Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam Wright & Pete Wright

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Kids Smiling One obstacle in advocating for a child with a disability is finding the time to do research. We spent many hours collecting information so you can spend your time learning, not searching.

From this page, you can download free publications about IEPs, special education, transition planning, reading, children's mental health, harassment, high-stakes testing, retention and social promotion, zero tolerance and discipline. The contents of this page will change as we add new publications. You can't beat a good online newsletter for up-to-the minute information.
Check our listing of free online newsletters about legal, special education, and disabilities information. Each listing has a link that you can follow to subscribe.

Download our Free Newsletter Flyer and share it with a friend or colleague. Ask your school to include the Free Newsletter Flyer in the school newsletter too!

Free Publications

Autism and Child Mental Health

National Research Council, Educating Children with Autism (2001. Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

This 276 page publication from National Science Academy is being used as evidence in due process hearings on behalf of children with autism. Includes research about effective educational programs for children with autism; early intervention; recommends one-on-one therapy or direct instruction a minimum of 25 hours a week, 12 months a year; more.

You can download free from National Academy Press (one page at a time) or purchase from the NAP.

Office of the Surgeon General, Report on the Surgeon General's Conference on Children's Mental Health - A National Action Agenda (2001).

This Report from the Surgeon General describes a crisis in mental health for children and adolescents. 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental illness that is severe enough to cause impairment; fewer than 1 in 5 children receive needed treatment. This report includes goals and objectives, and focuses on the need to use science-based prevention and treatment services.News Release

To order bound copies, contact The National Institutes of Mental Health, Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 8184, MSC 9663, Bethesda, MD 20892-9663. Phone: 301-443-4513

Office of the Surgeon General, Children and Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (2000).

According to the landmark "Global Burden of Disease" study, 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability for people 5 years of age and older are mental disorders. Children and Mental Health describes normal child development; risk factors and prevention; describes mental disorders in children, including ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, autism, disruptive disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders and effective treatments for these disorders. Download  Full text of Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General

Discipline & Behavior Problems (see also Zero Tolerance)

Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, An IEP Team's Introduction to Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans (1998).

If your child has behavior problems, this publication about Functional Behavioral Assessments and IEP teams will help. Describes need to identify the underlying causes of child's behavior (what the child "gets" or "avoids" through the behavior) and the IEP team's job of developing proactive instructional strategies, including positive behavioral interventions and supports, to address those behaviors that interfere with learning.

National Association of School Psychologists, Interim Alternative Educational Settings for Children with Disabilities.

This free 54-page publication includes useful information about discipline and interim alternative educational settings. Download
Order print copies from: National Association of School Psychologists, NASP Publications, 4340 East West highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Phone: (301) 657-0270 E-mail: publications@naspweb.org


U. S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and National Association of Attorneys General, Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes: A Guide for Schools (1999).

Many children experience sexual, racial and ethnic harassment at school. This Guide provides guidance about protecting students from harassment and violence based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability. Download

To order bound copies, call the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights at 1-800- 421-3481

High-Stakes Tests

U. S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, The Use of Tests as Part of High-Stakes Decision-Making for Students: A Resource Guide for Educators and Policy-Makers (2000).

Describes standards for tests that are used to make decisions with important consequences for students: tests used for diagnostic and intervention purposes, assessment of academic educational achievement, and alternate assessments for students with disabilities who cannot participate in district-wide academic achievement tests. Download

Disability Rights Advocates, Do No Harm - High Stakes Testing and Students with Learning Disabilities (2001).

Describes accommodations, alternate assessments, appeals, procedures, and other safeguards that should be implemented for statewide assessment systems to comply with the law and guarantee educationally sound opportunities to students with learning disabilities. Download

To order bound copies, contact Disability Rights Advocates, 449 15th Street, Suite 303. Oakland, CA 94612-2821. Phone: 510-451-8644

IDEA and Special Education

New! Fordham Foundation, No Child Left Behind - What Will it Take? (2002).

In February 2002, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation published No Child Left Behind - What Will It Take? about testing and accountability. Papers include:

  • Multiple Choices: How will states fill in the blanks in their testing systems?
  • Using NAEP to Confirm State Test Results: Opportunities and Problems
  • Adequate Yearly Progress: Results, Not Process
  • No Child Left Behind: Who Is Included in New Federal Accountability Requirements?
  • What Might Go Wrong with the Accountability Measures of the "No Child Left Behind Act"

Finn, Chester E., Andrew J. Rotherdam, Charles R. Hokanson, Jr. Rethinking Special Education for a New Century (2001).

Volume of 14 papers jointly published by The Fordham Foundation and the Progressive Policy Institute. Examines special education provided to 6 million children with disabilities, identifies problems, analyzes causes, suggests solutions; recommends sweeping changes in federal special ed policy. Consumers and providers should read this book.

Bound copies of Rethinking Special Education for a New Century are available through the Fordham Foundation website for $10 each. To order go to: http://www.edexcellence.net/fordham/foreports.html#ancherOrder

National Education Association, The New IDEA Survival Guide (2000).

Written to help teachers understand their responsibilities under the IDEA. Parents will learn from this publication too! Information divided into five sections: each section includes scenarios followed by what the IDEA says and a discussion of myths and reality.

1. Developing IEPs
2. Managing Paperwork
3. Dealing with Discipline
4. Training Teachers and Support Staff
5. Communicating with Parent

National Association of Elementary School Principals, Implementing IDEA: A Guide for Principals (2001).

Published by U. S. Department of Education and the Council of Exceptional Children; principals are responsible for educating all students in their schools. Download (in pdf)

New! National Research Council, Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education, published by National Academy Press (2002).

Recommends that schools use comprehensive reading assessments to identify students who are at risk of academic failure and provide high quality instruction; urges states to raise teacher certification and licensing requirements to include effective intervention methods. Share this report with school board members so they understand how research-based teaching methods will reduce the number of children who are not learning to read.

You can download a free copy of Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education one page at a time from http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10128.html?onpi_newsdoc01162002 or purchase a bound copy from the NAP.

National Council on Disability, Back to School on Civil Rights: Advancing the Federal Commitment to Leave No Child Behind (2000).

The National Council on Disability found that all states were out of compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act law and that " . . . efforts to enforce the law over several Administrations have been inconsistent, ineffective, and lacking any real teeth." Download

To order bound copies, contact the National Council on Disability, 1331 F. Street, NW, Suite 1050, Washington, DC 20004-1107. Phone: 202-272-2004

New! Public Agenda, When It's Your Own Child: A Report on Special Education from the Families Who Use It (2002).

Informative report from a carefully structured survey of more than 500 parents of special needs children. About two-thirds gave their children's schools good marks for providing help; 43% said they had to fight to get services for their children; 16% have considered or threated to sue; one-third ranked their children's schools as 'fair' or 'poor' in providing help; nearly half of the parents did not think special education programs are preparing their children for the 'real world.'

Registered users can download this report until July 19 2002. After July 19 2002, print copies will be available for $10, plus $2.00 shipping and handling. To order print copies, use the Public Agenda Order Form or call 212-686-6610.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, A Guide to the Individualized Education Program (2000).

Describes how to write IEPs that improve teaching, learning, and educational results. Includes: contents of the IEP; IEP team members; writing the IEP; placement decisions; after the IEP is written; implementing the IEP; revising and revising the IEP; resolving disagreements about the IEP; a sample IEP form, information and resources, the federal regulations for IEPs, and guidance about IEPs. Download

To order free copies, contact ED Pubs, Editorial Publications Center, P O Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794.
Phone: 877-4-ED-PUBS

ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, Designing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Plans (2000).

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to prepare students with disabilities for employment and independent living. Transition planning that involves students and their families leads to post-school success and independence. Article describes how to design quality IEP transition plans. Download

To order bound copies, contact The Council for Exceptional Children, 1110 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22201-5704. Phone: 1-800-328-0272

Learning Disabilities & Dyslexia

Lyon, G. Reid, Jack Fletcher, Sally E. Shaywitz, Bennett A. Shaywitz, Joseph K. Torgesen, Frank B. Wood, Ann Schulte, Richard Olson, Rethinking Learning Disabilities (2001).

All-star group of researchers advise that persistent problems in defining LD are caused by reliance on inaccurate assumptions about causes and characteristics of LD disorders; they recommend that early intervention and prevention programs for at risk children, especially reading programs, could reduce the number of children served in special ed programs by 70 percent.

To order Rethinking Learning Disabilities visit the Fordham Foundation website: http://www.edexcellence.net/fordham/foreports.html#ancherOrder


American Federation of Teachers, Teaching Reading is Rocket Science: What Expert Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do by Louisa Moats (1999). (36 pages, pdf)

"Reading is the fundamental skill upon which all formal instruction depends. Research shows that a child who doesn't learn the reading basics early is unlikely to learn them at all. Any child who doesn't learn to read early and well will not easily master other skills and knowledge and is unlikely to ever flourish in school or in life."

Moats, Louisa, Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of "Balanced" Reading Instruction (2000).

"Three things are clear about early reading: First, it isn’t being handled well in American schools. Four in ten of our fourth-graders lack basic reading skills. Millions of children are needlessly classified as “disabled” when, in fact, their main problem is that nobody taught them to read when they were five and six years old."

"Second, we know what works for nearly all children when it comes to imparting basic reading skills to them. Third, we also know what doesn’t work for most children. It’s called “whole language.”

"Yet whole language persists, despite efforts by policymakers and reading experts to root it out. Today, though, it often disguises itself, not using the term “whole language” but, rather, wearing the fig leaf of “balanced” instruction." Download

National Institutes of Health. Report of the National Reading Panel, Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction (2000). To order NIH Publication Number 00-4769, contact NICHD Clearinghouse at 1-800-370-2943

Retention and Social Promotion

National Association of School Psychologists, Retention and Promotion: A Handout for Parents (1998).

Finds that "research does not support the notion that retention helps children to 'catch up' and that 'social promotion' - sending children on to the next grade regardless of performance -pushes children through the school system without requiring mastery of basic skills." Download

National Association of School Psychologists, Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion (1998).

"The National Association of School Psychologists promotes the use of interventions that are effective and research-based and discourages the use of practices which, though popular or widely accepted, are neither not beneficial or are harmful to the welfare and educational attainment of America's children and youth. Through many years of research, the practice of retaining children in grade has been shown to be ineffective in meeting the needs of children who are academically delayed." Download

Zero Tolerance and Discipline

Harvard Civil Rights Project, Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline Policies (2000).

Under Zero Tolerance Policies, children from kindergarten through 12th grade receive harsh punishments, often for minor infractions that pose no threat to safety. Compelling research indicates that these "get-tough" disciplinary measures fail to meet sound educational principles. In many cases, their application defies commonsense. Download

To order bound copies, contact The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, 124 Mt. Auburn Street Suite 400, South Cambridge, MA 02138. Phone: 617-496-6367

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Free Online Newsletters

To recommend a free online newsletter that is not included in this listing, please send an email about your recommendation and a brief note about why you believe we should include this newsletter on the Wrightslaw site. Please type FREE NEWSLETTER in the subject line of your email.

Learn about the Law and Legal Research
Findlaw is an encyclopedic law site that publishes newsletters on dozens of different topics:
Daily Opinion Summaries

Weekly Opinion Summaries

Legal Grounds: Legal News with Attitude

Writ: Legal Commentary from Top Scholars and Attorneys

Health Law Pulse: Reports from the intersection of health care and the law

The Practice Paper. Tools and Solutions for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers.

Learn more about Findlaw newsletters.

Opinions from Findlaw

Depending on your federal court site, you may be able to receive court opinions soon after they are issued.

To learn if you can get decisions from your federal court, go to the Findlaw Federal Resources, Judicial page. Subscribers receive opinions within 1-2 days of the date they are issued.

Learn about Special Education Law & Advocacy

The Beacon: The Journal of Special Education Law and Practice

The Beacon is an electronic journal published quarterly by Harbor House Law Press. The Beacon publishes articles and essays for attorneys and advocates who represent children with disabilities and others who are interested in special education law and practice.

Each issue of The Beacon focuses on a theme and includes practical and theoretical articles. Future issues will focus on class action litigation, document and exhibit preparation, and damages.

To subscribe, go to the Harbor House site and type your email address into the subscribe box on the left side of the page.

Learn more about The Beacon.

The Special Ed Advocate

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, tactics and strategy, and Internet resources.

Subscribers receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books. To subscribe
Read back issues of The Special Ed Advocate.


SpecialEdLaw.net, a joint venture of Stinson Law Associates, & Center for Education Rights, sends out announcements about about new special education decisions and information about training and seminars.

To subscribe, go to http://www.specialedlaw.net/ and check the Sign Up box on the left side of the page.

Learn about the Disabilities

FEAT Online from Families for Early Autism Treatment

Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) publishes FEAT Daily Newsletter, a free newsletter about neurobiological disorders.

If you are interested in autism, special education, advocacy, IDEA, genetic research, stem cell research, medical imaging, ADD/ADHD, or learning disabilities, you will want to subscribe to FEAT Daily Newsletter.

To subscribe

Learn more about FEAT

LDOnline Report

LD Online Report is a free monthly newsletter from LD OnLine; offers news about learning disabilities, articles, and events.

To subscribe

LD News

Subscribe to LD News, published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and get news about dyslexia, learning disabilities, and ADD/ADHD.

To subscribe, go to http://www.ld.org and type your e-mail address in the subscribe box.

Action Alert

Get breaking news about federal legislation that may affect your child; learn what you can do to get involved.

To subscribe, go to http://www.capwiz.com/ld/home/ and click ACTION E-LIST


SchwabLearning.org website and weekly newsletter are focused on providing information for parents of children with learning differences whether or not they have been diagnosed with learning disabilities.

To subscribe go to, http://www.schwablearning.org/registration.asp


HearingExchange online is a community for people with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing children and professionals who work with them. HearingExchange also publishes a twice-monthly newsletter, HearingExchange News that offers the latest news, articles, resources and much more on hearing loss.

To subscribe go to, http://www.hearingexchange.com/newsletters.htm

World of Dyslexia Newsletter

World of Dyslexia Newsletter is an email newsletter each month to keep you up
to date with events in the world of dyslexia. For everyone with an interest in dyslexia: dyslexia testing and assessment, teaching dyslexic children, advice for parents of a dyslexic child, coping techniques for dyslexic adults, free magazine articles, research, and much, much more!

To subscribe: http://www.dyslexia-teacher.com/t23.html

Links to newsletter archives: http://www.dyslexia-teacher.com/newsletter.html

Learn about Education / Special Education

Ed Net Briefs
Weekly newsletter about summaries of the most important education-related news of the week. To subscribe, go to http://www.edbriefs.com/sub.html, and follow the instructions.

Education Week on the Web
Weekly newsletter about what's new on the Education Week site. Subscribers receive weekly e-mail alerts about top stories about education from Education Week. To subscribe, go to http://www.edweek.org/info-epe/eupdate.htm

GAO Reports (by Topic)
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) provides investigative reports to Congress. Last year, GAO published a report, Student Discipline: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (GAO-01-2100), informing Congress that the discipline provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act were working and did not need to be changed. This year, as reauthorization of IDEA progresses, GAO Reports will play an important role in informing members of Congress and the public. To be notified by email about GAP Reports About Education, follow this link: http://www.gao.gov/subtest/subscribe.html

Monthly newsletter from the IDEA Practices site; includes IDEA news, conferences and events, new products and resources.
To subscribe, go to http://www.ideapractices.org/forms/maillist.asp#join

School Grants Newsletter
Free publication about grants from federal, state and private organizations. The School Grants website at http://www.schoolgrants.org also has tips on writing grant applications, ideas for playground funding, and technology resources for schools who want to update their computer technology.

If you subscribed to the School Grants Newsletter, you would know about two grant opportunities that were highlighted in the January issue. Would you like to see these programs in your community? To subscribe to the School Grants Newsletter, send a blank email to subscribe@schoolgrants.org

1. Smaller Learning Communities
The purpose of the Smaller Learning Communities program is to support the planning, implementation, or expansion of small, safe, and successful learning environments in large public high schools through competitive grants to local educational agencies (LEAs).

URL: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2001_register&doci

2. NFIE's Innovation Grants
Innovation Grants provide opportunities for teachers and education support personnel to develop and implement innovations that improve student learning. Up to 200 awards of $2,000 each will be made to teams of K-12 public school teachers, education support personnel, and/or faculty in institutions of higher education who develop and implement innovative ideas that result in high student achievement.

URL: http://www.nfie.org/programs/innovation_guidelines.htm

Do You Have a Recommendation?

To recommend a free online newsletter that is not included in this listing, please send an email about your recommendation and a brief note about why you believe we should include this newsletter on the Wrightslaw site. Please type FREE NEWSLETTER in the subject line of your email.

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Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition - The Special Education Survival Guide (ISBN 1-892320-08-8) by Pamela Wright and Peter Wright is published by Harbor House Law Press.

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival GuideWrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition has hundreds of tips, strategies, references, warnings and Internet resources. This practical, user-friendly book includes:

  • Sample Letters & Logs
  • Checklists and Forms
  • Worksheets and Agendas
  • Companion website at www.fetaweb.com
In this comprehensive, easy-to-read book, you learn to:
  • Develop a master plan for your child's special education
  • Organize your child's file
  • Work with consultants and evaluators
  • Write SMART IEP goals and objectives
  • Use test scores to monitor your child's progress
  • Resolve parent-school conflict early
  • Write effective letters and create paper trails
  • Use parent agendas to improve meeting outcomes


Copyright 1998-2022, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Contact Us