Homework Market Me – Throughout the country, more and more educators face the challenges of educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, despite having had little of the necessary experience or training.

The brief houses several more corrective measures that can help close the gap, balance the wheel, and expand educational opportunities for students in the classroom and beyond. “The real justification for these investments is our nation’s commitment to equity,” Rice says, “and the recognition that our public education system is a key mechanism for leveling the playing field so that every child, regardless of background, has a fair opportunity to participate in our social, political, and economic institutions.” One in 88 children now has autism, and boys are four to five times more likely to be among those affected. The law is overdue for revision and there is a growing consensus that its punitive provisions are hurting rather than helping the effort to improve education, but there’s no consensus in Congress on how to change it, so the law remains in effect. On Friday, NEA sent the Department of Education a detailed list of changes that would help schools avoid some of the harm and focus on doing what’s right for children while waiting for Congressional action. A few days after Duncan’s testimony, President Barack Obama said these figures prove the law is wrong. “That’s an astonishing number,” Obama said. “We know that four out of five schools in this country aren’t failing. However, 2014 is approaching.

Collaboration is the key to this success, and schools from Maryland to Washington are implementing new strategies to build strong relationships between all stakeholders in a student’s education. Still, as more states design and implement new evaluation systems, the pressure to attach an undue importance on value-added measures is proving hard to resist.  The data was collected from a larger project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation known as the Measures of Effective Teaching (oddly enough. the Gates Foundation also funded the AERA study) The two researchers found that some teachers who were well-regarded based on measures such as classroom observations, student surveys, and other indicators nonetheless had students who tests scores that were below average. Read the full story at NEA Priority Schools Campaign The campaign is a movement of educators across the country to help transform struggling schools by working with families, communities and government to significantly raise student achievement. NEA said students who don’t take the test because parents object should not be counted under the law’s 95 percent attendance mandate.

The hard work and dedication of educators in these priority schools often goes unrecognized, but at the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago, examples of innovative and collaborative approaches to education reform at NEA Priority Schools Campaign sites were highlighted during a presentation in front of more than 8,000 delegates. “Working in collaboration with local districts, community groups, businesses and other allies of public education, NEA members are improving student learning and making a difference in thousands of lives,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel to NEA RA delegates. They often engage in self-stimulatory activities, like rocking or hand flapping, to ease anxiety. This at best tenuous correlation calls into question the appropriateness of using the data in evaluating teachers or improving classroom instruction, the report says. Thomas Frieden. Polikoff said the results were surprising. “What we expected to find was that there were strong positive relationships between instructional alignment with these measures of quality, that it would predict student learning on state tests,” Polikoff explained. “But what we actually found was that there were very weak to zero relationships between pedagogical quality with the value-added measures.” Polikoff and Porter believe that value-added measures do provide some useful information, they nonetheless are not picking up the qualities most people think of as being associated with good teaching. “Our results suggest that it’s going to be difficult to use these systems to improve teacher performance,” said Polikoff.  “Given the growing extent to which states are using these measures for a wide array of decisions, our findings are troubling.” But with the rollout of Common Core State Standards proceeding, Polikoff says it is imperative that all stakeholders develop a deeper understanding of the ways effective teachers implement the standards in the classroom.

Polikoff and Porter analyzed and evaluated data from 327 fourth and eighth grade math and English teachers in six school districts – New York City, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Memphis, and Hillsborough County, Florida. Later, they might not be able to identify another car if it’s not the same color. Cathy Johnson and Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh stand behind Utah’s Susan McFarland as she speaks during the Priority Schools Spotlight at the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly. Rice lists several critical elements that provide all students with the opportunity to learn and achieve. More information on NEA’s position on NCLB/ESEA   Just two years after the 2009 Representative Assembly mandated NEA to create a program that would focus resources to transform struggling schools, delegates had a front row seat to view how the union is leading the way to change the lives of students through NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign.

Last March, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave Congress an even higher estimate of the “failure” rate: 82 percent. Fortunately, the  CDC study showed that more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. Under NCLB, three quarters of America’s schools will be labeled “failing” this year. Another certainty is that education and early intervention is the primary treatment for autism, which has no known cure. The brief, which is consistent with NEA’s Opportunity Dashboard and the vision of the GPS Criteria and Indicators Framework, offers a way to close the gap between students in affluent communities and their peers in poor, urban, and often predominantly minority school districts. No matter how great their desire to help, some teachers fear they won’t be able to handle teaching an autistic child alongside the rest of their students. States must now jack up their standards and impose penalties on schools that “fail.” At a press conference this week, Daniel Domenech, Executive Director of the AASA and Anne l. Among the regulation changes NEA proposed was to revise the one-size-fits-all approach under which a school where one subgroup of students doesn’t meet the state standard is treated the same as a school whose entire student body doesn’t meet the standard.

The findings in the study, the two researchers said, leads to a disconcerting question that should be addressed by policymakers who are pushing these unreliable models: “If VAMs are not meaningfully associated with either the content or quality of instruction, what are they measuring?” Despite its unreliability, VAM is being called into question across the country. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia require “student achievement,” or test scores,  to be a “significant” or the “most significant” factor in teacher evaluations. According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mark the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, the estimated number of U.S. kids with autism has shot up 78 percent since 2007. So what we’re doing to measure success and failure is out of line.” He called on Congress to change the law. Her analysis also endorses several NEA-aligned points: (1) schools strive to provide quality basic educational resources and focus on recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals and keeping class sizes small; and (2) challenging and culturally relevant curriculum can also stimulate and challenge children to achieve, while sufficient quality time for learning and development can help them succeed in the classroom. Studies have shown that the earlier education begins, the more positive the outcome is likely to be. NEA’s separate letter detailed changes in the regulations that would make it possible for more schools to live with the NCLB mandates. “We are gravely concerned that the quality and integrity of school systems nationwide are suffering unnecessarily and will continue to do so without swift action by the Department to offer specific avenues of relief,” the NEA letter said.

The reason for these predicted failure rates is the NCLB mandate that 100 percent of students in the United States be “proficient” in math and language arts. They have selective attention and sometimes focus on one detail, such as the color of a car rather than the car itself. Schools must raise their proficiency rates until they reach the target in 2014. For example, the social world is confusing to children with autism, and they don’t pick up on cues that come naturally to others. The list includes wrap-around services for schools in high-poverty neighborhoods; services ranging from health and nutrition programs to parental education and recreational activities; and high-quality early childhood program as a step toward preparing kids to learn. Earlier homework market in the week, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) warned that the nation’s schools are headed for a train wreck due to runaway NCLB formulas that bear no relationship to reality.

That’s when she began leading a six-hour autism workshop for Washington state teachers based on The Puzzle of Autism, a resource guide created by NEA and the Autism Society of America. “The Puzzle of Autism, has been indispensible with ideas and suggestions to increase a student on the spectrum’s opportunity to access the general education curriculum while increasing student achievement,” says Moore. Students with Autism and the Social World There are other common traits that are helpful for general education teachers to understand about students with autism, says Marguerite Colston of the Autism Society of America. This study, conducted by Morgan Polikoff and Andrew Porter and published by the American Education Research Association, is just the latest addition to the mountain of evidence that value-added teacher evaluation – a collection of statistical techniques used for analyzing student test scores – is an unreliable, cookie-cutter method that leads to unfair and inaccurate performance evaluations. Moore spent much of the last two decades teaching in special ed classrooms before becoming a general education teacher. Another unwinnable situation targeted by NEA: Under current regulations, parents have the right to decide not to have their children tested, but if they do, the whole school may be penalized. Three national education organizations, including the National Education Association (NEA), petitioned the Department of Education this week to use its regulatory powers to stop further harm to the nation’s public schools due to the so-called “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law.

A big factor for their future success, say the experts, is being educated in regular classes, where they can learn to interact with their peers and to control or modify their behaviors. Bryant, Executive Director of NSBA, said that unless Congress acts quickly to change NCLB, Secretary Duncan should use his regulatory powers to stop further harm to the nation’s public schools. “We specifically support suspension of additional sanctions under current AYP [Adequate Yearly Progress] requirements,” the joint statement said. But transitions are difficult for children with autism, and sometimes inclusion is tough on teachers, too. The brief’s author, Professor Jennifer King Rice of the University of Maryland, says that the key is to incorporate the kind of learning that encourages civic responsibility, democratic values, economic self-sufficiency, cultural competency and awareness, and social and economic opportunity. Still, autism is a heterogeneous disorder and, as Colston often says, “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism”—which is why effective interventions and therapies vary from child to child. “There are many children and families who need help,” CDC’s Frieden explained. “We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children.” In the first large-scale analysis of new systems that evaluate teachers based partly on student test scores, education researchers have found a weak to nonexistent relationship between value-added models (VAM) of teacher performance and the content or quality of classroom instruction.  They can’t generalize, and don’t realize that accepted behavior they’ve learned in one setting is appropriate for all settings: for example, table manners learned at home should also be practiced at school. At the same time, some teachers whose students had higher test scores didn’t do so well on those other measures.

Throughout the country, more and more educators face the challenges of educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, despite having had little of the necessary experience or training. No country has ever come close to 100 percent proficiency, but when the law was passed in 2001, the target seemed far in the future. But why has the prevalence of autism skyrocketed? One expert told CNN that it’s the result of “better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50 percent of, ‘We don’t know.’” “Autism is a complex condition and there remain many unanswered questions,” said CDC director Dr. With the hard work of dedicated educators, many of these children will grow up to live independently, and even make extraordinary contributions to society. Her recommendations urge schools to look beyond narrow standardized test scores, which often punish schools and students who need help the most.

That “fear factor” is a big roadblock for general education teachers, says Julie Moore, a middle school teacher in Kitsap, Washington, and member of NEA’s IDEA Resource Cadre. “The rise in diagnosis has challenged me to provide much more professional development for my colleagues,” she says. One thing is certain — with autism rates at an all time high, more students on the spectrum will be entering public schools. NEA also said students with disabilities should be tested in line with their Individual Education Plans, without the current arbitrary limits on how many can be assessed by alternate or modified standards and still have their scores count for accountability purposes. Repetition and consistency are comforting—even slight changes to routines are distressing. The data, she notes, indicates test scores could be better used to develop students and educators, instead of being used as a high-stakes metric to punish struggling schools. Only ten states do not require test scores to be used in teacher evaluations.

When the inclusion movement took hold, she saw nervous and unprepared educators in need of support.

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