CEC Strands

Sessions in a strand have a common thread. Follow your passion for specific content through an entire strand, or just a few sessions. Either way, you’ll experience a topic in depth and from many different perspectives. Earn professional development hours for every strand session you attend!

Thursday, February 8

STRAND A: Research Focused on Improving Outcomes for Students With Disabilities in Elementary and Middle School: Highlights From Projects Funded by the National Center for Special Education Research

Leaders: Joan McLaughlin and Sarah Brasiel, National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

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This strand will present research results and implications for educational practice from five rigorous studies, including studies to iteratively develop and pilot test new interventions and randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of fully developed interventions. Studies to be presented focus on improving the academic outcome of elementary and middle school students with or at risk for disabilities either directly through student-level interventions or indirectly through teacher professional development. The presenters are researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Special Education Research in the Institute of Education Sciences. The study participants are diverse and represent a range of ages, disability categories, and need for additional supports. Recommendations for practice include programs and instructional practices specifically targeted to improve writing, math, and vocabulary outcomes for students with or at risk for disability.

STRAND B: Culturally Responsive Teachers, Classrooms, and Schools
Leaders: : Denise Whitford, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Roughly half of public school children and youth are classified as culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD), whereas less than 10% of their teachers and administrators are classified as CLD. This difference in backgrounds can have an impact on student expectations, achievement, and general outcomes. The literature regarding the implementation and outcomes of culturally responsive practices is substantial.  Our strand will provide evidence and practical strategies for culturally responsive implementation at the individual, classroom, and schoolwide levels, and in preservice teacher preparation.  We will focus on in-depth content coverage regarding culturally responsive practices in three areas: (a) individual and classroom implementation, specifically in relation to literacy instruction, (b) schoolwide implementation, specifically in relation to SWPBIS, and (c) preservice teacher preparation, specifically in relation to adequately satisfying accreditation standards.  The first session will focus on the importance of culturally relevant literature in our classrooms. The authors will give examples of how commercial literature can be used to enhance children’s view of themselves and to build social skills. Most of this session will be devoted to describing how the author and her professional team created a curriculum of culturally relevant passages for African American students in urban schools and how these stories were used to improve reading fluency and comprehension. Empirical data will be used to verify these positions.  The second session will focus on the effort and experiences of the research team in obtaining African American parents’ and students’ input to develop culturally responsive social skill curriculum for teaching schoolwide expectations to elementary African American students. Content of the session will include the importance of blending cultural responsiveness and SWPBIS, development of culturally responsive social skill curriculum based on parents’ and students’ input and cultural perspectives, and implementation of the culturally responsive instruction in supporting African American students’ learning.  The third session will focus on the integration of cultural responsivity in teacher preparation programs, particularly with an eye toward accreditation. Content of the session will include detailed information and resources that teacher preparation programs can use to facilitate the in-depth development and long-term use of cultural competency among preservice teachers. The strand will focus on culturally responsive pedagogy which will directly impact learners, families, and educators of diverse groups.

STRAND C: Low-Intensity Strategies to Support Behavior for School Success
Leader: Kathleen Lynne Lane, University of Kansas, Lawrence

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The presenters in this strand provide step-by-step instruction on three low-intensity, teacher delivered strategies integrated into everyday instructional practices: active supervision (AS), behavior-specific praise (BSP), and high-probability request sequence (HPRS). General and special educators may benefit from learning feasible, proactive strategies with empirical support to suggest if implemented with integrity, they will yield desired shifts in student performance. These three strategies have been shown to increase academic behaviors (e.g., on-task, completion, accuracy) and reduce inappropriate behaviors (e.g., off-task, disruptive, noncompliance). To prevent problem behaviors before they occur and to reinforce prosocial behaviors, schools are adopting tiered prevention models such as comprehensive, integrated, three-tiered (Ci3T) models of prevention and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). You will learn how AS, BSP, and HPRS can be implemented for all students (Tier 1), some students (Tier 2), and a few students (Tier 3) by both general and special educators. You will also understand the importance of using multiple sources of schoolwide data collected within regular school practices to connect students to supports such as these three strategies and learn how to implement strategies with integrity. Relying on data facilitates equal access for all students to needed supports, regardless of student culture, race, disability, gender, or other demographics.

STRAND D: Autism in Focus: What Works, What Doesn't, and How to Know the Difference
Leaders: Jordan Shurr, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant; Jason Travers, University of Kansas, Lawrence; Kevin Ayres, University of Georgia, Athens

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Autism is a hot topic both within and outside of special education. Although there is benefit in the surge of public interest in topics related to autism, increased attention does not always equate to accurate information. This strand will focus on current key topics related to autism. Each presentation will address the issue from both a practical and research-based viewpoint to describe the issue and the context, as well as to provide practical tips and resources for use by school personnel. In the first session, presenters will discuss current controversy and issues regarding applied behavior analysis (ABA) as well as its research base as an effective practice. Session two will focus on prevalent and some lesser known autism interventions which lack a research base and include information for understanding and identifying unsubstantiated and/or dangerous practices. The third and final session will provide strategies for locating, identifying, and evaluating research-based practices, as well as examples of effective research-based practices for students with autism. Specific attention will be given to aspects of diversity when understanding and applying research-based practice.

Friday, February 9

STRAND E: OSEP IDEAs That Work: Highlighting Practices and Resources to Improve Outcomes for Children With Disabilities

Leaders: Larry Wexler and Renee Bradley, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

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The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice strand will once again highlight critical issue topics in special education and early intervention.  The individual sessions will focus on highlighting the transfer of the best we know into classrooms, natural environments, schools, and communities.  Leading researchers and practitioners from around the country, supported by the IDEA Part D National Programs, will present evidenced-based findings, practices, resources and technology that will lead to improved outcomes for children with disabilities and their families.  Each session will begin with an overview to set the national context for the topical issue, an overview of current evidence, next steps in practice, and resources for follow up.  Sessions are designed for practitioners, school and district leaders, early intervention providers, and teacher trainers and are designed as stand-alone sessions so you can attend one or all of them.  Time will be scheduled for question and answers and resources will be shared in each session.

STRAND F: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going in Supporting Children and Youth With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Leader: Timothy Lewis, University of Missouri, Columbia

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The bleak postsecondary outcomes for children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) and those at-risk are well documented. Longitudinal research reports that over half of students with EBD drop out of school and less than half of those that remain graduate with a diploma. Students with EBD, in comparison to other students with disabilities and typically developing children and youth, also experience the highest rates of unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and mental health issues. This strand will present a series of sessions examining systematic review of past research and make recommendations for future research and the adoption of evidence-based practices, using What Works Clearinghouse and CEC standards. The content of the strand’s sessions include (a) the current state of evidence supporting practices for students with challenging behavior, (b) limitations in the knowledge-base and recommendations for future research, (c) implications for policy, and (d) implications for practitioners. Across the strand, implications for researchers and practitioners will be a focal point.  In addition, issues of disproportionality and overrepresentation of minority students related to exclusionary discipline practices and to challenging behavior will be discussed.

STRAND G: From Stranger to Ally: Building and Maintaining Trusting Family-Professional Partnerships
Leaders: Tracy Gershwin Mueller, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley; Kathleen Kyzar, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth

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Research indicates educators lack instruction specific to IEP meeting practice and the development of collaborative family-professional partnerships. Given this, it is not surprising educators have rated partnerships with families as a key occupational challenge. If not addressed, this discrepancy between on-the-job educator expectations and IDEA mandates for parent participation may become a source of family-professional conflict. This strand will inform participants of (a) the results of a national survey on the status of pre- and inservice professional development specific to family-professional partnerships and (b) research-based family-professional partnership practices that are designed to be embedded within existing pre- and inservice professional development programs. Sessions will be led by members of the Family Research Committee of the CEC Division for Research and will emphasize culturally responsive practices designed to address diverse family needs.

STRAND H: How to Reach Hard to Reach Students Using Intensive Intervention: An In-Depth Look at How Team Building, Data Analysis, and Intensification Processes Can Impact Student Outcomes

Leader: Louis Danielson, American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.

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This strand will discuss practical recommendations educational decision makers should consider when working to meet the needs of all students in today’s schools through the use of data-based decision making and implementation of intensive intervention. Presenters will discuss lessons learned from more than two decades of national implementation efforts, review tools and strategies, and provide guidance to practitioners seeking to efficiently impact outcomes for students who demonstrate severe and persistent academic and behavioral needs. To achieve these objectives, the content of this strand will include models for aligning academic and behavioral interventions, resources for systematically intensifying instruction for students who have not responded to previous interventions, a review of available tools intended to streamline the decision-making process for intervention teams, and efficient and effective strategies for data collection, analysis, and data-based decision making. Strand presenters will also focus on the importance of selecting culturally and linguistically responsive assessment and instructional tools for providing intensive interventions. Join us and learn about available tools to support your work implementing and refining intervention systems. You will also have opportunities to practice using these tools and to discuss any questions you may have about their use.

Saturday, February 10

STRAND I: Integrating Transition Content Into Academic Instruction
Leader: David Test, National TA Center on Transition, UNC Charlotte

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Recent federal rulings (e.g., Endrew v. Douglas County) have highlighted the need for instruction to be specially designed based on the unique needs of individual students with disabilities. One way educators can meet the unique individual needs of their students is to integrate transition skills and goals within academic instruction. This strand will provide strategies from high-quality research for infusing transition skills into the academic content areas of reading, writing, science, and math for students with disabilities. Presentations will translate research behind instructional strategies, including GO 4 it Now, story-based lessons, inquiry-based science, and pictorial self-instruction, highlighting implications for educators and transition professionals. Within each content area, presenters will discuss a strengths-based approach for valuing the diversity of students, proposing transition-infused academic instruction as a means for overcoming barriers to successful postsecondary outcomes for diverse students with disabilities.

STRAND J: Culturally and Linguistically Responsive RTI Literacy Instruction and Interventions for English Learners With or At-Risk for Disabilities
Leader: Julie Esparza Brown, Portland State University, OR

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English Learners (ELs) with disabilities continue to be disproportionately represented across states ranging from a low of 1% to a high of 30.3%.  School teams often struggle with how to provide appropriate academic support to ELs, both in core instruction and intervention.  Further, there is little guidance for teams when making special education eligibility decisions.  Panelists from three U.S. Department of ED (OSEP) Model Demonstration Projects for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching for ELs at-risk or with disabilities will share research-based strategies for instruction and intervention that address their language and literacy needs. Processes for eligibility decisions for these students will also be examined.

STRAND K: Moving Forward: The Path to Effective Sexual Health Education for Students With Disabilities

Anna Treacy, University of Nevada, Reno; Elizabeth Harkins, University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown; Ruth Eyres, Easter Seals Arkansas, Little Rock/University of Memphis, TN;  Victoria Slocum, Morehead State University, KY; and Christine Scholma, Trinity Christian College, IL

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The lack of knowledge regarding sexual health places students with disabilities at risk for sexual abuse and exploitation, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual health education is taught to students with disabilities reactively instead of preventively. This strand will present current research and best practice for teaching sexual health education to students with disabilities.  Topics will include (a) historical context of sexual health and disability, (b) broad contextual understanding of the current policies influencing and effecting sexual health education for people with disabilities in the United States, (c) barriers to teaching sexual health education, and (d) best practice for teaching sexual health to students with disabilities. The discussion of diversity in this strand will include arising policy issues and barriers in relation to intersectionality, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Resources and handouts will be provided to participants regarding sexual health education curriculum by disability category as defined in IDEA 2004. Models of curriculum will be presented that use self-determination and collaboration to promote the sexual health of students with disabilities.