CHADD of Northern Virginia
Virginia Standards of Quality
submitted to the
Virginia Board of Education
CHADD of Northern Virginia
P.O. Box 2645
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
August 30, 2002
CHADD of Northern Virginia is pleased to submit these comments in response to the request from the Virginia Board of Education on the Standards of Quality (SOQ). These comments will specifically address professional development requirements for teachers and principals.
Identification of CHADD of Northern Virginia
CHADD of Northern Virginia is a chapter of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), with national headquarters in Landover, Maryland. CHADD is a family membership organization with over 20,000 members organized through 225 chapters in 37 states and Puerto Rico.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) affects a significant percentage of children and adults in the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Mental Health all recognize AD/HD, including both with and without hyperactivity, as a significant impairing condition that affects at least 3% to 5% of the school aged population and continues on into adulthood for up to 70% of those young people affected.
CHADD represents people of all ages with AD/HD and their families. Its goal is to ensure the provision of and access to essential services, the protection of the rights of individuals with disabilities, and the effective early diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD.
The number of students in Northern Virginia schools (encompassing Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Fauquier County, Manassas, Manassas Park, and other jurisdictions within this area) is 251,240. If 3%-5% of these students have AD/HD, then the number of students with AD/HD is in the range of 7,537 to 12,562.
CHADD of Northern Virginia in 2001 (the last full year for which membership data are available) had 422 members.
CHADD of Northern Virginia has actively worked with all segments of the community to address the issues involving AD/HD. A few of the activities in which CHADD of Northern Virginia was involved during the period July 2001-June 2002 that directly or indirectly supported the professional development of educators and administrators include the following:
- Co-sponsored the FCPS/ADD Partnership's full-day Conference for Elementary School Counselors.
- Provided special "Educator Recognition Certificates" to 20 educators who provided extra dedication, education, and support for children with AD/HD.
- Special recognition given to Langley High Pilot Project Committee on AD/HD training for high school teachers.
- Provided a variety of AD/HD Life Span topics at monthly meetings from September 2001 through May 2002.
- Formed the first CHADD of Northern Virginia Professional Advisory Board with 15 AD/HD knowledgeable professionals to provide a link to AD/HD expertise and information exchange.
- Formed the AD/HD Professional Speakers' Bureau.
- Supported George Mason University Psychology Research Study on "Self-Talk and Problem-Solving Issues of Children with AD/HD and Autism."
Professional Development Requirements for Teachers and Principals
The Board of Education has requested comments on the Standards of Quality (SOQ). The board expressed particular interest in four SOQ-related topics:
- Teacher-student ratios;
- Support staffing requirements, including principals and teacher aides;
- Services which support student achievement;
- Professional development requirements for teachers and principals
In these comments, CHADD of Northern Virginia particularly wishes to address professional development requirements for teachers and principals.
The SOQ is a section of the Code of Virginia that describes educational services school divisions are required by law to provide. Standard 5, Training and professional development, is contained in Section 22.1-253.13:5. Paragraph F states:
Each local school board shall provide
(i) A program of professional development, as part of the license renewal process, to assist teachers and principals in acquiring the skills needed to work with gifted students and handicapped students and to increase student achievement,
(ii) A program of professional development in educational technology for all instructional personnel which is designed to facilitate integration of computer skills and related technology into the curricula, and
(iii) A program of professional development for administrative personnel designed to increase proficiency in instructional leadership and management, including training in the evaluation and documentation of teacher and administrator performance based on student academic progress and the skills and knowledge of such instructional or administrative personnel.
The Virginia Licensure Renewal Manual (dated July 1998, the edition currently available online) provides in 8 VAC 20-21-100 (A) that licenses may be renewed upon the completion of 180 professional development points within a 5-year validity period based on an individualized professional development plan. Professional development points can be accrued by the completion of activities from one or more of 10 listed options (college credit, professional conference, peer observation, educational travel, curriculum development, publication/article, publication of book, mentorship/supervision, educational project, and professional development activity).
CHADD's Position on Professional Development
CHADD supports in-service training for all public school classroom teachers, special education teachers, related service personnel, and administrators on the attributes of and treatment of AD/HD, as well as effective strategies for learning and classroom management.
CHADD also supports assuring that programs to support students with AD/HD are both designed to maximize opportunity for success and implemented on a consistent and timely basis.
CHADD believes that many students--including but not limited to students with AD/HD--need to be provided opportunities for specific skill training to facilitate the acquisition and utilization of socially appropriate behaviors. This training should be offered as a preventive measure as early as possible. It should address issues such as self-control and social skills and include social/affective curricular offerings.
Many administrators and teachers continue to advocate that the application of the disciplinary code for the general student body be applied to students with AD/HD if the student "can" perform the expected behavior. CHADD has serious reservations about the reliability of any determination that is based on perceptions of whether the child in question "could or could not" control his or her behavior. All students, including those with AD/HD, should be encouraged and taught to take responsibility for their behavior and should receive positive feedback for their successful efforts.
The appropriate application of disciplinary standards in schools with students for AD/HD is dependent upon the development of appropriate discipline policies for all students. Through the implementation of well-structured and appropriate policies schools can reduce the significance of disability/nondisability distinctions.
Most incidents of unacceptable behavior within our schools reflect patterns of behavior by individual students rather than single unexpected incidents. With this in mind, both the early detection of social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students, and the provision of appropriate interventions by the schools at the point of initial concern is of paramount importance.
Recommendations of the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education
Over the course of years, many reports have been written by many blue-ribbon groups on special education needs. On October 2, 2001, in Executive Order 13227, President Bush ordered the creation of the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education. The Commission issued its report in July, 2002. Some of the Commission's findings and recommendations address both the interests of CHADD of Northern Virginia and professional development requirements for teachers and educators.
It should be noted that two federal laws-the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) guarantee children with AD/HD a free and appropriate public education. Both laws also require that children with disabilities be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who do not have disabilities. Therefore, many children with AD/HD are found eligible for special education and, thus, our intense interest in special education issues.
(Unfortunately, however, many children with AD/HD have lacked access to IDEA and 504 legal protection because schools either did not know enough about AD/HD to consider it a disability, or misunderstood the nature of AD/HD and treated it as some other disability with little relevance to the actual needs of the child.)
Although CHADD of Northern Virginia has not taken an official stand on the report of the President's Commission, some of its findings and recommendations "ring true" to many of those involved in CHADD. In particular, with reference to issues involving professional developing, are the following (from "Executive Summary-Summary of Findings") with excerpts of recommendations from each.
Finding 2: The current system uses an antiquated model that waits for a child to fail, instead of a model based on prevention and intervention. Too little emphasis is put on prevention, early and accurate identification of learning and behavior problems, and aggressive intervention using research-based approaches. This means students with disabilities don't get help early when that help can be most effective. Special education should be for those who do not respond to strong and appropriate instruction and methods provided in general education.
Recommendation-Identify and Intervene Early: Implement research-based, early identification and intervention programs to better serve children with learning and behavioral difficulties at an earlier age. Include early screening, prevention, and intervention practices to identify academic and behavioral problems in young children.
Finding 7: Children with disabilities require highly qualified teachers. Teachers, parents, and education officials desire better preparation, support, and professional development related to the needs of serving these children. Many educators wish they had better preparation before entering the classroom as well as better tools for identifying needs early and accurately.
Recommendation-Recruit and Train Highly Qualified General and Special Education Teachers: States and districts must devise new strategies to recruit more personnel who are highly qualified to educate students with disabilities. State licenses and endorsements for all teachers should require specific training related to meeting the needs of students with disabilities, and integrating parents into special education services. States must develop collaborative career-long professional development systems that conform to professional standards.
Recommendation-Create Research and Data-Driven Systems for Training Teachers of Special Education: Formal teacher training should also be based upon solid research about how students learn and what teacher characteristics are most likely to produce student achievement. State Education Agencies (SEAs) and institutions that train teachers and administrators should implement data-driven feedback systems to improve how well educators educate children with disabilities.
CHADD of Northern Virginia's Recommendations Regarding Professional Development Requirements for Teachers and Principals
The Standards of Quality (Section 22.1-253.13:5, Paragraph F) provide little guidance to local school boards on the contents of professional development. Although the needs of different school districts vary and local school boards should not be constrained by overly detailed requirements, CHADD of Northern Virginia urges the Virginia Board of Education to consider making this section more specific, thus providing better guidance to the school districts.
The Standards of Quality (Section 22.1-253.13:5, Paragraph F, subparagraph i) refers to a program of professional development "to assist teachers and principals in acquiring the skills needed to work with gifted students and handicapped students and to increase student achievement." The term "handicapped" is offensive to many. Further, it fails to indicate whether the "handicap" is physical, mental, psychological, or developmental. At the very least, this language should be changed to "gifted students and those with physical, mental, psychological, or developmental disabilities."
However, it appears that the intent of this paragraph was to suggest that teachers and principals should be assisted in acquiring skills needed to work with students who present special challenges-whether those challenges are due to giftedness or to a disability. CHADD of Northern Virginia would suggest changing the language in Section 22.1-253.13:5, Paragraph F, subparagraph I to: "A program of professional development, as part of the license renewal process, to assist teachers and principals in acquiring the skills needed to help all students with special needs or abilities reach their full potential within the educational environment."
As both CHADD and the President's Commission (and many others as well) have noted, a critical element in the effective delivery of services is the early identification of learning problems. The Virginia SOQ is silent on this point. CHADD of Northern Virginia would suggest adding a paragraph to Section 22.1-253.13:5, Paragraph F, to read as follows: "A program of professional development, as part of the license renewal process, to assist teachers and principals in acquiring the skills needed to provide early identification of learning, educational, developmental, or emotional problems."
Section 22.1-253.13:5, Paragraph F, subparagraph II requires each local school board to provide "A program of professional development in educational technology for all instructional personnel which is designed to facilitate integration of computer skills and related technology into the curricula." Many special education students (and others as well) use various forms of assistive technology, including computer-based devices (such as AlphaSmart). Others, either due to physical or emotional disabilities, are permitted either through IEPs or 504 plans to use classroom computers rather than producing assignments by hand. The above paragraph from the SOQ does not exclude professional development in educational technology for students with disabilities. However, the language should be clarified to include these uses of technology as well.
CHADD of Northern Virginia appreciates this opportunity to provide its comments and suggestions on the professional development requirements for teachers and principals contained in the Standards of Quality.
CHADD of Northern Virginia
P.O. Box 2645
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
August 30, 2002