Volume 35, Issue 3, Summer 2009
Inclusive Education and Implications for Policy
2010 Board of Directors Annual Election and Revised 2009 Conference Registration Brochure
Inside This Issue
Congressional Briefing on Inclusive Education and Implications for Policy
Standards for Paraprofessionals
Guidelines for Using Video Modeling for Individuals with Autism
TASH 2009 Conference Application (go to https://v2.registerat.com/TASH09/Home.aspx for
information on registering for the November 18-21, 2009 TASH Conference in Pittsburgh, PA)
Page 8 Inclusive Education and Implications for Policy
Page 8 The State of Art and the Promise, by Selene Almazan
Page 13 What Inclusive Education Means for Overall Student Achievement,
by Carolyn Teigland
Page 16 The Methods–Best Practices in Taking Inclusive Education to Scale,
by Wayne Sailor and Leonard Burrello
Page 20 The State of the Art and the Promise of Methods–Best Practices in Taking Inclusive
Practices in Education to Scale, by Elizabeth B. Kozleski
Page 25 The Results–A Parent‘s Perspective, by Stephanie Yates
Page 31 The Results–A Student‘s Perspective, by Justin Valenti
Page 34 Recommended Policies for Taking Best Practices to Scale, by Carol Quirk
Page 38 Standards for Paraprofessionals: Will Policy Pace Practice? by Catherine Lawrence
and Keith Storey
Page 44 Guidelines for Using Video Modeling for Individuals with Autism, by Lindsey
Wahlbrink and Charles Dukes
Page 2 Letter from the President
Page 4 Letter from the Executive Director
TASH 2009 Conference (visit https://v2.registerat.com/TASH09/Home.aspx for
Page 7 TASH Bylaws Revision and Discussion of Organizational Name
Page 48 In the News
Page 52 2010 Annual Elections for Board of Directors
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 1 of 48
From the TASH Board President
As the saying goes: ―Do what you love and never work a day in your life.‖ This feels true for me,
for the most part. I hope it is for many of you reading this edition of Connections. However, I
wonder how true it is for people with significant disabilities and their work?
At its inception sometime in the late 1970‘s or early 1980‘s, depending on whose dates you
accept, supported employment was designed as a clearer and more direct path to employment for
people with severe disabilities. In fact, one of the founding principles of supported employment
was that people with the most severe disabilities should be served first. This afforded two
important possible outcomes: (1) people with more severe disabilities would not sit by as people
who were easier to employ took up all of the systems resources; and (2) by focusing our attention
on people with more significant disabilities and whose supports were more complex to develop
and implement, we would learn more about employment and develop better standards by finding
answers to our most vexing issues. This seemed to be working well for the first years. However,
when research funds began to dry up in the 1990‘s, we lost support for expanding our knowledge
base about how to best offer employment to people whose supports needs were more challenging
for our systems. When our learning slowed we ran the risk of, once more, leaving people with
more significant support needs out of the workforce.
Recently, the State of Washington developed a new policy referred to as the Working Age Adult
Policy. This policy states that all day/employment services for adults between the ages of 18 and
62 be directed toward work. A pathway to work might be long, and have numerous objectives
along the way but should, over time, lead to employment for the person following this Pathway.
While it is still too early to judge this policy‘s effectiveness, it is clear certain specifics must be
addressed to see progress from this policy‘s implementation.
First, we need to rebuild the research foundations that allowed our field to build solid
opportunities for employment for people with more complex support needs. Not only do we need
to continue amassing new knowledge but also use the successful methodologies developed earlier.
We need more learning around how to integrate systems better, what forms of incentives are most
important from employer‘s perspectives (these change over time) and we need to constantly
improve our ability to make effective modifications to jobs and training to work effectively for
people with more significant disabilities.
Second, we need to focus much of our effort on the administrators that operate the systems that
fund our employment supports. It is still too common to see people with significant disabilities
excluded from employment because they do not fit the funding systems in place. Those systems
clearly provide the greatest rewards, in the form of money, to people who need the least amount
of support to work. It is not due to any lack of commitment by service providers, desire to work
on the part of individuals, or a lack of methods to support people with severe disabilities on the
job. In most instances these are antiquated and ineffective funding systems. Another principle
guiding early efforts in supported employment was that spending money up front in order to
employ people with more significant disabilities made good sense. It still allowed sufficient
resources to be directed toward other people with less extensive support needs. Whereas systems
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that placed a higher priority on lower initial funding and less extensive supports allowed no
funds to be available for people with more severe disabilities. We have to find ways to make
funds available for people with severe disabilities in the beginning of their path to employment.
Recognizing that putting funds ―up front‖ is good sense means getting bureaucracies to learn that
implementing successful services requires thinking beyond the current budget cycle only. This is
a long-term investment in people and it pays off.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 3 of 48
From the Executive Director
The Magic of Working Collaboratively
TASH is working hard on many policy issues important to people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities. We are encouraged by the action on Capitol Hill and the seriousness
with which Congress, the White House and the Administration is listening to our concerns. Some
of our work is done by TASH alone; most of it is done with many partners in collaborations that
work together on a specific issue. Here are some examples:
Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion
The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) has been
meeting since 2004 with TASH as the convener. It is made up of 17 national non-profits,
including disability advocacy organizations, service providers, parent groups, self advocacy
organizations and mental health organizations. A list of members is posted at
www.tash.org/aprais. APRAIS has worked to provide a broader voice for parent groups whose
children have been victimized by abusive practices; has coalesced on a set of legislative
objectives; created a content-rich website to guide state legislative and advocacy efforts, and
raised public awareness of the use of aversive practices, particularly in public schools. This 5-year
effort set the stage for the release of a shocking report by the Government Account-ability Office
(GAO) on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, followed by a Congressional Hear-
ing in the House. The Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Representative
George Miller (D-CA), has expressed intent to introduce federal legislation sometime this
summer. APRAIS worked together to development legislative language which promotes evidence
based practice and unequivocally disavows aversive interventions for behavior control. Should
legislation pass, this will be a clear victory for APRAIS, and for parents and children who are
otherwise left to their own devices to protect themselves against abuse in schools. Please watch
for more information about how to take action supporting legislation later this summer.
The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination
The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) focuses on federal policy
transformation that will eventually result in financial self-sufficiency for adults with intellectual
disabilities. This group was formed in 2007 and has developed three public policy framework
papers on school to adult transition, employment, and asset development. TASH is working on
the writing team to develop a public policy framework for long-term supports and services.
Federal policy transformation is the goal of this group so that adults with intellectual and
developmental disabilities are able to make a living without fear of losing important benefits, and
no longer have to live in poverty to obtain government support. In October, a summit on
employment, co-sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, led to the creation of
the policy framework papers by consensus. Legislative progress so far includes important
provisions that expand post-secondary opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities
included in the Higher Education Act, which was reauthorized in 2008. Another victory is the
introduction of the ABLE Act, Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2009, S. 493/H.R. 1205
(http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1205:) which allows adults to retain assets and
maintain benefits. The ABLE Act authorizes ―ABLE Accounts,‖ resembling in many respects
how existing Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 529 college savings plans work.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 4 of 48
Provided certain rules are met, these disability savings accounts will be exempt from federal
taxation. The funds could be used for education, transportation, employment support, health,
prevention, wellness, life necessities, and other approved expenses. This legislation was
introduced on February 26, 2009, by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Edward
Kennedy (D-MA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) in the Senate (S.493). The House companion bill
(H.R.1205), was introduced by Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Cathy
McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Kendrick Meek (D-FL). The bill will have to pass both houses of
Congress and be signed by the President to become law. To help pass the bill, make sure your
Senators and representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.
Collaboration members include TASH, many parent organizations, self advocacy organizations,
disability advocacy, and provider organizations.
The Justice for All Advocacy Network
The Justice for All Advocacy Network (JFAAN) was formed at the beginning of 2009 by group
that increased the disability community‘s involvement in the Presidential election, and increased
voting by people with disabilities. This network is led by a steering committee of 12 self-
advocacy organizations, including ADAPT, AAPD, SABE, ASAN, and others. TASH has been a
member since its inception, and has been particularly active in the drafting of a policy paper on
employment, which went to the President, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Education, and
other members of the President‘s Cabinet. TASH members advocated aggressively for language
calling for the elimina-tion of the sub-minimum wage, in addition to other pro-visions that would
make integrated employment a reality. Meetings with key Administration and Congressional
leaders to promote the policy positions are underway. JFAAN is also actively pursuing better
federal policy on housing, long term supports and services, health care and education.
Universal Design for Learning Task Force (UDL Task Force)
The UDL Task Force has been active for two years and will conduct a National Summit on
September 16th, co-sponsored by the National Education Association and the University of New
Hampshire Institute on Disability Including Samuel Project. The UDL Task Force has focused it
work on developing high quality training tools and information, and on working with education
organizations to promote the use of UDL. UDL principals will be a factor in the reauthorization of
NCLB and IDEA. More information visit the Advocacy Institute website at
The Alliance for Full Participation (AFP)
AFP was first organized in 2003 and held a Summit in Washington, DC in 2005. AFP‘s new goal
is to dramatically increase the integrated employment rate of people with intellectual disabilities
from roughly 25% to 50% in the next five years. The strategy for making this happen lies in the
creation and operation of state teams, who gather together for the express purpose of finding ways
to put people to work. State teams are being organized now, and TASH members are invited to
join! To get connected email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next Summit is scheduled for early fall, 2011, and will feature progress of state teams. More
information is available at www.allianceforfullparticipation.org/public/.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 5 of 48
The secret to successful collaboration is to ensure that groups share a common purpose or goal to
work toward; to retain respect of the autonomy of each group; share a commitment to be in
communication and follow-up on agreements; and to remain focused on results. When those
elements are in place, big change is possible.
In partnership (and collaboration!)
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 6 of 48
TASH Bylaws Revisions and Discussion on Organizational Name Change
Changes to the TASH bylaws were suggested two years ago, but we did not have enough voters to
carry it forward. Since that time, there has been a strong push from both the membership and the
board to once again consider changing the name of the organization. Why? Whenever we are
asked what ―TASH‖ stands for, we end up going into lengthy explanations of history that
sometimes does not communicate the message of what the organization actually stands for. Many
self-advocates are particularly offended by the historical use of ―handicapped,‖ once part of the
TASH name. We are crafting a process to engage the membership in discussion of the name
change, and also provide an opportunity for the membership to offer input into the bylaw revision
proposal. These changes were developed after months of study and reflection by an Ad Hoc
Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Directors, Lyle Romer, and Chaired by
Board Member Carol Quirk. Barb Loescher, TASH‘s co-treasurer, and TASH members Barbara
Ransom and Patti Devlin served on the committee. The proposed bylaw changes will be published
in the next edition of Connections. Members will be encouraged to email (email@example.com) or
fax (410-859-5400) questions or suggestions to the Ad Hoc Bylaws Committee. We will take
suggestions over the next several months as the name change discussion also moves forward.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 7 of 48
Inclusive Education and Implications for Policy: The State of the Art and the Promise
On July 9, 2009, TASH conducted a Congressional Briefing for members of Congress, their
Staff, and stakeholders involved in education policy. The Briefing was held in the Capitol
Building with more than 100 attending. The remarks presented in the following seven articles
were provided to Briefing attendees, and sent to all Congressional offices in both the House and
Senate working on education policy, and to the Secretary of Education.
What the State Statistics Say About Inclusive Education
Selene Almazan, Esq.
Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
represent the two most important laws for the six million students with disabilities in the United
Both laws provide two important avenues for student with disabilities; NCLB strives to improve
the education of students with disabilities in our nation‘s schools, and IDEA requires specialized
services for students with disabilities so that they benefit from their education.
When NCLB was signed into law in 2002, it required states to increase the quality and
effectiveness of all elementary and secondary schools and raising the achievement level of all
students, in particular students with disabilities. NCLB has four principles:
• Teaching based on scientific research;
• Parental involvement;
• Expanded local control and flexibility.
In 2004 the IDEA was amended to include several key provisions from NCLB, designed to ensure
that students with disabilities are provided with high expectations and access to the general
education curriculum to the maximum extent possible. The most important aspect, according to
the Commission on No Child Left Behind (2007), of NCLB has been the introduction of the
premise that students with disabilities can learn. Furthermore, the accountability requirements in
NCLB have made it imperative that students with disabilities gain and receive access to the
general education curriculum. The requirements of NCLB underscore the fallacy that the
placement of students with disabilities in segregated settings without access to the general
education curriculum is a default placement that we should no longer tolerate.
History of Students with Disabilities
In 1970, more than 1.75 million students with disabilities were completely excluded from public
schools. Those few who were deemed ―educable‖ received their instruction in ―special‖ self-
contained classrooms and segregated schools attended only by other students with disabilities.
Those who were not deemed ―educable‖ received little or no education at all. It was against this
background that a series of ―right to education‖ cases concerning students with disabilities
reached the federal courts.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 8 of 48
The landmark case of Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania (P.A.R.C.) in 1971 established the right of all students with disabilities to a public
education. Mills v. Board of Education closely followed P.A.R.C. in time as well as in result. In
both cases, federal district courts enforced the right of students with disabilities to access special
education in regular education and special education classes, giving us the first expression and
enforcement of the least restrictive environment requirement.
In 1975, in response to the ―right to education‖ cases in the federal courts and the shocking
statistics uncovered by a congressional investigation, Congress enacted Public Law 94-142, the
Education for All Handicapped Children Act (―EAHCA‖). Components of the EAHCA were
based upon the previously enacted Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal statute that guaranteed the
civil rights of persons with disabilities. The EAHCA required that states seeking federal funds
provide to all students with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive
environment. The goal of this statute was to provide students with disabilities access to an
appropriate public education designed to meet their unique needs by providing instruction with
individualized services. Although amendments to the EAHCA in 1990 changed the statute‘s name
to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (referred to as ―IDEA,‖ ―Act,‖ or ―law‖), access
to an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment remained the focus of the
Major amendments to the IDEA were enacted in 1997.
The amendments reinforced or reiterated the IDEA‘s purpose of providing an appropriate public
education in the least restrictive environment and ensuring that students improve and increase
their educational achievements. In 2004 additional changes were added to the IDEA, aligning
many aspects with the No Child left Behind Act. More than twenty years after Congress first
passed P.L.94-142, they added accountability to the law, expanding the focus of the law to
embrace the right of students with disabilities to quality education.
A Free Appropriate Public Education
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act confers upon students with disabilities
(―students‖) the fundamental right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (―FAPE‖). The IDEA
describes and defines this right in a series of statutory definitions. First, the Act defines FAPE as
―special education and related services, which have been provided at public expense.‖ Then,
special education is defined as ―specially designed instruction…to meet the unique needs of a
child with a disability….‖ The Act next defines ―specially designed instruction,‖ providing further
clarification by explaining that such instruction means adapting for an individual student ―the
content, methodology, or delivery of instruction‖ in order to ―address the unique needs of the
student‖ that result from his or her disability.
The successful provision of FAPE alone is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the law.
While FAPE represents a primary entitlement, the IDEA contains a second mandate: educational
placements in the least restrictive environment (―LRE‖). This principle is both imposed upon
FAPE and is a component of FAPE. FAPE is only legally sufficient if it is provided in the LRE.
The LRE is the setting in which students, to the maximum extent appropriate, receive instruction
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 9 of 48
and the services outlined in their IEP in classes with students who do not have disabilities. State
education agencies are required to monitor their local educational agencies for compliance with
the requirements of IDEA, demonstrating the importance that Congress placed upon FAPE and
the LRE mandate.
The specially designed instruction that comprises FAPE is described in a student‘s Individualized
Education Program (―IEP‖), a document developed by a team of educators, service providers, and
the student‘s parents. The course of IEP development is the IEP process. The process culminates
in the IEP document that in turn becomes the basis for determining educational placement. In
order to under-stand the IEP process and its relationship to obtaining inclusive educational
placements, one must begin with and understand the meaning of two fundamental terms: the IEP
The IEP is the heart of the IDEA entitlement. It encom-passes the special education and related
services that a local school system must provide to a student with a disability so that the student
a) benefit from his or her education,
b) progress in the general curriculum, and
c) have the opportunity to be educated alongside students without disabilities.
A student‘s IEP is unique and spells out specifically how special education services will be
provided to that particular student. The process of developing the IEP is the foundation upon
which parents, administrators, and teachers build their understanding of the student so that they
can design his or her individualized education.
The IEP can be described as the road map of the student‘s education, guiding the direction in
which the student is expected to move, the route he or she will take, and the destination he or she
is expected to reach. It defines a student‘s special education by providing the components and the
specifics of the student‘s free appropriate public education. Those specifics are expressed in terms
of the supports and accommodations that will be provided to enable the student to meet the goals
of his or her IEP.
The IEP also serves as a management and monitoring tool to determine whether a student is
actually receiving the services that the IEP states are required to ensure FAPE and whether a local
school system is complying with the IDEA.
While the IEP offers no guarantees that the student will meet the annual goals and objectives in
his or her IEP, the local school system is obligated to make good faith efforts to assist the student
to do so. And, more importantly, the school system is obligated to provide the services and
supports that an IEP team identifies and adopts to help the student meet those goals.
Once an IEP is developed, the educational team—including the parent—determines what services
will be provided (for example, special education instruction, speech therapy), how much of the
day will require special education services, and who will deliver those services. The placement
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 10 of 48
decision comes last. The law requires that services be delivered in the least restrictive
environment. When the time comes for making decisions about placement, the law has some
specific guidelines. Under the IDEA, schools are required to ensure that students with disabilities
…educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling or
other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs
only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes
with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
IDEA, 20 U.S.C.1412(a)(5)
Since students without disabilities generally attend their neighborhood schools and receive
instruction in age-appropriate grades with other students from their local community, that is the
environment considered the least restrictive of all. The ―neighborhood‖ school is considered to be
the school that the student would attend if he or she did not have a disability. Removal or
restriction from attending that school or class is only appropriate if it has been demonstrated that
the student‘s IEP cannot be satisfactorily implemented in that setting, even with supplementary
aids and services.
The law requires require that students with disabilities participate in the general education
curriculum, to the maximum extent appropriate, with their peers without disabilities. The law
expects that educators will provide accommodations to enable students to access the general
education curriculum and will make modifications to instruction or curriculum content to enable
students to meet their unique educational goals in the context of general education instruction.
The IDEA clearly specifies that a student may not be removed from a regular education setting
solely because of needed curriculum modifications. It is the services, the supports, the
accommodations, and the modifications that constitute the student‘s individualized education
program and, thus, the free appropriate public education to which the student is entitled.
The term ―inclusion‖ is not mentioned in IDEA or NCLB. It is a term that is used by the
educational community to refer to how a student participates in school. It is not only referring to
placement in general education classes, but to a sense of belonging to a school community as an
equally valued member. In order for a student to be truly included, three components are
• physical placement in the age appropriate general education class with access to the physical
environments and routines of the school,
• social interactions and relationships with peers that are similar to what peers experience, and
• meaningful participation in the general education curriculum with supports and services to
make progress in that curriculum and on the goals and objectives of the IEP.
Placement in general education classes is necessary for a student to be considered ―included,‖ but
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 11 of 48
it is insufficient to ensure that the educational experience is meaningful. Without positive social
relationships, students are more likely to be bullied or socially isolated; without modifications or
accommodations to the curriculum, students are likely to be ―islands in the mainstream‖ making
their presence in the classroom a sham.
Status of Students with Disabilities Access to General Education Curriculum
A review of the data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education
Programs (OSEP) reveals a lack of fidelity to the mandates of placement in the least restrictive
• The 28th Report to Congress by the US Department of Education shows great variability in
placement patterns among states, and a lack of positive change toward more inclusive practices
despite the vast amount of literature and research demonstrating the strategies for and outcomes of
> Between 1998-2002, twenty-five states experienced a downward trend in the number of
students with disabilities educated in general education classrooms for at least 80% of the day.
> Between 1998-2002, only eleven states experienced an upward trend in the number of students
with disabilities educated in general education classrooms for 80% of the day.
> The percentage of students with disabilities educated in general education classrooms has
increased from 43.4% in 1998 to 48.2% in 2002—an increase of only 4.8% in four years.
• In the 2007-2008 school year, students with develop-mental disabilities such as autism,
intellectual disabilities (mental retardation), and multiple disabilities were the least likely to be
educated in general education classes for most of the school day. Examples of the percent of
students ―included‖ in general education classes at least 80% of the day were:
> 12.8% of students with multiple disabilities
> 15.8% of students with mental retardation
> 34.5% of students with autism
At least 56.5% of students with mental retardation received all of their instruction in a special
education classroom or separate school.
• In the 2007-2008 school year, black students were the least likely to be educated in the general
education classroom for most of the school day, compared to students with disabilities from all
other racial and ethnic groups: 48% compared to 61% of white students.
• As students become older, they are less likely to be educated in the general education
classroom for most of the school day.
• Only 2% of students with disabilities in secondary schools are in Advanced Placement or
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What Inclusive Education Means for Overall Student Achievement
Carolyn Teigland, Ph.D.
Superintendant, Cecil County Schools
When we began our journey to create a school system that was completely inclusive, we were far
away from realizing our vision.
Vision for Special Education
Our vision is to successfully include 100% of special education students in the regular education
setting to the fullest extent possible. All students will receive the services they require in their
neighborhood school, allowing them to attend school with their age-appropriate peers. We are
committed to providing the professional development, staffing, and resources necessary to realize
We began our journey toward this vision in 2002. At that time, only 59% of students disabilities
were included in general education classes in their neighborhood schools. Now, well over 90% of
students with disabilities are included—we consider this a work in progress—with
our vision remaining 100%.
Neighborhood school placement, zero-reject, natural proportions, and full membership are
essential components of a successful inclusive school experience—students can‘t be members of
their school communities if they aren‘t there, they can‘t build relationships with peers if they
don‘t have a chance to interact with them, and they can‘t learn the critical content of the general
education curriculum if they aren‘t taught it.
One of the main reasons to include students with disabilities, and one of the mandates of the
IDEA and of NCLB, is so they can make ―progress in the general education curriculum.‖ The
goal is not for students with disabilities to sit in the regular classroom doing unrelated work; it is
for them to learn the core concepts of the general curriculum to the greatest extent possible
through instruction at their individual level with the accommodations and/or modifications
necessary for them to meet with success.
Learning how to interact with others is one of the most important things that ALL kids, whether
or not they have disabilities, learn in school. Including kids in the regular classroom so they have
opportunities to interact with peers is a critical first step, but isn‘t always enough. Adult support
and assistance is sometimes needed for both the student with disabilities and the peers to help
these relationships get started.
No one person can develop or implement these plans by themselves. The collective wisdom and
effort of a whole team—general educator, special educator, related service providers,
administrators, paraprofessionals, families, and others all contribute.
Leadership must start at the top—the Superintendent and Board of Education must support the
vision for inclusion. When done correctly, inclusion takes fiscal and human resources,
comprehensive professional development, and strategic planning. These things cannot occur
unless system leadership provides full and unwavering support.
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Outcomes of Inclusive Education
As a result of this collective effort, we have seen significant achievement gains within our special
education population. A few examples include a comparison of state assessment scores from 2004
• Elementary Reading for Special Education students improved by 31.7 percentage points.
• Elementary Mathematics for Special Education students improved by 23.9 percentage points.
• Middle School Reading for Special Education students improved by 13.8 percentage points.
• Middle School Mathematics for Special Education students improved by 12.5 percentage
Our state assessment results demonstrate the greatest growth at the elementary level (where
inclusion has been in place for the longest period of time). We believe that the increased
performance of special education students is a direct result of inclusion. When students are
exposed to the essential curriculum and participate in classroom instruction with their age
appropriate peers they meet and exceed our expectations!
Our results are supported by research. Research over the past 30 years has found conclusively
• Students with disabilities show dramatically improved academic performance when included
in the general education classroom
When reviewing data from more than 50 studies comparing the academic performance of
included and segregated students with mild disabilities, the mean academic growth of the
integrated group was in the 80th percentile, while the segregated students was in the 50th
percentile (Weiner, R., Impact on Schools. Capitol Publications, 1985). Results of studies on
students‘ academic outcomes revealed that students with severe disabilities have higher levels of
academic responses and lower levels of competing behaviors when they are in general education
classroom settings compared with the special education setting: Dawson, H., Delquadri, J.,
Greenwood, C., Hamilton, S., Ledford, D., Mortweet, S., Reddy, S., Utley, C., & Walker, D.
(1999) Class-wide Peer Tutoring: Teaching Students with Mild Retardation in Inclusive
Classrooms: The Council for Exceptional Children (pp.524-536).
• Students without disabilities, including highly talented students, show improved academic
performance when taught in an inclusive education classroom
In a review of research on inclusion at both the elementary and secondary levels, Salend and
Duhaney (1999) report that academic performance is equal to or better in inclusive settings for
general education students, including high achievers. In addition, Staub and Peck (1995) found
that the presence of children with disabilities had no effect on either the time allocated to
instruction or the levels of interruption. Other studies have obtained similar results.
Furthermore, a 2001 study funded by the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Special
Education, revealed that inclusive settings have benefit for the achievement of students without
disabilities and assert that inclusive settings do not adversely affect students with disabilities. In
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 14 of 48
fact, students without disabilities showed significantly greater progress in math (as measured by
the BASS) than students who were not educated in inclusive settings. There is ample evidence
that the placement of students with disabilities in typical or inclusive classrooms benefits not only
students with disabilities but also those without disabilities.
• Students with and without disabilities benefit socially and emotionally in inclusive classrooms
Kochhar, West, and Taymans (2000) draw from the research to conclude that students with
disabilities benefit because inclusion:
• facilitates more appropriate social behavior be-cause of higher expectations in the general
• offers a wide circle of support, including social support from classmates without disabilities;
• improves the ability of students and teachers to adapt to different teaching and learning styles.
The authors further contend that general education students also benefit from inclusion. For these
• leads to greater acceptance of students
• facilitates understanding that students with disabilities are not always easily identified; and
• promotes better understanding of the similarities among students with and without disabilities.
When we first started the inclusive practices project a teacher, who had previously been resistant,
stated ―I never would have believed that it could work, but I am amazed by how much growth the
students that I am working with have made by being in an inclusive setting.‖ She added ―It sure
takes a lot of work, though!‖
I responded by saying, ―I never said that it was easy or that it would not take work.…‖ ―All I said
is that it IS possible and it IS the right thing to do for our students.‖
We believe that it is NEVER okay to segregate.
We don‘t care if it is complicated, confusing, expensive, or takes a lot of work…it is what we
must do for the students that we serve.
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The Methods: Best Practices in Taking Inclusive Education to Scale
Wayne Sailor, Ph.D.
University of Kansas
Leonard Burrello, Ph.D.
University of South Florida
From the passage of 94-142 in 1975 through the language in NCLB and IDEA in 2004, Congress
has supported inclusive practices in the requirements for schools to provide an education in the
―least restrictive environment‖ and to ensure that all students have ―access to the general
We share with you a vision that ALL students, including students with disabilities, attend their
neighborhood schools, participate in the general education curriculum, become successful and
contributing members of their communities, and acquire the skills to be employed in areas of their
interests and talents.
Along with Congressional action, the Department of Education has attempted a number of special
education initiatives over this same time period to encourage the engagement of general education
with students who have disabilities. In each case, the Department proposed initiatives that were
structural and instructional, but did not directly address the responsibility of general education to
serve all students. And so the outcome remains separate and unequal education.
Issue 1: Specialization and Fragmentation of Service
It is our contention that the law and regulations have perpetuated ―a dance of irresponsibility‖ by
all parties regarding the education of students with disabilities. Historically, below average
performance in the content areas of math and reading were felt to be deficiencies in learning. It
has been thought that specialists with extra-ordinary knowledge and experience in learning styles
and supports were needed in order for students with disabilities to learn. In addition, resources
were allocated on the basis of diagnosis, such as autism spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy or
intellectual disability. General education schools and staff were and are not required to accept and
share responsibility for the success of ALL students.
Adding to a lack of responsibility by general educators and a culture of ―pass it along to the
specialists,‖ is dysfunction in the educational structure itself caused by multiple parallel systems
of support, rather than one integrated cohesive system. These parallel structures each have with
their own rules and insular programs based upon specialization of discipline, knowledge, skill sets
and function. The result has been fragmented services delivered by educators and therapists who
are territorial and uninformed about the relationship of their interventions to others‘.
Unless the larger culture of schools and their communities in our nation take responsibility for the
success of ALL of their students and integrate all of the resources within their schools and
communities, we will continue to perpetuate an unequal education leading to unequal post-school
And, there is no definitive research that shows that inclusive practices are more costly.
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Interestingly enough, at least one study found that the cost of educating students in segregated
programs was double that for educating them in integrated programs. (Piuma, Mary F., Benefits
and Costs of Integrating Students with Severe Disabilities into Public School Programs: A Study
Summary of Money Well Spent. San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 1989.) A study
from the University of Maryland, College Park, ―Snapshots of Reform, Synthesis of Findings
Across 5 Case Studies‖, (1997), did not find a definitive answer to the costs and in fact, postulated
that there would be a savings on transportation costs.
Issue 2: Restrictive and Abusive Practices
Now a shocking report has surfaced from GAO documenting large-scale abusive practices
directed to students with disabilities, particularly including seclusion and restraint. These practices
are nearly always associated with congregate settings, such as special education classrooms,
special schools, and even in some states, special school districts. Considering that these ―special‖
settings require a great deal of special funding to sustain them, one would hope that research
would indicate successful social and educational outcomes for that service delivery model. But it
does not. The developing research on universal design of instruction and school wide positive
behavioral supports offer schools a set of transformational strategies to serve all students in an
integrated fashion, helping each student navigate the classroom and the school academically and
socially with more success.
The Change that is Needed
What is required now is to pull the pieces back together into an organized whole and fully
integrate all available systems and supports to enhance learning for all students.
Tinkering around administrative structures and focusing on instructional interventions that are
separate from the general curriculum will only result in perpetuating poor outcomes. We now
know that students fall below grade level benchmarks in math, reading and other content areas for
a variety of reasons—many of which are environmental rather than within the student. The failure
of students to progress at grade level can result from poor teaching; low expectations for student
performance; racial discrimination; neighborhood blight; dysfunctional family; primary spoken
language; poor curricula; as well as physical, emotional, or cognitive conditions that are part of
the makeup of the student. New policy is sorely needed that will match supports and services to
identified student need, without removing students from grade level general education. There will
be major policy implications for ESEA programs as well as programs under IDEA.
The place to begin is with a clear focus on the purpose of education and valuing the individual
within a social learning environment. Student learning in K-12 must ultimately be focused on
post-school success: further education; democratic citizenship; foundational knowledge and skills;
and gainful employment. Multiple goals, multiple pathways, and multiple assessments to measure
progress are needed for a diverse student body public.
New policy is needed directed to the community school agenda. Broken communities have led to
broken schools. Instead of vouchers to enable families to take children out of broken schools, we
need vouchers to attract high quality professionals into broken schools. A splendid negative
example can be found in the Milwaukee lawsuit which held that students with disabilities when
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included or in segregated classes went fifteen years without ever having a certified teacher.
New policy is badly needed to link all available support and service systems to measured student
needs in order for a system designed for ALL students to succeed in school and participate in the
general curriculum. Just as the medical model of diagnosis and referral out of society and into
institutions has not worked for people, their families or for communities, referring students out of
the general education classroom and into special classes or special schools doesn‘t work either.
The attitude and practice of removal needs to be replaced by a school-wide, problem-solving
response to intervention model that brings useful supports and services into grade level
Services and supports need to be integrated and coordinated such that all students can benefit
from their application. This includes special education, ESL, Title I, and designated instructional
services. Specialized teachers need to be brought into collaborative arrangements with grade level
teachers. Family partnerships as well as partnerships with community businesses and support
systems need to be a part of the culture of the school. A new integrated instructional and
behavioral support system for all students under the umbrella of general education is what we are
Inclusive education is really holistic education. Moving it to scale in the larger unit of the school
district requires a significant transformation from business as usual. The Ravenswood City School
District in East Palo Alto, California offers a useful case study. The transformation is six years in
the making and continuing. It is the only fully integrated system in the State that matches
instructional resources to measured individual student need for all students, and then monitors
their progress frequently to determine if more intensive instructional interventions are warranted.
There are no special classes: collaborative instruction enhances academic and social outcomes for
all students, whether they have disabilities, are homeless or otherwise living in poverty, have
experienced trauma as children, are growing up in abusive households, do not speak English
fluently—or are not challenged by any of these circumstances. This bears repeating—
collaborative instruction enhances academic and social outcomes for ALL students. Whether it
can sustain systems change and continue to evolve will likely depend upon alignment of state and
federal policies supportive of such a non-traditional configuration.
Available research using rigorous methods concludes that integrated educational service models
are consistently associated with more positive social and academic outcomes for students with
disabilities. There is even a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that integrated service
models for students with disabilities (all disabilities) enhances educational outcome for all
students. We can now replace remedial and segregated instruction with a model of universal
design to include all students and match interventions based on measured instructional need. We
can replace abusive practices such as seclusion and restraint with tertiary-level interventions using
evidence-based practices under school-wide applications of Response to Intervention (RtI).
We recommend that the occasion of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (ESEA) be a time to take bold policy steps. Include new language to:
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1) reintegrate all special education programs based on category of disability or level of need
back into general education so that students with disabilities can be educated with their siblings
and neighbors, and so all students can benefit from all services and supports;
2) re-conceptualize the educational theory of change to move away from diagnosis, referral and
categorization for failure to learn (the medical model) and toward a system of matching
specialized instructional and structural supports to measured student need consistent with a
school-wide response to intervention logic model;
3) require states to track individual student progress (all students) and use growth modeling to
estimate adequate yearly progress toward multiple outcomes that accommodate differences in
students interests, achievements, and aspirations; and
4) set national standards for teacher certification that requires all elementary teachers to be
grade-level classroom teachers first, who can teach reading and mathematics first and foremost
and then have the option of adding specializations through continuing education and certification
programs. Secondary school teachers need to receive training that prepares them to use integrated
curriculum models like project-based learning within much smaller diverse learning communities
where both students and teachers are known.
5) require states to set standards for all teacher training programs to ensure that new teachers are
skilled with alternatives to seclusion and restraint such as those available through school-wide
RTI including positive behavior support and trauma-informed de-escalation techniques.
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The State-of-the-Art and the Promise: The Methods–Best Practices in Taking Inclusive
Education to Scale
Elizabeth B. Kozleski
Arizona State University
Note: All opinions expressed herein are based on research. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or position of
Arizona State University.
Inclusive education has become a global movement that emerged as a response to significant
equity concerns in education regarding students viewed as different by educational systems.
In this construction of difference (Minow, 1990), access to learning has advantaged students from
dominant cultures, while disadvantaging others. Unfortunately, disparities in learning
performance have been constructed in many nations as an achievement gap due to cultural
mismatches and the poverty of cultures that are associated broadly with marginalized groups.
School reform efforts based on this deficit explanation have had little or no impact on changing
outcomes for minority groups (Lee, 2007). Special education through IDEA 2004 and its
predecessors has been a major factor in both opening the door for public education for students
with disabilities and created some of special education‘s unintended consequences. While the
overall rate of inclusive education as measured by the percentage of students with disabilities who
access and receive instruction in general education classrooms has increased over the last 10 years
to about 57% of all students with disabilities, for students with more severe disabilities such as
students identified by school systems as having mental retardation (MR), the rate of improvement
has not increased substantially and hovers still around 18% based on data collected by the Office
of Special Education programs.
Differences in where students with severe disabilities are educated cannot be explained by their
disability category since students with severe disabilities are served in general education settings
as much as 94% of the time in some states and as little as 17% in other states or territories. And
when students‘ race and ethnicity is analyzed along with placement, the data show variance by
race. The push towards inclusive education will remain an ideal not a reality if we fail to ignore
histories of ethnic oppression and stratification (Artiles & Kozleski, 2006). In order to achieve
inclusive education, policy makers must understand the moral, political and intellectual challenges
they face in improving the outcomes of mainstream educational com-munities that reify social
inequalities through incomplete and inadequately contested educational, psychological, and
cognitive theories and research.
The promises of inclusive education remain unfulfilled in many nations. The US is not exempt
from this critique. In the United States, for instance, African American, Hispanic, and Native
American students are more likely to be placed in special education and be educated in more
segregated educational environments than White peers who have the same disability. Further,
there are regional differences in the ways in which African American students are identified for
special education services that vary across region by disability category and the restrictiveness of
placements. These variations are troubling on several counts. First, it suggests that the categories
used to identify students for special education lack stability across settings, calling into question
the function and utility of such labels for offering individualized educational services to students
who need them since both false positives (identifying students for special education services who
do not have disabilities) and false negatives (failing to provide specialized services to students
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who are not identified) are troubling. Second, since students seem to be identified at different
rates based on ethnicity, race, and possibly, their ability to use academic English (for English
Language Learners), the intersection between troubling biases about groups of children, particular
kinds of assessments, and interpretations of those assessments raises more concern about the
function and utility of identification—and for whose benefit. Third, the differential placement of
students by disability category into general education, resource room, special day classes, and
specialized schools also co-varies by ethnicity.
Figure 1 (page 18) shows the risk for Black students identified for special education in the
category of ―MR‖; the preferred terminology, intellectual disabilities, is not yet part of the IDEA
lexicon. The dark states have the highest disproportionality, using a measure of risk that is a ratio
of two ratios. The numerator is the number of students from a particular ethnic group in special
education over all the students enrolled from that particular group. The denominator is a ratio of
all of the students in special education over all the students enrolled in that system (Skiba et al,
2008). With Wyoming as an outlier, the map shows that students who are African American are
2.25 times or more as likely to be identified for special education services in almost every state in
the category of ―MR.‖ And in some states, this can be more than 4 times as likely.
In contrast, Figure 2 shows that White students are identified for the same category at about what
might be expected, given their numbers in the general student population. Figure 3 illustrates that
students who are African American and identified in the category of ―MR‖ are one and one-half
times or more likely to be placed in the most restrictive setting in 14 states and in another 19
states more than twice as likely.
Regional variations are noticeable and, if we looked at multiple displays of the variation in
categories used by race and ethnicity, you would begin to understand the powerful differences in
how students are identified and served across states. As the analysis of state performance plans
reveals, the range of placement in general education is vast: from 17.37% of the special education
population in one state to 94.2% in another state. Cross analysis of student performance and
placement are difficult to compare with any validity since methods of assessing student
performance varies greatly as well.
It is imperative that states do a better job including students in general education because of the
compelling improvement in achieving important adult outcomes shared earlier by my colleagues
Wayne Sailor and Leonard Burello. States that provide more opportunities for students with
severe disabilities to be educated in general education do the following:
• Collect and Publish disaggregated special education data by Districts
• Set high LRE Targets by Disability Group
• Provide Focused Technical Assistance
• Incentivize Change
• Blend school-wide improvements for general and special education into a UNIFIED system of
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• Insure that local schools include all students with disabilities in their accountability reports
It is vital that students with severe disabilities remain part of the national assessment process in
order to understand the ways in which regional variations in placement impact student
performance data. This kind of performance assessment will offer educators the best way forward
in influencing local practice, elevating the opportunities to learn that are afforded students with
the most significant needs, and ensure that local public or charter cannot refuse to serve students
or that disability labels do not become proxies for discrimination based on race, ethnicity,
religion, and language.
1. Strengthen Early Intervening Provisions in General Education Classrooms to Support and
Develop Academic Learning Skills
2. Use the Individualized Approaches for Early Intervening such as Universal Designs for
Learning and Response to Intervention to Improve outcomes for All students in General
Education. These technologies will increase the capacity of the general education classroom
environment to improve the ways in which individualized and personalized instruction can be
designed and implemented in the classroom, increasing the capacity of general education
environments to support the learning needs of students with more severe disabilities
3. Insist on keeping students with severe disabilities in state accountability systems and focus on
the robustness of accountability measures so that educators can evaluate the impact of their
educational choices on the outcomes of students with severe disabilities.
An important question is to what degree have the features of IDEA 2004 (a) transformed
opportunities to learn, (b) mobilized movement between social and economic strata within the
US, and (c) destabilized notions of dominant and marginalized groups and membership within
those groups. If such agendas are to have national traction across the 90,000 public schools in the
United States, mediating the process of implementation so that transformational change can occur
is critical. Inclusive education agendas must not focus only on students with disabilities, but rather
on the access, participation, and outcomes for all students who are marginalized in educational
systems due to gender, cast, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, language, and ability level.
Consequentially, teacher preparation programs for inclusive educational systems must support the
development of teachers who have the skills, contextual awareness, and critical sensibilities to
teach a wide variety of students that are being denied full participation in society. Preparing
teachers to address these issues means that teacher education programs need to address issues of
power that are historically situated in the globalization era. However, teacher education has
become an increasingly technical endeavor in which a skill-oriented curriculum is anchored by
student teaching experiences that focus on the performance of these skills. Little attention is paid
to the context in which teaching and learning occur so that teachers develop an understanding of
the everyday cultural experiences of their students.
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In addition, two other obstacles inhibit the preparation of inclusive teachers. On one hand, pre-
service education programs tend to compartmentalize special and general education creating
barriers between these two fields. On the other hand, special education has a tradition of focusing
on students‘ differences from a remediation perspective, resulting in teacher preparation programs
that focus on skills and technicalities, which are important but not sufficient. Teachers, special
and general, must make six key shifts in their practice.
• From how do I teach to how do my students LEARN
• From what services will I provide to what SUPPORTS do my students need
• From the “lone arranger” of the classroom to GROUP PRACTICE
• From disciplining behavior to facilitating the development of PROSOCIAL classroom
environments through teaching and encouraging the development of knowledge, skills, and
responsibility for the common good
• From reform to CONTINOUS, DATA DRIVEN, IMPROVEMENT and RENEWAL
• From parent involvement to PARTNERSHIP with families and communities
Schools differ because the assets of their staffs and their leadership differ. The mix of novice and
experienced teachers, their own socio-cultural histories, their educational backgrounds both
personal and professional, and the leadership and mentoring provided with a school create
different contexts and experiences. So, the work of school and district leadership is to ensure that
rich variance doesn‘t prevent individual children from achieving their maximum potential because
of interpretations of policy, technical skills, or the context in which an individual school operates.
A focus on school leaders who understand and can lead their teachers to make key shifts is
Schools differ because the assets of their staffs and their leadership differ. The mix of novice and
experienced teachers, their own socio-cultural histories, their educational back-grounds both
personal and professional, and the leadership and mentoring provided with a school create
different contexts and experiences. So, the work of school and district leadership is to ensure that
rich variance doesn‘t prevent individual children from achieving their maximum potential because
of interpretations of policy, technical skills, or the context in which an individual school operates.
A focus on school leaders who understand and can lead their teachers to make key shifts is
State personnel credentialing systems must require
• A common platform of knowledge, skills, and dispositions for every educator that ensures that
students at the margins as well as at the middle will have teachers who have the skill sets to
design their classrooms and instruction for UNIVERSAL ACCESS, understand and use
curriculum based measures to assess and improve student learning, and tailor instruction to
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• That School Leaders have in depth knowledge of universal designs for learning, early
intervening, data-based instructional decision making, leadership for teacher learning, and can
coach teachers to improve instructional outcomes in their classrooms.
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The Results–A Parent’s Perspective
Parent, Reno, Nevada
I am Stephanie Yates; parent of two children a daughter 18 and a son 17 who has Autism. I
appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to speak to you on the importance of inclusive
education. Accessing inclusive education can often be difficult for families of children with
disabilities. Our family has learned this many times over because we have a son with Autism
who is non-verbal and uses communication technology to speak.
During the early years we had great support, the teachers were accepting and the programs
involved the families. We worked together to create opportunities to help my son. There were
early intervention options, and supports and services were provided, and community outings were
encouraged. The pre-school program he attended were wonderful, they encouraged inclusive
classrooms, cooperative learning and socialization. He was thriving, making gains and very
As the preschool years ended, we then moved to another state due to a company transfer. The
nightmare began as our son was ready to enter Kindergarten and his sister, who is one-year-older,
was ready to begin first grade. I brought them to our neighborhood school for registration. While
in the office I was pulled aside by a teacher whom I had never met before. The teacher said that
she had heard my son had Autism. I didn‘t know what to say other than ―Yes, he does.‖ She then
told me I could register my daughter but I could not register my son because he would not be
allowed to attend this school. They had another school for children like my son. My daughter
started to cry ―Why can‘t Stevie go to school with me?‖ she asked. I did not have an answer. They
had been in early learning programs together since they were very little.
We had always believed our children would go to their neighborhood school together. This was
the first time we were faced with the fact that our daughter and son might not go to the same
school. This was our first experience with segregation and we didn‘t know what to do. The district
did not give us any options for Stevie. Apparently after reviewing his records from the previous
school district, someone from central office made his school placement decision based on his
label of Autism. They had never even met Stevie much less developed an IEP. The district had a
program that was called ―Severe and Profound‖ and that was where children with Autism
We then requested to see the ―Severe and Profound‖ classroom; we were told by school site office
staff that we could not. Upon hearing this, we got legal advice and then informed the district that
we would not consider this program unless we could visit the classroom. The day we visited the
classroom, we were shocked by what we had observed. In contrast to our daughter‘s Kindergarten
classroom, the scene was much different. The teacher had not eaten or gone to the bathroom all
day and she looked exhausted. Across the room, there were boxes of classroom materials that had
never been unpacked. This classroom consisted of 10 children who were non-verbal, a teacher,
and a teaching assistant. One child sat poorly positioned in a wheel chair in a drowsy state while
another child sat on the floor picking at the carpet. Other children were running in circles around
the perimeter of room while others sat just staring into space passively.
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We were concerned about the lack of apparent teaching and learning activities in the classroom
and inquired about how we could ensure that Stevie would spend time with verbal children in a
language rich environment. The teacher responded that she would ask around to see if she could
find a teacher who would let her bring all the children from the special program into the regular
classroom. If she could, and if the first visit went well, then maybe the children in her class would
be allowed to return. We had observed a lot of challenging behaviors during our classroom visit
and felt that it was highly unlikely there would ever be any second visit to any regular classroom.
We concluded that at best, the teacher in this special class program would be running around all
day ―putting out fires‖ and the students would receive little systematic instruction because the
class was overcrowded and chaotic. After this visit we were afraid to send Stevie to school in this
Our Journey to Inclusion
This started an intense journey to advocate for inclusion at a public school for our son. The many
meetings with school personnel often left us disillusioned and drained as we often heard
statements like, ―He does not belong‖ and ―If the world were a Utopia, all children would go to
the same school.‖ We were told that if we chose to push for inclusion, Stevie would be dropped
from special education and would not receive any services. Despite this advice from the
professionals, our daughter wanted to go to school with her brother. We were trying to keep our
family intact and trying to understand why there was so much resistance coming from the school
We finally found someone to help us when we were required to go to a local pediatrician because
the district would not accept a medical report from out of state to document Stevie‘s eligibility to
receive special education and related services. Fortunately, this local doctor understood Stevie‘s
developmental needs and he advised us that if we were to put Stevie in the special education
program offered, the best we could hope for is that Stevie would maintain what he had learned
prior to entering school. The doctor then wrote a letter to the school district supporting inclusive
school options for our son. Armed with this letter we advocated for an inclusive Kindergarten
option and reluctantly the school agreed that Stevie could go through the kindergarten screening.
Kindergarten screening consisted of a series of activity station tables to assess skills related to
pencil and paper tasks, fine motor tasks, puzzles, question and answer assessments administered
by four teachers. At this age, Stevie tended to flap his hands when he got excited while he made
humming noises. On this particular day he was very excited because everything was new and
different. The teacher at the second table looked very uneasy and somewhat afraid. When I asked
her if there was a problem, she said, ―I have never been around his kind.‖ When Stevie did not
respond verbally to the question and answer portion of the screening, the teacher wrote a big N/A
on the testing form and sent him on to the next table. Another teacher appeared distressed and did
not want to give him scissors for the fine motor tests.
The testing results were inconclusive and clearly documented what Stevie could not do, but it did
not reflect his abilities. The district used these results to discourage us from going forward with
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We responded back saying that the testing was inaccurate and misleading and unfairly
administered. Finally after many more meetings and letters Stevie started school in a regular
To help my son, I spent my time on the Internet looking for inclusion information. I went to
inclusion conferences in other states. I went to the local University (Special Education
Department) to get information and assistance. I found inclusive programs and visited them. I
gathered information and found resources to bring back to the district to help them. The district
special education department was reluctant to accept or consider outside assistance. They had not
practiced nor understood inclusion. They had spent all their resources excluding children for
years. The district did not encourage or support parent involvement. Parent involvement was seen
as meddling. However with persistence we started to put supports in place. Autism awareness
became the focus; I brought information about behavior and communication to the school. I
contacted the states PBS (Positive Behavior Supports) project and got information to give to the
principal and teachers. I found a state funded project for professional development on ―Inclusion
and Students with Disabilities for school personnel, and talked the principal into sending a
handful of people to the training. Even with all this we had constant battles to keep Stevie‘s
program intact to support him at school.
Through networking with the university we found a professor in a nearby state that worked with
low incidence students and inclusion who was willing to travel to our state to give technical
assistance. We, the parents, funded this. The professor worked alongside the teachers providing
ideas, strategies and positive support to make them feel they were being successful. The professor
gave her home phone to everyone working with Stevie and told everyone they could call her day
or night with any questions. The professor had a very positive attitude and would constantly say
there are no problems just questions we have not answered yet.‖
However when it came to the school district, support services were difficult to keep and often
dropped at district discretion. For example we disagreed at an IEP meeting with Stevie‘s
Occupational Therapist (OT). One of Stevie‘s goals was to write legibly. The OT basically said
she would do what she wanted and did not feel it was important for Stevie to learn to write legibly
because he could type on a keyboard. She said if we disagreed she would just drop Stevie from
her caseload. We went to the district special education director for help. She told us there was
nothing she could do and basically if we wanted OT services to continue for Stevie we would
have to agree with the OT. We did not agree and we found others in the OT field who agreed that
if we went along with what the OT was recommending that Stevie‘s program would be negatively
impacted. We stood our ground to try to keep Stevie‘s program intact. The OT got upset and
dropped Stevie from her caseload. We spent an endless amount of time trying to get the district to
provide OT services to Stevie. There was never another OT assigned to Stevie‘s program. When
we contacted the district (Special Education Director) the response was we should have worked it
out with the first OT (we should have not disagreed with her). Therefore it was our fault Stevie
was not receiving services. Our only alternative at the time was Due Process or make sure Stevie
got the services he needed at our own expense and that is what we did, we supplemented OT,
Speech Therapy, and found a tutor for Stevie.
I would like to share a very positive experience that happened during this time. I was at the school
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 27 of 48
one day and a man walked up to me and asked if I was Stevie‘s mother. I said yes with a little
apprehension. He then told me how grateful he was that Stevie was in the same classroom as his
daughter. He went on to say that his daughter had been severely abused and her behavior was out
of control at school and she was just about to be kicked out of school right before Stevie had
arrived. The man said his daughter had immediately bonded with Stevie and wanted to be his
buddy and friend. To be picked to work with the Stevie the teacher told the girl she would be
expected to have good behavior at school. The man said that when his daughter talked about
Stevie his daughter laughed and smiled, it had been a long time since she had done either. His
daughter could hardly wait to go to school every morning because she wanted to see her friend
Stevie. The man looked at me and said, ―because of Stevie I have my daughter back. Thank you.‖
For the next two years we battled the district for supports and services for Stevie. Nothing was
ever offered and often we could not get straight answers. We were constantly threatened that
Stevie would be removed because first of all he did not belong in a regular classroom. We had
many meetings discussing his academic progress and behaviors. I spent many hours at the school
volunteering in the classroom with Stevie.
Time passed and we made another move to another state and new experiences with Stevie‘s
education. We found a school that had an inclusion program. Our daughter and son could go to
the same school. Half the battle was won—a district that believed in inclusion! The next step was
supporting inclusion. We have been in this state for five years now and in that time we have dealt
with many people related to Stevie‘s education. Some wonderful; others—we wondered how they
ever became school personnel. An example would be a few years ago: Stevie was coming home
with bruises on both his arms (they looked like handprints). We tried to work with the school
administrator but we could not get any answers. After some investigation we discovered the
school had changed programming without our consent. Stevie had been using a visual schedule
throughout the day. The case manager and teacher had decided to stop using Stevie‘s schedule
and his behavior plan (both written in IEP). We also discovered the case manager was having
personal problems and on painkillers. This was the person leaving handprint bruises on our son.
We then spent a lot time trying to get the school to follow the IEP, without success. Within the
next week Stevie again, came home with hand print bruises. We then took Stevie out of school
and told the district he would not go back until the visual schedule and behavior plan were put
back in place. We then had a meeting with the special education director and school staff. There
was a change in attitude and Stevie‘s visual schedule and behavior plan were put back in place.
Stevie was back on track doing well! And no more bruises.
Moving on to middle school was difficult, because in our district inclusive practices for children
with Autism were limited, in fact discouraged, in the middle school environment (even if the child
had been fully included in elementary school). We were told at Stevie‘s annual IEP meeting, ―we
don‘t do inclusion in middle school.‖ I asked ―why not?‖ After many more meetings with a
disability advocate by our side, Stevie continued to get an inclusive education at the middle
school. We knew the middle school was in need of professional development. We contacted a
national training center funded by the US Department of Education for assistance. The training
was extremely helpful. However, Stevie was often without services even though the services were
written in to his IEP. We were constantly monitoring to make sure his services and supports were
in place. Often we would discover Stevie was no longer receiving the services and supports that
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they were responsible for providing. This was a never-ending battle.
However, even with the constant battles to keep services in place Stevie had amazing
opportunities in the middle school, the learning-enriched environment was incredibly beneficial
for him, providing educational growth and socialization opportunities (which is extremely
important for people living with Autism). I had the chance to visit him during a hip hop dance
class. When I walked in Stevie was dancing with a very handsome young man. The young man
was very patient and was enjoying showing Stevie the dance moves. At one point a number of the
boys dropped to the floor and started break dancing and Stevie was alongside them on the floor.
They were all laughing and having a great time. I walked up to the teacher and commented that
the young man that had been dancing one on one with Stevie was very nice. The teacher said the
only time this boy is good is when he is in dance class dancing with Stevie. Stevie also had the
opportunity to work in the student supply store, where he became well known and well liked.
Stevie was very successful in making friends and made incredible growth during the middle
When we attended Stevie‘s annual IEP meeting for high school, we were informed, ―we don‘t do
inclusion in high school.‖ Additionally, supports and services were going to be discontinued at
district discretion. District Administration had made a decision without our (the parents‘)
involvement or consent. We tried very hard to get them to reconsider, with no success. We
expressed that Stevie had always been fully included in the general education classrooms with
special education supports and services with his friends. We would not agree to segregate him, not
now, not ever. We were backed into a corner. We got legal help AGAIN and filed a Due Process
request to protect Stevie. By filing for Due Process, Stevie‘s last agreed-upon IEP was called a
―Stay Put IEP‖ and had to be implemented. This IEP ensured that Stevie would continue to be in
the general education classroom, and would continue to receive appropriate supports and services
to be with his friends and peers.
The Due Process hearing was sickening and painful. The school district‘s attorney was vicious;
twisting the facts; he described Stevie to be without any skills or strengths and we, Stevie‘s
parents, had to sit and listen while the school district‘s attorney said horrible things about Stevie.
The school district‘s attorney used generalities about Autism that falsely described Stevie; he was
trying to get a biased decision from the Hearing Officer. We have now been in litigation for three
years and Stevie‘s ―Stay Put‖ IEP has been implemented during this time period. Stevie has been
extremely successful due to the ―Stay Put‖ IEP. He has been fully included in a meaningful way
and supports and services have been provided due to the litigation. Although initially
apprehensive, the high school principal and teachers really stepped up to the plate. Stevie has been
exposed to and experienced incredible learning opportunities at the high school with his friends,
kids he has known since elementary school. Stevie now enjoys attending general education
classes and is in charge of recycling for the school. The teachers look forward to seeing Stevie on
his recycling rounds. Additionally, Stevie works in the kitchen in food preparation, which he
totally enjoys. Stevie looks forward to going to school every day.
Inclusion has shaped Stevie in to a well-adjusted young man with great potential. I don‘t even
want to think about what Stevie‘s life would be like today had it not been for inclusive education.
―Life is not a dress rehearsal.‖ All kids need real life experiences to learn to live in the real world.
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Stevie is now 17, and doing great, he has true friends and has good self esteem. He is accepted at
school and in the community. He has volunteered at the local library for three years.
In conclusion, I have been asked many times, what has been the most difficult part of raising a
child with a disability. My answer is fighting for so long and so hard for inclusive education for
my son. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. My dream is that other families will not
have to go through what we have been through and that the education system truly embraces the
importance and significance of inclusive education for all children.
Although the journey for inclusion has been difficult at times it has been well worth it and we will
continue to fight. The rewards are great! We know there are still barriers such as acceptance by
adults, and a lack of knowledgeable people to help plan and support an appropriate program.
Often times we have had difficulties with supports and services. We also realize we are part of the
change process and by working together families and schools can make a big difference in the
lives of our children.
Education is a Priceless Gift
We can‘t afford to leave out the important piece of citizenship. Our children are the future with all
their strengths and weaknesses, and we need to make sure they have the opportunity to live and
work together throughout their lives.
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The Results–A Student’s Perspective
Student, Montgomery County, Maryland
My name is Justin Valenti. I am going into 8th grade at Lakelands Park Middle School, in
Montgomery County, Maryland. I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, called Cri du Chat
Syndrome, when I was three years old. I have also been diagnosed with autism. I would like to
tell you about my experiences as a student with a disability and my journey to be included.
When I was in pre-school, my parents learned that a lot of students diagnosed with autism and
other disabilities are taught in special education classrooms, instead of being with the kids in
regular classrooms. My parents wanted me to be included in regular classes, and have the same
opportunities as kids without disabilities. So before I started kindergarten, my mom had a lawyer
to go with her to the school meetings to talk about the supports and services I needed, and where I
would attend school. The lawyer wanted the teachers and therapists to give me the supports and
services I needed to participate in kindergarten, with the rest of the kids in my neighborhood. At
first, the school didn‘t think this was a good idea, and they wanted me to go to a different school.
In the end, they agreed with my mom and the lawyer and I‘ve been included in regular classes
When I was in elementary school, my Mom worked with me at night to help me understand things
I was learning at school. Now that I‘m in middle school, it isn‘t as easy. I have to work harder in
class and at home, and I have to go to different classes.
My Mom still helps me, but now she is helping me to develop my independence. She teaches me
how to use strategies such as graphic organizers to help me break up large assignments into
smaller pieces, and how to prioritize my work so that I finish assignments on time. I‘d like to tell
you about some of my challenges.
Teacher lectures and spoken directions are difficult for me. It takes me longer to process
information. So while I‘m thinking about what the teacher just said, she‘s already talking about
something else. I think I miss a lot of information because of this. Some teachers call on the kids
who raise their hands first; but I am not usually one of those kids.
I get distracted easily by noise that most people can ignore such as pencils being sharpened, and
kids talking and laughing when the teacher is teaching or when we‘re supposed to be doing our
work. When I‘m distracted, it‘s hard for me to re-focus on what I‘m supposed to be doing.
Another area that I struggle with because of my disability is keeping my belongings organized.
When I started sixth grade, there were so many things I had to keep track of—my binder, class
notes, class work, homework, textbooks, and my calculator. There were paraeducators who
wanted to help me stay organized, but I was embarrassed to have them help me in my classes. I
was worried that the other kids may not want to be friends with me if they saw the paraeducators
helping me. So I tried several other strategies and tools to help me stay organized. The tool that
has worked best is a laptop. I keep all of my notes, class work and homework on my computer
now, and I don‘t have to try to organize papers from all of my classes in a binder. In addition to
using it to do my schoolwork, I use it to communicate with teachers every day. I send emails
when I have questions or need more information about home-work, class work, missing work, and
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My disability also affects my relationships with peers. An example of this is that when I am at
school, I don‘t talk very much. In the past, kids have made fun of the sound of my voice and how
I talk. I don‘t talk because I don‘t want them to make fun of the sound of my voice. Some kids
don‘t talk to me because they think I don‘t want to talk. When I‘m working with a group on a
project, I usually don‘t feel comfortable sharing ideas or speaking up. And most times, I get stuck
working on a part of the project that I didn‘t want to do, which is very frustrating. I like being
with other students, but sometimes I have trouble knowing what to say or do around them. A lot
of kids are surprised when they get to know me because I‘m not as quiet as they thought.
I‘ve had some other problems in middle school with other students that made me feel bad. One
time I was walking in the hall, with a candy bar from the vending machine and my money in my
hands. Several boys that I didn‘t know were walking towards me. One of the boys asked if he
could borrow a dollar. So I said, ―Sure‖ and gave it to him. Then the three other boys in the group
asked if they could each have a dollar. I didn‘t really want to give them each a dollar, but I didn‘t
know what else to do. So I gave them my money. When I got home, I told my parents. They
talked with me about some things I can do to prevent this from happening again. They also told
me some things I can say and do, if it does happen again. There have been other times that I felt
like I was being bullied. I didn‘t know what to do and I didn‘t want the kids to keep bullying me,
so I emailed the principal and told my parents.
Even though I‘m included all day, not all of the students with disabilities at my school are
included. Some are in special education classes, and they‘re surrounded by adults. Sometimes I
see them in the hallway. At lunch, I‘ve seen adults in the cafeteria buying lunches and taking them
back to the classroom for the kids to eat. Some kids in my school make fun of the kids in the
special education class. They laugh at them, and call them names, like the ―r‖ word. And the kids
in my classes don‘t want to hang out with the kids in the special education class because they
always have adults with them.
I wish everyone would treat the kids in the special education class like people without disabilities.
I wish they had more friends to hang out with—playing video games if they are a boy, and going
to the mall if they are a girl. I wish that people without disabilities would stop treating these
students with disabilities like they‘re helpless.
I‘m glad that I can go to my neighborhood school and be in classes with kids with and without
disabilities. Being included has allowed me to learn and do the same things as the students
without disabilities. I get to eat lunch my friends every day. I have also been on some exciting
field trips. Two of my favorite field trips so far are the trip to the Medieval Times show in
Maryland and the trip to the Smith Center for Outdoor Education, where I stayed in cabins with
some other boys for 3 nights and did some really cool things like play games like predator/prey.
My favorite class is social studies. I‘ve read about and studied American and world history in
school and on my own since 2nd grade. Sometimes I surprise my teachers and students in my
class with what I know about history. I like being able to teach people things about history.
Over the past few years, I have been learning how to advocate for myself. I‘m comfortable asking
teachers for what I need in their classrooms. Sometimes teachers are not aware of my
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accommodations, or they forget. So I remind them. My parents and teachers invite me to
participate in the planning sessions that they have to talk about supporting me in my classes. I tell
them which strategies and tools help me and what I‘m having trouble with. Then we talk about
other strategies that might work.
I‘ve made friends with kids with and without disabilities. My friends are kids who are interested
in some of the same things I‘m interested in. Being included allows me to be with kids who I can
learn from and who can learn from me. By having me in their class, students without disabilities
learn that I want to and can learn the same things they‘re learning. Being included has given me
the chance to learn and do a lot of things that I would not have done in a special education
Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 33 of 48
Concluding Briefing Remarks: Recommended Policies for Taking Best Practices to Scale
Carol Quirk, Ed.D.
President-Elect, TASH Board of Directors
All students should be able to go to their neighborhood school and attend general education
classes with their neighbors and friends. This is a right, not a privilege, defined by IDEA.
All students should be taught from the same content standards as their classmates. NCLB requires
each state to use the same challenging academic content standards for all students, and expects all
students to become proficient in the same curricular goals as their peers. And while all students
should be assessed on their performance in the same curriculum; NCLB provides for a very small
number of students to be assessed with different academic achievement standards. Students with
significant disabilities will need their instruction modified to learn and to let their teachers know
what they‘ve learned. This would all be easier if teachers created lesson plans from the start that
considered the accommodations and needs of every student in the class; not just the average
Teachers should assume that all of their students can learn; even those with significant disabilities.
Teachers must know how to collaborate and be expected to work as part of a team for all
students—not segmenting their discussions as ―special‖ education planning vs. whole class
planning. They should use a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to create
educational environments that enable all students to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for
learning. A UDL approach will simultaneously reduce barriers to the curriculum and provide rich
supports for learning that will benefit all learners—not just those with disabilities.
School leaders need direction and a vision for school communities where resources are integrated
for the success of all students, and responsibility for all students is shared. They need to
understand how to schedule staff and students to maximize the natural distribution of students
with disabilities across classrooms and provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate. They
should consider themselves accountable for the progress and performance of all students, and
ensure that assessments are not used to segregate students and influence classroom placement
Ms. Almazan told us that the law only allows schools to remove children from general education
classes if they have an IEP that can‘t be implemented there. Even when a student has an IEP goal
that requires a separate setting, that should not mean a unilateral placement in a separate class all
day, with little to no opportunities to be with students do not have disabilities. But that is exactly
what‘s happening for over 40% of students with disabilities in this country. More than half of the
students who have been identified with mental retardation do not have any classes at all with their
nondisabled peers. Ever. African American students are more likely to be removed than any other
racial or ethnic group. Dr. Kozleski showed us staggering data that clearly points to racial
disparity in special education practices.
Less than 35% of students who have autism are included most of the day; and it is not clear to me
why school districts think that it is better to put students who have difficulties with
communication and social skills together; they are not going to learn them from each other! The
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wide variability in state data tells us that the patterns of discriminatory placements is not due to
anything inherent in the student or the type or severity of their disability. There is a wide body of
literature to guide educators with strategies to include students with the most significant
disabilities. And research tells us that these practices offer advantages to students without
disabilities as well. School leaders and individual educators must move into the 21st century.
Students should learn together.
Parents should not have to hire a lawyer so that their child with a disability can go to the same
school as their sisters and brothers. And students should not have to fight to get the
accommodations and modifications that are already identified in their IEP. The stories of Mrs.
Yates and Mr. Valenti are not unique. They are the everyday fight of many, many families.
The systemic structures of old need to change. Drs. Sailor and Burello describe the way in which
our current structures of a separate ―special‖ and ―general‖ education system are no longer
working. These structures are a hand-me-down from a time when students with disabilities were
not expected to share similar educational outcomes or be an integral part of society. These
structures are perpetuated by our teacher preparation programs where the special education
department operates in isolation from the elementary and secondary teacher preparation programs.
Dr. Tiegland demonstrates what happens when leadership has a vision. She and her administrators
have paid close attention to the qualities of student membership and belonging: fostering school
communities where all students are welcome and the adults are expected to model positive social
interactions and acceptance of differences.
As a district, they have consciously and systematically adopted qualities that are consistent with
the wide body of literature describing best practices, which must become the hallmarks of state
and federal policy, such as:
• adopting the ―zero reject‖ principle: that ALL children belong and teachers should plan for
them to be meaningful participants of the classroom and school life;
• using a multidisciplinary approach to planning that is child-centered and involves parents, with
the expectation that both general and special educators and other support staff share the
responsibility and accountability for ALL students;
• holding the general education curriculum as the standard for all learning, even when the
achievement of that standard may be different for some students;
• aligning the structure of departments within the educational organization for shared
responsibility and accountability;
• adopting s preventive approach to problem behavior;
• providing focused technical assistance to schools that are lagging behind; and
• defining excellence on the basis of general and special education school-wide improvements.
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The results of these efforts are clear: both special and general education students are
demonstrating increased achievement of reading and math skills. Inclusion works for ALL
Our Recommendations Fall into the Following Categories:
1. Teacher Preparation
University programs must prepare teachers for a wide variety of students, especially those who
have been traditionally denied participation with their peers in school, and consequently have
experienced less than full participation in society. All teacher preparation programs should ensure
that teachers are prepared to employ a UDL framework in the design of lessons and student
assessments. A highly qualified teacher must not only know content, but must also know how to
apply the principles of universal design for learning to that content.
School systems must offer professional development in UDL and preventive Positive Behavior
support (PBS) strategies for teachers who did not have this preparation in their university
State certification programs must require a common platform of knowledge, skills, and
dispositions for all teachers so that they can engage and teach students who are at the margins of
society and who have been marginalized by society.
2. Access to the General Education Curriculum and Accountability
All students must be expected to become proficient in the same curricular content, and participate
in assessments of that content. Students with severe disabilities must not be offered a parallel or
lesser curriculum: history shows us that this leads to segregation and unnecessary isolation of
students because of their disability label.
Ensure that students with severe disabilities are included in all accountability measures to evaluate
the impact of educational decisions. Require states to track individual student progress (for ALL
students) and use growth models as supplements to the current status models to estimate adequate
3. Least Restrictive Environment
Ensure the fidelity to the LRE requirement of IDEA by strengthening the language related to
placement decisions. It must be clear to school teams that ―special‖ education is really a general
education initiative: it is a service that enables students with disabilities to participate IN general
education! Make it clear to states and local school systems that the type of statewide assessment a
student takes has no bearing on placement decisions. Include and define the Restrictive
Environment in NCLB with the same weight and importance currently in IDEA.
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4. Universal Design for Learning
Incorporate a UDL framework in the language of NCLB and IDEA. The UDL framework should
be the base for a Response to Intervention approach. UDL allows ALL students to be supported in
general education and provides for a wide variety of students with diverse learning needs, not just
those related to identified disabilities.
To repeat the words of Drs. Sailor and Burello:
“Unless the larger culture of schools and their communities in our nation takes
responsibility for the success of ALL of their students and integrates all resources within
their schools and communities, we will continue to perpetuate an unequal education
leading to unequal post-school outcomes.”
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Standards for Paraprofessionals: Will Policy Pace Practice?
Lindsey Wahlbrink and Charles Dukes
“Far too often we move forward in new initiatives seeking educational improvements for
children without reflecting on the impact that such changes will have on the people and systems
that must implement and support the changes.”
(Wallace, Shin, Bartholomay, & Stahl, 2001, p. 531)
In many cases, the impetus for new initiatives is born out of federal legislation and thus has far-
But it is not clear that policy, even that, which is handed down from the federal government, has
any real impact on educators‘ day-to-day practice. Clearly, the reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001 and the reauthorization
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) in 2004 have influenced
the development of policy regarding many aspects of education, but policy does not necessarily
translate into practice.
The desire to improve educational outcomes for children will undoubtedly be influenced by the
movement toward an increased use of evidence-based practices (Snell & Lorhmann, 2007;
Lembke, & Stormont, 2005). This call for the increased use of practices based on evidence
requires that all professionals, including paraprofessionals, understand, as well as choose and
ultimately implement such practices. Essentially, the evidence-based practice mandate is intended
to ―pace‖ the choosing, using, and implementation of practices. Stated simply, federal policy
is intended to shape practice. This mandate has far reaching implications and comes at a time
when the entire educational enterprise has come under scrutiny, especially in regard to student
achievement. Generally, teachers and administrators receive a great deal of attention when
discussing federal mandates and major policy, but current policy (i.e., NCLB), also includes
mention of paraprofessionals.
Paraprofessionals and Evidence-Based Practice
Traditionally, paraprofessionals have not received the training, support, or respect offered to other
professionals in education (Giangreco, & Doyle, 2002) and yet they are responsible for a variety
of tasks in schools, benefiting students with and without disabilities (Etsheidt, 2005). The NCLB
legislation is commonly discussed in the same light as IDEA, and for good reason. Any
conversation about student achievement does not seem to make sense except in light of inclusive
education. We believe inclusive education directs attention toward helping students, all students,
make both academic and social progress. As a result, any mandate concerned with improved
student outcomes must also necessarily involve inclusive education. In other words, the mandate
for evidence-based practices and inclusive education are inextricably linked and it is because of
this link that a discussion about the impact on paraprofessionals is warranted.
Paraprofessionals provide an array of educational and social supports to students with disabilities
and this is particularly true for students with the most significant disabilities (Hunt, Soto, Maier,
& Doering, 2003). For decades, paraprofessionals have provided efficient, cost effective services
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through a variety of roles in the school setting (Ghere & York-Barr, 2007). In spite of this history,
the utilization of paraprofessionals has been the subject of discussion for a number of years in
special education (Giangreco et al., 1997). Questions about the appropriate level of involvement
in special or general education classrooms has and continues to be an issue (Giangreco & Broer,
2005), particularly in relation to students with moderate to severe disabilities (Downing, Ryndak,
& Clarck, 2000). Efforts to improve practice through the enactment of policy have increased the
breadth of responsibility for paraprofessionals; unfortunately these changes have not been
followed with the appropriate supports necessary to make those policies a reality. For example,
the issue of inadequate training has been cited in a number of different studies as paramount to the
success of paraprofessionals when offering support to students (see Giangreco, Edleman, Broer,
& Doyle, 2001 for a review of this literature), yet fundamental changes in professional training
has not followed suit. Recently, paraprofessionals have been subject to a major shift in their roles
and responsibilities. First, many paraprofessionals have been assigned additional job duties in part
due to budget restraints, resulting in more instructional responsibilities, perhaps to the detriment
of both paraprofessionals and students. For example, paraprofessionals working in secondary
schools may be asked to provide student support to a student in a content area in which she does
not have enough experience (e.g., Algebra), thus the student does not receive the support he
needs, and the paraprofessional may become increasingly frustrated in an attempt to perform
difficult duties. Second, often paraprofessionals are not only a frequently used support, but in
some cases, the only support used in inclusive settings. This individualized support may not be an
appropriate task for paraprofessionals or an effective manner in which to implement inclusive
education. The problem with increased and in some cases, inappropriate roles and responsibilities
for paraprofessionals, is that the federal mandates have not been coupled with efforts to
implement such changes.
Making Inclusion Work
Arguably, improved student outcomes are at least in part driven by the inclusive education
movement and it is important to understand any attempt to change educational practice, with this
understanding. Inclusive education is first and foremost a philosophical belief in the fundamental
right of all students to receive a quality education in their neighborhood schools (see Fisher and
Sapon-Shevin, 2009 for more on inclusive education). This belief can be implemented in a variety
of ways and generally requires specific mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the belief.
A mechanism is a person (e.g., teacher or paraprofessional), event (e.g., professional training),
and/or modification to infrastructure (e.g., schedule of classes) that is used to change the school
environment to facilitate the inclusive process (see Dukes, & Lamar-Dukes, 2009 for further
discussion on this topic). A brief example will help to illustrate an inclusive mechanism. Think
about the fairly typically situation in which a student with a disability receives services in a
general education classroom. The student‘s grade or age is of real no consequence for this
example, as the main decision point for any inclusive mechanism must be student need. So, think
about a student with significant support needs, perhaps reading, computation, and written
communication difficulties, but with a clear ability to verbally communicate needs and desires
and a willingness to engage in classroom activities. Based on this student profile, there are a
number of options available to implement the inclusive philosophy. We will provide two
examples here then and return to our focus on paraprofessionals immediately after.
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It is possible to facilitate inclusion by providing professional training to the general education
teacher, to include information on nature and needs of students with disabilities, curriculum
modification, varied instructional methods, and social skill development. In addition to
professional development, the general education teacher may also benefit from on-going
consultation sessions with a special education teacher as a means to discuss student progress. In
this example, both professional development and consultation are the mechanisms by which
inclusive education is implemented. For the second example, think about the same student and the
same general education teacher. The major difference between the first and second example is the
absence of the special education teacher. Instead of a special education teacher, a paraprofessional
is assigned the task of following the student into the general education classroom to provide
academic and social support within the classroom. Based on our current knowledge, there is
nothing inherently inferior to either mechanism. In other words, there is no evidence to support
the superiority of any one mechanism to facilitate the inclusive process. But there is at least some
indication that paraprofessionals may be inappropriately utilized in some cases as a means to
implement inclusive education (see Idol, 2005 for a review of inclusive programs). Although
paraprofessionals are the not the sole focus when implementing inclusive education, their
importance can not be understated and there is good reason to think about preparing them for their
roles and responsibilities differently. The point here is that the requirements set forth in federal
legislation, including a call for the creation of state standards for paraprofessionals (Beale, 2001),
necessitates a decidedly involved shift in practice. Based on what is known about paraprofessional
practice, it may be that the continuation of traditional professional development may not have any
impact on practice. Instead, it may be that paraprofessional practice remains largely the same, in
spite of new policies. We have attempted to point out the ‗disconnect‘ between policy and
practice, but calling attention to the issue is not enough. We now attempt to go further and suggest
a way in which to assist educators, particularly paraprofessionals to understand and implement the
previously mentioned policy changes.
What may be warranted here is a bottom-up approach to implementation of the federal mandates.
Perhaps an approach characterized by on-going professional development that includes coaching
and performance feedback, as well as consideration of the school culture in which such
professional development takes place. We do not claim that these ideas will bring about whole
scale change to education, but we do think that paraprfessionals‘ professional history, clearly
indicates that a movement involving more than one-time training will be necessary to pace
Creating and Sustaining a Professional Network
It may seem that we have been attempting to argue for the inadequacy of policy and ultimately
make the claim that the policy should be significantly changed or perhaps done away with
altogether. But, that is not our intent, in fact we understand that policies matter (Osher & Quinn,
2003). Instead what we are attempting to do is highlight the importance of policy, especially as it
may impact a group that does not seem to have the same voice as other professionals in education.
There is a great deal that we know about paraprofessionals and their roles and responsibilities and
a majority of this knowledge seems to point to one blaring fact, this group does not get the same
professional support or respect as others, yet they are charged with some of the most challenging
tasks in schools (see Giangreco, & Doyle, 2002 for a review of several different issues pertaining
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 40 of 48
to paraprofessionals). We also understand that professional development is an important part of
any change effort and do not dispute the potential effectiveness of using different models to help
professionals learn new information. Here, we would like to advocate for the coupling of policy
(i.e., federal mandates set forth in NCLB and IDEA), calling for evidence-based practice, and the
movement toward inclusive education to create a culture of professional practice specifically
directed at one of the most important groups in schools-paraprofessionals. We believe that
paraprofessionals have been and will most likely continue to be critical to the implementation of
inclusive education and that professional development will continue to be one of the most widely
used methods to share information with professionals. Based on these beliefs, we think it is
necessary to create a culture professional practices in which paraprofessionals are not only
provided with professional development, but they are also offered professional support to actually
implement their new knowledge. As a means to create such a culture, two modifications to current
practice must take place. First, professional development for paraprofessionals must be modified
to some degree and it must take place more often. There has already been recognition that
paraprofessionals need more effective training (Angelides, Constantinou, & Leigh, 2009).
Training sessions designed to meet on one occasion with no follow-up can make it extremely
difficult for anyone to learn new material. It is hard to imagine that mastery will result after a
single exposure to any material. In addition, training sessions intended to teach instructional
methods or behavioral interventions must be modified to include opportunities for practice (see
Deardorff, Glasenapp, Schalock, & Udell, 2007 for some ideas about training initiatives). Second,
professional development must be viewed as a means and not an end. After attending a training
session, the real work begins and paraprofessionals may be faced with the challenge of using their
newly acquired knowledge in different settings, while supporting students with a variety of
different needs. This is where we see the usefulness of creating a culture of professional practice.
Paraprofessionals need opportunities to learn new material and receive feedback on their
performance. They also need an opportunity to actually practice the use of new techniques in
more than one context. Finally, there is also the need for more joint training involving both
teachers and paraprofessionals to help facilitate more collaboration and understanding of how
each professional can contribute to creating and sustaining supports for students. The recent
explosion in social networking via technology is only one possibility to actually facilitate the
creation of this culture. Perhaps, technology could be used as a means of communication between
paraprofessionals and teachers. This communication could take place on a weekly, bi-weekly, or
even monthly basis. Discussion groups could be created so that interactions are structured to
ensure that certain information is discussed. While the use of technology is certainly possible, it is
also possible to use more conventional means and create a face-to-face group, in which different
professionals come together and discuss issues and similar to the previous suggestion, it is
possible to meet on an intermittent basis. In either case, the purpose of the professional practice
community is to provide the support paraprofessionals will need after the training and this is key.
Creating a support network for paraprofessionals after the initial training will go a long way
toward making policy real and fulfilling its intent. How does all of this fit together? We would
like to stress the importance of policy, which provides the impetus for change and sets forth the
initial guidelines for change. Second, we also understand the importance of facilitating change
with more than a series of professional development sessions and this is particularly important for
paraprofessionals, based on their past in schools. The prospect of improving student outcomes is a
worthy pursuit and this is especially important for students with the most significant needs. It is
clear that paraprofessionals are important to this venture and should be treated as such.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 41 of 48
Lindsey Wahlbrink is Doctoral Student at Florida Atlantic University and Charles Dukes is an
Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University and the Co-Chair of TASH’s Sexuality
Committee. For more information about this article, please contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angelides, P., Constantinou, C., & Leigh, J. (2009). The role of paraprofessionals in developing
inclusive education in Cyprus. European Journal of Special Needs, 24(1), 75-89.
Beale, E. W. (2001). Analysis of standards for paraprofessionals. Journal of Instructional
Psychology, 28(4), 244-248.
Deardorff, P., Glasenapp, G., Schalock, M., & Udell, T. (2007). TAPS: An innovative
professional development program for paraeducators working in early childhood special
education. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 26(3), 3-15.
Downing, J. E., Rydak, D. L., & Clark, D. (2000). Paraeducators in inclusive classrooms: Their
own perceptions. Remedial and Special Education, 21(3), 171-181.
Dukes, C., & Lamar-Dukes, P. (2009). Inclusion by design: Engineering inclusive practices in
secondary schools. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(3), 16-23.
Etscheidt, S. (2005). Paraprofessional services for students with disabilities: A legal analyses of
issues. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30(2), 60-80.
Fisher, M., & Sapon-Shevin, M. (Eds.). (2009). Schools the way we want them to be: A place
where everyone belongs. TASH Connections, 35(1).
Ghere, G., & York-Barr, J. (2007). Paraprofessional turnover and retention in inclusive programs.
Remedial and Special Education, 28(1), 21-32.
Giangreco, M. F., & Broer, S. M. (2005). Questionable utilization of paraprofessionals in
inclusive schools: Are we addressing symptoms or causes? Focus on Autism and Other
Developmental Disabilities, 20(1), 10-26.
Giangreco, M. F., & Doyle, M. B. (2002). Students with disabilities and paraprofessionalsupport:
Benefits, balance, and band-aids. Focus on Exceptional Children, 34(7), 1-12.
Giangreco, M. F., Edelman, S. W., Luiselli, T. E., & McFarland, S. Z. C. (1997). Helpingor
hovering? Effects of instructional assistant proximity on students with disabilities. Exceptional
Children, 64, 7-18.
Hunt, P., Soto, G., Maier, J., & Doering, K. (2003). Collaborative teaming to support students at
risk and students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms. Exceptional Children,
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 42 of 48
Idol, L. (2006). Toward inclusion of special education students in general education. Remedial
and Special Education, 27(2), 77-94.
Lembke, E. S., & Stormont, M. (2005). Using research-based practices to support students with
diverse needs in general education settings. Psychology in the Schools, 42(8), 761-763.
Osher, D., & Quinn, M. M. (2003). Policies matter: For students, for teachers, and for better
outcomes. Preventing School Failure, 47(2), 52-58
Snell, M. E., & Lorhmann, S. (Eds.). (2007). Evidence-based practices. [Special issue]. TASH
Wallace, T., Shin, J., Bartholomay, T. & Stahl, B. J. (2001). Knowledge and skills for teachers
supervising the work of paraprofessionals. Exceptional Children, 67(4), 520-533.Standards
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 43 of 48
Guidelines for Using Video Modeling for Individuals with Autism
Catherine Lawrence and Keith Storey
Due to the unique characteristics of autism, video modeling has been used as an effective
intervention for teaching daily living and social skills. Video modeling allows individuals with
autism to use their visual strengths when learning new skills by allowing them to focus in on a
particular behavior being taught, much like the camera itself. This article presents guidelines for
using video modeling for persons with autism and provides a summary of its benefits.
Individuals with autism face many learning challenges including information recall and the use of
verbal information (Hodgdon, 1995). Furthermore, they may have attention deficit, repetitive
behaviors and have trouble with both changes in schedule and transitions (Delano, 2007).
Auditory processing can also be challenging for persons with autism. These unique characteristics
of persons with autism create a challenge when teaching daily living skills. Temple Grandin
(1995) contends that people with autism are visual thinkers and urges practitioners to use visuals
as an avenue for disseminating information. Grandin reported that she has difficulty retaining
language-based information but rather thinks in still pictures and video (Dettmer et al. 2000).
Because persons with autism appear to take in and retain information best with visual support,
using video as a means of instructional delivery seems logical.
What is Video Modeling?
Video modeling (VM) is a strategy that allows an individual to watch videotapes of adults, peers,
or themselves engaging in a target behavior that is being taught (Haring, Kennedy, Adams, &
Pitts-Conway, 1987). Two types of video modeling are video self-modeling (VSM) and video
peer modeling (VPM). Video peer modeling is when any peer or adult is used as the model in the
tape while video self-modeling incorporates the individual learning the lesson as the model.
Specific target behaviors are presented to the individual as a form of observational learning so that
the individual will imitate and generalize the particular skill or behavior. One advantage of video
self-modeling rather than using others as models is the immediate feedback and reinforcement
when individuals see themselves completing tasks (Mechling, 2005).
Devender, Banda, Matuszny, and Turkan (2007), suggest eleven steps necessary for effective
Identify and select target behaviors
Target behaviors need to be observable and measurable.
Interview parents/support providers and observe individual
Assessment should be made to find out if the individual is even interested in watching videos. Not
all individuals with ASD show interest in watching videos. Banda, Matuszny, and Turkan, (2007),
suggest conducting an interest assessment with regard to television watching prior to using
videotape as an instructional tool.
Select and train models
It is important to choose models that will consistently and correctly act out the target behavior.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 44 of 48
Research has shown that using models with similar characteristics and being close to the
individual‘s age as being the most effective (Bandura, 1969; Thoreson & Hosford, 1973).
Prepare equipment and setting
As technology improves, there are more choices as to what video equipment to use. Keep in mind
that the ability for the individual to use the videos at home as well as at a school or employment
site could be important. An exchange of information between parents/support providers and
teachers about their video capabilities should take place prior to filming. A digital camcorder and
VCR are suggested equipment as well as a tripod to minimize movement while videotaping.
Although the VCR method is often used, Buggey (2007) discusses the use of iMovie for
Macintosh or other newer software for Windows that allows the creation of higher quality
computer generated videos.
Record target behaviors
Make more than one video depicting the same behavior or activity in order to pick the one that
most closely resembles the behavior expected.
Edit the video
Editing may be the most important step in using video modeling. The tape should look as close as
possible to a real life behavior being demonstrated. It is possible to use a task analysis to break
down the demonstration into small steps. Timing and the length of the video as well as the speed
in which the target behavior is exhibited is also crucial. When editing, check to make sure the
modeling looks natural. Although there is discussion about desired length of video, most
researchers have suggested VM interventions lasting three to five minutes. It is also recommended
to include pauses in the video to allow individuals to practice steps or to afford the teacher an
opportunity to check for understanding or answer any questions the individual may have.
Collect Baseline Data
Establishing the current skill performance status of the individual is important in order to show
effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the intervention or needed change in the intervention. Method
of data collection is dependent on type of intervention that is being presented. If, for example, the
task is grocery shopping, a task analysis could be done to break down shopping into smaller steps
and data collected would relate to steps completed or not completed. If the intervention is related
to social skills, an instructor could keep track of how long an individual engages with another
using duration or frequency as a collection method. Whatever the case, you must have an idea of
how the individual would perform the behavior before viewing the video intervention in order to
know if it is having the desired effect.
Show the video while being careful to minimize distractions such as noises or other individuals in
the room that could affect the individual‘s ability to focus solely on the video and the behavior
Collect and graph data
After viewing the video, the individual should attempt to perform the behavior (LeBlanc et al.,
2003). Reinforce if the individual performed the behavior correctly or reinforce approximations if
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 45 of 48
appropriate. If necessary, the tape can be re-shown repeatedly. In addition, if particular steps
aren‘t being performed correctly, showing only those steps may help the individual to learn the
steps being performed incorrectly. If there is no improvement the instructor may need to change
Generalization and Maintenance
Generalization may occur across individuals, behaviors, settings, and/or times. If the video
modeling intervention is working, then it is important to have the individual practice
generalization by having him/her perform target behavior across various individuals, behaviors,
settings, and/or times keeping in mind rewards and/or the replaying of the video for maintenance
and effective learning. For example, if the task is grocery shopping and the individual has
mastered the behavior in one store, then the instructor could have the individual shop in a
different store or different type of store in order to increase generalization. Furthermore, if the
target behavior is social skills, the instructor could create additional videos increasing the
numbers of persons (peers) in order for the individual to have more opportunities to display
generalization and improve social skills.
Maintenance involves the individual continuing to be able to display the desired behaviors after
the intervention is successful and has been terminated. So it may be beneficial to have the
individual periodically review videos even though they are using the behaviors that they have
learned. This will allow for further reinforcement of the behaviors and thus their continued
maintenance. By following these steps, video modeling can be used as an easy and effective
positive behavioral intervention that can target specific skills for instruction.
Why is Video Modeling Effective?
There are many theories about why video modeling is effective. One explanation for positive
results is that by eliminating the necessity for eye contact to the instructor and prompts from the
instructor, that when watching the video, individuals are better able to focus and emulate the new
skill. Furthermore, video modeling allows the individual to watch the video repeatedly in order to
maximize the likelihood for skill acquisition and success.
Video technology has been shown to be an effective medium by creating an environment that
closely models an individual‘s natural environment, allowing for feedback and repetition
(Mechling, 2004). Most agree that video may be automatically reinforcing for some individuals,
thereby increasing motivation to learn the presented task. In addition, by using video, the camera
is able to zoom in on relevant discriminative stimuli which may help individuals with autism
focus on the task being taught rather than them focusing on irrelevant stimuli.
Benefits of Video Modeling
There appears to be many benefits for individuals and parents as well as educators when using
video modeling. Most agree that video is socially acceptable and is becoming more widely used
with an increase in homes and families using video. The convenience of being able to video, then
edit in order to target specific skills makes video modeling a practical intervention. In addition,
videotapes are seen as advantageous since individuals can view antecedents as well as
consequences both before and after performing a behavior (Bernard-Ripoll, 2007). With regard to
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 46 of 48
individuals with autism, video modeling is seen as non-invasive and non-aversive intervention
since it merely requires the individual to observe the video and imitate. Another benefit is cost
since the tapes can be used repeatedly and shared with parents and other educators throughout
multiple learning environments.
Video modeling appears to be beneficial particularly for persons with autism because information
is presented visually and in manageable steps. The tapes themselves are cost efficient and can be
used across a variety of instructors and environments. Furthermore, the use of video is a non-
threatening medium without direct human interaction which is often preferred by persons with
autism. Implementation may only take minutes. Replication is possible at home which lends itself
to generalization as well as allowing individuals to practice and get feedback. In addition, the
ability to review tapes at later dates helps the individual with maintenance of learned skills.
Catherine Lawrence is a Special Education Transition Teacher with the Albany Unified School
District and Keith Storey is a Professor and Program Chair in the Education and Special
Education Department of Touro University. Contact Keith at email@example.com for more
information about this article.
Banda, D. R., Matuszny, R. M., & Turkan, S. (2007). Video modeling strategies to enhance
appropriate behaviors in children with autism spectrum. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39, 47-
Bandura, A. (1969). Principles of behavior modification. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Bernard-Ripoll, S. (2007). Using a self-as-model video combined with social stories to help a
child with Asperger syndrome understand emotions. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental
Disabilities, 22, 100-106.
Buggey, T. (2007). A picture is worth …: Video self-modeling applications at school and home.
Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9, 151-159.
Delano, M. E. (2007). Video modeling interventions for individuals with autism. Remedial and
Special Education, 28, 33-43.
Dettmer, S., Simpson, R. L., Myles, B. S., Ganz, J. B. (2000). The use of visual supports to
facilitate transitions of students with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental
Disabilities, 15, 163-170.
Grandin, T. (1995). The learning style of people with autism: An autobiography. In K.Quill (Ed.),
Teaching children with autism: Strategies to enhance communication and socialization (p. 33-52).
New York: Delmar.
Haring, T. G., Kennedy, C. H., Adam, M. J., & Pitts-Conway, V. (1987). Teaching generalization
of purchasing skills across community settings to autistic youth using videotape modeling.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 47 of 48
Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 89-96.
Hogdon, L. A. (1995). Visual strategies for improving communication: Practical supports for
school and home. Troy, MI: Quick & Roberts Publishing.
LeBlanc, L. A., Coates, A. M., Daneshvar, S., Charlop-Christy, M. H., Morris, C., & Lancaster,
B. M. (2003). Using video modeling and reinforcement to teach perspective-taking skills to
children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 253-257.
Mechling, L. C., Pridgen, L. S., & Cronin, B. A. (2005). Computer-based video instruction to
teach students with intellectual disabilities to verbally respond to questions and make purchases in
fast food restaurants. Education and Training in
Developmental Disabilities, 40, 47-59.
Meharg, S. S., & Woltersdorf, M. A. (1990). Therapeutic use of videotape self-modeling a
review. Advances in Behavior Research and Therapy, 12, 85-99.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 48 of 48
In The News
TASH Leads APRAIS Request to the White House on Restraints and Seclusions
The 17 member organizations of the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and
Seclusion (APRAIS) delivered a letter to the White House on June 12th, asking President Obama
and his Administration to take a series of steps to limit the use of seclusion and restraint on
children with disabilities in public schools. This effort, led by TASH, the convening organization
of APRAIS, results from our long-standing concern on this issue and the recent release of the
Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Seclusions and Restraints; Selected Cases of
Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers available at
www.gao.gov. The report was released during the House Committee on Education and Labor
hearing on May 19th, and discussed at a White House meeting on May 26th, both of which where
attended by APRAIS members as well as leaders in education and mental health. The APRAIS
letter is available at www.Tash.org/dev/TashAdmin/PDF/APRAISWhite House Request 6 12 09
Final (2).doc and Congress is expected to introduce legislation later this summer.
Significant Progress on Combating the Use of Aversives, Restraints, and Seclusions
On May 19, 2009, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the Abusive
and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools. This same day, the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) released its official report, Seclusions and Restraints: Selected
Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers, a document that
―finds no federal regulations related to seclusions and restraints in public and private schools and
widely divergent laws at the state level.‖ The report researched restraint and seclusion cases from
the last two decades and conducted in depth investigations on ten cases. This report can be
Chairman of the Committee, George Miller, presided over the hearing, which included
compelling testimony from the parents of two children who were abused at school. Chairman
Miller charged that it was ―wholly unacceptable for the egregious abuse of a child to be
considered less criminal because it happened in a classroom‖ and that enacting federal legislation
to ensure the prevention of these abuses was imperative.
TASH submitted testimony to call for the elimination of aversive interventions, restraint, and
seclusion in public and private schools and to encourage the use of research and training to
facilitate best practices, which include positive behavioral supports. TASH also presented the
Committee with the APRAIS Call to Action, and provided follow-up press releases and TASH
testimony to the media about the hearing.
On May 26, White House Disability Policy Advisor to the President, Kareem Dale, hosted a
meeting involving TASH as the convener of the Alliance for the Prevention of Restraints,
Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), all APRAIS organizations, and other nonprofits
to determine recommendations for executive level action on these abuses.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 49 of 48
The committee hearing and the GAO have instigated a flurry of media on this issue, which
included an interview of TASH Executive Director Barb Trader on CNN Headline News.
Ari Ne’eman Featured in Newsweek
In case you missed it, TASH Board Member, Ari Ne‘eman was featured in a Newsweek article
discussing genetic research on autism. In addition to being an active member of TASH, Ari is also
the founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. To read the story in its entirety, please visit
Ari Ne‘eman was also recently featured in Huffington Post for his article on health care reform
and disability. It is an extremely well written piece that covers everything from disproportionality
to discrimination and long-term supports. To read this story in its entirety, please visit
TASH Sponsors Individuals and Families of Color at NCIL and AAIDD Conferences
As part of the Kellogg People of Color Initiative, TASH recently sponsored 23 individuals at the
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and 11 individuals at the American Association
on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) conferences. NCIL and AAIDD are two
of the five partners TASH is working with through the Initiative. To follow-up with sponsored
individuals from the NCIL conference, which was held in Washington, DC, a July 7th meeting
has been planned to provide extended training on advocacy and discuss ways to get involved
Future partner conferences include the Autism Society of America (ASA), to be held in St.
Charles, IL from July 22-25; the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) which will be held
in Sacramento, CA from July 31-August 2; and The Arc of the United States (ARC) which will be
held in Pittsburgh, PA from November 11-14. Members who know of individuals of color with
disabilities, their family members, or professionals who may work with this population in
Chicago, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh are strongly encouraged to connect these individuals with
the TASH project team. For further information, please contact Haley Kimmet at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (202) 540-9015.
TASH Google Group on Diversity Up and Running
In an effort to keep individuals sponsored through the Kellogg Grant and others interested in
TASH‘s diversity efforts informed, a Google Group has been created to serve as a means of
communication and a place where information can be obtained. You will be able to connect with
people from all over the nation and find out what is happening in their area as well as inform
others of accomplishments in your own area. We hope that this site will be an interactive and
informative resource for members to find out more about national efforts on diversity and
disability. If you are interested in joining, please go to http://groups.google.com/group/TASH-
diversity-and-disability and request to join. This site is protected to ensure that the information
and discussion is appropriate for TASH, so all persons will have to be accepted individually. For
questions related to the website, contact Haley Kimmet at (202) 540-9015 or email her at
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 50 of 48
Contact your Senators to Support the VITA Matching Grant Program
Please contact your Senators and Representatives to request that they support the Community
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Matching Grant Program. This program is one of three
federally-supported taxpayer education & assistance programs funded through the Internal
Revenue Service that was initiated via a joint explanatory statement accompanying the FY 2008
Financial Services & General Government Appropriations Act enacted on 26 December 2007
(P.L. 110-161). In this statement, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees directed
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in collaboration with the National Taxpayer Advocate
Service, to submit a proposed design for a new matching grant component for the VITA program.
The matching grant program is intended to provide direct funds that enable VITA programs to
extend services to underserved populations and hard-to-reach areas, both urban & non-urban. This
program also serves to increase the capacity for electronically filed returns, heighten quality
control, enhance volunteer training, and significantly improve the accuracy rate of returns
prepared by VITA sites. The program was funded in FY 2008 at an initial $8 million, and
additional resources were provided to expand the program via the FY 2009 Omnibus
Appropriations Act and the American Recovery & Revitalization Act of 2009. We must ensure
that low-income individuals with disabilities achieve greater access to tax assistance & support.
Several actions must be taken:
• The overall annual funding for the Community VITA Matching Grant Program must be
increased. This year, we are asking Congress to increase the annual funding for this important
program from $8 million to $12 million.
• Clear report language must be included in the final appropriations legislation. This allows the
Internal Revenue Service to ensure that a reasonable proportion of resources allocated to the
VITA program can be dispersed to VITA sites and entities that are committed to providing
services for taxpayers with disabilities.
Contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to sign onto the group letter to the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services that is being led by Senators Jeff Bingaman
(D-NM) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) to increase FY 2010 funding for the Community VITA
Matching Grant Assistance Program. Also, ask your Members of Congress (MOCs) to send a
letter to the Chairman or Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on
Financial Services to express their support for increasing the Community VITA Matching
Assistance Grant Program funding to $12 million. Ask your representatives to mention the need
for increased support of VITA sites that specifically target people with disabilities in their
National Center on Cultural Competency to Complete Assessment on TASH
The National Center on Cultural Competency (NCCC) at Georgetown University, under the
direction of Tawara Goode, will soon complete its assessment on the cultural competency
practices of TASH. In an effort to determine our strengths and opportunities, NCCC conducted a
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 51 of 48
review of our publications, website, and manuals in addition to interviewing board members,
staff, chapter leaders, and consultants. This assessment will provide TASH with invaluable
information on what we are currently doing right and where we may need to make adjustments to
better attract new members of color and retain current members of color. After this assessment is
completed, the NCCC will develop a self-assessment tool on cultural competency that TASH can
provide to our partners to initiate similar efforts in better supporting people of color. The final
assessment of TASH will be available online as soon as we receive it from the NCCC. ―These two
different approaches, key leaders and member connections, were both effective in engaging
families of color. We hope that other chapters are interested and will contact me regarding support
for their outreach strategies,‖ says Pamela Lamar-Dukes, TASH Outreach Coordinator. Engaging
and empowering families of color to reduce disparities is a key TASH diversity goal. For more
information, please contact Pamela Lamar-Dukes at (202) 540-9016 or email her at
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 52 of 48
Board of Directors 2010 Annual Election
TASH is governed by an elected group of 15 members who serve three-year terms. Each year,
approximately one quarter of the board exits and new members are elected. This year, TASH
members in good standing will elect four new members to the Board.
Nominees. There are six nominees for the four open positions. For your convenience their
biographies are provided below.
Vote Online. While TASH members have a choice of voting online or submitting a paper ballot,
we encourage all members to vote online.
Make sure your membership is current. Only TASH members in good standing (i.e., membership
dues are paid) may vote in the election. To renew your membership go to www.tash.org and
click on the ―Members Only‖ link in the top left hand corner of TASH‘s homepage. You will be
prompted to enter your member number and password. If you cannot locate your member
number simply click on the link below the login and follow the prompt to enter your email
address. An email with your member number and password will be sent to you. Once you enter
the members only site, you can renew your membership. If you are joining for the first time,
click on the ―Membership with TASH‖ link in the left hand column of TASH‘s home page and
follow the directions for joining. Remember, to vote in this year‘s election, membership dues
must be paid by August 15th.
Have your member number ready when voting. All members will need their member number to
vote. You can obtain your member number online by following the instructions above. Members
without access to the internet, please call (202) 540-9015 for assistance obtaining your member
Directions for online voting: Online voting will take place between September 15 and October
27, 2009. To vote, visit www.tash.org, and click the button ―Board Elections.‖ You will need to
have your member number on hand to vote. To obtain your member number follow the
directions provided above for making sure your membership is current. Follow the online
instructions and vote for up to four candidates.
Directions for submitting a paper ballot: To submit by paper, cut out the official ballot on page
43. Fill in your member number (to obtain your member number follow directions provided
above for making sure your membership is current). Select up to four candidates by placing an
―X‖ in the space provided. Please review your ballot to ensure that your selections are clearly
marked. Ballots with more than four candidates selected will be ineligible. Ballots that are
mailed must be received by October 23, 2009.
Mail ballots to:
TASH, Board Elections
1025 Vermont Ave., NW., Ste 300
Washington, DC 20005
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 53 of 48
Board Nominee Biographies
Mary E. Morningstar Ph.D.
I have been a member of TASH since the early 1980s when I was a new teacher in an innovative
program that was supporting students with significant intellectual disabilities to move from
segregated centers into their neighbor-hood schools. The TASH conference and journal was a
central part of my growth as a teacher, advocate, researcher, and community member. I am an
associate professor in the department of special education at the University of Kansas and my
work has focused on promoting successful post-school outcomes for all students, and particularly
those with significant disabilities. Prior to my position at KU, I was the director of a nonprofit
organization that supported individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families to lead lives
with choices for living, working, and participating in their communities. It was in this position
that I came to understand the importance of advocacy and innovation in working with all
members of a community in developing circles of support for individuals and their families. I
believe my experiences at Full Citizenship, Inc. would allow me to be a strong member of the
Bill has worked with, for and on behalf of people labeled with disabilities his entire adult life,
progressing through a diverse range of leadership positions throughout his 23 years of service.
Bill has coordinated and participated in numerous projects. Most notable is his work on the
―Natural Community Supports‖ grant, funded by the Idaho DDC. This grant became the service
prototype for supports to adults in Idaho.
Bill‘s current responsibilities include quality assistance, outcome achievement, and team support,
and development. Most important, Bill works with teams of people to improve services so
individuals experience the life they choose.
Bill credits his success to the influence of numerous mentors and guides, both past and present.
These include Lyle Romer, Mary Romer, Connie Lyle O‘Brien, John O‘Brien, Marc Gold, Herb
Lovett, John McGee, Beth Mount and most important, his wife of twenty-five years, Lorna.
I am honored to be considered as a candidate for the Board of Directors of TASH. TASH has
been a great resource for us over the years as we‘ve worked to include my son in his community. I
welcome the opportunity to give back to TASH and other families like ours to create a more
inclusive world. Creating an inclusive world is hard work. I believe it‘s important to work
together to be successful. I hope I will be able to reach out to like minded individuals, families
and organizations to help facilitate that collaboration. I feel I will bring financial, fund
development and communication skills to the Board. Finally, I believe TASH is at a crossroads. I
am excited about the opportunity to help TASH achieve our ―vision of a world in which people
with disabilities are included and fully participating members of their communities….‖
Diane Lea Ryndak
I have been a member of TASH for almost thirty years. Initially I was a teacher and administrator
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 54 of 48
in schools and institutions, and worked in residential and leisure programs for adults. As a
graduate student I became aware of TASH and its values, advocacy activities, and self-advocacy
focus. These matched my values and beliefs, while providing research support for services for
individuals with significant disabilities. I am convinced that all students learn best with access to
all aspects of the general education curriculum and experiences, including classmates. I believe
that all students deserve teachers with expertise in general education and expertise related to
I have worked with parents and schools to implement and evaluate services to maximize
outcomes for all students. I have been an expert witness in local and state level hearings.
Currently at the University of Florida I prepare teachers to educate students with significant
disabilities in general education contexts. I work with districts to deliver services in general
education contexts and to facilitate change.
I have been on the TASH Board, a member and chair of several committees, and an Associate
Editor of RPSD. I have participated in the conference since 1979, and would be honored to
continue to support TASH through Board membership.
It has been an honor to serve on the TASH Board of Directors for the past three years. My
willingness to commit my time and resource to TASH is a direct reflection of how strongly I
believe in this organization‘s mission. To promote the mission of TASH, I have, and continue to,
serve TASH and its members through a number of activities including: being the Editor of
Connections; Chairing the Training Committee which develops TASH‘s webinar series and
training outreach efforts; serving as Coordinator of the TASH in Action Issue Committees; and
being a member of the RPSD Editorial Board. For me, nothing is more important than building
inclusive communities. I can always count on TASH as an organization to step up and lead the
way even in the face of the greatest opposition. The spirit of social justice is alive and well in
TASH and I am proud to be an active member of this organization.
Curtina Moreland-Young, Ph.D.
It is an honor to be considered for the TASH Board of Directors and if elected I look forward to
this opportunity to apply my public policy, organizational and grantsmanship skills. I am
particularly interested in serving because it provides an additional opportunity for me to act as an
advocate for myself, my son and mother and others who are members of the disability
community. It is important for me and like-minded people to increase our presence in the public
policy arena. As am member of the Obama Presidential Campaign‘s Disability Taskforce and
while serving in various other organizational settings I have tried to contribute to an evolving
perspective and understanding of disability rights as civil rights. In my position as Chair of
Mississippi Governor Mabus‘ Task Force on Disabilities, I sought to educate policy-makers on
the needs of families and individuals and also about the contributions that individuals can make
when they experience full inclusion in their communities. As Chair of the Department of Public
Policy and Administration at Jackson State University I tried to help mold future policy makers
with values and a vision that espoused equity, opportunity and social justice for all persons.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 55 of 48
TASH 2010 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Must be received by October 23, 2009
Use an ―X‖ to select up to four candidates
Ballots with more than four candidates will be considered ineligible.
___ Mary E. Morningstar
___ William Morris
___ Jean Trainor
___ Diane Lea Ryndak
___ Sharon Lohrmann
___ Curtina Moreland-Young
Mail ballots to:
TASH, Board Elections
1025 Vermont Ave., NW. Ste 300
Washington, DC 20005
No votes will be accepted over the telephone or by fax.
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 56 of 48
TASH gratefully acknowledges the following donations:
David and Maureen Wrestling
John and Hope Greenwood
Peter and Jane Murphy
John and Amanda McConnell
TASH Connections Summer 2009 Page 57 of 48