2019 News Archive

10/21/2019

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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10/17/2019

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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10/16/2019

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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10/15/2019

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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10/14/2019

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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10/11/2019

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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10/10/2019

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: https://ectacenter.org/topics/inclusion/tools.asp#einclusionflyer

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10/9/2019

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.

READ MORE

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10/9/2019

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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10/8/2019

Backpack Organization Made Easy

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10/8/2019

September 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This BACK TO SCHOOL ISSUE features:

  • Bullying & Prevention Strategies
  • Fix the System, Not the Child
  • Easing the Transition Back to School After Summer
  • Gene Therapy Comes of Age

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.   Please pass this onto others who might be interested.



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10/8/2019

October 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This EMPLOYMENT & TRANSITION ISSUE features:

  • How to Maximize Earnings & Savings
  • Work & the Road to Independence
  • Transition Planning for the Deaf Student
  • Will My Teenager with a Disability Find Work?

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.   Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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10/7/2019

Why Getting Help for Kids with Dyslexia is Difficult

The answer? It all comes down to money, according to this report by American Public Media.

The reluctance to confirm that a child is "dyslexic" goes beyond avoiding a label that could harm kids. Public schools nationwide have long refused to use the word, allowing many of them to avoid providing special education services as required by federal law. According to dozens of interviews with parents, students, researchers, lawyers and teachers across the country, many public schools are not identifying students with dyslexia and are ignoring their needs. Read More

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10/3/2019

Labor Department says IEP meetings can qualify for time off under FMLA

In a surprising ruling, Trump's Department of Labor has ruled that, in some circumstances, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides time off for parents to attend their child's IEP meeting as long as their presence is needed to provide care for the child.  

FMLA guarantees certain workers unpaid time off to care for family members with qualified medical issues. Employees who take advantage of the time off cannot be fired. Since IEP meetings can cover "medically prescribed" services such as speech, physical or occupational therapy, they can be covered by FMLA, the department wrote.  READ MORE

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10/3/2019

Combating isolation in parents of children with disabilities

If you are a parent of a child with a disability, chances are you've felt isolated. It's a very real phenomenon that needs to be acknowledged. This article suggests 10 tips parents can use to combat that feeling. They may not work for every parent but it's worth a read. READ MORE 

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10/1/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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9/16/2019

"A Student’s Guide to Your First Year of College” YouTube Series Launches

We're excited to announce the launch of our YouTube learning playlist, “A Student’s Guide to Your First Year of College” made in partnership with YouTube Originals and NowThis.

This 10-episode series covers topics ranging from applying for financial aid to picking classes to finding mentors and navigating life on your own for the first time.

These free YouTube videos feature advice from Michelle Obama, interviews with college access experts, and tips from upperclassmen in college. You’ll also hear from Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood who attended our Beating The Odds Summit this summer.

You can watch all 10 episodes now on NowThis's YouTube channel. Once you’re done watching, let us know what you think! Tweet or post about the playlist on social media using #BetterMakeRoom and tag us @BetterMakeRoom or @ReachHigher. 

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9/13/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Restraint and Isolation Reminders
  • IEP Self-Monitoring Work Sessions
  • Reminder: Partners in Education Conference: Request for Proposals
  • Reminder: Local Education Agency User Access Agreement EdPlan/EasyIEP
  • Special Education Professional Development Opportunities

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9/3/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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8/29/2019

Building Back-to-School Confidence: Tools & Tips

Understood.org

How to Get Your Child to Talk About School

5 Topics to Go Over With Teachers Early in the School Year

Lunchbox Notes to Help Your Child Build Confidence

Apps to Help Kids Manage Back-to-School Challenges

Things Not to Say About Going Back to School

A program of nonprofit organization National Center for Learning Disabilities, Understood.org is a resource and community supporting parents of kids with learning and attention issues through personalized resources, tools and expert access.

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8/26/2019

DIDD Enabling Technology Program - Model Homes


The Department of Intellectual &Developmental Disabilities currently has two Enabling Technology Model Homes.  These homes are located in Nashville on the former Clover Bottom Developmental Center campus and in Greeneville on the former Greene Valley Developmental Center campus.  These homes are designed to showcase the variety of residential technology options available to support a person to live more independently and also provide greater freedom to control their living environment through the use of sensors, remote supports and smart devices. 

These homes are available for individual and group guided tours.  To schedule a tour at one of the Enabling Tech Homes, please complete this tour request form, and a DIDD technology champion in the region will work to schedule a date and time that works best for you.

In these videos, DIDD East Tech Champion Milton Neuenschwander demonstrates some of the ways Enabling Technology can be used in a residential setting.

Click here for the Video Tours and to schedule a tour.

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8/24/2019

Free Webinar on the Proposed Katie Beckett Program

DIDD and TennCare have put together a presentation on the proposed Katie Beckett program (also called “Amendment 40”), and are holding a webinar on Thursday, August 29th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. central (6:00-8:00 pm Eastern) for families and any stakeholders who would like to know more about the proposed program. The purpose of this webinar is to explain the details of the proposed program, which should help folks feel more comfortable with offering public comment on it.  It should also help folks better understand the two parts of the proposed program (Part A and Part B), services offered, and other key details.  

Below are the webinar details: 

More ways to join

Join by video system:

Join by phone:

  • +1-415-655-0003 US TOLL 
  • Access code: 643 400 050 

Please feel free to share with anyone who may be interested!

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8/12/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Partners in Education Conference: Request for Proposals
  • Reminder: Specific Learning Disability (SLD) Assessment Documentation Update
  • Reminder: RTI2 Framework Manual Release and Training Cancellation
  • Reminder: Speech-Language Communities of Practice
  • Special Education Professional Development Opportunities

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8/12/2019

August 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This HEALTHCARE ISSUE features:

  • Hospitals, Children with Disabilities, and Everyone Else
  • When the Insurance Company Says No
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Teledentistry Today
  • The World of Genetics and Genetic Counseling

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.


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8/1/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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7/30/2019

Reading Struggles? 8 Reasons Kids Might Read Slowly






 

6 Essential Skills for Reading Comprehension

 

Learn More

 

Community Picks: 13 Books for Struggling Readers

 

Get Suggestions

A program of nonprofit organization National Center for Learning Disabilities, Understood.org is a resource and community supporting parents of kids with learning and attention issues through personalized resources, tools and expert access.



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7/26/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Supplemental IDEA Funds Available
  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD) Assessment Documentation Update
  • RTI2 Framework Manual Release and Training Cancellation
  • Speech-Language Communities of Practice

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7/26/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Youth Leadership Academy was a Success!
  • Moving on up! Five graduate from Blue Cross Blue Shield Project SEARCH in Chattanooga
  • Telecommunications Devices Access Program
  • Art Exhibit: Breaking Ground III
  • On-the-job training: Project SEARCH at Amerigroup recruiting in Nashville
  • Recruiting Volunteer Advocates
  • Listen Up! Free Teleaudiology Services
  • Disability Health Professional Study
  • Save the Date: TN Siblings Conference, Nov. 9, Nashville
  • Paid Opportunity to Test Assistive Technology for People with Motor Speech Disorders
  • Share Your Input
  • By 8/15 - Weigh in on Disability Rights TN Areas of Work

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7/25/2019

Students of color with disabilities are being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline, study finds

Suspension, expulsion and other "exclusionary discipline" practices raise the chances that students will end up in the school to prison pipeline and students of color with disabilities are more likely to face that kind of discipline. Those are the findings of a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.   

The report also highlights the higher rates of "school resource officers," police officers assigned to schools, in schools where at least half the students are students of color and have high poverty rates. The use of SROs is controversial, especially in a city like Chicago, where many schools have full-time police officers but not enough counselors, social workers or nurses..READ MORE and READ THE STUDY.

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7/22/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • A Note from the Policy Director
  • Tenne
  • Bill Signing Ceremony for "Take Me Home" 
  • Rural Health Policy Updates
  • Opportunities for You
  • Managing Your Money
  • Survey: Fair Housing in Tennessee
  • Webinar: Healthcare Decisions
  • Parent to Parent USA Surveying Families about Supported Decision-Making
  • Family Voices Wants Your Healthcare Story
  • Federal Policy Update
  • House of Representatives Votes to End Subminimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities
  • Bills in the 116th Congress
  • Other Recent News from the Council

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7/18/2019

Apps for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities

Provided by the University of Michigan, the following is an extensive and meticulously organized list of apps that may be helpful to individuals with dyslexia, parents of dyslexics, or the professionals who work with dyslexics (teachers, tutors, reading specialists, etc.). They carefully consider each app before they add it, ensuring that it claims to help dyslexics in ways that are in line with the evidence on how to help dyslexics. In other words, they add apps that aid with the cognitive processes used in speaking, reading, spelling, and writing, but they do not add apps that are visual aids for reading, because evidence shows that dyslexia is not a visual disability.   

http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/apps 

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7/17/2019

Tips on using a new court ruling to bolster your case for inclusion at your next IEP meeting

A ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Tennessee case is being heralded as a "watershed" moment for students with disabilities who are fighting for inclusion in their public schools. The court ruled that the school district violated a 15-year old boy's right to a Free and Appropriate Education in the Least Restrictive Environment when he was forced to attend a separate school.    

The ruling also clarified that federal disability law does not require a child to master or keep up with the curriculum in a general education classroom in order for inclusion to be a viable option. Instead, the measure should be whether the child can make academic progress given the appropriate supports and services. READ THIS ARTICLE for tips on how to use the ruling at your next IEP meeting and READ THE FULL RULING HERE.

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7/12/2019

July 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This ACCESSIBLE HOMES ISSUE features:

  • Home Modifications: Thinking Outiside The Box
  • The Efficient Homemake with Vision Loss
  • Inclusive International Adventures    

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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7/12/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Did you Know: RTI2 Pitfalls
  • Speech-Language Communities of Practice
  • IDEA IEP Self-Monitoring for School Year 2019-20

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7/9/2019

Prime Day is July 15 & 16 - Shop and Support STEP

You can make a difference while you shop Amazon Prime Day deals on July 15 & 16.  Simply shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/62-1739593 and AmazonSmile donates to Support and Training for Exceptional Parents Inc. 

It's Super Easy to shop on-line with AmazonSmile and it works exactly like its sister site, Amazon.com.

  1. Simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device.
  2. Select Support And Training For Exceptional Parents Inc. from the list of charitable organizations before you start to shop or use this direct link smile.amazon.com/ch/62-1739593
  3. Make your purchases and feel great knowing you just helped STEP earn cash!
  4. Bookmark smile.amazon.com/ch/62-1739593 to support STEP each time you shop anytime during the year.
  5. Attention iPhone or iPad Users - You cannot use AmazonSmile with the Amazon App on the iPhone or iPad. However, you can set up a shortcut that will work like the app.
    • Open Safari and type smile.amazon.com in the web address field at the top. AmazonSmile will open.
    • Touch the share button (looks like a box with an arrow) to the left of the website address.
    • Touch Add to Home Screen
    • Touch Add
    • You're ready to shop!
  6. Attention Android Users - As of July 5, 2019 AmazonSmile is now available in the Amazon Shopping App to all AmazonSmile customers using supported Android devices. Click here for instructions to turn on AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping App for your Android device.

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7/8/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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7/3/2019

Math Is Everywhere! Supporting Math Skills in Infants and Toddlers

Early math skills are essential to children’s school readiness and later learning. The National Center on Early ChildhoodDevelopment, Teaching, and Learning, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is hosting “Math is Everywhere: SupportingMath Skills in Infants and Toddlers” on July 11 from 3–4 p.m. EDT. The webinar will explore research on infants and toddlers’ early understanding of math concepts and discuss ways to support children's early math skills during the activities they do every day. Sign up for the webinar here.







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7/1/2019

10 Tips For Planning a Magical Disney Vacation With a Special Needs Child



If you're a family with special needs children, planning a trip to Disney can be a little scary. While there are parks, transportation, and long lines to consider, the most magical place on earth is actually extremely accommodating when it comes to making your trip as seamless as possible.  Click here to read more.

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7/1/2019

Travel Tips for Children With Autism



Kids with autism thrive on set schedules, and vacations in new places far from home can cause discomfort and disrupt routines. With proper planning and organizing, you can help your child adjust so everyone in the family can travel together. Click here to read more.

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7/1/2019

How to Create a Backyard Sanctuary for Kids with Disabilities



Children of all abilities and needs should have room to play and explore their world. In fact, play is so important for a child’s development that the United Nations declared play is a human right for children. Making your home a place where a child with special needs can be active takes more than a look around. You’ll want to brainstorm ways the outside can be an inclusive sanctuary for children of all abilities, too. Click here to read more.

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7/1/2019

Making the Move from Elementary to Middle or Junior High School: Transition Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities

While attending elementary school, your son or daughter may have learned many of the skills he or she will need in middle school. For example, your child may already know how to make new friends, change classrooms multiple times a day, navigate crowded hallways, and work with different teachers for different subjects. You may be concerned about your child's move from elementary to middle school, but you can help to lay the groundwork for your child's success by following these tips from the Pacer's National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.   

Read it here:  https://www.pacer.org/transition/resource-library/publications/NPC-53.pdf

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7/1/2019

New federal research examines guardianships of people with intellectual, developmental disabilities, finds school-to-guardianship pipeline

The right to marry, to determine one's own friends, to vote, to seek and retain employment, to consent to medical procedures, to drive, to decide where to live and many other rights can be denied to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities once guardianship is granted. So, a new report that finds evidence of a "school to guardianship" pipeline is raising concerns. The research was conducted by the National Council on Disability (NCD). READ MORE

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6/28/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • 2019–20 IEA Parent & Private School Handbooks
  • Enrollment for the 2019-20 School Year
  • Resources  

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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6/28/2019

Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections

As recently noted by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice(link is external), the fact that a student has been charged with or convicted of a crime does not diminish his or her substantive rights or the procedural safeguards and remedies provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). More than 60,000 youth are currently in juvenile correctional facilities, and a large portion of these youth are identified as having a disability, yet less than half report that they are receiving special education services. To protect the rights for these youth and improve their chances of leading positive and successful lives, it is the shared responsibility of States, State educational agencies (SEAs), public agencies, and correctional facilities to ensure full access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

This toolkit includes evidence- and research-based practices, tools, and resources that educators, families, facilities, and community agencies can use to better support and improve the long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile correctional facilities. SEAs can begin by completing the State Correctional Education Self-Assessment (SCES)(link is external) and reviewing the accompanying SCES Resources. The SCES will help SEAs identify systems-features and interagency collaboration that need to be in place in order to improve practices for youth with disabilities in correctional facilities.

Family involvement should be at the core of working with youth with disabilities in correctional facilities and is critical to improving outcomes. For more information about engaging families of youth with disabilities in correctional facilities, please visit the Family Involvement Resource Page.

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6/27/2019

9 Steps for Creating a Smooth Transition to Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a big change for kids. For many, it's their first experience in a structured school setting. If your child has issues with things like sitting still, following directions and holding a pencil, it can be extra stressful. Here are simple steps to make the transition easier.  Click here to read more.

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6/27/2019

OSEP Has A Resource for That. Spread the News!

OSEP, directly and through its partners and grantees, develops a wide range of research-based products, publications, and resources to assist states, local district personnel, and families to improve results for students with disabilities. In this new OSEP Update section, OSEP will highlight the work of its funded projects by focus area with the hope that you will disseminate the resources within your circles, and they within theirs. OSEP supports great work. Help us ensure that everyone knows! 

Start Here. Looking for a place to start? The OSEP IDEAs that Work website is designed to provide easy access to information from research to practice initiatives funded by OSEP that address the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. This website includes resources, links, and other important information relevant to OSEP’s research to practice efforts. 

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6/21/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Staff High Note
  • AbleVoices: Photography for Self-Expression, Empowerment, & Advocacy - by Partners graduate Jen Vogus
  • Save the Date: TN Siblings Conference ("TABS"), Nov. 9, Nashville
  • News from Our Partners
  • Rural Family Forums Across TN
  • Transition Tennessee Webcast: Increasing Family Engagement
  • Transition Tennessee New Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) Web Portal
  • Read more

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6/20/2019

Preschool to Kindergarten Family Survey (5 to 7 Years Old)

If you have a child ages 5 - 7 who RECENTLY (in the past 3 years), transitioned from preschool to kindergarten, we would love your feedback on your experiences during your child's transition from preschool or early education services to kindergarten. We want to learn what helped you and your child feel prepared during this time of preschool transition, as well as any challenges you experienced.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FamilyInputKindergarten 

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6/20/2019

TEIS to Preschool Family Survey (3 to 5 Years Old)

STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) wants to hear from families with children who have disabilities who moved from TN Early Intervention Services (TEIS) to preschool within the past 3 years (children would be ages 3-5 now). What helped you as a parent feel prepared for this transition? What were your challenges? Share your input to improve future services for families!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TEISfamilyinput 

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6/19/2019

June 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This SUMMER FUN ISSUE features:

  • A Parent's Guide to Picking the Best Camp
  • Choosing Life for a Child with Down Syndrome
  • Safe Online Games for Kids on the Spectrum
  • Disability and Divorce       

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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6/13/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Did you Know: RTI2 Pitfalls
  • Speech-Language Communities of Practice
  • High Cost Reimbursement Requests
  • End of Year Report Packet
  • IDEA IEP Self-Monitoring for School Year 2019-20

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6/13/2019

Did you Know? RTI2 and Special Education: Potential Pitfalls

In Tennessee, RTI (Response to Intervention) is a program for ALL students in the areas of reading and math. Throughout the school year, teachers use RTI assessments to find out how students are doing and to check on student progress. If a student is performing behind their peers in reading, math or both subjects, the student will participate in intervention programs to work to improve their performance.

Parents should feel free to talk with the teacher about your child’s progress and ask what can be done at home to help your child. If you think your child is not making progress using RTI interventions, you may request, in writing, an evaluation for special education, and the school must respond to your request.

Tennessee’s special education category of Specific Learning Disability uses RTI assessment/progress data to determine special education eligibility.

Special education law provides what is called “Procedural Safeguards” to protect parent and student rights, including the area of special education eligibility. 

The Tennessee Department of Education has created a one-page document and PowerPoint that outlines five tips for school districts to review and follow to avoid violating student and parent safeguards in the area of RTI services.

For more information about RTI, please refer to STEP’s RTI one page guide and Tennessee Department of Education RTI manual.


The new one-page document about RTI from the TN Department of Education reads:

Five Tips for Avoiding Procedural Violations within RTI 2 

RTI2 Pitfalls 

1. Focus on the Data 

  • Focus on the progress; do not get caught up in the process.
  • Language matters. Talk about the student and his/her learning, not about the RTI2 process.
  • Data points are not the point; progress is. Data points help us understand trends in progress and inform instructional decisions.

2. Respond to the Data 

  • If it is not working, change it! 
  • Do not collect data for the sake of collecting data. 
  • Use your data to drive instructional decisions.  
3. Respond Appropriately to Requests for Evaluation 
  • RTI2 cannot be used to deny/delay a request for evaluation [OSEP Memo 07-11]. 
  • Common language pitfalls: “He/She has to go through RTI2 first,” or “We don’t have enough data points.” These statements are focused on the process, not the student. 
4. Avoid Predetermination 
  • All decisions regarding eligibility and placement must be made by the IEP team. 
  • Common language pitfall: “He/She has not been in RTI2 long enough. If we test him/her now, he/she won’t be eligible.” This statement predetermines eligibility before an evaluation has been completed. 
5. Refer Anytime a Disability is Suspected 
  • Ensure you have a clearly communicated process for referrals from parents and teachers (i.e., clear child find procedures) for all disabilities, including specific learning disability. 
  • School teams must consider all data, including medical diagnoses and/or outside evaluations. 



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6/12/2019

Evaluating the Implementation of Evidence-based Practices—Tip Sheet Series



This series of short tip sheets were developed jointly by ECTA (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center) and Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), to provide concise guidance for collecting and analyzing high-quality data on the implementation of evidence-based practices. The tip sheets address four key topics: What to Measure, Characteristics of a High-Quality Measurement Tool, Establishing a Fidelity Threshold, and Summarizing Data for Decision-making.

Read more: https://dasycenter.org/evaluating-the-implementation-of-evidence-based-practices-tip-sheet-series

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6/11/2019

Parent Like a Pro: Slowing the Summer Slide

Learning doesn’t have to fall by the wayside just because school is out. Use these five parent pro tips to keep your child learning and having fun over the summer months.

Click here to read more

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6/10/2019

Pathways Internship Positions

Pathways Internships Pathways Internships provide students with paid work opportunities in agencies to explore Federal careers over the summer. Read for more information. To apply for positions at the U.S. Department of Education, click here

APPLICATION LIMIT: This vacancy announcement is limited to the first 100 applications received and will close at 11:59PM Eastern Time on the day that we receive the 100th application. 

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6/10/2019

ADHD and Anxiety: What's the Connection?

ADHD and Anxiety: What You Need to Know

At a Glance

  • Some of the challenges that come along with ADHD can make kids anxious.
  • Many kids with ADHD may have trouble managing emotions or using coping skills.
  • Some kids may have an anxiety disorder as well as ADHD.
  • Read more

____________________________________________

My Anxiety and ADHD: Hiding Behind a Perfect Veneer

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 30. I know that for some people—especially women, whose ADHD symptoms are often overlooked—an ADHD diagnosis can clear things up. When diagnosed as adults, they may look back on school with relief and think, “That’s why I was struggling.”

But for me, the ADHD diagnosis felt confusing at first. I was a straight-A student and star athlete. I’ve been successful in my professional life, too. How could I have ADHD?

Over time, though, the ADHD diagnosis has brought certain pieces of my life into perspective. I discovered something behind the perfect grades and awards—something painful. And I’d already gotten one diagnosis that was hard for me to swallow.

Click here to read more

____________________________________________

ADHD in Girls: What You Need to Know

At a Glance

  • Girls often experience ADHD in different ways than boys.
  • Girls are less likely to struggle with hyperactivity, so their symptoms may go unnoticed.
  • ADHD is equally common in girls and boys, but girls are underdiagnosed.
  • Read more


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6/10/2019

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Experience Survey

Please take a moment to complete the Tennessee Disability Pathfinder experience survey

We are reaching out to families, individuals with disabilities, disability service providers, educators, and community organizations across the state to understand how we can best provide the information, services, and resources you need. Share your experiences accessing both our website or statewide help line. We can't wait to hear from you!

Questions? Please reach out to Jennifer Bumble at Jennifer.bumble@vanderbilt.edu

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6/10/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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6/7/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Executive Director Note
  • Partners in Policymaking Graduate H.K. Derryberry Advocates for Accessible Ball Park
  • Help us learn about how you make decisions
  • News from Our Partners
  • TennCare Connect
  • Rural Family Forums Across TN
  • Read more

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6/7/2019

Embedding Learning into Fun Summer Play Activities for a Young Child with Autism

Play is instrumental in young children developing language skills, cognition, problem solving, social, motor, empathy and negotiation skills.  The elaborate skills needed for play are often difficult or non-existent for children with Autism. This article from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers some great ideas to embed teaching important skills into motivating fun summer play activities where your child with Autism will never know you are teaching!   

Click here to read article.

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6/7/2019

Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities

Transitioning from high school to post-secondary educational institutions can be intimidating and stressful. For students with disabilities and their families, the transition process requires extra attention to legal requirements and required documentation. This handout from the Center on Technology and Disability gives parents and students a great perspective into the transition process. 

Click here to get the handout.

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6/6/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • 2019-20 IEA Applications Update
  •  2019–20 IEA Parent & Private School Handbooks
  •  Additional Resources for Parents
  • Resources

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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5/30/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • 2019-20 New Student Applications Now Closed
  • Expense Report Summary 
  • Family Engagement Community Conversations
  • Save the Date: Family Learning Weekends for Families who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Additional Resources for Parents
  • Resource

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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5/30/2019

Summer Reading Program with Bookshare

An enriching summer reading program from the Bookshare ebook library is designed to lock in reading gains and to keep students reading over the summer. Bookshare has curated reading lists modeled after the Collaborative Summer Library Program that includes level-appropriate tales of fantasy, science fiction, #ownvoices, and other topics chosen to engage students in leisure reading.  

Students with dyslexia, blindness, and other reading barriers can access Bookshare ebooks for free and read in audio, braille, and other easy-to-read formats on almost any device. In addition, Bookshare provides transition guides to help students keep access to books and reading tools as they move to new grades, schools, and life after school.

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5/28/2019

What Does STEP’s 30th Anniversary Mean to You!

 



           

                     



Click here to read more stories.

Click here to download and share this flyer

 

 

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5/28/2019

Reinforcing Your Child’s IEP Goals Over the Summer

At a Glance

  • Re-reading your child’s IEP is an important step in creating a summer learning plan.
  • Not all goals can be worked on at home.
  • Real-world learning can help reinforce your child’s goals.

If your child has an IEP, it may or may not cover summer. Some kids get extended school year services built into their IEPs, but many don’t. If your child isn’t attending a summer learning program, you may worry about how she’ll keep up while school’s out. But you can help reinforce her goals, even if she doesn’t have school services in the summer. Here’s how. Click here to read more.

Download: Summer Reading Logs and Planners

Download: Fun (and Educational) Summer Vacation Activities

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5/23/2019

2019 STEP Advocate of the Year Awards Announced

STEP is thrilled to honor our 2019 STEP Advocates of the Year.

Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year

Dr. Cale Horne, along with his wife Adrianna, is the parent of a child with autism. Shortly after getting involved in special education for his own child, Dr. Horne identified several areas where the school system was not meeting the needs of other children with disabilities. After further investigation, he determined that the deficits were ingrained throughout the system. In response, Dr. Horne formed the Chattanooga Inclusive Ed Working Group, which includes parents of children with disabilities, local secondary and post-secondary educators, non-profits, and the Chattanooga 2.0 organization that was comprised of local business leaders as well as Hamilton County Department of Education decision-makers.

According to one of his nominations, “His work through this group has benefited children with disabilities, their parents and guardians, educators, service providers and a host of local nonprofits that work with students with disabilities. There have been many changes in the local school system and the systems of adjacent counties because of Dr. Horne’s efforts.” From the impetus of his own family situation, Dr. Horne has created a community initiative that has positively impacted inclusion rates in Hamilton County. According to another of his nominations, “More students are now educated in their home-zoned schools and general education classrooms, due to Dr. Horne’s quiet but persistent leadership."

Wesley Rice Youth Advocate of the Year

McKenzie Tuckson is a true shining star who doesn't let her disability hold her back. A 16-year-old with Rett Syndrome, McKenzie she doesn’t speak, but that doesn't mean she doesn't communicate. She uses her augmentative communication device, facial expressions, pictures, vocalizations, social media, and many other ways to get her message across. She advocates for equal and fair treatment for students with disabilities within her school system. Because of her advocacy, Metro Nashville Public Schools revised their policies to eliminate use of rifton belted chairs in classrooms. McKenzie understands the importance of being able to sit in age-appropriate chairs, just like her peers.

McKenzie was the first student with exceptional needs to be inducted to the National Honor Society at White's Creek High School, as well as being voted Vice President of her Sophomore class by her peers. She is a varsity cheerleader, the first ever nonverbal cheerleader at her school. She has been highlighted in the press and in a technology catalog, and presents annually to the Alternative and Augmentative Communication class for speech-language pathology graduate students at Vanderbilt. Most recently, she and her parents attended Disability Day on the Hill where they met with legislators to advocate for laws supporting individuals with disabilities.

McKenzie proves that everyone deserves the chance to engage in activities they love, regardless of their abilities. Her mission in life is to educate others and give a voice to all individuals with disabilities.

Scott Finney Self-Advocate of the Year

Scott Kramer is an autistic adult who is a very effective and committed self-advocate and advocate. He founded the GCA Centre for Adult Autism, Southeast USA in early 2011. Initially established as a local, adult-only support group for individuals on the spectrum, GCA has expanded to include social support groups from the Tri-Cities area of Northeast Tennessee to the Metro Atlanta, GA area. Despite his own challenges, Scott has enhanced the size and reputation of GCA’s Annual Southeast Adult Autism Symposium, which is now in its 3rd very successful year. It features adults with autism as presenters, session facilitators and exhibitors, along with numerous agency and organization representatives who provide services for this population.

Scott's impact on the adult autism community in Tennessee has been significant. With the vast majority of research programs and government services focusing on young children with autism, Scott has highlighted the need for supporting those who are living and working, and trying to live and work, in a society that is often not “autism-friendly”. When necessary, Scott has taken his message to state legislators and other policymakers to advocate for more acceptance for adults with autism, and positive change.

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5/23/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • High Cost Reimbursement Requests
  • Update: Progress Monitoring Supplemental Grant
  • Did You Know: Extended School Year
  • IDEA IEP Self-Monitoring for School Year 2019-20
  • 2018-19 IDEA Discretionary Grant Monitoring
  • Tennessee Talks
  • End of Year Report Packet
  • Summer 2019: Special Education Mini-Conferences
  • Save the Date: Family Learning Weekends for Families who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Behavior Change: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Liven Up your Students’ Writing!

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5/20/2019

May 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This ANNUAL MOBILITY ISSUE features:

  • Reaffirming Diversity and Inclusion
  • Imagining the Possibilities
  • Snapshot: The Role of the Special Educator
  • Driving to Learn Program
  • the Drive for Inclusion Movement

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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5/17/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Council Staff High Note
  • Help us learn about how you make decisions
  • Input Needed: Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Experience Survey
  • 5/30 TN Disability Pathfinder "Disability Resources 101" - Paris
  • News from Our Partners
  • TN Rehabilitation Center-Smyrna, Gov. Lee announce new CVS pharmacy training program
  • Read more

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5/9/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • High Cost Reimbursement Requests
  • Update: Progress Monitoring Supplemental Grant
  • Did You Know: Extended School Year
  • IDEA IEP Self-Monitoring for School Year 2019-20
  • 2018-19 IDEA Discretionary Grant Monitoring
  • Tennessee Talks
  • Educator Opportunity to Develop Middle School Course Requirements for Students Assessed on the Alternate Assessment 
  • End of Year Report Packet
  • Summer 2019: Special Education Mini-Conferences
  • Reminder: Dyslexia Reporting Requirements
  • Save the Date: Family Learning Weekends for Families who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Behavior Change: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Liven Up your Students’ Writing!

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5/3/2019

TN Rehabilitation Center Summer Camps

Do you have a 14-22 year old with disabilities in your family interested in gaining job skills? Check out these summer camps coming up at the TN Rehabilitation Center in Smyrna, which is run by Vocational Rehabilitation, that will provide “Pre-Employment Transition Services” (often called Pre-ETS) for youth with disabilities who want to work! 

Click here for more information.

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5/3/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Council Staff "High Note
  • "2018-19 Partners in Policymaking Graduates
  • Council and STEP train youth in Loudon County
  • 5/30 TN Disability Pathfinder "Disability Resources 101" - Paris
  • News from Our Partners
  • 5/9 Community Conversation on Family Engagement in Special Education – East TN
  • Read more

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5/1/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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5/1/2019

AmazonSmile - You Shop. Amazon Gives to STEP, Inc.

Attention Android Users - As of July 5, 2019 AmazonSmile is now available in the Amazon Shopping App to all AmazonSmile customers using supported Android devices. Click here for instructions to turn on AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping App for your Android device.

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5/1/2019

Support STEP, Inc. by Shopping at Kroger

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4/30/2019

Inclusive Education for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities

The TIES Center at the University of Minnesota developed the content for the most recent issue of Impact magazine. This issue explores inclusive education through the perspectives of researchers, teachers, education administrators, students, and parents. They share knowledge, skills, experiences, and resources that can help K-8 schools nationwide support the learning and inclusion of all students.

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4/30/2019

Developing High-Quality Individualized Education Programs

A new interactive learning module from the IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University , IEPs: Developing High-Quality Individualized EducationPrograms is designed to examine the requirements for individualized education programs (IEP) as outlined in IDEA while considering the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (Endrew).  

This resource explains the step-by-step process for developing high-quality IEPs, as outlined in IDEA and provides additional considerations in light of the Endrew ruling. No matter your prior knowledge level, this self-paced module allows you to start with only the IEP basics or delve deeper into many of the related areas.

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4/29/2019

Hello Kindergarten! Here We Come!



With the support of Preschool Development Grant funds, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Connecticut State Department of Education formed a partnership to develop tools for parents to use to prepare their children for kindergarten. The new online toolkit, Hello Kindergarten!, is designed to provide parents with information that will guide them through the processes to enroll their children in school and gain knowledge of school readiness expectations. The toolkit includes multiple topics on transitioning into kindergarten such as: 

  • what your child should know and be able to do before he/she goes off to kindergarten,
  • how to give your child a healthy start in kindergarten, and
  • how to register for kindergarten.

Visit Connecticut’s Hello Kindergarten! for resources that you can use with families in your programs.

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4/29/2019

Early Learning Newsletter | April 2019 | Supporting Family Engagement and Announcing New Funding Opportunities!

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter:

In This Issue:

  • From the Directors
  • Project Spotlight
  • Early Learning Updates from ED
  • Resources for You
  • Featured Webinars
  • New Funding Opportunities
  • Voices From the Field
  • Connect With Us Online!

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4/25/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Educator Opportunity to Develop Middle School Course Requirements for Students Assessed on the Alternate Assessment 
  • End of Year Report Packet
  • Summer 2019: Special Education Mini-Conferences
  • Reminder: Dyslexia Reporting Requirements
  • Work-Based Learning Regional Lead Application Now Open
  • Save the Date: Family Learning Weekends for Families who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Family Engagement Community Conversation
  • Behavior Change: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Liven Up your Students’ Writing!

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4/18/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Council Staff "High Note"
  • Council and STEP train youth in Sullivan County
  • Applications Due 4/30: Youth Leadership Academy
  • Applications Due 4/30: Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute
  • Online Registration Closes 5/1: Tennessee Disability MegaConference
  • News from Our Partners
  • Read more

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4/17/2019

Tools to Support Preschool Learning

New resources focus on technology integration, emergent bilingual learners.  

Early childhood educators looking for ways to develop a supportive learning environment for children who are emergent bilingual (or dual language) learners, while also seeking to meaningfully integrate technology tools into their programs, now have two new EDC resources. Both resources were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

Supporting Emergent Bilingual Children in Early Learning and Integrating Technology into Early Learning draw on current research into how children learn, giving educators promising practices for supporting the diverse needs of young learners. These resources also provide easy-to-use classroom checklists to aid educators in effectively implementing these practices. The resources, available in Spanish, Chinese, and English, are applicable to all early childhood professionals, working in all types of learning environments, with young children from all backgrounds.

Want to know more? Click here or Follow the hashtag #EarlyEdTools on Twitter for ideas and to connect with other early childhood educators or contact Heather Sherwood.

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4/15/2019

April 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

This AUTISM AWARENESS ISSUE features:

  • 6 Ways to Support Special Needs Parents
  • Transitioning Your Child with Autism to Adulthood
  • Acceptance is Not a Start - Not a Finish
  • A Success Story of Early Intervention    

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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4/11/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Reading Resources: Reading Intervention Programs and Supplemental Materials
  • Spring Fiscal Workshop Registration
  • Work-Based Learning Regional Lead Application Now Open
  • Save the Date: Family Learning Weekends for Families who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Borderless Arts Tennessee Upcoming Opportunities
  • IDEA Part B Application for Federal Funds: Notice of Public Comment
  • Family Engagement Community Conversation
  • Behavior Change: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Liven Up your Students’ Writing!

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4/5/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Executive Director Note
  • Tennessee speaks on social media accessibility at national conference
  • Council and STEP train youth in Carter, Johnson counties
  • Borderless Arts TN "Conversations Over Tea"
  • Applications Due 4/30: Youth Leadership Academy
  • Applications Due 4/30: Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute
  • Online Registration Closes 5/1: Tennessee Disability MegaConference
  • News from Our Partners
  • Read more

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4/3/2019

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Prmoting Early Development and Behavioral Screening

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! encourages healthy child development, universal developmental and behavioral screening for young children, and support for the families and providers who care for them.  This website is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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4/2/2019

What Is Early Childhood Development? A Guide to the Science

Healthy development in the early years of life provides the building blocks for lifelong health, educational achievement, and responsible adulthood. What can we do during this incredibly important period to ensure that children have a strong foundation for future development? 

This multi-part guide explains the science of how children develop in their earliest years. Using videos, research briefs, infographics, games, and other tools, this set of materials is organized in sections to respond to three questions: 1) Why is early childhood important? 2) How does early childhood development happen? And 3) What can we do to support child development?

Enjoy these online resources at https://developingchild.harvard.edu/guide/what-is-early-childhood-development-a-guide-to-the-science/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=march_2019

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4/1/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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3/29/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • 2019–20 Student and School Applications for the IEA Program
  •  Additional Resources for Parents
  • Resources  

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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3/29/2019

25+ Playful Learning Activities for Preschoolers

When it comes to planning playful learning activities for preschoolers, it isn’t one size fits all!   Preschoolers are naturally inquisitive and curious students who are dying to explore and find out answers in all areas of science learning. Preschool teachers and parents, like yourself, need to have preschool activities for lesson plans that are easy for young students to understand, many who are not yet reading, and gives them the opportunity to spend some time playing!

Click here to read more

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3/29/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Council Staff "High Note"
  • 2019 Partners in Policymaking Reunion Recap
  • Applications Due 4/30: Youth Leadership Academy
  • Applications Due 4/30: Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute
  • Recent Council Updates
  • Tennessee Disability MegaConference Registration Now Open
  • News from Our Partners
  • Read more

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3/28/2019

Early Learning Newsletter | March 2019 | Welcoming Spring With New Early Childhood Opportunities and Resources

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter:

In This Issue:

  • From the Directors
  • Project Spotlight
  • Early Learning Updates from ED
  • Resources for You
  • Featured Webinar
  • New Forecasted Funding Opportunity
  • Voices From the Field
  • Connect With Us Online!    

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3/27/2019

Submit Your Nomination for 2019 STEP's Advocate of the Year Awards

STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) is accepting nominations for the 2019 Advocate of the Year Awards.

Each year STEP, Inc. recognizes extraordinary advocates across Tennessee who has made significant contributions to the lives of children and youth with disabilities.  Award winners will be honored at the 2019 TN Disability MegaConference Annual Awards Banquet on May 22th in Nashville.

Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award

This award is given 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. A person 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 online nomination form or Click here to download and print the nomination form.

Wesley Rice Youth Advocate of the Year Award

This award is given to a youth with a disability between the ages of 15 and 26 who is a strong self-advocate at school, home or in the community. Nominee must demonstrate leadership by speaking up for themselves and others and is positive role model for young people with disabilities.  

Click here for online nomination form or Click here to download and print the youth nomination form.

Scotty Finney Self-Advocate of the Year

This award honors a person who has embodied the positive character traits of being a strong self-advocate by accepting responsibility, speaking up for themselves and others, and above all, leading by example. The Scott Finney Self-Advocate of the Year Award is named after a man who has dedicated his life to leading by example.

Click here for online nomination form or Click Here to download and print the Self Advocate nomination form.

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

Include in the subject line:  Nominee for Advocate of the Year Award

  • Nomination form
  • Photo of nominee (jpg format)

Deadline for nominations is April 30, 2018.  

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3/26/2019

Transition Resources for Students Who Are Deaf-Blind

The National Center on Deaf-Blindness recently published two resources to help families, educators, state deaf-blind project personnel, and adult service providers support students with deaf-blindness to successfully transition to postsecondary education or employment, and community life.

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3/19/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

Highlights in this issue:

  • Draft IEP Waivers
  • Judge Vacates U.S. Department of Education's Delay of 2016 Rule on Significant Disproportionality
  • IDEA Part B Application for Federal Funds: Notice of Public Comment
  • Guidance and Models for Preschool Inclusion
  • Did You Know: Special Ed Connection®
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities
  • More...

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3/18/2019

March 2019 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available

The MARCH 2019 Issue of EP Magazine is now available.

The SCHOOLS and CAMPS ANNUAL ISSUE features:

  • The Dignity of Risk: Going to College
  • Getting Your Child Un-Stuck from Anxiety
  • Life Skills from a Mobile Coffee Cart
  • Developmental Disabilities

Exceptional Parent Magazine (founded in 1971) provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link ep-magazine.com.  Please pass this onto others who might be interested.

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3/15/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Note from Executive Director
  • Applications Due 4/30: 2019 Youth Leadership Academy hosted by Council, Empower TN & STEP-TN
  • Recent Council Updates
  • Council Staff to Serve on National Arc Planning Committee
  • Tennessee Disability MegaConference Registration Now Open
  • News from Our Partners
  • Read more

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3/12/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

In this issue:

?? Parent Testimonial: What’s not to love about TEIS? by Stephanie Phillips

?? Updated Diagnosis List

?? Regional Resource Highlight: Isaiah 117 House

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3/1/2019

Empower TN, STEP, & The TN Council on Developmental Disabilities Announce Summer 2019 Youth Leadership Academy

Fermina is Proud!

Empower TN, STEP, and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities invite young people between the ages of 16 and 24 to apply to participate in the "I Am More Than..." Youth Leadership Academy to be held in Nashville TN on July 17 and 18, 2019.

Participants will learn about:
  • Speaking up for Yourself
  • Getting Comfortable with Who You Are
  • Working Toward Independence
  • And more...

All while having fun!

This program will be offered at no cost to participants. 

Application deadline has been extended to May 15, 2019!

For online registration please click here.

For a paper application please click here to download a PDF copy or email information@tnstep.org or call Lisa Gosnell of STEP at 800.280.7837.

Questions about the program? Please call Paul Choquette of EMPOWER TN at 615.515.8612. 

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2/28/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • TN Disability MegaConference Registration Now Open
  • The Arc TN Special Education Community Conversation on March 5 in Nashville
  • Opportunities for Input
  • TennesseeWorks Blog Spotlights Partners in Policymaking
  • Read more

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2/28/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • Greetings from Commissioner Penny Schwinn
  • IEA Info Videos
  • Launch of 2019–20 Student and School Applications for the IEA Program
  • Secure Email Encryption for Student Data
  • Additional Resources for Parents
  • Resources

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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2/28/2019

Early Learning Newsletter | February 2019 | Supporting Educators to Pursue Graduate School • Understanding Early Childhood Homelessness • Promoting Early Literacy

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter:

In This Issue:

  • From the Directors
  • Project Spotlight
  • Early Learning Updates from ED
  • Resources for You
  • Featured Webinars
  • New Funding Opportunities
  • Voices From the Field
  • Connect With Us Online!

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2/25/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • News from the Legislature
  • Tennessee Bill Tracking
  • 111th Congress - Bill Tracking
  • Other Recent News from the Council

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2/14/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

Highlights in this issue:    

  • Greetings from Commissioner Schwinn
  • CLARIFICATION: Amendment to Special Education Programs and Services-Parental Participation Rule
  • Did You Know: Special Ed Connection®
  • School Psychologist Recruitment
  • 2019 American Printing House for the Blind Federal Quota Registration
  • FUTURE Program Application Update
  • Early Intervention Solicitation
  • 2019 American Printing House for the Blind Federal Quota Registration
  • The Lipscomb University IDEAL Summer Academy
  • Self-Assessment Window is Open
  • Call for Proposals: Conference for Middle Level Education
  • Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Trainings
  • ACCESS Trainings Part Two: ACCESS to High-Quality Intervention
  • Building Systems of Supports for Mental Health in Schools Regional Trainings
  • The Future of Disability: a Big Ideas event!
  • 2019 Rise Conference
  • Explicit Instruction: The Magic is in the Instruction Presented by MTSU's Center for Dyslexia
  • TRIAD Professional Development and Training Opportunities
  • Middle Tennessee State University Professional Development Opportunities
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities
  • Special Populations Professional Development Request

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2/5/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update -Special Edition

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update - Special Edition is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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2/4/2019

TNDOE Releases IEA (Individualized Education Account) Program Info Videos


Looking for more information about the IEA Program? Check out these short informational videos posted on the TNDOE IEA webpage

For more detailed information about the IEA Program, watch the IEA Parent Information Session Webinar, read answers to frequently asked questions, read the IEA Parent Handbook, or review the other resources on the TNDOE IEA webpage.

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2/1/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

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1/31/2019

Your Voice is Needed: Perspective on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Survey

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is currently seeking families of individuals with complex communication needs to complete a survey on communication systems and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services.

The goal is to gather information that will help improve the awareness of AAC services, AAC implementation strategies, and barriers of accessibility of communication systems and services.

This survey will take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. However, because your participation is voluntary, you are free to withdraw from this survey at any time.

Copy the link below into your web browser:
https://redcap.vanderbilt.edu/surveys/?s=C3J3MH4MXT

At the end of this survey, you will have the option to be entered in a drawing to win one of several $20 gift cards.

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1/31/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:

  • Governor Lee Names New Education Commissioner
  • IEA Info Videos
  • Launch of 2019–20 Student and School Applications for the IEA Program
  • Parent Information Sessions
  • Private School Information Sessions
  • Additional Resources for Parents
  • Resources

If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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1/30/2019

Early Learning Newsletter | January 2019 | Happy New Year and the New Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five Initiative

The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter:

In This Issue:

  • From the Directors
  • Project Spotlight
  • Early Learning Updates from ED
  • Resources for You
  • Featured Webinars
  • New Funding Opportunities
  • Voices From the Field
  • Connect With Us Online!

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1/28/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Apply to the Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute Class
  • 2/12-2/21 Family Information Exchange Events in Hamilton, Montgomery and Tipton Counties
  • 3/1 Applications Due - Lipscomb IDEAL Summer Academy
  • Participants Needed: Perspectives on Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

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1/21/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • TN DD Network hosts Administrator of U.S. Administration on Community Living
  • 2/11-12 - Disability Day on the Hill, Community Reception
  • New TennCare Employment & Community First CHOICES Video
  • Application deadlines for TN's Inclusive Higher Education Programs
  • 2/12-2/21 Family Information Exchange Events in Hamilton, Montgomery, & Tipton Counties

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1/18/2019

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Update

The latest update is out from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In this issue:

  • Partners in Policymaking January Session Recap
  • 2/11-12 - Disability Day on the Hill, Community Reception
  • 2/12-2/21 Family Information Exchange Events in Hamilton, Montgomery and Tipton Counties

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1/17/2019

Effective Date: Amendment to Special Education Programs and Services- Parental Participation

TN DOE Rule Change on Draft IEPs goes into effect on March 12 2019

On October 19, 2018, the state board of education passed on final reading an amendment to Special Education Programs and Services - Parent Participation, Rule 0520-01-09-.15 that requires parents receive a copy of a draft Individualized Education Program (IEP) at least 48 hours before a scheduled IEP meeting, if the school or district creates such a draft.  Parents may decline their right to receive a copy of the draft IEP if one is developed. 

State rules and regulations are effective 90 days after submission to the secretary of state’s office.  Therefore, this rule will go into effect March 12, 2019 and updates to EasyIEP will be made at that time to reflect the changes outlined in the attached memo.  In order to prepare for these changes, it is advised that directors of special education share this information with applicable staff and begin making preparations for any necessary changes in practice.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to this amendment.

Click here to view memorandum on the amendment.

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1/15/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Revised IDEA Part B 611 and 619 Allocations
  • Easy Summer 2019 Updates 
  • Online Course Code Catalog
  • Work-Based Learning (WBL) Certification Update: Fall 2018 Certificates Posted
  • Work-Based Learning (WBL) Certification and Recertification Networking Event Registration Open
  • Application of Interest: AAD Instructional Practices PLCIDEA Discretionary Grant Opportunity
  • Next Steps Summer at Vanderbilt Institute 
  • TRIAD Professional Development and Training Opportunities
  • Middle Tennessee State University Professional Development Opportunities
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities
  • Special Populations Professional Development Request

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1/15/2019

TN Special Education Directors Update

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

In this issue:

  • Draft IEP Waivers 
  • Judge Vacates U.S. Department of Education's Delay of 2016 Rule on Significant Disporportionality
  • IDEA Part B Application for Federal Funds: Notice of Public Comment
  • Guidance and Models for Preschool Inclusion
  • Did You Know: Special Ed Connection®
  • Advisory Council for Children with Disabilities


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1/7/2019

Dear Colleague Letter - Early Intervention Services (EIS)

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

OSEP has published a new policy letter (December 20, 2018), regarding screening and whether it should be included as part of an evaluation for an infant or toddler suspected of being deaf or hard of hearing, as well as, information on the applicable evaluation timelines and required protocols under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additional OSEP Memos, Dear Colleague Letters and Policy Letters are publicly available online.

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1/7/2019

TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update

The latest TEIS (TN Early Intervention System) Update is out from the Tennessee Education Association.

In this issue:

? What Early Intervention Can and Should Look Like: Part 3

? Contract Update

? Building Best Practice Conference Sneak Peek

? Training for TEIS Eligibility Specialists

? Welcome Aboard

? Fiscal Services Team Updates

? Reminder to Agencies

? Upcoming Dates of Interest

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1/7/2019

IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update

The latest IEA (Individual Education Account) Program Update is out from the Tennessee Department of Education.

In this issue:    

  • Launch of 2019–20 Student and School Applications for the IEA Program
  • Resource
If you have questions, please contact IEA.Questions@tn.gov

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1/2/2019

ACE Awareness Foundation, Porter-Leath Selected as New Partners in Sesame Workshop’s National Early Childhood Initiative

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, announced this month that Memphis, Tennessee, is the next community selected for Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC). SSIC is a nationwide initiative to support parents, caregivers, and community providers in their efforts to give all children, especially the most vulnerable, a strong and healthy start. Sesame Street in Communities selected Memphis because of the community’s existing collaborative efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of young children and families, and is partnering with the ACE Awareness Foundation and Porter-Leath to introduce the new initiative intended to advance support for local families and children under age six.

In an op-ed published in the Commercial Appeal, ACEAF Executive Director Renee Wilson-Simmons welcomed SSIC to the city — and to the work of understanding and mitigating the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the community. “Our city is at the forefront of what has become a national movement to prevent toxic stress among children and support their healthy development,” wrote Wilson-Simmons. “Now we’ll have the added strength of an ally trusted by adults and kids in 150 countries across the nation — one with a 50-year history of boosting early learning, emotional health, and social development for young people around the globe.”

ACE Awareness Foundation and Porter-Leath will integrate Sesame Street in Communities into their programming, in-person events, and trainings. The ACE Awareness Foundation will embed SSIC resources into programming at four Universal Parenting Places (UPPs) sites in Memphis. Since 2017, the UPPs have served local families and the community at large by creating nurturing parenting environments and offering activities that strengthen family connections and enhance child development through counseling, emotional support, and stress-reduction, and parent-child activities.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris joined representatives from Sesame Workshop, ACE Awareness Foundation, and Porter-Leath to introduce the partnership at a kick-off press conference on December 4. The press conference was held at the Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy with an interactive workshop for parents immediately following. More on the announcement can be found in coverage by the Daily MemphianChalkbeat TennesseeHigh Ground News, and WREG, as well as on the ACE Awareness Foundation website.

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1/1/2019

Spring 2019 IEA Parent Information Session Registration

TDOE IEA Spring 2019 Parent Info Session Registration Deadline is January 4 2019


Parent Information Sessions

In January and February, the department will provide information sessions for parents on the IEA (Individualized Education Account) Program. Parent information sessions are designed to help parents who are interested in enrolling their student in the IEA Program learn more about what the IEA Program is, including student eligibility, amount of funding, approved expenses, and parent responsibilities. Parents will also learn how to complete the application process to enroll their child in the IEA Program. These sessions are not for parents of students already enrolled in the IEA Program.

During registration, parents will be asked to choose only one session to attend. All sessions are from 6 - 8 p.m. local time unless otherwise noted. These sessions are only open to parents of eligible students. The addresses for each information session will be emailed to registered parents.

Jan. 22, 2019 – Nashville
Jan. 28, 2019 – Knoxville
Feb. 5, 2019 – Memphis

To register, click here. Space is limited, and parents must pre-register to attend the in-person information sessions. Registration closes Jan. 4, 2019.

Please note: Childcare will not be provided at the information sessions. Children may attend the information sessions but must be under parent/guardian supervision at all times.

If you are unable to attend an in-person session, there will be a live webinar for parents on Feb. 13 from 6-8 p.m. CT. Instructions for how to access the webinar are available here. Pre-registration is not required for the webinar.

The session PowerPoint and a recording of the session webinar will also be posted on the department's IEA web page (here).

_______________________________

Private School Information Sessions

The department will conduct a live information session webinar on the IEA Program for private school principals interested in applying to participate in the IEA Program for the 2019-20 school year. Private school information sessions are designed to help private school principals learn more about what the IEA Program is, including school eligibility, school responsibilities, and approved expenses. Private school principals will also learn how to complete the application process to become a participating school in the IEA Program.

The webinar will be held on Feb. 15 from 9-11 a.m. CT. Instructions for how to access the webinar are available here. School principals do not need to pre-register for the webinar.

The recording of the live webinar will be posted on the department's IEA web page (here)

Schools principals can also submit a request for the IEA team to come and speak to their school by emailing IEA.Questions@tn.gov.

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