Recent News


How Inclusion Can Help Keep Kids With Disabilities Safe

by Ashley Moreno on Down Syndrome

Children with disabilities are three times more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse than their neurotypical peers. And this risk doesn’t decrease as they get older.

Our kids are more likely to be bullied, and adults are less likely to recognize them as victims of bullying.

When children with disabilities are segregated in schools, they are often seen as second-rate citizens, “weird” outsiders who don’t belong. And when they don’t develop relationships with their peers, they become vulnerable to those who would hurt them. By segregating them, we are denying them membership in a society that looks out for its members, while forcing them into a construct that makes it easy for predators to target them. Click here to read more

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Four Reading Intervention Strategies

These are my four favorite reading intervention strategies when a child is struggling with fluency.  In reality, they are excellent best practices that are perfect for Tier 1:  great classroom instruction.

Reading comprehension and fluency strategies can be used both in small group and whole class on a regular, systematic basis.  Continue Reading 

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Webinar Series: Families and Schools Together (FAST): Increasing Student Success Through Partnership

STEP-TN announces a new Webinar Series: Families and Schools Together (FAST): Increasing Student Success Through Partnership. The series consists of three webinars, each of which will be recorded and archived for those who are unable to attend. All webinars are 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT. Additional details are listed below.  

CLICK HERE to reserve your webinar seat

  • October 22 - Identifying Each Student's Strengths and Needs

    Effectively communicating your child’s areas of strength and their unique needs sets the stage for children and youth with disabilities to be successful in school. STEP will provide tools families can use to provide important information about their child to teachers. These tools can also be used by teachers to gather this information from families.
  • November 19 - Hearing the Families' Voice - Parent Concerns as a Priority 

    Understanding the concerns of families related to the child’s education is an important part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. This webinar will focus on how families can effectively share their concerns and also strategies for IEP teams to respond to parent concerns.
  • January 22 - Supporting Students in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

    Students with disabilities are to receive education in their least restrictive environment, which means that students should participate with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent appropriate. This webinar will look at child, family, and curriculum considerations to consider as the IEP team discusses the individual needs of each child related to supports and services to ensure student success in their LRE.

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In Case You Missed One - STEP Offers Archived Webinars on Special Education, Inclusion, and Much More


STEP has archived webinars on topics related to special education, inclusion, and much more.  

In case you missed one, check out this webinar on "Preschool Inclusion & Kindergarten Readiness," or click here to check out other archived webinar topics.   

 All STEP webinars are FREE to view.

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Department Change Announced for TEIS

Over the years, both the Department of Education (TDOE) and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) have worked closely together to ensure children and young adults with disabilities receive critical early supports, a high-quality education, and are prepared to transition into adulthood with readiness for post-secondary education and employment. This is a partnership that has benefited thousands.  We continue to work together to streamline supports and improve the effectiveness of our services.  

The Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) is a program that provides services to children ages birth to three who have disabilities or developmental delays. TEIS is a critically important program that supports young children and their families to reach their optimal development. Because of the connections to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this program has been housed in TDOE. Currently the TDOE is responsible for Pre-K - 12 education, serving almost a million students and thousands of state and district employees. DIDD has a specialized focus on people with disabilities outside of the school system, which is also the work occurring in TEIS. In order to elevate and move the work of TEIS forward, this program will be re-positioned within the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by July 1, 2020.     

The most important thing to note for families is that this change will not change the services their child receives through TEIS. READ PARENT LETTER for more details.

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TN Special Education Directors Update

The latest Special Education Directors Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • Notifications of Significant Disproportionality
  • Now Available: Middle School Course Requirements for Students Assessed on the Alternate Assessment
  • Gifted Supervisor Pre-conference Session
  • Reminder: Caseload Vs. Workload
  • Reminder: Restraint and Isolation Reminders
  • Speech-Language Communities of Practice Meetings 
  • AAC Skills Assessment & Intervention for the SLP
  • Special Education Professional Development Opportunities
  • Comprehension Construction Zone: A Blueprint for Instruction on October 25, 2019 
  • Tennessee Association for Assistive Technology (TAAT) Conference 
  • 2019-20 Dyslexia Success Series workshop  
  • Vanderbilt TRIAD Training Opportunities

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Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs

This 2-page document describes the legal foundations of serving young children with disabilities in inclusive early care and education programs and how those settings are determined. The document also provides examples of the various ways in which local school districts can braid funds to create inclusive placement options for young children.

Read more:

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U.S. Education Department issues guidance on transition services

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has issued a memo that provides some much needed clarity and guidance on how state and local agencies can coordinate transition services for students. The memo addresses:  

  • The opportunity for high school students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs.
  • The opportunity for students and youth with disabilities to enroll in comprehensive transition and other postsecondary programs after leaving high school.
  • Coordination of transition-related services that students with disabilities may receive under the IDEA and under the Vocational Rehabilitation program.
  • Financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs.


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New research points to benefits of inclusion for students with disabilities

The benefits of inclusion in a general education setting have been acknowledged for years. IDEA itself, the watershed law giving protection to students with disabilities, acknowledges the advantages of access to a general education curriculum. Now seven new quantitative research studies have reconfirmed them.  

In fact, the author of this piece says there are no quantitative research studies that show advantages for students with intellectual disabilities in separate settings. Check the research out for yourself. It may come in handy at your next IEP meeting. READ MORE

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Backpack Organization Made Easy

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