Saturday, January 26, 2008

Response to Intervention, Learning Disabilities, and IQ

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup.

Will we continue testing intelligence? The new Response to Intervention model raises questions about the role of intelligence testing in the future. Do we need it anymore?

School psychologists around the country are among those watching closely as the Response to Intervention model gets implemented. The reason? Intelligence testing has long been controversial and is an expensive component of identifying children for special education services.

"Getting paid for giving IQ tests over the past 35 years has been very, very good to me," said one school psychologist recently in a forum I'll leave nameless. In the context of the larger discussion, to be fair, the remark wasn't as mercenary as it might sound in isolation.

Will we keep giving IQ tests? That question seems to be on the lips of every certified school psychologist, as well as the superintendents who have to pay them and the school principals who have to wait for testing to get done.

Obviously we will continue to give IQ tests when we suspect that a child is mentally impaired. And ruling out mental impairment has been a part of identifying a child as being emotionally disturbed for the last few years; that doesn't look set to change.

IQ tests for learning disabilities? James B. Hale, Ph.D., had this to say after the new regulations were made public: "A quick read over of the regs suggests that after a child does not RTI (respond to intervention), the regs support our position that we should be doing a comprehensive evaluation, including an evaluation of cognitive processes..." Hale is a certified school psychologist and special education teacher who now teaches as part of the graduate program in school psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Hale's remarks were part of a discussion of the issue on a National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) listserv.

Guy M. McBride, Ph.D., is a school psychologist in North Carolina who disagrees with Hale and said so as part of the NASP discussion. "A school may (not must) include cognitive testing but it is not a requirement...," said McBride. "Those who argue that a comprehensive evaluation should always include cognitive testing... are welcome to make those arguments." But McBride believes that under the new regulations individual school districts will make that decision. He says those districts, "would only be obliged to always administer cognitive tests under the LD category if the agency believed it was always appropriate to do so."

The disagreement is easy to explain: the new regulations are not exactly crystal clear in their meaning. The section entitled Evaluations, Eligibility Determinations, Individualized Education Programs, and Educational Placements begins with §300.300 on page 1429 of the new regulations. In the 24 pages that follow we learn that:

  • Parental consent is still required in order to evaluate a child to determine if they are, in the words of the policy, "A child with a disability." That means that normal classroom interventions, like having a child spend half an hour a day for a week in a Tier II session on conjugating irregular verbs might get looked at in the evaluation process, but those sessions don't constitute an evaluation process in and of themselves. It's worth noting that once the school obtains permission to evaluate a child to decide if the child has a disability, there is still a 60-day timeline in place for making the decision.

  • The evaluation process must "Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child" and must "Not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability."

  • Whatever might be involved in deciding that a child is mentally impaired or autistic, there are additional procedures for identifying children with specific learning disabilities. And while each individual state will have to come up with guidelines for determining what constitutes a learning disability in that state, the new regs make it plain that states "Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability" (emphasis added) and "Must permit the use of a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention."
Many educators and observers seem to be operating under the misunderstanding that classroom interventions will be the process for identifying children with learning disabilities - and that we'll never have to give another IQ test when we suspect learning disabilities. Judging from the new regs, they're wrong. But the idea that a formal and complete process of IQ testing will still be required appears dubious, and appears to be left up to individual states.

There's much more to say on the issue. And we'll look more closely at the question soon...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Race Before the GOP Vote in Florida and the Dems in SC

First let's talk about Rudy. I saw a story early in the week on a Giuliani meet and greet gone bad. Ron Paul's people have been after Giuliani since at least July, when he was booed over his tax statements at a town hall meeting in Jacksonville, Florida.

Giuliani showed up at TooJay's Original Gourmet Deli in Palm Beach Gardens on Tuesday. Ron Paul supporters held up signs that made TV footage of Giuliani look like an ad for candidate Paul. Then when Rudy tried to take questions, the Ron Paul supporters started to chant "Ron Paul! Ron Paul!" It was so loud, according to the Associated Press, that "no one cold think, much less speak."

Could things get worse? Always, of course. Abortion protestor showed up. Giuliani has the most pro-choice position and history of any of the GOP candidates. Rudy gave up and left...

The NY Times endorsed McCain this week. The Times felt compelled to explain why it had not back Giuliani:
Why, as a New York-based paper, are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? ... What about the man who stood fast on Sept. 11, when others, including President Bush, went AWOL?

That man is not running for president.

The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square.

Mr. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking....

The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city’s and the country’s nightmare to promote his presidential campaign.
Ouch!If you're a Giuliani supporter, that's gotta hurt a little...

I saw bits and pieces of the GOP debate last night. Huckabee was asked a question about cutting taxes and made some interesting remarks on China....

Huckabee blew his own horn for a few moments about how great a governor of Arkansas he was on taxes. Then he changed the subject and discussed his perspective on the concerns of average Americans over the economy.

"...frankly, in talking about the stimulus package, one of the concerns that I have is that we'll probably end up borrowing this $150 billion from the Chinese. And when we get those rebate checks, most people are going to go out and buy stuff that's been imported from China. I have to wonder whose economy is going to be stimulated the most by the package."

meHuckabee suggested that a public works project to strengthen America's infrastructure would be money better spent. Of course, it wouldn't be spent as quickly (the point of a stimulus package).

"I'd like to suggest that maybe we add two lanes of highway from Bangor all the way to Miami on I-95. A third of the United States population lives within 100 miles of that... This nation's infrastructure is falling apart. And if we built those lanes of highways -- with American labor, American steel, American concrete -- I believe it would do more to stimulate the economy."

He called it "a long- term stimulus package that I think would have more impact on the American long-term future."

Huckabee's China statement sounds like he thinks there's something wrong with stimulating China's economy. If we manage to stimulate our own economy (which seems to be the goal) why do we care if someone else's economy happens to benefit, too, as a side effect? Globalization has made it hard to isolate the American economy from other economies, and I'm not sure why we want to.

As for borrowing money from China, China held $386 billion worth of US Treasury bonds in November (the last month for which figures are available); that's down from a high of about $420 billion in March of 2007. It's about 16% of our Treasury Bond debt held by other countries. So borrowing money (by selling Treasury Bond) is basically the way the Bush Administration is paying for things. Why should this be different?

Later Sen. McCain was asked a question about the economy. McCain said this:
We will clean up our act and we will regain the confidence of the American people as being careful stewards of our tax dollars, and we will fix this problem with having to borrow money from China, because then we will balance our budget...
What puzzles me is why no one mentions Japan. China may hold 16% of our Treasury Bonds, but Japan holds 25%. We owe Japan $194 billion more when those bonds come due than we owe China. Doesn't that make Japan the real problem?

The China discussion went on. Romney called China tough competition: "They're going to be a much tougher competition, China is, competitor, than we have seen from Europe in a long time."

Giuliani said that China was both an opportunity and a warning, but mostly an opportunity: "I think we have to look at the rise of China as a wonderful opportunity. I see 20 (million) or 30 million people coming out of poverty in China every year. To me, that's 20 (million) or 30 million more customers for the United States." Giuliani seemed to have the most developed and thought out policy on China. And the most positive.

On the Democratic side, John Edwards came out of the Democratic Debate in SC with a new constituency. He now leads "the grown-up wing of the Democratic Party," according to one news source. Clinton and Obama, in other words, acted like children...

Alaska's former senator, Mike Gravel, has returned to the campaign trail after beating something like the flu. Of the nine candidates still running in the two major parties, he's the only remaining candidate without at least a couple of delegates committed to him. Gravel has been out of the Senate since 1981 and now lives in Virginia. Senator Gravel is campaigning in Florida and doing his best to get Bush and Cheney impeached in his spare time.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kucinich Drops Out

Dennis Kucinich has dropped out of the presidential race and will instead focus on keeping his Congressional seat for Ohio. A six-term incumbent in the House, Kucinich has four challengers lined up to try and beat him out of his own party's nomination for that Congressional seat this year. He has less than six weeks before Ohio's March 4th Democratic primary...

Kucinich was never in danger of becoming the Democratic nominee for President. My guess is that many people doubts about his personality were reinforced when he admitted during one of the debates that he'd seen UFO's.

Today in TEMPO

I glance at Tempo fairly regularly and today's version has the first paragraph of this story at the top of the page.

Hillary Clinton dan John McCain kemarin memimpin dalam poling nasional para pemilih Amerika Serikat paling baru. Survei yang dilakukan Los Angeles Times dan Bloomberg News, menunjukkan senator Clinton dengan sembilan poin di depan saingan beratnya di Partai Demokrat Barack Obama. Tapi angka itu lebih rendah dari poling terakhir pada Desember tahun lalu saat ia memimpin di depan dengan selisih 24 poin.

The first sentence isn't too difficult: Hillary Clinton and John McCain yesterday led inside (the) most recent national polls (for their) American political constituent groups (read "parties").

The second sentence isn't hard, either: The survey that was performed by the LA Times and Bloomberg News, shows Senator Clinton with nine points in front of the rival score of Democrat Barach Obama.

The third sentence is a little harder. I'll try and break it into phrases...

  • Tapi angka itu lebih rendah... But that (is a) lower score (difference)...
  • ...dari poling terakhir pada Desember tahun lalu saat... ...from polling done (or finished) at a moment in time (in) December of last year...
  • ...ia memimpin di depan dengan selisih 24 poin. ...(when) she led, in front with a difference of 24 points.
In other words, But that is a smaller lead than polls showed in December, when Hillary led by 24 points. I think...

Anyway, Indonesia's leading magazine is discussing American presidential politics on its front page today...

Lunches this Week...

This week's lunches...

Monday - A holiday. Cheryl and I woke up in Redhouse, Maryland. That's about 6 hours from home. I was sick on Saturday and Sunday, but well enough to travel on Monday. I think my food intake for the day was a sandwich at Quiznos in Bluefield at about 5:30pm.

Tuesday - I stayed home and went to the doctor's. Don't remember eating anything until dinner - a bowl of potato soup at Big Daddy's (Tazewell County's best restaurant).

Wednesday - Still home sick. I had two scrambled eggs around lunch time.

Thursday (Today) - Soup and bread. I mixed Campbell’s Select's Italian Tomato with Basil & Garlic with some of their Golden Butternut Squash soup and top it off with mozzarella cheese. I took some French bread to school to dip in it.

Tomorrow (Friday) - If there's school I'll take leftovers: fried potatoes, green beans and boneless pork chops. Right now it looks as though it may be a snow day.

That's the week...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kehidupan (Life)

Saya sakit hari ini. Dan kemarin dan kemarin dulu. Dan Minggu dan Sabtu. Lima hari-hari sakit. Saya hidung sakit. Saya telinga kiri sakit. Saya kerongkongan sakit. Saya panas. Saya badan seluruh sakit.

Saya pergi dokter kermarin. Dia memberi saya obat. Dia katanya tidak bekerja selama dua hari.

Saya pergi rumah. Saya minum teh. Saya tidur...

Saya tidak begitu sakit sekarang. Saya pergi bejerka besok. Saya guru di sekolah dasar.

Well, there's my first try at blogging in the Indonesia language. Here's a rough translation, followed by a word list...

I was sick today. And yesterday and the day before. And Sunday and Saturday. Five days sick. My nose was sick. My left ear was sick. My throat was sick. I was hot. My whole body was sick.

I went to the doctor yesterday. He gave me medicine. He said no work for two days.

I went home. I drank tea. I slept.

I'm not very sick now. I'll go to work tomorrow. I am a teacher at an elementary school.

The words in red are implied and do not have an Indonesian equivalent.

saya = I, my
sakit = sick (hurt, ache, general illness)
hari = day
ini = this
hari ini = this day, today
hari-hari = days
dan = and
kemarin = yesterday
kemarin dulu = the day before yesterday
Minggu = Sunday
Sabtu = Saturday
lima = five
hidung = nose
telinga = ear
kiri = left (the opposite of right)
kerongkongan = throat
panas = hot (used here for fever)
badan = body
seluruh = whole
pergi = to go (go, went)
dokter = doctor
Dia = he
memberi = to give (someone something)
obat = medicine, a cure, a remedy
katanya = to tell (someone something)
tidak = no, not (for verbs)
tidak begitu = not very
bekerja = work
selama = for
dua = two
rumah = house
minum = dring
teh = tea
tidur = sleep
sekarang = now
besok = tomorrow
guru = teacher
di = at
sekolah = school
sekolah dasar = elementary school

I'm sure there are plenty of errors here. If you speak Indonesian (and English) left me know what my mistakes are by commenting. I'll be most grateful...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hope for Conservatives? Bad News for McCain? Fred Thompson Drops Out...

One for Fred Thompson's most important backer, Georgia State Senator Eric Johnson, jumped ship this morning and moved to the Romney camp. "Clearly Fred Thompson is not going to be the nominee," the State Senator told a Savannah, Ga., paper. He said that Romney had always been his second choice.

Thompson announced that he was pulling out of the race shortly after Johnson's announcement. Johnson wasn't the only supporter Thompson lost this morning. Former New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato threw his support to John McCain this morning, according tot he New York Post.

Pledged Delegates
to the GOP Convention
as of SC
CandidatesDelegates pledged
Ron Paul
Thompson drew 16% of the vote in South Carolina's January 19th GOP Primary. If he had dropped out before that state's primary, Romney would still have finished third, at best. But Thompson votes might well have made Huckabee the winner in SC if Thompson had dropped out earlier.

In the six caucuses and primaries so far, Thompson's best finish was 2nd in little-noticed and barely contested Wyoming. He finished 5th or 6th in Michigan, New Hampshire and Nevada and managed 3rd place finishes in Iowa and South Carolina. Thompson has accumulated eight pledged delegates for the GOP convention, compared to Huckabee's 26, McCain's 38 and 66 at the moment for Romney.

In the statement, Thompson did not say whether he would endorse any of his former rivals, according to the Associated Press. Thompson supported McCain in 2000.

Speaking of Huckabee, USA Today is reporting that his campaign is on "a shoestring budget" and is considering a pull out from Florida in favor of the February 5th SuperTuesday states. Huckabee isn't buying TV time for ads in Florida and some Huckabee aids are foregoing paychecks to keep money in the campaign coffers.