2016 News Archive

12/12/2016

FACT SHEET: Equity in IDEA

The U.S. Department of Education today made available to the public final regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), aimed at promoting equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities.  Click here to read more 

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12/12/2016

Supporting the Success of Homeless Children and Youths

Over 1.3 million students in public schools are experiencing homelessness. These are the stories of real homeless youth.  Click here to view.

New provisions under the ESSA help ensure educational rights and protections for homeless children and youth.  Click here to learn more.

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12/8/2016

Civil Rights Reports Spotlight Eight Years of Accomplishments, Lingering Challenges

Protecting our students’ civil rights is fundamental to ensuring they receive a high-quality education. Two reports released today spotlight the challenges and achievements of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).   

Click here to read more.

Click here to view video.

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12/7/2016

What Forgiveness Means to Students

We tell small children that it is okay to make mistakes. We are told to forgive and forget. But our country doesn’t hold to these adages for those convicted of a crime. The revolving door of incarceration and juvenile justice has ensnared many of my students. It’s a hamster wheel that proves very hard to get off of. Poverty, crime, and violence are inextricably linked in the worlds of my students. Click here to read more.

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12/6/2016

Protecting Our Muslim Youth from Bullying: The Role of the Educator

Learn about anti-bias & bullying prevention strategies educators can use: http://www.stopbullying.gov/…/09/protecting-our-muslim-youth

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12/4/2016

Signs a Child is Being Bullied

When it comes to bullying, do you know the warning signs?  

There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.  Click here to read more. 

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12/2/2016

White House Report: The Continuing Need To Rethink Discipline

The White House released a new capstone report with updates about projects launched and local progress made in response to the Administration's Rethink Discipline efforts. Rethink Discipline was launched as part of President Barack Obama's My Brothers' Keeper initiative and aims to support all students and promote a welcome and safe climate in schools. Click here to read more.

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12/2/2016

FACT SHEET: Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth

The U.S. Department of Education announced the release of new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth transition back to traditional school settings.  The resources include a guide written for incarcerated youth; a newly updated transition toolkit and resource guide for practitioners in juvenile justice facilities; a document detailing education programs in juvenile justice facilities from the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection; and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with disabilities with transitioning out of juvenile justice facilities.  Click here to read more.

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12/2/2016

U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Award $247.4 million in Preschool Grants to 18 States

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. announced that 18 states will receive more than $247.4 million in awards under the Preschool Development Grant program to continue their work in expanding access to high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families.  Click here to read more. 

 

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12/1/2016

Ensuring Every Student Succeeds

As we reflect on the important work that we have been able to do throughout the Administration, we wanted to highlight some of our key messages. This is part of a reflection series presented by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Ensuring educational access for all youth requires partnerships beyond the classroom. Educators have partnered with youth, families, faith-based and community organizations to create a culture of educational excellence and academic achievement. It is this intentionality of partnership that has created vibrant and cohesive school communities across the country. These communities provide a space and place necessary for academic achievement. The Department of Education Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships (ED Center) plays a key role in promoting student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.  Click here to read more.

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12/1/2016

Education Department Releases Final Regulations to Promote a High-Quality, Well-Rounded Education and Support All Students

After considering and incorporating extensive feedback from stakeholders across the education system and the public, the U.S. Department of Education today announced final regulations to implement the accountability, data reporting, and state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with a focus on supporting states in using their flexibility to provide a high-quality, well-rounded education, and ensure equity remains at the core of implementation.  The regulations will help states, districts and educators seize the opportunity ESSA provides to ensure a high-quality, well-rounded education that sets every student in America up for success in college and career.  Click here to read more.

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12/1/2016

King Sends Letter to States Calling for an End to Corporal Punishment in Schools

U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. sent a letter urging state leaders to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice repeatedly linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students.  

“Our schools are bound by a sacred trust to safeguard the well-being, safety, and extraordinary potential of the children and youth within the communities they serve,” King said. “While some may argue that corporal punishment is a tradition in some school communities, society has evolved and past practice alone is no justification. No school can be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished. We strongly urge states to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools– a practice that educators, civil rights advocates, medical professionals, and researchers agree is harmful to students and which the data show us unequivocally disproportionally impacts students of color and students with disabilities.”  Click here to read more.

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11/30/2016

Fiscal Changes and Equitable Services Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education released guidance for fiscal changes and equitable services requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The guidance highlights changes to: Title I, Part A within-state allocations; Title I within-district allocations; Title II, Part A allocations; maintenance of effort requirements; and transferability requirements.  The ESSA also makes a number of changes to the equitable services requirements for private school students in Title I and Title VIII.  This document discusses these specific changes and is designed to support states, districts, and schools in implementing ESSA.  Click here to read ESSA Guidance

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11/30/2016

REPORT: Expanding College Opportunity by Advancing Diversity and Inclusion

The U.S. Department of Education released a report, “Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education,” building on the Administration’s efforts to expand college opportunity for all. It presents key data that show the continuing educational inequities and opportunity gaps for students of color and low-income students and highlights promising practices that many colleges are taking to advance success for students of all backgrounds.  Click here to read more.

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11/30/2016

Who Is In Your Village?

Traditionally, when we think about schools and family involvement, we picture “moms.” Moms getting their children up in the morning, fixing lunches, and walking children to school. Moms helping with homework, going to parent-teacher conferences and volunteering at school. This vision makes sense, given that at one point in our society, mothers were the primary caregivers and school volunteers. However, our society has changed and so have moms. Click here to read more.



 

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11/29/2016

Extendiendo el alcance de STEP



¿Qué vas a dar?

En esta temporada de dar, vamos a dar el regalo del conocimiento, la aceptación y la esperanza a las familias de todo Tennessee.  

STEP cree que todo niño es importante; cada niño debe tener acceso a una educación que conduzca a la autosuficiencia, el empleo y la participación significativa en la comunidad.  

El 29 de noviembre, STEP, Inc. está pidiendo a amigos, seguidores y familias que se reúnan para apoyar nuestra misión. Para asegurar un futuro mejor para los niños y jóvenes en Tennessee, con énfasis en las personas con discapacidades, con necesidades especiales de atención en la salud y problemas de salud mental.

#GivingTuesday es un día global dedicado a dar de vuelta, siguiendo el ajetreo y el bullicio del Viernes Negro y el Lunes Cybernetico. Se trata de dar un verdadero significado a las fiestas. Se trata de dar más que cosas materiales. Se trata de ayudar a los demás y dar de vuelta.  

Cuando ponemos en común nuestros recursos, podemos hacer un tremendo impacto. Cada donación hace una diferencia y ayudará a STEP, Inc. a continuar ofreciendo el importante trabajo de EDUCAR y APOYAR a las FAMILIAS y a sus niños y jóvenes con discapacidades en todo el estado.

#GivingTuesday es acerca de la gente común que se unen para hacer cosas extraordinarias - y no podemos hacerlo sin ti.  Por favor haz tu donacion hoy.  

Por favor haz tu donacion hoy.   Si todos en nuestra lista dieran $ 5, podríamos terminar esta campaña hoy!  

Muchas gracias por dar para extender nuestro alcance! Todos los donantes recibirán una carta para propositos de impuestos.  

También puede enviar un cheque a STEP, Inc. 712 Professional Plaza Dr., Greeneville, TN 37745

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11/28/2016

GivingTuesday - What Will You Give?

Two members of the Board of Directors of STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) joined forces with their spouses to give STEP a High Five on #GivingTuesday!

They have agreed to donate $1 for each like they receive on STEP's Facebook page in response to this photo in support of our 2016 High 5 -- Give $5 Campaign (up to $550). 

Help Dan and Susan Speraw (pictured on left) and Bill and Jenny Allen (pictured on right) to reach the goal of 550 likes to wrap up our annual campaign on a high note and to raise awareness of STEP. 

From the board members: “I also would like to encourage my friends and family to help STEP reach their High 5 -- Give $5 Campaign goal by donating as well. You can make a donation by visiting www.tnstep.org/donate. Any amount is much appreciated!”

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11/21/2016

STEP Board of Directors and Staff Gather for Planning Time

Members of the STEP staff and Board of Directors gathered in November at Caryonah Hunting Lodge in Crossville, TN for its annual Professional Development and Planning Retreat. 

“We are fortunate to have a board of directors whose diversity of experience and strength of leadership will continue to shape the future of STEP” says Karen Harrison, Executive Director.   "STEP’s mission is to ensure a brighter future for children and youth in Tennessee, with an emphasis on those with disabilities, special health care needs, and mental health issues."

"Our STEP staff strives to empower families so that they can become the best advocate for their child or teen and be an effective partner with school staff in planning the appropriate educational programs for their children and youth with disabilities."

STEP Board of Directors pictured:  Front row (left to right) Sadiatou Jallow, Scott Finney, Barbara Wagner, and Karen Harrison.  Back row (left to right) Joanne Cunningham, Terry Long, Carol Lewis, Gayle Feltner, Susan Speraw, Tom Beeson, Linda Taylor, and Larry Mangrum.

STEP Staff pictured.  Front row (left to right) Martha Lopez, Joey Ellis, Dorca Rose, Patricia Valladares, Gina Lynette, and Beth Smith.  Back row (left to right) Deborah Yates-McBride, Donna Jennings, Karen Harrison, Viviana Aureille, Lisa Gosnell, and Shuntea Price.

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11/21/2016

Shop Black Friday Deals on AmazonSmile and Support STEP, Inc.

Click here to download and share this flyer

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11/21/2016

Support STEP, Inc. by Shopping at Kroger

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9/7/2016

A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students

Dear ITT student,

Today, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) announced that it is closing all of its ITT Technical Institute campuses. For most of the world, that news will be covered as a business story or a political one, but I know that for you it is deeply personal. You are probably wondering what this means for your future; how it is going to affect your finances and your ability to continue your education.

Click here to read more

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9/7/2016

We’re Hitting the Road! Join Us for #OpportunityTour

Join us as we hit the road the week of September 12th, for our annual bus tour. The tour kicks off in Washington, DC and continues across six states to celebrate the progress that we’ve made as a nation these past seven years. From rural towns to big cities, educators, schools, families, and communities share a belief that a quality education can expand opportunity and ensure our nation's fundamental promise: that with hard work and determination, each of us can fulfill our great potential.

Working together, all of us can ensure students encounter school as a safe, nurturing, joyful place to learn and grow. We can support and lift up the vital work teachers do each day. We can give every child the opportunity to succeed. That's what the Opportunity Across America Tour will highlight. That's the journey we hope you're here to follow, and help make possible.

Click here to read more.

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9/7/2016

Counselors: 5 Creative Ways to Help with the Financial Aid Planning Process

This past spring, I had the pleasure of traveling out to Phoenix, Arizona to meet with various counselors, mentors, and college access professionals to learn more about how they are getting ready for the upcoming FAFSA season. With the FAFSA launching earlier this year on October 1, many of you have started to organize events and prepare to help students and parents through the financial aid process. As a former college counselor, my biggest piece of advice to you is to familiarize yourself with the Financial Aid Toolkit. It is a goldmine of information that can help answer many of your questions and assist with your financial aid planning process. Also, here’s some advice from a few of our key partners on how to make this process fun and exciting.

Click here to read more.

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9/6/2016

Constitution Day is Coming Up!

September 17 is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution.  In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an educational program about this seminal document. 

Click here to read more.

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9/6/2016

Family Support Specialist (FSS) Competency Course Scholarship Opportunity

Click here to download flyer

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9/6/2016

Statement by U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell Regarding Announced ITT Educational Services Inc. Closure, Education Department Plan to Support Students

Following is the opening statement delivered today by Under Secretary Ted Mitchell in a press call with reporters to discuss the announced ITT Educational Services Inc. closure and the U.S. Department of Education's plan to support students.

Click here to read more.

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9/5/2016

U.S. Department of Education Announces Seventh Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour: “Opportunity Across America”

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and senior Department of Education officials will launch the seventh and final back-to-school bus tour to celebrate progress in communities and states across the country. The tour will kick off Monday, Sept. 12, in the nation’s capital and end in Louisiana, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016.

This year’s “Opportunity Across America” tour will include stops in Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee; Harvest, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianola, Mississippi; and Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana. King and other senior Department officials will hold events touting the Administration’s key initiatives over eight years, highlighting the progress made to expand opportunity across the nation and the groundwork laid for continued momentum.

Click here to read more.

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9/5/2016

Setting the Foundation for Good Attendance

As a Pre-K teacher, I have the unique opportunity to be one of the first educators to set the foundation for good attendance with parents and students. Since I am required to have an interview with each family and student before the school year begins, I take advantage of the interview to explain the attendance rules and expectations. I explain to parents that attendance is the basis of education for all students and that it is state law that they attend class. My campus, J.J. Pickle, hosts many recent immigrant families who often aren’t familiar with school procedures and laws pertaining to education. Reviewing policies with parents is a way to avoid confusion and unnecessary absences.

Click here to read more.

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8/31/2016

U.S. Department of Education Announces $2.5 Million in Grants to Operate Centers for Parents of Children with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education announced today the award of $2.5 million in grants to operate 23 Community Parent Resource Centers in 17 states and a Parent Training and Information Center to serve American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The centers provide parents with the training and information they need to work with professionals in meeting the early intervention and special needs of children with disabilities.

With the new grants, the Department now funds 87 information centers for parents of children and youth with disabilities. Every state has at least one Parent Training and Information Center that assists parents as they work to ensure their children receive a free, appropriate public education as guaranteed by federal law. In addition, the centers provide services to underserved parents of children with disabilities in targeted communities throughout the country.

“Parent centers empower families who have children with disabilities by helping them understand their rights and the services to which their children are entitled under the law,” U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “These community parent resource centers are powerful levers for ensuring equity in diverse communities across the country.”

Click here to read more.

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8/31/2016

Fact Sheet: Supplement-not-Supplant under Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) released proposed regulations to implement the requirement in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as recently revised by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that federal funds must supplement, and may not supplant, state and local funds.  Click here to read more.

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8/31/2016

Regulations Broaden Who’s Covered Under ADA

The U.S. Department of Justice is issuing new regulations significantly expanding who’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In a final rule published this month in the Federal Register, the agency is clarifying that those with everything from cancer to diabetes, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and other conditions should be protected under the ADA.  Click here to read press release.

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8/31/2016

OSERS Releases Guidance Regarding Education of Children with Disabilities Attending Public Virtual Schools

OSERS has issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) regarding the requirements in the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that apply to public virtual schools. Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of educational models involving varying degrees of in-person and online instruction and practice. This letter addresses the state's general supervision responsibilities and the applicability of IDEA's child find provisions to children attending public virtual schools. The letter also clarifies the responsibility for the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities attending public virtual schools.  For more information click here.

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8/29/2016

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Final Rules

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have collectively issued five rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (Pub. L. 113-128). WIOA is landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.  Click here to read more.



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8/29/2016

Public Hearing and Feedback Regarding Special Education Policies

The State Board of Education met on July 22 and voted on first reading to approve revisions to the Standards for Special Education Evaluation and Eligibility (proposed standards) and Special Education Programs and Services Rule 0520-01-09 (proposed rule). A public hearing will be held on Sept. 23 to obtain public comment on the proposed revisions. Here are the logistics:

  • Friday, Sept. 23
  • 10 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Multipurpose Room of Andrew Johnson Tower (710 James Robertson Parkway, 37243

In addition to the public hearing, members of the public may comment on proposed items between first and final reading by emailing Elizabeth.Taylor@tn.gov with the State Board of Education.

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8/29/2016

State Board of Education Updates

The State Board of Education also and voted to approve several rule and policy updates proposed by the department. The board approved the following items on final reading:

For the full list of all items approved by the board, please visit the state board of education website.

The board approved the following items on first reading:

Members of the public may comment on proposed items between first and final reading by contacting Elizabeth.Taylor@tn.gov with the State Board of Education.

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8/29/2016

ACT Senior Retake Opportunity – Accommodations Requests

On August 3 the department publicly announced the ACT Senior Retake Opportunity, which provides seniors, who took the ACT as juniors, the chance to retake the exam for free on Saturday, Oct. 22. The registration deadline is Sept. 16. Please click (here) to read the press release.

In order to request accommodations on a national test date, students must first create an ACT web account and register for a test date. During the registration process, the student must indicate that he or she will be requesting accommodations. After the student completes the registration, the ACT, Inc. automatically emails instructions to the student regarding how to work with a qualified school official to submit supporting documentation related to the student’s disability. Details for the process can be found on the ACT website (here). Please note that all supporting documentation related to the request must be submitted to the ACT, Inc. by the registration deadline of Sept. 16 for the Oct. 22 test date. For support from the ACT, Inc., please email: actaccom@act.org 

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8/29/2016

Take a Step Towards a Healthier You! Schedule Your FREE Checkup Today

Remember to visit your doctor for a checkup at least once a year. TennCare Kids and CoverKids checkups are FREE! And visit your DENTIST every 6 months for a FREE TennCare Kids or CoverKids dental checkup!  Click here to download a flyer with more information.  These checkups keep children healthy, can prevent illness or disability, and are very important to their overall wellness.

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8/29/2016

Guidance on "Say Dyslexia" Bill

The legislature recently passed the “Say Dyslexia" bill (Public Chapter 1058 of the Acts of 2016), which requires school districts to screen for characteristics of dyslexia through their existing Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) procedures and to provide dyslexia-specific tiered interventions for students that demonstrate a need.



In addition, the department has launched the Dyslexia Advisory Council to provide input and feedback on matters related to dyslexia. While this council will help inform formal guidance and policy related to the bill, please review this document (here) for an initial overview.
 Additional information regarding dyslexia, including characteristics of dyslexia, alignment of interventions, and resources for parents can be found in the department’s dyslexia guidance document for parents and educators here

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8/11/2016

Guidance Package Addresses the Behavioral Needs of Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) today issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports. When schools fail to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the Individualized Education Program (IEP), it is likely to result in a child not receiving the free appropriate public education to which they are entitled under federal law.

The Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs is now available on the Department's website: www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/. Also available is a suite of accompanying resources, including a Summary for Stakeholders, which lays out the main points of the issued guidance in an easily-digestible format.

Press link here: www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-guidance-schools-ensuring-equity-and-providing-behavioral-supports-students-disabilities

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8/9/2016

How the Elbow Rule Helped My Child Learn About Personal Space

"We thought he stood so close because he didn't understand how to act in social situations. But finally it clicked. He did understand the social rule about personal space. But he couldn't always tell where his body was in relation to other people!"

Click here to read more

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8/8/2016

The Rollout of the New Employment and Community First CHOICES Waiver Program

Article by Janet Shouse

As many of you know, Tennessee launched a new Medicaid waiver program called Employment and Community First CHOICES on July 1. This home- and community-based services program is geared toward promoting integrated, competitive employment and independent living as the preferred option for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Many of us in the disability community have waited a long time for a waiver program that would offer people with developmental disabilities who do not have an intellectual disability a chance to receive waiver services in Tennessee.  Click here to read more.

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8/8/2016

Companies Find Hiring Those on the Spectrum Has Vast Benefits

Article by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune/TNS | June 15, 2016

Approximately 50,000 individuals with autism graduate from high school every year. More than a third of these 50,000 are not working or attending postsecondary education after graduation. Hart Schaffner Marx, a nearly 130-year-old clothier, is trying to change this by making room at its Des Plaines, Ill. factory for individuals with autism, and hopes to set an example for other companies to follow. With the help of a company called Autism Workforce, the suit manufacturer has retooled everything from its employment applications to the signage on the factory floor to fit how people with autism live and think, rather than expecting them to adapt to the “neurotypical” world. 

Click here to read the full article in Disability Scoop…

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8/8/2016

Employment and Community First CHOICES Program Enrollment Open Now!

*Parts of this information were taken directly from TennCare’s website. See original posting at: http://www.tn.gov/tenncare/article/employment-and-community-first-choices-referral*

On July 1, 2016, Tennessee started a new program for people with intellectual and other kinds of developmental disabilities. This new program is called Employment and Community First CHOICES. Services in the new program will help people become employed and live as independently as possible in the community. For people who are not ready for a job in the community, the new program offers services to help prepare for employment. There is funding to serve up to 1,700 people in the first year. This means that not everyone who wants to apply can enroll or get services right away. There will be a referral list for Employment and Community First CHOICES. To get on the referral list, you can complete a self-referral.

Filling out the self–referral for Employment and Community First does not mean you will be enrolled in the new program. You must qualify to enroll in the program. There must be room in the new program to enroll you. AND, you must be in one of the groups that can try to qualify for the new program first.

Click here to read more.

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8/8/2016

Protect Children From Prescription Drug Abuse

Since 2012, prescription opioids have been the primary substance of abuse in the state, and their use has outpaced alcohol abuse, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Young Tennesseans use prescription painkillers at a 30 percent higher rate than the national average. BUT – Everyone can help play a key role in combating this abuse. 

Click here for important prevention tips.

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8/8/2016

Lights. Camera. Fire Prevention!

The State Fire Marshal's Office is launching its first annual Fire Prevention Video Contest. Take a seat in the director's chair and create a video to draw awareness to the importance of fire safety!

Read the rules and submit your masterpiece by September 30 for your chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of $500!

Click here to learn more.

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8/1/2016

New Provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released guidance to states, school districts, and child welfare agencies on new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children and youth in foster care. The guidance aims to foster collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies and was informed by the input from diverse stakeholders. (letter on guidance).

The guidance touches on important aspects that impact foster youth such as: the new educational stability requirements, transfer of relevant records, procedures to determine school placement, and protecting student data and privacy (blog post).

The foster youth provisions in the ESSA take effect December 10, 2016 (letter on timelines).

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8/1/2016

42 simple ways to raise an empathetic kid

Children are born with the capacity for empathy, it must be nurtured, and  that takes commitment and relentless, deliberate action every day and can't be left to chance.

Click here to read more.

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8/1/2016

Launch of Student & Private School Applications for the IEA Program

The applications for students and private schools to participate in the Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program are now live.

Applications for students to participate in the IEA Program for the Jan. 1 – July 31, 2017, term are due by Oct. 14.

The rules for the IEA Program are still in the approval process and the department will not be able to approve/deny applications until the rules are fully approved. Once the rules are approved by the state board, parents/school principals will be notified via email if their application is approved, denied, and/or incomplete.

If you have any questions, please contact the IEA team: (615) 253-3781 or IEA.Questions@tn.gov.

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8/1/2016

Per Pupil Funding Amount List for the IEA Program

The list of the per pupil amount of funds that IEA account holders will receive for the Jan. 1–July 31, 2017, IEA contract term is now posted on the IEA webpage.

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8/1/2016

Updated IEA Parent and Provider Handbooks & Procedures

The updated Parent and Provider Handbooks and Procedures for the IEA Program are now posted on the IEA webpage. The content of the handbooks and procedures are pending approval of the Rules for the IEA Program.

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8/1/2016

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance On Civil Rights of Students with ADHD

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance clarifying the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with equal educational opportunity under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“On this 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am pleased to honor Congress’ promise with guidance clarifying the rights of students with ADHD in our nation’s schools,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “The Department will continue to work with the education community to ensure that students with ADHD, and all students, are provided with equal access to education.”

Over the last five years, OCR has received more than 16,000 complaints that allege discrimination on the basis of disability in elementary and secondary education programs, and more than 10 percent involve allegations of discrimination against students with ADHD. The most common complaint concerns academic and behavioral difficulties students with ADHD experience at school when they are not timely and properly evaluated for a disability, or when they do not receive necessary special education or related aids and services.

Today’s guidance provides a broad overview of Section 504 and school districts’ obligations to provide educational services to students with disabilities, including students with ADHD. The guidance:

Explains that schools must evaluate a student when a student needs or is believed to need special education or related services.

Discusses the obligation to provide services based on students’ specific needs and not based on generalizations about disabilities, or ADHD, in particular. For example, the guidance makes clear that schools must not rely on the generalization that students who perform well academically cannot also be substantially limited in major life activities, such as reading, learning, writing and thinking; and that such a student can, in fact, be a person with a disability.

Clarifies that students who experience behavioral challenges, or present as unfocused or distractible, could have ADHD and may need an evaluation to determine their educational needs.

Reminds schools that they must provide parents and guardians with due process and allow them to appeal decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.

In addition to the guidance, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document that provides a brief overview of schools’ obligations to students with ADHD.

The mission of OCR is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. Among the federal civil rights laws OCR is responsible for enforcing are Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Act of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For more information about OCR and the anti-discrimination laws that it enforces, please visit its website and follow OCR on twitter @EDcivilrights.

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8/1/2016

Tennessee Launches Program to Increase Choice for Students with Disabilities

22,000 Tennessee students eligible for new educational opportunity

NASHVILLE— The Tennessee Department of Education announced today the launch of applications for its new Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program that provides the opportunity for parents of eligible students with disabilities to access public education funds to choose the education opportunities that best meet their child’s own unique needs.

"The Tennessee Department of Education strives to ensure that every Tennessee student has access to the tools they need to maximize learning,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “We believe this program is a unique opportunity to empower families to make decisions for their individual children as we continue our commitment to supporting all students as one of our five transformative priorities under Tennessee Succeeds.”

The department is now accepting applications online for the program, which was sponsored by Senator Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, and Representative Debra Moody, R-Covington, and adopted by the General Assembly in 2015.  Click here to read more

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8/1/2016

Back to School: Help Kids Keep Their Attendance Up

With fall approaching, it's a great time to start thinking about how you and your family can prepare to make the most of the new school year. 

The best strategy for school success: Attend every day, in every grade! Regular attendance is critical to a child's academic and social development. 

Watch our video to learn more about how you can support school attendance in your community, and read our tips for how to start the school year on the right track, and ensure success all year. 

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5/30/2016

STEP Team Members and Board Of Directors Say Farewell to Joey Ellis

Karen Harrison, Executive Director of STEP, Inc. regretfully announces the resignation of Joey Ellis as the Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator.  He and his wife, Allie have relocated to Indianapolis, IN. Mr. Ellis, has worked with STEP for nearly five years. During that time he has provided excellent services to families who have children with disabilities, youth with special needs, and those who serve them. Joey worked his last day with STEP at the TN Disability Mega Conference, providing information and support with his signature smile and positive attitude!    

On behalf of the Board of Directors and his STEP co-workers, we would like to thank Joey for his dedication and service. We wish him the best of success as he assumes his new position, Employment Consultant with Sycamore Services in Indianapolis. In this position he will be helping individuals with disabilities gain and maintain meaningful employment. You can send congratulation wishes to Joey at jeteacher24@aol.com.

STEP honored Joey with a "Big Orange" farewell reception, in Nashville, during the Tennessee Disability MegaConference. Visit the STEP Facebook page soon for some fun photos from the reception! https://www.facebook.com/steptn.

Patricia Valladares, STEP’s Bilingual Multicultural Community Engagement Coordinator, is available to continue meeting the needs of families and youth in Middle Tennessee. She can be reached at 615-463-2310 or at patricia.valladares@tnstep.org.

Although we recognize there is no replacing Joey, STEP, Inc. will accept applications soon for this position.  Job description and requirements will be posted on the STEP website.

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5/26/2016

STEP, Inc. Announces the 2016 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Recipient

Photo:  Linda Burrows

STEP, Inc. (Support & Training for Exceptional Parents) which houses the federally  funded Parent Training and Information Center,  presents the Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award in recognition of person who has exemplified using information to assist their own child, or someone else’s child,  with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education. STEP also seeks recipients who have demonstrated teamwork and collaboration and the zeal to share information with others. This year’s award is being presented in the format of a lifetime achievement award for many years spent creating brighter futures for children and youth with disabilities and their families. The award is presented in honor and memory of Ms. Linda Burrows.

Linda was a long-time STEP staff member who left behind a legacy of serving others. She spent her life dedicated to raising awareness of the social and educational needs of children, in particular children and youth with disabilities and their families. Linda’s style of empowering families was modeled after her personal advocacy efforts on behalf of her son Charles. She believed in establishing relationships, finding the positive energy and building programs and services around the shared goals of the parents, teachers, and others working to meet the needs of the individual. Linda drew people to her because she was always willing to listen and to help.  Even in challenging situations she laughed often and was vivacious – living every minute with "spunk".  She raised her son Charles to be a loving, caring man and to stand up for his beliefs. Through Linda’s advocacy efforts, Charles, along with countless other individuals with special needs, is now contributing members of their communities.  Accepting this award in memory of Linda Burrows is her son Charles Burrows.  He was presented the award during the recent Tennessee Disability MegaConference in Nashville.

The Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award is in memory of Wayne Parker, a former STEP team member, who was a zealous advocate for the rights of children and families. He worked tirelessly to ensure that families had the information they needed to speak up and advocate for the needs of their children with disabilities. Wayne was also a strong advocate for encouraging young people with disabilities to advocate for the life they wanted. Wayne was well respected by parents and professionals. Wayne was always quick to praise members of school teams when they went above and beyond in their advocacy efforts for students.

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5/19/2016

OSEP Memo: RTI2 Cannot Be Used to Delay/Deny Evaluation

Please take a moment to review this recently issued OSEP memo related to the use of RTI2 in preschools. It has been brought to our attention that some LEAs may be using RTI2 strategies to delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for preschool children suspected of having a disability. This memo states that once a LEA receives a referral from a preschool program, the LEA must initiate the evaluation process under IDEA to determine if the child is a child with a disability. This means that it would be inconsistent with the IDEA evaluation provisions for a LEA to reject a referral and delay an initial evaluation on the basis that a preschool program has not implemented an RTI2 process with a child. We hope the information in this memo will be helpful in clarifying the relationship between RTI2 and the IDEA evaluation provisions. Click here to read the full memo.

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5/5/2016

Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships Document Released

The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) has released:  Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships*

This document, recently published by OSEP-funded CADRE, provides suggestions on how educators and service providers can effectively collaborate with parents, including tested strategies that can help ensure a productive IEP meeting. 

*Available in both English and Spanish.

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5/5/2016

Current Information on the Individual Education Account (IEA) - Revised







Click here to download the IEA Information Sheet.

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4/14/2016

Family Discipline Trainee LEND Program Seeking Applicants

The University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD) is seeking applicants for a Family Discipline Trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)  program for Fall, 2016.  The LEND program is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), a part of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Each year the BCDD program faculty recruits and selects emerging leaders from multiple universities and disciplines throughout the country.  

The qualified applicant will be a parent or family member of a person with a developmental disability and will participate in didactic and clinical experiences, volunteer/community opportunities, and potentially a research project.   A time commitment of about 20 hours per week for four months, beginning in August, 2016 and finishing in December, 2016, is required.  Hours will be fulfilled on site at the Boling Center, in community, and in the home setting.  A Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent experience, is required.   

Please submit a current resume and a cover letter indicating your reason for applying to Jenness Roth, Family Faculty Coordinator, at jroth11@uthsc.edu or to 711 Jefferson Ave., Memphis, TN  38105.  If you have any questions, please call Jenness at 901-448-3737.

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1/27/2016

Submit Your Nomination for STEP's Advocate of the Year Award

STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) is accepting nominations for the 2016 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award.  This award is given each year to a person who has exemplified using information to assist their own child or someone else’s child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education.

STEP seeks recipients who demonstrate teamwork and collaboration and the zeal to share the information they have learned with others.  Nominees may be a parent of a child with a disability, an advocate that works with families, a teacher who has been exemplary in the life of a student with a disability, or a service provider who has bridged the gap for a student or their family to assist in receiving a free appropriate public education.

Click here for nomination form. 

Please submit your nominations via email to: information@tnstep.org

  • Include in the subject line:  Nominee for Wayne Parker Award
  • Nomination form
  • Photo of nominee (jpg format)

All nominees will be considered and the recipient chosen to receive the award will be contacted for further information.

Deadline for nominations is May 2, 2016.

Winner of the award will be honored at the 2016 TN Disability Mega Conference Annual Awards Banquet on May 25th in Nashville.

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1/14/2016

Assessment Accommodations: Still an IEP Team Decision

Last week, Commissioner McQueen emailed directors with this important reminder. In response to feedback and questions we have been receiving, we want to address confusion about assessment accommodations.

TNReady has every accommodation feature that TCAP tests have provided in the past— as well as additional tools. No student will be denied access to an allowable accommodation that is part of his or her IEP.

Please review this chart (here), which provides examples of accommodations available on state assessments. Additional information about accommodations, as well as other resources, is located on the department’s website (here). 

 

Specifics for Parents to Know:

  1. Accommodations MUST be agreed to and in place and in use BEFORE the assessments begin.  An accommodation cannot be provided that has not been included in the student’s IEP.
  2. Parents may need to ask for an IEP Team Meeting to discuss accommodations.
  3. Be cautious about agreeing to remove an accommodation from the IEP unless there it is truly not needed.
  4. As always, accommodations are driven by student’s needs NOT by what any team member perceives TNReady or Easy IEP will or will not ALLOW.

STEP is working to schedule a webinar to address this topic. Stay tuned for more information.   Email TNReady questions to TNReady.Questions@tn.gov or contact your local STEP Team member with questions at (800) 280-7837 or Español (800) 975-2919. 

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1/5/2016

OSEP Issue Letter Clarifying Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia in IDEA

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) recently released this letter to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents. Please take a moment to review this letter.

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