No Child Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a United States Act of Congress concerning the education of children in public schools. This act is one of the most highly debated education issues of the decade. Many people agree that the NCLB Act is important and the intent of the Act is positive. According to President Obama, the Act has some major flaws. At the Manchester, New Hampshire speech in 2007, President-Elect Obama stated, “Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and pay for those teachers behind is wrong. Labeling a school and its students as failures one day, and then throwing your hands up and walking away from the next is wrong.” So what is President Obama’s proposition? According to President Obama, it is necessary to provide the funding that was promised and to give the states the resources they need. Two fundamental reforms that Obama suggests are: Improvements to assessments and improvements to the accountability. His administration believes funds should be provided for states to implement a broader range of assessments to evaluate higher-order skills. This includes students’ abilities to use technology, conduct research, engage in scientific investigation, solve problems and present and defend their ideas. There is no doubt that parents and educators across the country will be waiting anxiously for the future results of this legislation.

Evaluation System for Teachers

New York State has a new evaluation system for its teachers, emphasizing student achievement. This agreement affects and applies to all teachers in New York beginning 2012-13. Each Teacher will be evaluated and will receive an overall numerical score on a 100-point scale. There will also be corresponding categorical ratings:

Highly Effective: 91-100

Effective: 75-90

Developing: 65-74

Ineffective: Below 64

The points will be determined as follows: Sixty points will be locally developed based on measures other than student testing. Thirty one of those sixty points will be based on multiple classroom observations which will be done by the principal or other qualified administrators. The remaining twenty nine points may be based on observations by an independent evaluator (other teachers, parents and/or students). For teachers who teach subjects that are tested by the state, twenty five points will be based on state determined measures of students’ growth on these tests. Fifteen points will be based on locally determined measures of student growth on achievement. This is not a law yet, but the state is working on making it one. As long as the teachers and parents can come together and help students understand, our children will prevail.

For more information on the matter, the article can be located here.


Reading with your child every night is one of the most important learning activities you can do for your child and their education.


Read together every night from the day your child is born.

  • Build up to reading 15 to 20 minutes or longer each night, as your child gets older and their attention span increases.
  • When your day has been hectic and you may not have spent as much quality time with your children as you would’ve hoped for, sitting down in a quiet place together to read, is one of the best things you can do. In addition to all the educational benefits, it lets your child know that no matter what craziness happens during the day, he or she can count on this time together. It’s also a calming activity before bed.
  • Go to the library or book store and find books on your child’s interests.
  • Repetitive or rhyming books are great for young children.
  • Make books together.
  • Be a role model. Let your children see you reading.

Reading helps build:

  • Vocabulary – for pictures and written words, for both expressive as well as receptive language.
  • An awareness of the association between the spoken word and the printed word and that letters form words and words form sentences.
  • Letter, sound, and word recognition.
  • An understanding of grammar and syntax rules.
  • An understanding of the structure and organization of different types of books and other reading materials.
  • Comprehension skills, imagination, and knowledge base.
  • A love for reading and learning, which will help them in every subject across the curriculum, including mathematics.

Getting ready to read with your child. (Before reading)

  • Find a quiet place to read, free of distractions.
  • Teach book awareness. Point out and discuss/explain the cover, title, title page, author, illustrator, and if applicable, the table of contents, index, and glossary. It helps children to become familiar with the parts and organization of reading books and textbooks for their own knowledge and so they can access information when necessary.
  • Take a picture walk or preview reading material. Encourage your child to look at pictures, diagrams, headings, graphs, bold-faced print, and highlighted words.
  • Make predictions about reading and discuss prior knowledge or experiences. Relating material to be read with information we already know, makes it more meaningful and increases our interest, comprehension, and memory.
  • If your child needs to answer follow-up questions, have him or her read the questions first and highlight/underline key words in the question. This helps to focus their attention while reading, which increases their comprehension and teaches them how to look for key information. It is important, of course, to still read the entire selection to be sure no information is missed.

Your role during reading…for babies through emergent readers: (During reading)

  • Move your fingers under the words as you read to teach the association between the spoken and printed word and to illustrate that we read from top to bottom and from left to right.
  • Examine the pictures together and practice vocabulary. You can provide the word and ask them to point to the picture (receptive vocabulary) or you can point to the picture and ask them what it is (expressive vocabulary). Play peek-a-boo with the pictures. Use a cloth to cover one picture and ask, “Where’ the ….?”
  • As they get older, give them a task such as finding a particular letter on a page or reading a repeated word or phrase. Get excited and praise them for their reading skills!
  • Model sounding out (decoding) words and using picture and context clues to figure out unfamiliar words and their meanings.
  • If your child misreads a word, wait and give them an opportunity to self-correct. If they continue to the end of the sentence without correcting, repeat exactly what they said and ask, “Does that make sense?”
  • It can be challenging to focus on decoding while still maintaining comprehension. In other words, if your child is struggling to decode a word in a sentence, they may forget what the rest of the sentence said. Be sure to re-read the entire sentence or have them re-read it in order to ensure comprehension.
  • During reading, check their comprehension by asking them questions about the characters and plot. Ask them both literal and inferential questions such as “Why do you think…?” You can also ask them to summarize information and explain it to you. Make predictions while reading. You can both make predictions and see who comes closer.
  • After reading, check comprehension by asking them to tell you what happened, sequence events, and summarize the main idea.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity for “teachable moments.”
    1. Point out rhyming words and patterns.
    2. Discuss homophones – words with the same sound but different meaning and spelling (bare, bear) and homonyms – words that have the same sound and spelling but different meaning (bat, bat).

Your role during reading…for fluent readers: (During reading)

  • Encourage children to continue to use strategies taught such as previewing, tapping prior knowledge, making predictions, highlighting important information, etc.
  • Monitor their comprehension by asking them to summarize and teach you the information.
  • Be available to clarify directions and answer questions.
  • Monitor assignments to make sure they are completed on time, handed in, graded, and returned.
  • If you have concerns, call your child’s teachers and set up a meeting if necessary, rather than waiting for progress reports or report cards.



Allow for “down time.”

Most children need a break between coming home from school and beginning their homework. Some need a quiet, calming time while others need a physical outlet.

Some children, especially those with attention difficulties or sensory issues, work hard throughout the school day to “keep it together” and need an opportunity to move their bodies when they get home.

Sugar-loaded snacks or drinks may result in “highs” and “lows” in energy and attention levels.

Provide a healthy snack prior to homework.

Eating and drinking while doing homework can be distractible and often leads to spills or messy homework papers.

This can be hard to do, but there will be less arguing and frustration for both of you if you have a consistent homework routine.

Have a consistent routine.

Have set times for “down time,” snack, homework, dinner, and bedtime.

Some children do best at the kitchen table where an adult can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re actually doing their homework while others need to be in their bedrooms.

Decide on an appropriate area for doing homework.

Try to make their work area as distraction-free as possible. Distractions from televisions, siblings, and other conversations can make concentrating difficult.

Be mindful of lighting. In general, it’s best for the area to be well-lit, but some children prefer dimmer lighting.

Consider playing classical or other calming instrumental music.

Review your child’s planner and be sure that you know all their homework assignments and due dates. Some teachers post homework on the web.

Getting set.

Help them manage their time and prioritize assignments.

Generally it’s better to do more challenging assignments first, but ask yourself: Does my child do best when they get the tough things over with first while they’re still fresh and alert or does it lead to frustration that makes it impossible to do other assignments later? Do they need to do an easier, more independent assignment first to build up their confidence?

Plan for long-term projects and studying. Do a piece each night rather than cramming or saving it until the night before it’s due.

Be sure that they have a few sharpened pencils, pens, white or yellow paper, highlighters, reference materials, etc.

Have ready or gather all necessary homework materials.

Encourage your child’s independence to the maximum extent possible.

Your role in your child’s homework.

Encourage your child to try their best, but be available to answer questions and to offer assistance when needed. Being there also lets them know that you’re interested in what they’re doing and that it’s important.Be certain that they understand the directions. Check for understanding by having them play the role of teacher and explain them back to you.

If possible, try to model for your child while they’re doing homework. In other words, if they’re reading, you read a book. If they’re doing math, you can pay bills or balance your checkbook. This lets them know that the skills they’re learning are important for later in life. It’s also less distracting for them than hearing you watch television or talk on the phone.Resist the temptation to do the homework for them. It’s important for their teacher to know what they did and didn’t understand and what they’re able to do independently. You can jot a note to the teacher to let them know that they needed a lot of assistance or to please review it with them in class.

Know your child’s attention span. Give short breaks as needed to move their bodies, eat a light snack, etc. Let them know how long the break will be – in minutes or by activity. For example, you may say that they need to be back at the table in 5 minutes or that they can do 10 jumping jacks.

Know when to take a break.

Some children need to move their bodies throughout homework time. My rule is: As long as you’re doing your work well, you can do whatever you need to do with your body.Watch for signs of frustration. Take a break and when you resume, backtrack to an area where they felt confident.

Always let them know how proud you are of them. Let them play a favorite game when they’ve finished all their homework. Do something special on the weekend when you’ve both worked hard all week.

Finally, reward your child’s efforts and achievements!

Asperger’s Dropped From Revised Diagnosis Manual

The now familiar term “Asperger’s disorder” is being dropped. And abnormally bad and frequent temper tantrums will be given a scientific-sounding diagnosis called DMDD. But “dyslexia” and other learning disorders remain.

The revisions come in the first major rewrite in nearly 20 years of the diagnostic guide used by the nation’s psychiatrists. Changes were approved Saturday.

Full details of all the revisions will come next May when the American Psychiatric Association’s new diagnostic manual is published, but the impact will be huge, affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. The manual also is important for the insurance industry in deciding what treatment to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.

Read the entire artice By LINDSEY TANNER AP Medical Writer, CHICAGO December 1, 2012 (AP)

or at ABC News with video…

What are Parents of Special Education Students Entitled to?

According to IDEA and NCLB, parents are entitled to an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) for their child. An IEP is the master plan for a special needs child and it contains measurable annual academic and functional goals. A School District must also provide timely evaluations of the child’s ongoing performance which include functional, developmental and academic information. In addition, parents have the right to an IEP meeting, at which all necessary members of the child’s IEP team must be present, the purpose of which is to discuss the child’s status and allow the parents an opportunity to advocate for their child’s services.

Learn more about your rights and the legal rights of your children when it comes to dealing with your school district.

Let’s study

Start out and spend most of the time studying the “big ideas” or the concepts and skills that will make up the majority of the test. Your child may need help in prioritizing concepts to study.

Some people remember best by taking notes as they read and study. Your child can highlight and jot down key ideas and concepts and then summarize the important information.Everyone studies and learns differently. Try a variety of techniques and help your child to discover what works for them. Think about the skills or talents in which your child shines. Are they a visual or auditory learner? Do they learn best when it’s hands-on? Are they gifted musically?

Mnemonic strategies are very helpful for many students. Use first letter of each key word to create acronym or sentence. E.g., Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, Dirty Monkeys Smell Bad, ROY G. BIV. Some people have to hear or repeat the information out loud to themselves or someone else. They can try using a tape recorder to record and replay key facts or use you as their “sounding board.”

Many children and adults remember pictures better than words. Try having your child draw pictures and write key words to represent ideas and vocabulary.Others remember information much better when they can use their hands to manipulate ideas. Some subjects like math and science lend themselves better to this strategy. However, you can be creative and find objects to represent ideas in novels and social studies.

There has been research that shows listening to classical or calming instrumental music in the background helps some people to study and absorb information more efficiently.For the child who is gifted musically or is talented in using their body for dance or other sports, encourage them to make up a song, jingle, rhyme, or dance to help them remember ideas.

Have your child complete review sheets, end of chapter reviews or questions, etc. before and after studying. Help your child to assess their work and diagnosis any areas of difficulty. This will help you and your child know where to focus your studying efforts and time.Have blank index cards on hand to create study games. Most children like games. When studying or learning information or facts, create two sets of cards, either identical or have one with questions and the other with answers. You can use cards for studying letters, sight words, vocabulary, math facts, and a variety of other concepts. For example, with sight words make up two identical sets. For vocabulary, make up one set that has the vocabulary words and the other set that has the corresponding definitions. Use these cards to play games like memory matching and Go Fish. For younger children, you can use the cards to play Hide-n-Seek or Bean Bag Toss.

Be sure that your child truly understands the concepts or information rather than just memorizing them. A great way to assess a child’s understanding is to have them play the role of teacher and explain the information to you. This will reveal any areas of confusion and help to solidify skills and understanding.Encourage your child to take short breaks as needed to help keep them fresh and alert.

 Know when to stop. Encourage your child to try their best and then to get a good night’s sleep. It won’t help to know all the information if your child is too tired to recall any of it.

Preparing to study

If your child has a tutor, let your child’s teacher(s) know. Some teachers are very willing to communicate with tutors. This allows them to be a resource and source of support for each other in maximizing your child’s achievement and progress.

If the teacher doesn’t already provide it, request a study guide, review sheet, or at least a list of the topics, concepts, or chapters to be covered on the test.Always try to get advanced notice of upcoming tests and quizzes. Even if the teacher doesn’t know the exact date, it would be useful to know that a test is coming sometime the following week. This information makes planning time for studying easier and is helpful to a tutor as well. It’s always better for a tutor to help prepare a student in advance rather than to try to play “catch up” afterwards.

As with homework and reading, find a comfortable, quiet place to study that’s free of distractions. A desk is preferable to a bed, since it may be too tempting to fall asleep.Help your child plan to study in small chunks, a little bit each night, instead of trying to cram the night before. Studying and reviewing each night helps the information to make it into their long-term memory whereas studying the night before or the morning of a test, usually means the information will only stay in their short term memory. Since in most subjects, your child will need to build upon the information or be responsible for knowing it later on, it is best if it’s their long-term memory. Studying ahead of time also provides the opportunity to ask the teacher for clarification or review on difficult concepts.

Have all study materials on hand: class notes, review sheets, study guides, textbook, etc. Remind children to bring these things home. (Consider color-coding books for children who have organizational difficulties and/or creating check-off lists.)


No one knows more about your child than you do. By working together, you and the staff of the scholl can help your child have a successful school year. If you become concerned about your child’s educational programs or special education services, contact your child’s teacher immediately and share information about what you see. Informal meetings and phone conferences help you build a partnership with the teacher and school. You may also ask for a meeting with school administrators or the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or Committee on Special Education (CSE) to discuss your concerns about your child’s education.

  • To prepare for the meeting or phone conference, make a list of your questions, concerns, ideas and information about your child. Ask your child if there is anything that he or she would like you to share. You may also have your child attend the meeting.
  • During the meeting, discuss your questions, concerns, ideas and information, take notes and ask to see examples of your child’s work, for specific examples of classroom behavior and ways to help your child at home. If you do not understand something, ask for an expalnation. Try to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon solution to any problems or concerns. Keep detailed notes in a journal or log of who and when you talked to someone and of any timetable and action agreed to.
  • After the meeting, talk with your child about the good things that were discussed, the problems that need to be worked on and the steps that will be taken to help your child. Keep working with your child’s teacher and if necessary, ask for a follow-up meeting or phone conference.

If you have questions or feel your concerns have not been addressed, you may want to contact your VESID Regional Associate from the State Education Department for assistance. You also have due process rights to mediation and/or an impartial hearing to resolve issues or conflicts. For more information, go to Help for Parents at


Try to get advanced notice of tests.
Request study guides and/or review sheets.
Study in small chunks, a little bit each night.
Spend most of the time studying the “big ideas.”
Try a variety of studying techniques to help you and your child discover what kind of learner they are.
Have blank index cards on hand to create study games.
Complete available reviews given by teacher or in textbook and assess areas of difficulty. This can be done pre- and post-studying.
Take breaks as needed to stay alert.
Be sure your child truly understands the information and hasn’t just memorized.
Know when to stop studying and get a good night’s sleep.