5 ways to help special education students manage testing anxiety

Testing anxiety shows itself in different ways for different students. It can range from refusing to do work, crying, hiding in the bathroom, and verbal aggression to physical behavior like flipping tables and desks or hitting school staff. Some students avoid school on test days, and many suffer from symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches.

In special education programs, many of our students’ disabilities are closely related to anxiety, and testing can be a trigger that heightens those negative thoughts and feelings.

It’s a common belief that testing anxiety affects only older students, such as those taking high school or college placement exams. However, testing anxiety affects students of all ages. In fact, studies have shown that test anxiety is actually the worst in the middle grades. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, this anxiety can stem from a fear of failure, negative testing experiences, or feeling unprepared.…Read More

3 ways to support students with disabilities post-pandemic

Students with disabilities tend to show greater learning losses over the summer, and at times grow at academically higher rates than peers without disabilities, according to a new study showing detailed insight on academic growth among students with disabilities.

The new research, Understanding differential growth during school years and summers for students in special education, comes from NWEA, a nonprofit research-based provider of assessment solutions and learning services.

Using a five-year cohort of 4,228 students (kindergarten through fourth grade) in 109 U.S. public schools that voluntarily provided student-level special education program information, the research study examined how academic achievement and growth in achievement compared between students with and without disabilities. (Disability category was not available at the student-level. The study used “ever being in special education services” as a proxy for students with a disability.)…Read More

7 ways to focus stimulus spending on students with disabilities

Schools and districts are poised to receive an influx of federal dollars that should support students with disabilities and make equity a priority, ensuring that outdated and ineffective special education systems are updated and held to high-quality standards, according to a new report from the Center for Learner Equity.

Students with disabilities and those with special needs are some of the worst-hit during the pandemic, with virtual learning preventing students from accessing vital in-school therapies and programs.

In March, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, which invests $130 billion into education–including $3 billion for IDEA–and gives schools and districts access to funds to directly meet student needs, including students with disabilities and those impacted by socio-economic constraints.…Read More

Super Duper Publications Makes Finding Autism Resources Easy

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one out of every 54 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, making it one of the most common developmental disabilities in the USA. To help families, teachers, and providers quickly and easily find information and educational materials to support autistic children, Super Duper Publications has created a new Autism Resources section on its website.

The new section provides access to:

  • Super Duper’s Free Autism Handy Handouts. Informational handouts for parents and teachers address topics such as Autism – the Basics, and Autism – It May Not Be What You Think.
  • A Tests section with more than a dozen trusted autism assessments including the REEL-4 Receptive-Expressive Emergent Language Test and the TOPL-2 Test of Pragmatic Language.             
  • Super Duper’s autism-related games, cards, books, worksheets, programs and resources, reinforcers, and supplies to support skills in: Language & Pragmatics, Motor Skills, Emotions & Behavior, Sensory Activities, and Social Skills.

Games include the Webber Functional Communication Game, and Webber Story Time Communication Boards, which support communication skills for students with limited verbal skills.…Read More

Staying Connected During COVID-19 [Teacher Spotlight]: Karina Tran

In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Karina Tran
SDC K/1st-Moderate Severe Disabilities
Woodcrest Elementary School
Fullerton School District

“Don’t compare yourself to others, and just stay true to who you are as a teacher, and it will all fall into place.”…Read More

5 things to avoid saying to students suffering from anxiety

[Editor’s note: Don’t miss our companion piece, “5 things to say to students suffering from anxiety.”]

Currently, schools are being inundated with cases of anxiety in young adults. Although the dramatic increase in attention being paid to the illness has been beneficial to those suffering, the difficulty lies in the fact that everyone thinks they understand anxiety and how to overcome it.

As a public high school administrator, I lead interventions for students in poor academic standing. Although many students have logistical circumstances keeping them from being successful—homelessness, employment, learning disabilities, etc.—many of them are school avoidant because of anxiety that is, quite frankly, debilitating.…Read More

Beware of ransomware: Here’s how to protect your district

A new, disturbing pattern has cropped back up that is reminiscent of some nasty behavior from the early days of Internet nefarious exploits: targeting schools and students and the innocent. Ransomware attacks have been making headlines in recent months—particularly as a threat to K-12. Both Roseburg (OR )Public Schools and Leominster (MA) Public Schools were two of the latest victims of cyber-abuse.

A history of hacking
21 years ago, I got a call at my first internet security startup company (Signal 9 Solutions, later acquired by McAfee) asking for help; a woman’s son had cognitive challenges and disabilities, and she thought he was the victim of hacking. She had seen a news piece about cyberhacking, and she thought this might be a case.

At the time, we focused on enterprise sales and cryptographic solutions, but we had accidentally invented the personal firewall for telecommuting, put a beta version of this new standalone personal firewall on our website, and started a forum talking about it.…Read More

Thriving special education programs have these 7 elements

Focusing on inclusion, using data, and forming partnerships are among the practices that can help make special education programs successful in schools, according to a report.

Meeting the Needs of Every Student Through Inclusion,” from the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), details the special education program philosophy behind 10 California charter public schools, how they implement best practices on their campuses, and what policy arrangements have allowed them to succeed.

The qualitative study offers new insights into the best ways to serve students with disabilities in all schools, in particular the benefits of inclusive education. These practices have have also yielded incredible results for the schools, with boosts in enrollment and performance in both ELA and math.…Read More

Trump’s ed budget: A ‘betrayal’ and a ‘meat cleaver’ to public education

Under President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 education budget, school choice would receive a massive $1.4 billion while the Education Department undergoes a $9 billion, or 13 percent, cut.

Overall, the proposed education budget cuts the Education Department’s budget from $68 million to $59 billion.

Within the proposed $1.4 billion school choice investment, charter schools get a $168 million boost, and $250 million is allocated toward a new private school choice program.…Read More

If you give a kindergartner a Chromebook…

Although even the youngest children are considered tech-savvy today, there exists a difference between a child who knows how to use a tablet to watch videos and a child who knows how to navigate a device for active learning.

The thought of giving 30 kindergarten students their own Chromebooks might be daunting. But for one classroom, the move yielded some surprising results for student engagement, learning progress, and for students with special needs.

“We had surprising outcomes from students with special needs,” said Jamie Morgan, an elementary school teacher in the Wichita Falls ISD in Texas. In her classroom, she had students with ADHD, ODD, autism, visual disabilities, intellectual delays, and gifted and talented students. “Chromebooks made it really, really easy to differentiate instruction–I can’t imagine doing the differentiation that needed to be done without having the Chromebooks,” she said.…Read More