Strands 2016


Strands explore specific educational topics in depth through a series of conceptually and developmentally linked sequential sessions. Join in the discussion of important topics with experts in the field by attending all sessions in a strand, or choose one or two that interest you most! You are eligible to earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs) for each strand session you attend.

CEC 2016 Strand Overviews

Strand A: The U.S. Office of Special Education Research to Practice: IDEAs That Work

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

Again this year, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs has assembled a Research to Practice strand.  As in the past years, this strand will include a variety of critical issue topics in special education and early intervention highlighting the transfer of the best we know into classrooms, natural environments, schools, and communities.  Well known presenters from around the country, supported by the IDEA Part D National Programs, will present evidenced-based findings, practices, and technology that will lead to improved outcomes for children with disabilities and their families.  Sessions include an overview of current evidence, next steps in practice, and resources for follow up, and are designed for practitioners, school and district leaders, early intervention providers, and teacher trainers.  All are stand-alone sessions so you can attend one or all of them.  There will be time allotted for question and answers, and all resources will be shared in each session.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Describe strategies for preparing and maintaining effective instructional providers.
  • Describe strategies to address disproportionality.
  • Access OSEP research to practice technical assistance and training materials.

Strand B: Are You HUNGRY for a WIZARD in the TWILIGHT?: A Common Core STEM Ideas for Leaders

Leaders: Gloria D. Campbell-Whatley, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; Ozalle M. Toms, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

We present effective practical applications to help administrators assist teachers in employing critical thinking to problem-solving techniques for students using STEM activities.  This strand is grounded in current literature suggested from the 31 books most read by middle school students with applications for leaders. We will offer and solidly define how the Common Core Standards (CCSS) will be appropriate for students in various environments. We will engage leaders in effective practical applications to prepare these present methodologies about STEM techniques with teachers.  This strand is grounded in best practices from famous books and series such as the Hunger Games trilogy, Twilight saga, the Harry Potter series, and more for leaders with applications for teachers. Presentations are from a practical perspective targeting special education leaders.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Engage in practical situational analysis and discussion as related to the Common Core Standards and STEM through hands-on immersion activities.
  • Apply solutions related to STEM.
  • Understand a variety of evidence-based methodologies and strategies for effective special education leadership practices related to STEM.

Strand C: Integrating School-Based Mental Health Services for Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Leaders: Clayton R. Cook, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Kelly Whitaker, University of Washington (SMART Center), Seattle

Students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) exhibit significant mental health problems that interfere with their school success. Unfortunately, these students often do not receive needed mental health supports or the mental health services that are delivered are lackluster and implemented in a fragmented manner. As a result, there is a need to integrate high quality mental health services into the school setting for these students. This strand will discuss specific efforts that have been undertaken to integrate high quality school-based mental health services for students with EBD. As part of the sessions, presenters will touch on issues related to diversity as it relates to accessing and delivering high quality mental health supports.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Define the mental health needs of students with EBD that should be addressed via strategic, effective school-based programming.
  • Describe different approaches to integrating mental health services for students with EBD.
  • Identify how you might improve service partnerships between schools and community-based mental health organizations.

Strand D: Evidence-Based Practices Supported by the National Center for Special Education Research

Leaders: Jacquelyn A. Buckley and Katherine Taylor, National Center for Special Education Research, U.S. Department of Education, Washington

During this strand, you will learn about research-based educational practices for children with or at risk for disabilities and receive tips on how you can incorporate the practices in your classroom.  Participants will learn about a Tier 2 classroom-based intervention, targeting young children at elevated risk for emotional and behavioral disorders; behavioral screening practices in schools across the country; and a checklist for early screening for autism and results from a recent study in early intervention.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of a Tier 2 classroom-based behavioral intervention that has evidence for improving teacher self-efficacy, classroom atmosphere, and teacher-child interactions, and creating positive social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes for students at risk for emotional/behavioral disorders.
  • Understand what states have documented as state-level priorities in school-based behavior policies and initiatives.
  • Understand how a simple checklist can screen for autism earlier than generally detected in the past.



Strand E: School Climate and Discipline

Leader: Tim Lewis, University of Missouri, Columbia

Creating a safe and supportive environment is essential for all students, especially those at-risk and those with disabilities.  This strand will examine three related features of improving school climate through schoolwide efforts.  The first will provide an overview of multi-tiered systems of behavioral support. The second will discuss implementation of culturally relevant practices within an MTSS framework including a discussion on impacting disproportionality within identification and discipline practices. The final session will provide a discussion of the impact events in Ferguson, Missouri had on school climate and the efforts school leaders have put in place to move students and the community forward.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Describe essential features of building safe and supportive schoolwide learning environments.
  • Understand the challenge of disproportionality in the special education evaluation process and school discipline practices, and strategies to improve both.
  • Contextualize essential features of MTSS in creating positive school climates within racially related school and community challenges.

Strand F: Opportunities and Experiences to Prepare Students With Autism and/or Intellectual Disability for Postsecondary Education and Employment Success

Leaders: David F. Cihak, University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleRobert A. StoddenUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaMichael WehmeyerUniversity of Kansas, Lawrence

Only 20% of people with an intellectual disability and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) are employed nationally and those who are employed are more likely to work only part-time. In fact, most people with IDD lack postsecondary education. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA, 2008) increased postsecondary education programs and career options for high school students with autism and ID. Promoting self-determination and self-regulated learning in K-12 education are linked to more positive school and adult outcomes for youth with disabilities including postsecondary education and employment success. Promoting digital literacy learning in K-12 education has also improved postschool outcomes. This strand will address issues related to diversity in the context of the “second digital divide” and a lack of digital literacy access for and/or competency of children who are poor, minority, and/or have disabilities.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Describe the concepts of self-determination, self-advocacy, community and family support, and impact in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities/autism spectrum disorders.
  • Plan evidence-based post-secondary education (PSE) programs and/or career/vocational transition programs for individuals with developmental disabilities/autism spectrum disorders.
  • Plan instruction that incorporates instructional technology for improving independent functional life skills for postsecondary education and employment success.

Strand G: Intensive Intervention 2.0: Lessons From Implementation, Integrating for Academic and Behavioral Supports, and Refining Our Understanding of Evidence

Leaders: Louis Danielson and Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds, American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.

Successful intensive intervention takes more than just knowledge of the components of the process; it also requires thoughtful implementation. In this strand, presenters will discuss lessons learned from the National Center on Intensive Intervention’s (NCII) work to implement intensive intervention within a multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) framework. Presenters will address: (a) the importance of integrating academic and behavioral intervention to support students with diverse learning needs; (b) successes and challenges observed by school and district leaders attempting to implement intensive intervention in high-needs schools; and (c) considerations for using varying evidence standards to identify appropriate instruction, interventions and strategies across tiers of an MTSS system.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Understand how data-based individualization may be used as a framework to integrate academic and behavior intervention strategies to meet the needs of students with intensive needs.
  • Understand common implementation barriers and strategies to address these challenges.
  • Understand how and why standards of evidence for evidence-based practices may need to vary by tier within in an MTSS system.

Strand H: Co-Teaching: Essential Ingredients to Get the Student Outcomes You Need

Leader: Marilyn Friend, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Co-teaching has become a widely implemented option for ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the general curriculum while at the same time an education in the least restrictive environment.  However, many teachers and administrators responsible for co-teaching at the classroom and systems level continue to have questions about it:  Which co-teaching practices have been demonstrated to be effective and which should be discouraged?  How can the specially designed instruction that students with disabilities must receive be integrated into co-taught classes?  What are efficient and appropriate strategies for gathering data related to student performance in co-taught classes, and how should overall program effectiveness be assessed?  How are practical matters such as common planning time, scheduling, and teacher evaluation best handled?  In this strand we address these and other common questions and problems that professionals involved in co-teaching programs encounter, offering strategies and solutions based on available research as well as craft knowledge.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Explain at least four co-teaching practices that are demonstrated through contemporary related literature to foster positive outcomes for students with disabilities.
  • Embed instructional strategies comprising specially designed instruction into the six traditional co-teaching models.
  • Articulate at least three strategies for gathering data related to student performance in co-taught classes and at least three for completing co-teaching program evaluation.
  • Apply to their own situations ideas for addressing the most common co-teaching issues, including scheduling, planning time, and teacher evaluation.



Strand I: Advances in Tiered Systems of Support: Establishing Comprehensive, Integrated, Collaborative Systems to Meet Students’ Multiple Needs

Leaders: Kathleen Lynne Lane, University of Kansas, Lawrence; Wendy Peia Oakes, Arizona State University, Tempe

Over the last several years, schools are moving away from reactive approaches to managing challenging behaviors and are now focusing on system approaches to meeting students’ academic, behavioral, and social needs in an integrated fashion. Applications of schoolwide models of prevention are being developed to build comprehensive, integrated systems with progressively more intensive levels of support to better address the needs of all learners while also building a context that supports inclusive programming. In many models, this is accomplished by developing a framework to quickly connect students to needed supports at the first sign of concern and enable teachers to collaborate and build their expertise in the skills needed to facilitate instruction (e.g., low-intensity supports, schoolwide PBIS). Such integrated models of prevention have met with success in K-12 settings, offering transparent systems to support excellence, equity, and engagement. In this strand, researcher and practitioner leaders share three illustrations of integrated models, all intended to meet students’ multiple needs in an efficient, effective, and positive manner.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Identify the critical features of one integrated model and be able to access resources to explore additional information to share with their schools, districts, communities.
  • Describe a training and coaching series which supports the development of one integrated model.
  • Describe how self-determination can be integrated into MTSS models.
  • Identify intervention and assessments to promote self-determination.
  • Understand an integrated behavior and academic supports at Tiers 2 and 3.

Strand J: Implications of New Technologies and Innovations in Special Education

Leaders: James Basham, University of Kansas, Lawrence; Jose Blackorby, SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif.; Matthew T. Marino, University of Central Florida, Orlando

New technologies are emerging at such a rapid pace they challenge our ability to focus, comprehend, and leverage their new potential in all spheres of life. Barely a decade old, Facebook has 1.44 billion users. With 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, there are free instructional videos on almost any topic available on YouTube. With an average of over 500 million tweets a day, Twitter has been used as a tool connecting groups and inspiring democratizing social unrest around the globe. These tools and various other new innovations are shaping the daily interactions of nearly everyone. Within the education system alone, education technology ventures have witnessed two consecutive years with nearly $2 billion invested each year in new technology. All of this is occurring within the context of an explosion of data about how we use these tools. It is difficult to keep up. It is especially difficult within the context of schools. This strand is devoted to providing background and insight into the current state of several new technologies, their future direction, and the implications for individuals with disabilities and those who work with them. Specifically, we will focus on mobile devices and education, gaming, and social networking. By the end of the strand, participants will glean understanding for how to approach new technology and innovation in practice, policy, and research.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Understand current trends in new technologies.
  • Understand the promise and challenges of the new technologies for students with disabilities.
  • Share insights on how these new technologies might be leveraged in practice, research, and policy.

Strand K: Exploring Elementary and Secondary Blended/Online Learning for Students With Disabilities

Leaders: Skip Stahl and Tracey E. Hall, CAST, Wakefield, Mass; Sean J. Smith, University of Kansas, Lawrence

Online or blended instruction at the elementary through secondary levels can be vastly different from one district to another and each has associated consequences. Districts embracing supplemental, blended, or full-time virtual opportunities need to be knowledgeable about the systems and environments they intend to integrate prior to investing large resources in the process. New technologies, media, and practices are changing the familiar educational experience and all stakeholders in the educational process are faced with unprecedented challenges, as well as opportunities. Researchers with decades of experience focused on the exploration and implementation of digital technology at the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities (COLSD) have been working to understand these challenges and opportunities, especially as they lead to promising practices associated with K-12 online learning. This strand presents key findings from research projects and field-based activities for improving the educational experiences of students with disabilities (and other diverse learners). Participants will be engaged in a series of interactive presentations, explorations, and discussions to understand the potential of K-12 online learning.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Understand the K-12 contexts (home, school, or elsewhere) that impact online learning outcomes.
  • Recognize current promising approaches for the design and delivery of online education relative to diverse learners.
  • Understand the data capabilities in the online environment to support distinct, teacher and student learning needs.
  • Investigate the unique expectations placed on educators as they provide instruction and administrative support in online learning environments.

Strand L: Evidence-Based Practice in Special Education: Identification, Dissemination, Training, and Outcomes

Leaders: Timothy J. Landrum and Terrance M. Scott, University of Louisville, Ky.

If students with disabilities are to achieve desirable outcomes, the best available evidence-based practices must be brought to bear. In this strand we consider several aspects of the concept evidence-based practice.  First, we describe recent efforts and current guidelines for the identification and effective dissemination of EBPs (Session 1).  Second, drawing on our own research, we explore the extent to which evidence-based instructional practices are observed in classrooms, and describe the observed correlates of these EBPs (Session 2).  Finally, we describe an evidence-based framework for establishing high-quality programs, using moderate/severe disabilities as an example.  Our premise includes the idea that the term evidence-based is commonly used in our field, but remains poorly understood.  Thus, we discuss the nature of evidence in special education, as well as how evidence might best be disseminated to practitioners.  Next, we describe the results of a large set of classroom observations in which we observed teachers’ instructional practices, and the associated levels of student engagement and behavior.  Finally, we consider how evidence might inform a framework for programming for students with moderate/severe disabilities specifically, with particular attention to the need to consider ethics and advocacy in addition to evidence.

After attending this strand, you will be able to:

  • Define evidence and describe models of summarizing and disseminating evidence-based practice in special education.
  • Describe sources of evidence-based practices in special education.
  • Describe the frequency of teachers’ use of evidence-based instructional practices in classrooms, as well as the associated levels of student engagement.
  • Describe a framework, based on evidence but also drawing from ethics and advocacy, for developing high-quality programs for students with moderate/severe disabilities.


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