DESE/IDEA Updates (Nov. 2016)

The U.S. Department of Education has created a Newcomer Toolkit to help teachers and administrators to better serve recently arrived, foreign-born students. The toolkit includes tips on instruction, supporting students' social-emotional needs, and establishing partnerships with families.

In cooperation with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Federation for Students with Special Needs has published three secondary transition brochures for families and students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The brochures are entitled: The Secondary Transition Process, Transition Assessment, and Self-Determination.

This fall, DESE is partnering with the Massachusetts Organizational Collaboratives and both principals' associations in creating the program, Ambassadors for Equitable and Inclusive Practice. The program will coordinate and conduct visits between principals and equitable and inclusive practice ambassadors. This partnership is part of the Massachusetts State Equity Plan work to promote equitable access to excellent teachers for all students. The team of ambassadors is composed of current and former principals, teachers, and other educational leaders, and the group will share resources and strategies to strengthen instruction. For example, the ambassadors will share information about a new grant designed to support innovative partnerships between districts and educator preparation organizations, a district-created interactive planner that helps districts access and plan for distributing leadership, and information about a free online course on foundations for inclusive practice.

DESE has sponsored two free online courses, Foundations for Inclusive Practice: Educator and Foundations for Inclusive Practice: Administrator, to help educators be more effective in inclusive settings, These courses are self-paced and are one way to earn fifteen (15) professional development points in "effective schooling for students with disabilities and the instruction of students with diverse learning styles" that are required to renew a professional license. Additionally, districts are encouraged to form communities of practice to supplement the courses.

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