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U.S. Department of Education Launches New Idea Website

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Site features updated and expanded information, improved navigation and design
 
JUNE 1, 2017
 
Contact:   (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov" style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(126, 93, 142);">press@ed.gov
 
  

Today, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new website dedicated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos directed the Department to expedite the development of a new, updated and more robust site specific to the IDEA after the Department's Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 (Legacy) site experienced a prolonged outage in February due to technical issues.

"The launch of this new and improved site is a big win for children with disabilities, their families and the entire IDEA community," said Secretary DeVos. "It is incumbent upon the government to provide accessible and accurate information to our citizens. That's why one of my first actions as Secretary was to order the Department to fix and revitalize its woefully outdated IDEA site so that parents, educators and service providers could readily access the resources they need.

"The Department will continue to improve upon the new site by seeking and incorporating feedback from IDEA stakeholders in the coming months. We are committed to ensuring all children with disabilities and their families have the supports and services guaranteed under the IDEA."

The Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) spent more than two months collecting feedback from parents, educators, administrators, service providers and advocates for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities as to what they would like to see on a new IDEA site.

The initial launch of the new website incorporates feedback such as improved search capabilities, expanded content and an easier-to-navigate design compared to the previous Legacy site.

The IDEA is a law that ensures a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. IDEA stakeholders can continue to provide feedback on the new IDEA website to the Department on the OSERS Blog.

How People Learn: An Evidence-Based Approach

Four students are swinging on a swing set, and another student is standing by one of them.

 

 

Proposals to "professionalize teaching" are popular today, but agreement about what this should entail is elusive. At Deans for Impact, an organization composed of leaders of programs that prepare new teachers, we believe that part of what distinguishes members of a profession is general agreement on a body of domain-specific knowledge that is relevant to practice. We recently released "The Science of Learning," a report that summarizes the cognitive science related to how students learn. The principles in this post are drawn from that report.   

Teachers will always need to use their knowledge of students and content to make professional judgments about classroom practice. However, we believe the art of teaching should also be informed by a robust understanding of the learning sciences so that teachers can align their decisions with our profession's best understanding of how students learn.

6 Scientific Principles Every Teacher Should Know

Unfortunately, our education system is rife with misconceptions and confusion about learning. So let's clear away the myths and focus on well-established cognitive principles and their implications for the classroom:

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Teacher Shortages: Top 10 Ideas from the First State ESSA Plans

 

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A large body of research over the last decade points to the critical importance of teachers. Yet recent AIR research for the National Center on Education Statistics adds to the mounting evidence-base that shows students from poor and minority backgrounds are systematically shortchanged in their access to qualified, experienced, and excellent teachers.

These challenges with ensuring students have equitable access to great teachers are exacerbated by teacher shortages, which AIR researchers have found to be a growing topic of policy dialogue and media coverage. There is no better place for states to address this pressing challenge than through their ESSA plans.

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5 ways teachers can improve student learning based on current brain research

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How students can better overcome language and reading problems thanks to the plastic brain and teacher know-how.

The brain is an experience-dependent organ. From our very earliest days, the brain begins to map itself to our world as we experience it through our senses. The mapping is vague and fuzzy at first, like a blurred photograph or an un-tuned piano. However, the more we interact with the world, the more well-defined our brain maps become until they are fine-tuned and differentiated. But each person’s map will vary, with some sensory experiences more distinct than others depending on the unique experiences and the clarity and frequency of the sensations he or she has experienced.

Educators can positively influence students’ learning by understanding how the brain is shaped by their early experiences—and how it can be rewired and reorganized to work more quickly and efficiently.

The Plastic Brain and the Critical Period

Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, refers to the brain’s ability to change with experience. In infancy and early childhood, a brain is so “plastic” that its structure is easily changed by simple exposure to new things in the environment. This time is sometimes called “the critical period,” or “the sensitive period.” [NOTE: the term ‘critical period’ although popular a couple of decades ago it is rarely used anymore because we understand plasticity better and realize new skills can be acquired long after the early developmental period, hence it is not really “critical”.]

Consider, for example, how babies easily learn the sounds of language and words by listening to their parents speak. Inside the brain, what this learning looks like is the brain actually reorganizing itself to change its own structure and create new sound maps that reflect the sounds of their native language. These sound maps are then interconnected with other maps and nodes to form interconnected networks so sound can be linked to meaning.

Networks can be expansive. For example, the sound map needed to recognize the word “pen” might first be connected to the meaning connoting a writing instrument, but over time, “pen” might be part of a network for comprehending “pen” as a verb meaning to write, then part of a word referring to legibility, “penmanship” and perhaps later to farm regions, like a pig pen.  Networks will also develop to allow words to be used in grammatical sentences then organized for reading.

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Preschool, A State-By-State Update

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More states than ever are providing publicly funded preschool. That's according to a new report from the researchers at the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER, who have been tracking state preschool policies and programs since 2002.

In 2016, the report found, 43 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, provide publicly funded preschool. They serve about 1.5 million children across the country — mostly 3- and 4-year-olds. Total state spending on preschool is now about $7.4 billion, an eight percent increase over last year. That increase has pushed spending to nearly $5,000 per child.

Last year 24 states increased spending per child. California and Texas saw some of the biggest increases.

 

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