Tag Archives: #dyslexia #girls

Political Correctness Gone Mad: Has School Become Too Hostile For Boys ?

23 Oct

Parents of boys should ask themselves this question as they enter the doors of their schools. A myriad of incidents suggests that the answer is yes. By the time they reach school, many boys are already lagging behind in literacy: at age five, there is a gap of 11 percentage points between boys’ and girls’ achievement in reading. More and more boys struggle with reading and literacy as they progress through the school system. Boys are also less likely to. enjoy reading and less likely to spend time reading outside of class. This literacy behaviors are becoming more severe because boys are not only underachieving in literacy, the gap between how much boys and girls enjoy reading or choose to spend time reading is widening.

So what is making boys more likely to struggle with reading? Not all boys struggle with reading and while the literacy gender gap is seen internationally, there are notable exceptions including Chile and the Netherlands. Something we are doing as a society is making boys more likely to fail at reading.. In school, what is taught and how it is taught and assessed all impacts on boys’ achievement, while boys’ gender identities, influenced by society’s expectations and reinforced by their peers, can negatively impact their attitudes toward reading, the amount of time they spend reading and ultimately their reading skills.

Many secondary school boys do not have the stamina to read beyond the 100th page of a book. Does his mean we need to toss out longer novels in favor of shorter books?  Since for many boys the cutoff point happens  within the first few pages  of a book, providing shorter books does not solve the problem . More needs to be done to engage boys’ and build on their own interests.

Texas Child Suspended After Hugging Aide
  WACO, Texas — School administrators gave a 4-year-old student an in-school   suspension for inappropriately touching a teacher’s aide after the pre-kindergartner   hugged the woman. A letter from La Vega school district administrators to the   student’s parents said that the boy was involved in “inappropriate   physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual   harassment” after he hugged the woman and he “rubbed his face in   the chest of the female employee” on Nov. 10. DaMarcus Blackwell, the   father of the boy who attends La Vega Primary School, said he filed a   complaint with the district. He said that his son doesn’t understand why he   was punished. “When I got that letter, my world flipped,” Blackwell   said in a story in Sunday’s editions of the Waco Tribune-Herald.  La Vega school district officials said   student privacy laws

prevented them from commenting. After   Blackwell filed a complaint, a subsequent letter from the district said the   offense had been changed to “inappropriate physical contact” and   removed references of sexual contact or sexual harassment from the boy’s   file. Administrators said the district’s student handbook contains no   specific guidelines referring to contact between teachers and students but   does state that inappropriate physical contact will result in a discipline   referral (Waco   Tribune-Herald, 2005).

Child   suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to   “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months   earlier, Josh Welch, also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for   nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At   about the same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing   an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world (Time,   2013).”

Forgotten is the reality that millions of boys are struggling academically. A large and ever-increasing male horde is falling behind in grades and disengaged from school. College has never been more important to a young person’s life prospects, and today boys are far less likely than girls to pursue education beyond high school..

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys.. The obsession of upholding zero tolerance policies is creating hostile environments for young boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”

According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression — only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week — whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.

Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to schoolSchools must enforce codes of discipline and maintain clear rules against incivility and malicious behavior. But that hardly requires abolishing tag, imposing games of tug of peace or banning superhero play. Efforts to re-engineer the young-male imagination are doomed to fail, but they will succeed spectacularly in at least one way. They will send a clear and unmistakable message to millions of schoolboys: You are not welcome in school.

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Back to School: Organizing Tips for Parents from http://www.sandrarief.com/

16 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

To get your son or daughter in gear for this new school year,  now is the time (if you haven’t already done so) for getting organized.  This is important for all kids, but particularly so for those with ADHD and/or Learning Disabilities.  Help your child be ready and off to a fresh start with these tips:

Clean Out the Old

 

 

 

 

Make sure your child’s room is organized.  Hopefully, you’ve been working on this project during the summer.  But, if not…together with your son or daughter,  go through desk drawers, closets, and cabinets.  Sort through all of the previous year’s school papers and projects.  Determine what can be dumped or recycled, and what is to be saved.  Take advantage of today’s technology, by taking  digital pictures for an electronic portfolio of your child’s save-worthy work, art, and projects from last school year.    Then, store in labeled boxes or files just the most valuable items you want to keep.

 

 

 

In With the New

 

 

 

Whether they look forward to going back to school or not, shopping for new school clothes and supplies is exciting for almost every child.   Many schools provide a list of required or recommended school supplies for parents to purchase, or teachers may send home such a list.   When buying  the basics and required items, motivate your child by buying when possible his or her choice of backpack, lunchbox, and other school supplies  (as long as they are user-friendly for your child’s needs). 

 

Discuss and Plan the Homework Area

 

Now is the perfect time to explore different homework area options and create with your child a homework station/area that will be appealing to your son or daughter.  There are so many creative ideas for setting up homework stations within your child’s room, another area of the house, and portable ones that can be found on Pinterest board – Home Organization-Homework Areas

Low Omega-3 Could Explain Why Some Children Struggle With Reading

15 Sep

Sep. 13, 2013 — An Oxford University study has shown that a representative sample of UK schoolchildren aged seven to nine years had low levels of key Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Furthermore, the study found that children’s blood levels of the long-chain Omega-3 DHA (the form found in most abundance in the brain) ‘significantly predicted’ how well they were able to concentrate and learn.Oxford University researchers explained the findings, recently published in the journal PLOS One, at a conference in London on 4 September.

The study was presented at the conference by co-authors Dr Alex Richardson and Professor Paul Montgomery from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. It is one of the first to evaluate blood Omega-3 levels in UK schoolchildren. The long-chain Omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) found in fish, seafood and some algae, are essential for the brain’s structure and function as well as for maintaining a healthy heart and immune system. Parents also reported on their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of ten children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in ten never ate fish at all. The government’s guidelines for a healthy diet recommend at least two portions of fish a week. This is because like vitamins, omega-3 fats have to come from our diets — and although humans can in theory make some EPA and DHA from shorter-chain omega-3 (found in some vegetable oils), research has shown this conversion is not reliable, particularly for DHA, say the researchers.

Blood samples were taken from 493 schoolchildren, aged between seven and nine years, from 74 mainstream schools in Oxfordshire. All of the children were thought to have below-average reading skills, based on national assessments at the age of seven or their teachers’ current judgements. Analyses of their blood samples showed that, on average, just under two per cent of the children’s total blood fatty acids were Omega-3 DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and 0.5 per cent were Omega-3 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), with a total of 2.45 per cent for these long-chain Omega-3 combined. This is below the minimum of 4 per cent recommended by leading scientists to maintain cardiovascular health in adults, with 8-12 per cent regarded as optimal for a healthy heart, the researchers reported.

Co-author Professor Paul Montgomery said: ‘From a sample of nearly 500 schoolchildren, we found that levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child’s behaviour and ability to learn. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behaviour problems as rated by parents and teachers. These results are particularly noteworthy given that we had a restricted range of scores, especially with respect to blood DHA but also for reading ability, as around two-thirds of these children were still reading below their age-level when we assessed them. Although further research is needed, we think it is likely that these findings could be applied generally to schoolchildren throughout the UK.’

Co-author Dr Alex Richardson added: ‘The longer term health implications of such low blood Omega-3 levels in children obviously can’t be known. But this study suggests that many, if not most UK children, probably aren’t getting enough of the long-chain Omega-3 we all need for a healthy brain, heart and immune system. That gives serious cause for concern because we found that lower blood DHA was linked with poorer behaviour and learning in these children. ‘Most of the children we studied had blood levels of long-chain Omega-3 that in adults would indicate a high risk of heart disease. This was consistent with their parents’ reports that most of them failed to meet current dietary guidelines for fish and seafood intake. Similarly, few took supplements or foods fortified with these Omega-3.’

The current findings build on earlier work by the same researchers, showing that dietary supplementation with Omega-3 DHA improved both reading progress and behaviour in children from the general school population who were behind on their reading. Their previous research has already shown benefits of supplementation with long-chain omega-3 (EPA+DHA) for children with ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and related conditions. The DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) Studies have now extended these findings to children from the general school population.

‘Technical advances in recent years have enabled the measurement of individual Omega-3 and other fatty acids from fingerstick blood samples. ‘These new techniques have been revolutionary — because in the past, blood samples from a vein were needed for assessing fatty acids, and that has seriously restricted research into the blood Omega-3 status of healthy UK children until now,’ said Dr Richardson.

The authors believe these findings may be relevant to the general UK population, as the spread of scores in this sample was within the normal population range for both reading and behaviour. However, they caution that these findings may not apply to more ethnically diverse populations as some genetic differences can affect how Omega-3 fatty acids are metabolised. Most of the children participating in this study were white British

Is It “Cool” To Say You Hate School?

31 Aug

shout

School-Survival.net asserts its purpose is to be a support site for students who can’t stand being forced to go to school. They qualify their mission by explaining that they are not telling anyone to drop out, rebel or do anything in particular. They endorse making your decision and alone, and they will just provide support and information for whatever choice you may make. They emphasize that the choice is the student’s to make. They offer someone there is always willing to listen to you. Their bottom line is its okay to hate school and provide14 Good Reasons why School Sucks & Things I Hate About School:
1. School sucks because if you don’t like it, most people automatically think there’s something serious wrong with you.
2. School ruins learning. In school, learning is all about memorizing things, answering questions, and writing loads of crap on topics you don’t care about.
3. Because you’re forced to go there, and if you want to try some other alternative, you need to get parental permission first. School is essentially pointless forced labour without pay.
4. It sucks because people expect you to treat school as the most important thing in your life. Nevermind what you’d rather be doing.
5. School sucks because once you’re done, you’ll probably forget 90% of what you “learned” there and burn all your books anyway. All you’ll be left with is a diploma stating that you survived 12 years of hell. And very few people (besides your parents) will even want to look at it.
6. Because talking to your friends is a crime at school.
7. It sucks because even if you’re bored out of your mind, you’ll still get all the blame for not participating in class.
8. School suppresses independent thought – if you disagree with the teacher, you’re in trouble. If you dare to think of a new way to do something, it’s automatically wrong.
9. School sucks because if you do what they say and do all your work, you don’t get time off – they’ll just expect even more from you in future. And someone who cheats on their work and tests can just as easily do better than you.
10. School sucks because life is short, and you’ll never get that time back.
11. School makes everyone around you panic over the smallest little things that none of them (or anyone else) will care about a few years down the line.
12. Even when you go home, school invades your life by giving you homework as well.
13. It sucks because even though school has all these problems, if you mention any of them, you’ll be the one they blame, no matter how right you may actually be.
14. School sucks because every now and then it does something useful for someone, and then everyone goes all “Look! That’s proof that school is good for you!”… It’s like getting free ice cream in hell – it just doesn’t quite make up for all the other stuff.

Suggested Books From The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

24 Aug

Eleven by Patricia Riley Giff
Sam, a talented boy who can’t read, is trying to discover his true identity through written documents. This action-packed psychological mystery is both suspenseful and touching.

Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever
A Series by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver

“Hank Zipzer is the kid next door. Humor, magic, a school bully, a pet dachshund named Cheerio, and a pet iguana that slurps soup at dinner add up to a fun novel with something for everyone.”
-Library School Journal
Henry Winkler’s real-life experiences as a young “underachiever” inspire these humorous and exciting stories in the Hank Zipzer series. These books will engage even the most reluctant reader in a fun romp through the days of Hank Zipzer, who always manages to keep things lively and, in the end, helps deliver a message of understanding for all kids, especially for those who share Hank’s learning differences.
Visit Hank Zipzer’s official site.
“The Fonz Makes Dyslexia Cool” A video on BBC News.
“Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, has been in Hampshire talking to schoolchildren about his struggle with dyslexia.” -BBC

The Lightning Thief
and others in the series by Rick Riordan
“My Son and all his friends from ages 10-15 years old like these series, they are filled with excitement, danger, and personal triumph. They can also be downloaded for an MP3 player.”
-Marcia Mishaan, YCDC Council Member
From Myth & Mystery: The Official Blog for Author Rick Riordan…
On a more personal level, mythology was very helpful to me. Before I wrote The Lightning Thief, my son Haley was struggling in second grade, or Year 3. It turned out he was dyslexic and ADHD. These learning disabilities, by the way, are also a frontier, a way of seeing from the edge. ADHD and dyslexic people are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. They cannot do things traditionally, so they learn to improvise. Percy Jackson was a myth to help him make sense of who he is. Mythology is a way of explaining something that can’t be explained, except by allegory, and my son’s struggle in school definitely applied. He completely bought in to the idea that ADHD/dyslexia, taken together, was an almost sure sign that you have Olympian blood.

Trapped. A Novel by Judy Spurr
“A short, empathetic novel for middle-schoolers
that addresses learning disabilities and bullying…nicely executed fiction with a neatly resolved ending that will leave readers smiling.” -Kirkus Reviews
School is difficult for Jamie–dyslexia not only makes coursework a challenge, but he is often bullied at school. Spurr, a former reading teacher, enters the real-life, day-to-day struggles of kids with dyslexia and shows how friendships and perseverance can change a life. The book is written appropriately for young people, but parents will learn something, too, of both the academic and social challenges kids face. The book offers lots of food for thoughtful discussion between parents and kids or kids in a classroom or book-club setting.
Click Here! Judy Spurr: On Why She Wrote Trapped

Author by Helen Lester
“Lester’s lighthearted book of how she came to write children’s books will give aspiring authors of any age a lift and encouragement to persevere.”
-Publishers Weekly
An inspirational true story of a girl, Helen Lester, who has trouble writing even something as simple as a grocery list and ends up becoming a teacher and then a celebrated children’s book author.

Tacky the Penguin
by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn M. Musinger
“This book is must reading for any kid–or grown-up–who refuses to follow the pack.” -Publishers Weekly
This delightful tale of an odd penguin who doesn’t fit in with the perfect penguins in his colony is well suited to budding out-of-the-box thinkers who often do things differently from their peers. Stories give children a way to think positively about themselves and Tacky is a hero for children who struggle with differences.
Note: A Read-Along Book/CD combo is also available.
Visit Helen Lester’s website.

What Is Dyslexia?: A Book Explaining Dyslexia for Kids and Adults to Use Together
by Alan M. Hultquist, illustrated by Lydia Corrow
“…a must read for parents and children
struggling with dyslexia.”
Children with dyslexia can be left “out of the loop” when it comes to discussions about the reasons for their struggles at school. What Is Dyslexia? is designed to help adults explain dyslexia to children aged 8-11. Hultquist offers clear examples and explanations, interactive activities for parents (or other adults) and children to do together, and highlights of the courage and strengths of people with dyslexia.

It’s Called Dyslexia by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos & illustrated by Nuria Roca
Whoever said that learning to read and write is easy? The little girl in this story is unhappy and she no longer enjoys school. When learning to read and write, she tries to remember which way the letters go but she often gets them all mixed up. After she discovers that dyslexia is the reason for her trouble, she begins to understand that with extra practice and help from others, she will begin to read and write correctly. At the same time, she also discovers a hidden talent she never knew existed!

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
“…an inspiring picture book…the author clearly shows the ways that children internalize critical comments made by others and suffer for their differences.” -School Library Journal
“This story is truly autobiographical. It is about my own struggle with not being able to read. This story honors the teacher that took the time to see a child that was drowning and needed help…Mr. Falker, my hero, my teacher, not only stopped this boy from teasing me, but he also noticed that I wasn’t reading well and got a reading specialist to help.” -Patricia Polacco
Visit Patricia Polacco’s website.

The Alphabet War: A Story About Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb and Gail Piazza
“Adam’s experience will inspire and encourage
many youngsters who find themselves in similar predicaments. Equally important, the book sounds
an alarm for educators and parents.” -Booklist
“When Adam was little, he loved to sink into his mother’s warm lap and listen to her read.” Yet, reading becomes a frustrating, daily battle once Adam starts school. Finally, in third grade, Adam learns that he has dyslexia…and begins a journey back to enjoying reading.

My Name Is Brain by Jeanne Betancourt
“Children with learning problems will relate well to this book.”
– School Library Journal
It’s a new school year and Brian is hoping to have a much better academic year. He’s still joking with his friends, and makes them laugh especially hard when he writes his name on the board as “Brain.” But this is no joke, as his new no-nonsense teacher spots Brian’s previously undiagnosed dyslexia. With tutoring and the help of his teacher, Brian starts to see his potential and himself in a whole new light.

Two-Minute Drill: Mike Lupica’s Comeback Kids by Mike Lupica
Teaming up brings new opportunities for the
class brain and the class jock.
Chris Conlan is the coolest kid in sixth grade—the golden-armed quarterback of the football team, and the boy all the others look up to. Scott Parry is the new kid, the boy with the huge brain, but with feet that trip over themselves daily. These two boys may seem like an odd couple, but team up when Scott figures out how to help Chris with his reading problem, while Chris helps him with his football and both boys end up winners.

Political Correctness Gone Mad: Has School Become Too Hostile For Boys ?

21 Aug

 

            Parents of boys should ask themselves this question as they enter the doors of theirschools. A myriad of incidents suggests that the answer is yes. By the time they reach school, many boys are already lagging behind in literacy: at age five, there is a gap of 11 percentage points between boys’ and girls’ achievement in reading. More and more boys struggle with reading and literacy as they progress through the school system. Boys are also less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to spend time reading outside of class. This literacy gender is becoming more severe because boys are not only underachieving in literacy the gap between how much boys and girls enjoy reading or choose to spend time reading is widening.

So what is making boys more likely to struggle with reading? Not all boys struggle with reading and while the literacy gender gap is seen internationally, there are notable exceptions including Chile and the Netherlands. Something we are doing as a society is making boys more likely to fail at reading.. In school, what is taught and how it is taught and assessed all impacts on boys’ achievement, while boys’ gender identities, influenced by society’s expectations and reinforced by their peers, can negatively impact their attitudes toward reading, the amount of time they spend reading and ultimately their reading skills.

Many secondary school boys do not have the stamina to read beyond the 100th page of a book. Does his mean we need toss out longer novels in favor of shorter books?  Since for many boys the cutoff point happens  within the first few pages  of a book, providing shorter books does not solve the problem . More needs to be done to engage boys’ and build on their own interests.

 

 

 

Texas Child Suspended After Hugging Aide
  WACO, Texas — School administrators gave a 4-year-old student an in-school   suspension for inappropriately touching a teacher’s aide after the pre-kindergartner   hugged the woman. A letter from La Vega school district administrators to the   student’s parents said that the boy was involved in “inappropriate   physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual   harassment” after he hugged the woman and he “rubbed his face in   the chest of the female employee” on Nov. 10. DaMarcus Blackwell, the   father of the boy who attends La Vega Primary School, said he filed a   complaint with the district. He said that his son doesn’t understand why he   was punished. “When I got that letter, my world flipped,” Blackwell   said in a story in Sunday’s editions of the Waco Tribune-Herald.  La Vega school district officials said   student privacy laws

prevented them from commenting. After   Blackwell filed a complaint, a subsequent letter from the district said the   offense had been changed to “inappropriate physical contact” and   removed references of sexual contact or sexual harassment from the boy’s   file. Administrators said the district’s student handbook contains no   specific guidelines referring to contact between teachers and students but   does state that inappropriate physical contact will result in a discipline   referral (Waco   Tribune-Herald, 2005).

 

Child   suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to   “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months   earlier, Josh Welch, also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for   nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At   about the same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing   an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world (Time,   2013).”

 

Forgotten is the reality that millions of boys are struggling academically. A large and ever-increasing male horde is falling behind in grades and disengaged from school. College has never been more important to a young person’s life prospects, and today boys are far less likely than girls to pursue education beyond high school..

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys.. The obsession of upholding zero tolerance policies is creating hostile environments for young boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”

According to at least one study, such play rarely escalates into real aggression — only about 1% of the time. But when two researchers, Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey, surveyed classroom practices of 98 teachers of 4-year-olds, they found that this style of play was the least tolerated. Nearly half of teachers stopped or redirected boys’ dramatic play daily or several times a week — whereas less than a third reported stopping or redirecting girls’ dramatic play weekly.

Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. Logue and Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to schoolSchools must enforce codes of discipline and maintain clear rules against incivility and malicious behavior. But that hardly requires abolishing tag, imposing games of tug of peace or banning superhero play. Efforts to re-engineer the young-male imagination are doomed to fail, but they will succeed spectacularly in at least one way. They will send a clear and unmistakable message to millions of schoolboys: You are not welcome in school.

 

 

OVERVIEW OF SECTION 504

13 Aug

 

 

            Sec. 504 is a civil rights law and not a special education law. Its purpose is to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination related to their disability in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. SEC. 504 ensures equal, non-discriminatory access to the existing educational process, it does not provide a special or unique educational curriculum or related services. To be eligible for the  protections under Sec. 504 an individual must have a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits  at least one major life activity.” While this statutory measure for identifying a “disability” is vague at best it has been held that such measures should be broadly applied and should not require “extensive analysis.”

          Sec. 504’s disabling qualifications include “specific learning disabilities” which impair activities such as reading or learning. Further, any such impairments are to be considered without regard for the potentially ameliorative effects of mitigating measures (such as medication, assistive technologies, informal accommodations, etc). In this same vein, a student’s academic success alone is not an indicator sufficient to determine that the child does not have a qualifying disability under Sec. 504 or is not a person with a disability entitled to Sec. 504 accommodations.  Congress has specifically rejected the assumption that a child with a specific learning disability,  who performs well academically, cannot have substantially limiting disabilities in activities such as learning and reading. This is because grades alone fail to provide any information as to mitigating factors such as an individuals own adaptive strategies or how medication or other outside resources are required for the student to achieve the grades.

          Sec. 504 requires  all reasonable modifications or accommodations necessary to provide the disabled child equal  “access to an education.” It includes such things as :

          Presentation:              Provide audio tapes, larger print, oral                                           instructions, repeat directions

          Responses:                Allow verbal responses, provide a scribe                                              to record verbal responses, allow                                                 responses via computer or tape recorder

          Timing/scheduling:   Allow frequent breaks, extended time

          Setting :                       Provide special settings, small group settings,                                               private room

          Equipment/materials :  Provide computers, amplification equipment,                                             manipulative      

Lastly, of note is the fact that no federal or state funds are associated with the provision of services under Sec. 504.

SEC. 504 CONTRAST WITH IDEA

          By way of contrast, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a broad special education law. Children who qualify for special education services under IDEA are automatically protected under Sec. 504 and are eligible to receive all Sec. 504 required “reasonable accommodations” or “modifications.” However, the reverse of this is not necessarily true. That is, a child under a Sec. 504 Plan alone, does not automatically qualify for the broad protections provided by IDEA.

          When evaluating the potentially beneficial aspects of these two statutes for your child there is a common misunderstanding  that special education services under IDEA require a special education setting, while Sec. 504 protections allow a child to stay in their regular class room . This is not accurate. While Sec. 504 accommodations are almost always provided in the general classroom setting, IDEA also requires the application of special education services in the “least restrictive environment .“ This includes receipt of services with non-disabled children in the regular classroom whenever possible.      

EVALUATION REQUIREMENTS 

          Sec. 504 does not set out specific circumstances that trigger the school’s obligation to conduct an evaluation. Such a decision is governed by the individual circumstances in each case. If a school does not believe that a child is disabled an evaluation is not required.  In this regard it is important to remember that the particulars related to the actual implementation of the Sec. 504 eligibility remain at the discretion of the local education body. However, in the event of such a non-testing/non-eligibility decision, the parent’s  must be informed of the decision and  be allowed to examine the child’s records. The parents must also must be informed of their due process appeal rights . Such appeal rights may include mediation (if all parties agree). Lastly, an impartial hearing appeal is always available. This allows the parents an opportunity to participate and obtain legal counsel if they desire. 

          If however, the school “believes” or “has reason to believe” that a student has a qualifying Sec 504 disability they must evaluate the student. Such belief could be based upon such things observations/opinions by the school staff or a parental request for an evaluation. Further, such an evaluation always must be conducted before any action is taken with respect to a child’s initial placement  or before there is any change in placement.

          A parental request for a Sec. 504 evaluation should be in writing and addressed to the School’s 504 Coordinator and the Principal (the principal frequently serves as the Coordinator). The request should identify the specific reasons as to why the child qualifies for a Sec. 504 plan, as well as the specific 504 accommodations to which the child is entitled. If you have documentation that supports your request it is helpful to include it. However, given that the implementation of so much of Sec. 504 is left up to the local schools, it is important to obtain a copy of the schools policies/procedures and procedural safeguards before making such an evaluation request or attempting to enforce any of the due process procedural rights.

          For such an evaluation the school is required to assemble and use a team of persons knowledgeable about the student and draw upon varied sources of information. While there is no requirement under Sec. 504 that the parents be allowed to actually participate in making these decisions, many school systems do involve them in the process.  Further, while a Sec. 504 Plan does not have to be in writing, the parents must be provided with notice of actions affecting  the evaluation, identification and placement of the child. Additionally, any decision regarding Sec 504 eligibility and related services must be documented in the student’s file. If a Sec. 504 Plan is actually provided, eligibility and services  must be reviewed periodically.