Every Educator an Advocate

3 Credits , K-12 , Exceptional Students , Instructional Strategies
45 HOURS

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Course Description:

This course will provide a foundation in the principles of special needs advocacy, with an emphasis on practical application of the fundamental legal requirements that drive special needs education. Many educators who work with special needs students are skilled at implementing classroom strategies and adapting curriculum to help those who are struggling. Teachers and other professionals are often familiar with an IEP or 504 Plan, but may be relying on the school administration to interpret the why and how of educational plan development for special needs students. The purpose of this course is to give educators and others working with special needs students an understanding of why special needs identification and planning works the way it does, and how to maximize effectiveness by writing S.M.A.R.T. goals and choosing appropriate accommodations and modifications.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 set the stage for identifying and programming for students with educational disabilities. Course participants will learn about the IEP process and about 504 Plans, and using their knowledge of the rights and entitlements granted by the aforementioned special education laws will become better advocates for the needs of their students.

Educators will benefit from this course by developing a deeper understanding of how to navigate the special needs process and utilize best practices to develop specific and measurable outcomes for their students.

Course Objectives:

Participants will:

  • Understand the basic concepts and key terms in The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • Recognize signs and classroom behaviors indicating that a student may have an educational disability.
  • Identify general educational interventions and analyze data from these interventions to determine when a student should be referred for evaluation.
  • Identify the essential questions in the special needs eligibility process.
  • Utilize legal criteria to distinguish between eligibility for a 504 Plan and IEP.
  • Identify the parts of the IEP.
  • Effectively write specific and measurable goals based on a student's present levels of performance.
  • Utilize their knowledge of a student's strengths and needs, as well as appropriate accommodations, to develop an effective 504 Plan.
  • Learn how to prepare for various types of school meetings, including how to work effectively with school staff and parents in support of the needs of their students.
  • Utilize data gathering techniques in order to accurately and objectively report progress towards a student's IEP goals.
  • Determine when a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) may be appropriate and how to implement a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) using Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies (PBIS).
  • Become familiar with educational options beyond neighborhood public school offerings and understand when discussion of these options might be appropriate.
  • Develop a working knowledge of dispute options, including state complaints, administrative review, mediation, and due process.