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Archived News: Across Virginia
February 2013

Webinar on Individual and Family Support Program, Thursday, Feb. 14th, 10am

The Arc of Virginia is hosting a webinar on The Individual and Family Support Program at 10am on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Click here to register for this webinar.

Description: This webinar will provide information about the Individual and Family Support Program. This program assists individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities on the waiting list for the ID or DD Waiver (and their families) to access resources, supports, and services. Some examples include fees for summer camps or recreational services, dental or medical exspenses or home modifications. The annual maximum amount of funds that could be available is $3000.00 per individual per fiscal year. This webinar will enable viewers to learn more about the supports and services that could be paid for with this program, when and how to apply.


The Impact of Collecting and Analyzing Data and Team Communication Being Realized in Wise County!

Wise County Schools have been making steady progress in addressing each of the goals they have developed for their long-term systems change initiative. One goal of the division addresses the development of meaningful and measurable IEP goals through the use of assessment and ongoing data collection. In Fall 2012, all special education professionals in Wise County received training on data collection, including how to write meaningful and measurable IEP goals tied to data, types of data to collect, ways to collect data, and how to analyze data for instructional decision making. This training has been followed up with coaching meetings at each of the schools in Wise County. Division coaches have been meeting monthly with the entire special education team from each school to discuss goals and how to collect data on that goal. The teachers have been stretched to think about data beyond that which is measured by the standard assessments used in inclusive classrooms. Teachers are finding creative ways to collect data on those soft skills that interfere with manyof their students with ASD ability to independently participate in the classroom.

At the last coaching meetings with school SE teams, the teachers were shown how to graph their data and analyze the results. When teachers saw the raw data from a daily observational log converted into a graph with phase change lines, the quality of discussion on what is working/not working with the interventions currently in place significantly increased. One teacher had graphed her data prior to the coaching meeting. She had connected data points across Thanksgiving and Winter Break. The visual display of data made it look like there was no significant change in behavior. A slight increase in the trend was observed but there was too much bounce in the data. When the data was re-graphed with a break in the connection of data points over Thanksgiving and Winter break, the teacher’s eyes lit up when she realized that the data was actually looking good for this student. His behavior “time on-task” had been going up before each break. After the break, it went down slightly but quickly recovered to pre-break levels. The power of graphing data for making instructional decisions was realized in that moment by the entire school team.

Coaching and working with the SE staff at each school as a team has had many benefits: the team has been learning together about data, the team has been supporting one another in the collection of data, and the team is more aware of each of the student’s needs across their school. The teachers have been able to share important information about a student they had worked with in the past and other teachers are hearing about students they will be receiving in the next years. The ultimate benefit for the student with ASD is a team of teachers who are comprehensively and collectively addressing the needs of their students with ASD.


Social Skills Initiative Well Underway in Botetourt County Schools!

Botetourt County Schools have been moving at a steady-pace in addressing their division goal to systematically address the implementation of evidence-based practices associated with the learning of social skills. After having received training and coaching in the completion of a social skill assessment, the secondary special education teachers have been taking the information gathered and determining critical skills to target, students that have similar needs, and lessons that need to be taught.

As planning for social skill groups has wrapped up, each of the secondary schools has begun to implement a social skills group for targeted students with autism spectrum disorders. To provide for continuity of services and ensure multiple opportunities for the practice of critical social skills, each school is working as a team that includes special education teachers, speech therapists, and instructional assistants. Students are receiving systematic instruction several days a week from published social skills curriculums that have been aligned with the assessment. Opportunities to practice learned skills are being provided through the use of peer supports and activities with peers.

The coaches and teachers in Botetourt County have been working hard to bring together resources, and identify time, staff, and students as a part of this initiative. This enthusiastic group is bringing their own skills and expertise to the table as they move this social skill initiative forward in Botetourt County.


Paraprofessional Training Standards Approved by VA Board of Education!

In April 2012, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 325 which requires that by September 2014, paraprofessionals who are assigned to work with a teacher who has primary oversight of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receive training in student behavioral management within 60 days of assignment to such responsibility. In January 2013, the Virginia Board of Education passed the training standards related to this bill. The document entitled Training Standards for Paraprofessionals Assigned to Work with a Teacher Who Has Primary Oversight of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders is now available through the Virginia Department of Education and is also on the VCU-ACE website.

These training standards were developed in collaboration with VCU-ACE and feedback was obtained from stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth. Because behavior management is complex, competencies to be demonstrated include those beyond basic fundamentals of behavior, and include principles and strategies to reduce interfering behavior, build positive skills, enhance communication, and deliver individualized instruction. Schools divisions may meet these standards through a variety of training methods, including school district developed training. VCU-ACE provides training, which meets these standards, through an online course and in limited live training opportunities. Guidelines for paraprofessional training are currently being developed by the VA Department of Education and will be available soon.


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