How Do I Make Sense of IEP Evaluation or Private Testing Data?

We are in a data-driven world here in education. But the challenge is that so much of the information is next to impossible to interpret. As educators, it's easy to get wrapped up in state standardized assessment results. So when you are thrown a child's IEP it can be hard to make sense of all those tests and how they correlate to what you are seeing on state standardized testing...and more importantly, in the classroom.

Typically a comprehensive evaluation (either the IEP Eligibility, Triennial Testing Report, or a Private evaluation) should consist of testing in one or more of the following areas:

I'm Concerned About a Student - Who Should Do the Testing?

As a teacher, you may have concerns about the progress of some of your students. While many of them are getting the concepts easily - you may have a handful who aren't. It can be difficult to determine when you should take things to the next level. 

If you're wondering when it might make sense to refer, check out our 8 Key Signs that it May Be Time to Refer for Testing!

So, once you've decided you want to make the referral you may be wondering who should do the evaluation. You typically have two options.

8 Key Signs That It May Be Time to Refer a Student for Testing

As educators, we go into this field because we want to make a difference, we want to teach students all the things they need to know to be successful academically so that the world is open to them. This is why it's beyond frustrating as educators when what we are teaching doesn't seem to be sinking in.

We question whether we aren't teaching the concepts correctly or if we are missing something. We question if the student isn't resonating with the material and if not, why. We question if the student just doesn't care or isn't engaged. We have all sorts of questions.

Sometimes we wonder when it makes sense to ask that a student is evaluated and when to talk with a family about concerns. We have compiled our top 8 key signs to watch for when determining whether or not to refer a student for further testing.

Helping Your Students Regulate Their Emotions

Hi again teachers, 

Earlier this month we talked about the kids in your class that through a series of events have taken on the title "troublemaker." If you haven't read that blog yet, you can find it here. 

Today I wanted to discuss strategies you can use to help the students in your classroom who struggle with emotional regulation. A lot of the time, these students are the same ones as mentioned above. School is hard, there might be underlying struggles, and they need support as they learn effective and appropriate ways to communicate their feelings with the world. 

#1 Tip for Helping Your Students Time Block Their Homework

We hope you are enjoying our theme this month - Executive Functioning!  This week we want to turn our focus to time blocking. This is a concept that a lot of us are already familiar with (you have your literacy block, math, lunch, etc.) but did you know that you can change a child's educational outlook with time-blocking too?

One of the most common things we hear when families are looking for Learning Evaluations for their children is that "homework takes forever." This is a tell-tale sign that the child might be struggling somewhere academically.  This could be attention, dyslexia, or a number of other learning disabilities. While it probably doesn't actually take "forever" to complete the assignment, there is a point where your child may be spending too much time on homework. 

How to Teach Your Students to Self-Monitor Their Attention

One of the most common struggles for children is the ability to pay attention.  Yet, we rarely teach them (at least not in depth) how to do this. 

Attention looks very different then just quiet mouths, still hands, and watching eyes. It can also look different for every child.  Some students need to be sitting still in order to optimize their attention, others need some sort of stimulation (a fidget or differentiated seating). It can be hard to know when a child is paying attention without asking them a question about what they were hearing/working on.  This can make monitoring your student's attention difficult without making them feel singled out. 

1 Easy Way To Encourage Positive Behavior In Your Classroom

If you read our blog from last week, you know that kids with Executive Functioning Issues tend to struggle in the classroom (if you haven't checked out last week's blog yet you can read it here)  These behaviors can look like laziness and even defiance, but they stem from underdeveloped Executive Processes. 

For many of these students, big tasks can overwhelm them.  Luckily, there are several little things we, as educators, can do to help these students throughout the day.  Today we're going to talk about one of the easiest ways to encourage positive behavior in the classroom: put your schedule on the board. 

A Letter to Teachers about Their "Troublemaker"

Hi Teachers, Congrats on (almost) making it through another school year! As the year winds down I wanted to reach out with a note about that one kid in your class (you probably have him/her in mind right now) who seems like their goal is to cause trouble.

These kids are notorious for not doing what they are told, talking out, losing their work, and overreacting. From a teacher's eye, these behaviors can seem disrespectful and rude and they can be hard to manage when you have 20-30 other kids looking to you for direction. We want to help.

3 Ways to Build Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in the Classroom

Receptive and expressive language skills play in large part in how we communicate with other people. Students with expressive/receptive language disorders face a number of challenges in school. It is estimated that 1 in 20 students has some type of language disorder. These students are often working overtime to cope with their challenges and can go undetected or misunderstood.

The Importance of Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the sounds (or phonemes) in words. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. For example, the spoken word "dog" can be broken down into three separate and distinct phonemes or sounds: /d/ /o/ /g/.

Developing phonemic awareness is important because it creates the building blocks for spelling and word recognition skills. Phonemic awareness is one of the best indicators of how well children will learn to read during the first two years of school. Students at risk for reading challenges often have lower levels of phonemic awareness than their peers.

4 Ways to Support Visual Motor Skills

Visual motor skills, also called visual motor integration, refers to the skills that combine visual skills, visual perception skills, and motor skills. These are skills that use our eyes and hands in a coordinated way.  For example, if I was looking at a picture of square and wanted to replicate the shape onto a new sheet of paper, having strong visual motor skills will allow me to do this task correctly.  Poor visual motor skills will make this task more challenging. Essentially, we want our brain, eyes, and hands all to work together in an efficient way!

1 Reason Your Comprehension Instruction May Not Be Getting You The Results You Want

Over the past twenty years, I have observed a transformation in the teaching of reading from an approach that measured readers' successful understanding of text through lengthy packets of comprehension questions to one that requires students to think about their thinking, activating their "good reader" strategies. 

Suspect Dyslexia? The Time to Talk to Parents is Now!

Spring break is in the air and that has me thinking about summer. It will be here before we know it! This is the time of year where we begin to think about sending our students on, making them leave the nest, and preparing them for what’s to come. This time of year always has me unsettled as I think about these things.

The thought of the summer slide also leaves me feeling full or worry and anxiety. We have all seen this. We know that no matter how much front-loading we do leading up to the summer break, that if students don’t engage – even for just 20 minutes a day – with reading over the summer that they stand to lose up to three months of reading growth. This thought alone keeps me up at night. We begin every new school year setting aside the first 4-6 weeks to re-teach or review material that students have forgotten over the summer. We call this the dreaded Summer Slide.

Moving Beyond Questions to Assess Comprehension

Making meaning from text is the ultimate goal of learning how to read. Most often, comprehension questions are used to determine what students understand about the books they have read.

There are two types of questions that are used; explicit and implicit. Explicit questions are questions that are explicitly stated in the text, these are considered “right there” questions because students can look back in the text and find the answer stated clearly in black and white.

Comprehension Strategy Instruction Should be a Spiral

Comprehension is defined as making meaning from text.

Thus, readers derive meaning from text when they engage in intentional, problem solving thinking processes while reading. Research shows that text comprehension is enhanced when readers actively relate the ideas represented in print to their own knowledge and experiences.

The rationale for the explicit teaching of comprehension skills is that comprehension can be improved by teaching students to use specific cognitive strategies. Readers gain these strategies informally to some extent, but explicit or formal instruction in the application of comprehension strategies has been shown to be highly effective in improving understanding. The teacher generally demonstrates such strategies for students until the students are able to carry them out independently.

The 4 Most Common Reasons for Breakdowns in Comprehension

Reading words without understanding is a string of meaningless noise. – Don Holdaway

The ultimate goal of reading is to make meaning or glean information from text – to comprehend what has been read. For some students, reaching this level of the reading process can be quite difficult. It is important to understand the underlying causes of breakdowns in comprehension.

The 4 Most Common Reasons for Breakdowns in Comprehension

10 Must Haves for Orton-Gillingham Intervention

So I don't know about all of you, but when I started out delivering OG intervention privately I was on a tight budget to get all the supplies I needed for my students! And - I travel to see my students so I needed materials that were easy to take along with me! Many of you have been asking us - what are the materials I absolutely must have?!

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