self-Assessment Guide for Culturally Responsive Practice

With increasing numbers of students coming from diverse backgrounds, schools are challenged to provide an appropriate education to all. Moreover, school systems are plagued by student underachievement, dropouts, and excessive special education referrals and placements, particularly among students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The problem of disproportionate representation of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in special education has emerged as one of the system's greatest challenges, occurring for a varueity of reasons ranging from inappropriate or inadequate instruction to flawed assessment practices.

NCCRESt has designed a self-assessment instrument to assist elementary school practitioners (all professionals and paraprofessionals working in the schools, such as special and general education teachers, counselors and administrators) in creating schools that are culturally responsive in their programming and instruction so that optimal achievement might occur for all students including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The complete assessment package includes: Form A (Administrators), and Form B (Teachers and School Support Personnel). This instrument presents guidelines that will assist schools in providing better programming for students from diverse backgrounds and reducing inappropriate referrals to special education. As a data collection tool, it also becomes an important aid in gathering information to develop an effective school improvement plan required by the State Education Agency.

The NCCRESt self-assessment guide provides a framework for evaluating (a) knowledge, (b) skills, and (c) dispositions in 5 domains relevant to addressing the needs of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The 5 domains (School Governance, Organization Policy and Climate, Family Involvement, Curriculum, Organization of Learning, Special Education Referral Process and Programs) are based on instruments developed by research centers and professional groups and associations.


RESEARCH BASED PRACTICE

Culturally Competent Assessment: More than Nonbiased Tests

The chronic issue of disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education must be considered in the assessment of these students. It is not effective to merely consider test bias as current literature on test bias fails to fully explain the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education. The inequitable opportunities these students have been provided must also be considered in order to fully assess the individuals' abilities as well as to identify and resolve systemic factors that continue to impact the educational opportunities these students have. Skiba, Knesting, and Bush, 2002 offer the following possible components of such a process:

  • Ensure the Cultural Competence of the Examiner: Disproportionate representation is most obvious within the categories of Learning Disability, Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities, and Mental Retardation. These categories are often referred to as "judgment categories" due to their subjective reliance on professional judgment within the determination process. Professionals responsible for these judgments must be competent in the assessment procedures being used, avoid stereotyping and have a broad understanding of diverse cultures.
  • Assess Disproportionate Representation: Data on overrepresentation is available on the NCCRESt and NIUSI websites. This data can serve as a baseline on which to judge systems change efforts as well as spark dialogue regarding educational equality.
  • Assess Educational Opportunity: District level data can be used to evaluate any number of indicators of educational opportunity including quality of instruction, school discipline procedures, and special education evaluation, placement and programming procedures.
  • Assess the Quality of Remedial Compensatory Programs: "If tests that reflect inadequate opportunity are used to justify placement in programs that do not address the disadvantage, both the test and placement contribute to the perpetuation of educational inequality"
  • Assess Academic Experience and Motivation: Consistent cultural and educational inequality may result in distrust, lack of motivation, and resistance. Assessing student attitudes and experiences provides useful information about the indirect effects of educational inequality.
  • Implement Low Inference Assessment Strategies: Direct assessment approaches including curriculum-based measurement and functional assessments can be used to plan and evaluate remediation without the need to label or place students within special education.
For more information please see:
Skiba, R.J., Knesting, K., & Bush, L.D.(2002). Culturally competent assessment: More than nonbiased tests. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 11, 61-78


TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE UPDATE

Technical Assistance Application

In order to provide high quality technical assistance that contributes to state capacity and sustainability, NCCRESt will accept applications on an open-ended basis, beginning August 1, 2007 for specific and individualized technical assistance. The technical assistance requested can be short or long-term, and can focus on a variety of activities, including document review, strategic planning, improvement plan development, data analysis and review, professional development and training, curriculum review, evaluation and research activities, or other technical assistance that builds the capacity of the state to eliminate disproportionality and develop culturally responsive educational systems.

To download the application form, click here


FEATURED NCCRESt STATE WORK

Texas

In September of 2007 NCCRESt provided a "training of trainers" for Regional Center Three of the Texas Education Service Center on Data Mining: Collection and Use of Evidence in Austin, TX. November 1st and 2nd we returned to share our module on Collaborative Leadership Teams with the same group. In September of 2008 we will return again to Austin to take the group through our Culturally Responsive Response to Intervention (RtI) module.


FEATURED NIUSI DISTRICT WORK

Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, Colorado

The Boulder Valley School District in Colorado's staff development initiative addressing equity and diversity issues within the district has been developing over the past seven years. Community leaders have supported the district in the creation of an equity initiative within a strategic plan that included hiring a director of instructional equity and multicultural education, the development of district and school wide goals related to equity, and the creation of the Equity Leadership Institute. In its first year the ELI attracted 35 participants; today there is a waiting list. So far over 400 educators have attended this year-long institute which begins with a retreat, followed by four-hour monthly meetings plus an additional mid-year retreat.

For more information about the Boulder equity initiative contact Pam Duran at pduran@bvsd.org.


FEATURED NIUSI-Leadscape PRINCIPAL WORK

Carol Kindt, Chain of Lakes Middle School, Orlando, FL

Chain of Lakes Middle School (CoLMS) has 1,318 students from a variety of neighborhoods and communities. The school was designed by Paul Anderson to follow the middle school model, with designated wings for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. In her sixth year as CoLMS principal, Carol Kindt has created a vibrant, inclusive environment for students of all abilities. She is working to help her students improve their scores on Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) by offering a Learning Strategies class where not only students learn new strategies, but teachers rotate into the class to learn new strategies from each other. Students with disabilities or language needs work together in their weekly homerooms to learn test-taking skills and lower anxiety levels so that they can demonstrate their knowledge on the FCAT. For more information about Chain of Lakes Middle School, visit their website at http://www.chainoflakes.ocps.net/.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else. -Maya Angelou


FEATURED WEBSITE

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com

The Child Development Institute provides information for children, adolescents, families and parents on topics such as child development, parenting, family life, teenagers, learning, health & safety, child psychology and mental health including disabilities and ADHD. Clinical child psychologist Robert Myers, Ph.D. created this website, after 20 years experience in the field, to fill the need for a resource that could provide parent education that is current, relevant and easily accessible.

Recommended by Psychology Today and American Psychological Association, the website makes materials such as books, tapes, games and computer software available to parents for parent education and to provide self-help information for their children and teenagers in their "ParentsMart" store.


DID YOU KNOW

  • Forty-two states issue emergency credentials to people who have taken no education courses and have not taught a day in their lives. Many teachers are hired based solely on their experience leading church or camping groups. One-fourth of new teachers (if they are licensed) are not licensed to teach in the field they are teaching. (http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin155.shtml)

  • In urban districts, it is estimated that close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching. Experts predict that overall we will need more than 2 million new teachers in the next decade. (http://www.nea.org/teachershortage/index.html)

  • As recently as 2001, thousands of special education positions remained unfilled nationally; while as many as 15 percent of positions were staffed by teachers who were not fully certified (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System, August 2001).

  • Across the nation, an average 57% of all students with disabilities in each state spend the majority of their time in the regular education classroom. (From Kozleski, E.B. (2007, August). Review of Indicator 5 Analysis. Presentation at the OSEP Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.)

  • Increases in academic performance are associated with decreases in rates of delinquency. (http://www.edjj.org/focus/prevention/plr.pdf)

UPCOMING EVENTS

Leveraging Resources: 3rd Annual Joint Meeting of OESE Comprehensive & Equity Assistance Centers & OSEP TA&D Projects

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) will be holding this joint meeting February 13 and 14, 2008 at the Academy for Educational Development in Washington, DC. All OESE Comprehensive and Equity Assistance Centers and OSEP Technical Assistance and Dissemination Projects are invited to attend.

Individual group meetings will include:

  • OSEP TA & D Network pre-conference February 11-12
  • Comprehensive Centers' Semi-Annual Project Meeting February 14-15
  • Equity Assistance Centers' Project Directors' Meeting February 14-15


FOR PARENTS

Parents' Roles and Rights in the Referral Process

The special education referral and evaluation process can be confusing. There are many procedures and timelines required by law that must be followed. As a parent, you have certain rights regarding education, evaluation and placement decisions. Your input is vital to determining whether your child has a disability. When beginning the evaluation process, schools are required to provide parents with descriptions of their rights. Before entering into a meeting or consenting to an evaluation, take time to review this document so that you know your rights. Be aware of what role you play in the process so you can be fully prepared to advocate for your child. Many different organizations also provide educational materials to assist parents in this process. Below are many links providing useful information about the referral and evaluation process, parent rights in the process, and things you should do, know, and/ or ask before your child is evaluated or placed in a special program. Below are several resources that can help you to be an informed advocate for your family.

You may request a free copy of your rights as a parent in the special education referral process at any time from your local school. The Massachusetts Department of Education has also made them available online in 17 languages. To access them, click here. The Advocates for Children website offers guide books for parents on varying topics such as Legal Rights of Immigrant Students & Parents. To access this and other guide books, click here.


FOR STUDENTS

Dealing with Test Anxiety

You may be asked to take tests many times throughout you education, for a variety of reasons. For many students, taking a test can be a nerve-wracking experience. This nervous feeling that people sometimes get before, during, or after a test is called anxiety. It is a reaction your body has when it anticipates something stressful. This reaction may cause physical, emotional, or cognitive symptoms including:

  • Physical symptoms: nausea, sweating, headache, shortness of breath, dry mouth or fast heartbeat.
  • Cognitive symptoms: racing thoughts, "going blank", negative self talk, or difficulty organizing your thoughts.
  • Emotional symptoms: helplessness, fear, disappointment, depression, uncontrollable crying or laughing or anger.
While low levels of anxiety are a natural reaction to stress, it can become a problem when it keeps you from doing your best. Here are some suggestions to help you deal with test anxiety:
  • Be prepared. Cramming for a test is not only ineffective, but can also increase test anxiety. Learning is a process that happens over time with regular study. When you develop good study habits you will be more prepared, more confident, and have less test anxiety.
  • Think positively. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts ("I always do bad on tests.") replace them with realistic, positive thoughts ("I have studied hard and am ready to do my best."). If you think that you will do well on a test, you will be able to relax and do your best.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Close your eyes, take a few deep slow breaths, relax each of your muscles one by one, and visualize yourself doing well on the test. Using these and other relaxation techniques such as yoga, music, or going on a walk can help fight the symptoms of test anxiety.
  • Take care of your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising gives your body and mind the things it need to prevent and deal with text anxiety as well as function their best.
  • Accept yourself. You paid attention in class, studied hard, and did your very best but didn't get the score you expected or didn't do as well as a classmate...that's OK! If you have done your personal best, be proud! Learn from your mistakes and use them to do even better in the future.
  • Ask for help. While it is normal to experience some test anxiety, if it interferes with your daily life or consistently causes you to do poorly on tests you may need help from an adult. Talk to your parent, teacher, counselor or other trusted adult if you frequently feel extreme test anxiety or other anxiety.



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Newsletter Editors: Wendy Duran and Crystal Rueb, ASU


EquiNews reflects the collaborative relationship between the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt), the National Institute for Urban School Improvement (NIUSI), and NIUSI-LeadScape. With a new issue every month, EquiNews can communicate with the broadest audiences and provide the most innovative, vital and current information on issues in education, school reform, cultural diversity, disproportionality, inclusive practices, and much more. EquiNews will keep you informed of the work of these projects as well as other news and information in related fields.

If you have comments or questions about EquiNews, or have information you would like us to distribute to the list, please email the editors - Crystal.Rueb@asu.edu or Wendy.Duran@asu.edu.

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