AIR Experts Discuss Research and Interventions for Students with Disabilities at Council for Exceptional Children Annual Conference

Washington, D.C. – Experts from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) will discuss a broad range of research and interventions involving students with disabilities during the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) annual conference in San Diego April 8-11, 2015.

AIR presentations and poster sessions at the San Diego Convention Center include:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Strand A: How Can We Make Intensive Intervention Happen? Considerations for Knowledge Development, Implementation, and Policy
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Room 030AB

Presented by the National Center on Intensive Intervention.
AIR Leaders: Louis Danielson and Rebecca Zumeta

  • What Do I Do Now? Intensifying Academic Interventions When Standard Approaches Flop (Session 1: Demonstration)
    8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

    Participants will learn about the data-based individualization (DBI) approach to intensive intervention as it applies to academics. Presenters will demonstrate how they have applied DBI in real schools.

    AIR Presenter: Rebecca Zumeta
  • Practical Solutions: Using Intensive Intervention to Improve Behavioral Outcomes for Struggling Students (Session 2: Demonstration)
    9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

    Challenging behavior rarely occurs in isolation; it often coexists with academic problems. Thus, interventionists must carefully select and implement behavior interventions while considering function, context, and feasibility. In this session, presenters will share tools, resources, and lessons learned from the field to support students with intensive behavior needs.

    AIR Presenter: Gail Chan
  • From Know-How to Action: Assessing and Improving School-Level Implementation of Data-Based Individualization (Session 3: Presentation With Question-and-Answer Session)
    10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

    Successful implementation of intensive intervention requires more than knowledge. Presenters will describe a rubric used to evaluate key components of data-based individualization implementation in several schools receiving training and coaching supports. Participants will learn patterns observed across sites, implications for training, and strategies for addressing common barriers to implementation.

    AIR Presenter: Laura Kuchle
    AIR Discussant: Louis Danielson
  • Improving Results for All: The Role of Intensive Intervention in Federal Education Policy (Session 4: Panel)
    1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    In this final strand session, panelists will discuss the ways in which intensive intervention connects to and supports key federal education policy initiatives. Discussion will focus on OSEP’s Results-Driven Accountability initiative, implementation of and assessment of progress toward college and career readiness standards, educator evaluation, and school discipline guidance.

    AIR Presenter: Allison Gandhi

Students with Challenging Behaviors and Mental Health Issues: Preventing the School-to-Prison Pipeline (Division Showcase Session)
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Room 224

There is growing concern about the unmet mental health needs of at-risk youth and those with EBD as well as the connection with the school-to-prison pipeline. The session will provide an up-to-date synthesis of the mental health issues affecting these youth, how challenging behaviors may impact such issues, and offer usable resources and strategies for educators to use to minimize more youth from being engaged in the school-to-prison pipeline.

AIR Presenter: Simon Gonsoulin

Showcase (DLD): “Do This, Not That!” Unraveling Common Instructional Myths for Students With Learning Disabilities (Presentation With Question-and-Answer Session)
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Room 032A

This session will help special educators make sense of instructional myths associated with evidence-based practices. The presenters describe common myths and instructional mistakes surrounding implementation, provide practical examples for improving instruction, and share resources to help educators make adaptations to promote engagement and intensive intervention for students with learning disabilities.

AIR Presenter: Rebecca Zumeta

Friday, April 10, 2015

Challenges in Evaluating Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (Presentation With Question-and-Answer Session)
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Room 026A

As educator evaluation systems evolve, there is an increased need to consider the evaluation of student instructional support personnel (SISP). This session will focus on the challenges of designing inclusive educator evaluation systems that reflect the unique roles and responsibilities of SISP.

AIR Presenters: Lynn Holdheide and Lindsey Hayes

Intensifying Intervention Within a Multi-Tier Framework: Practical Strategies for Teachers (Strand H, Session 2: Presentation With Question-and-Answer Session)
9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Room 033C

Based on work conducted in four states through the National Center on Intensive Intervention, presenters will share strategies for intensifying intervention at Tier 2 or Tier 3 for students with or at-risk for learning disabilities in the area of mathematics. This session will summarize the principles of intensive intervention, introduce sample mathematics intervention guides that may be used by teachers, and provide concrete examples of teachers implementing intensive intervention practices. Presenters will highlight several case examples from intervention sites and discuss how teachers used the intensive intervention to improve the mathematics performance of students.

AIR Presenter: Rebecca Zumeta

Fostering Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Promote External Funding for Special Education Research (Presentation With Question-and-Answer Session)
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Room 029B

Interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers in special education, school psychology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry can lead to successful grants that provide significant contributions to the field, both in assessment and intervention. Presenters will discuss strategies for collaboration and outlets for external funding, with a particular focus on social, emotional, and behavioral research.

AIR Presenters: Rebecca Zumeta

Improving Outcomes for Students With Severe Learning and Behavior Problems: What Will It Take? (Town Hall Meeting)
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Room 030CD

In this era of high-stakes accountability for all, many students with disabilities demonstrate persistent low achievement on state and national assessments. In this Town Hall Meeting session, leaders will frame and facilitate a discussion about the challenges schools face in providing sufficiently intensive supports to students with severe and persistent learning and behavior needs. In particular, session leaders will encourage the audience to consider issues related to personnel preparation within the context of this discussion.

AIR Presenter: Louis Danielson

Results-Driven Accountability: Achieving the Vision of Successful Outcomes for All Children With Disabilities (Panel)
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Room 024BC

Special education and early intervention are about more than operating compliant programs. Our commitment as educators is to support children to succeed developmentally, academically, and socially before, during, and after their school years. In this session, OSEP leadership will explain the vision of Results-Driven Accountability (RDA)—an approach that strikes a meaningful balance between educational outcomes and legal compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Presenters will discuss the RDA theory of action as well as expectations for review and next steps relative to the State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIPs) that were submitted to OSEP on April 1.

AIR Presenter: Louis Danielson

Tools for Designing and Scaffolding Differentiated Learning Experiences for Students With Disabilities
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Expo Hall F, Poster 13

As the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Common Core State Standards promote accountability for all students, providing access to the general education curriculum through differentiated learning and scaffolded instruction is important for meeting the needs of all students, including those with disabilities. This session showcases a set of tools designed to guide participants through the process of designing instruction that incorporates differentiation and universal design for learning, linking to the Common Core State Standards, and addressing diverse learning needs.

AIR Presenters: Melissa Edmiston and Kathryn Balestreri

Facilitating Inclusion of Diverse Students With Emotional/Behavioral Disorders Through Cooperation Games (Joint Presentation – Instructional Games for Students With Emotional/Behavioral Disorders)
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Room 029C

Presenters will teach practitioners how to facilitate peer-mediated cooperation games in the classroom setting to promote the inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse learners with emotional/behavioral disorders. The results of a recent investigation into the use of cooperation games with this population also will be presented.

AIR Presenter: Teri Marx

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Enhancing Accessibility for Students With Disabilities on Large-Scale Reading Comprehension Assessments
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Room 025B

This session will report on the results of a study to identify a valid set of accommodations for students with word-reading disabilities to demonstrate their skills on standardized reading comprehension assessments. Four accommodations were tested: (1) pacing assistance; (2) question-and-answer options read-aloud; (3) proper nouns read-aloud; and (4) full read-aloud.

AIR Presenters: Allison Gandhi, Louis Danielson and Amy Szymanski

For more information about the conference, visit

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit


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