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IDEAS that Work!California Department of Education, Special Education Division’s special project, California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) is funded through a contract with the Napa County Office of Education. CalSTAT is partially funded from federal funds, State Grants #H027A080116A. Additional federal funds are provided from a federal competitively awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A070011) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U. S. Department of Education.

Advisory Commission on Special Education

ACSE Public Report 2006 – 2007
The California Advisory Commission on Special Education

Public Report 2006–2007

A View from the Chair

Seasons of Love

“Five hundred twenty-fi ve thousand six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-fi ve thousand moments so dear

Five hundred twenty-fi ve thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure? Measure a year

In daylights,

In sunsets,

In midnights,

In cups of coffee,

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-fi ve thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure a year in a life?”

The lyrics from “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent describe one way to measure a year. This 2006–7 year in the life of the Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE) could be characterized as a deepening — measured in deep conversations, deeper analyses, and focused efforts on topics that matter a great deal to the stakeholders in the special education arena.

This year the commission placed a particular emphasis on deepening its conversations and working with our stakeholders, which include parents, students, educators, professional organizations, and higher education researchers. In addition, the commission deepened its work in the area of legislation. A very strong ACSE legislative committee met for countless hours to analyze potential bills and offer recommendations to the sponsors.

The commission addressed select, important topics that took up the lion’s share of its meetings this year. These topics included the opportunities and challenges associated with assistive technology; the shortfall in education funding that we are all experiencing; and, of utmost importance, the shortage of qualifi ed staff in every critical role that supports students with special needs. The commission also embarked on a fi rst year of study to understand “response to intervention” and how the California Department of Education is planning to support the implementation of that instructional approach in the years to come. The student commissioners on the ACSE took a leadership role around “people first language,” and the commission received updates on the implementation of the ACSE recommendations relative to charter schools and special education The commission gave signifi cant time and mindshare to three additional areas. First and foremost was its work on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and the recommendations the commission ultimately took to the State Board of Education regarding the hopes and challenges of the CAHSEE. In addition, the commission used its GOAL Award as a way of identifying promising practices in the fi eld; and, through its partnership in the award with the California School Boards Association, the ACSE looks forward to upcoming years and this award being a vehicle for yielding even more nominations for signifi cant work from all parts of the state. In conclusion, the 2006–7 year of the ACSE was a season of deep commitment, caring, and appreciation for everyone in the field of special education.

—Don Shalvey, Chair

The California Advisory Commission on Special Education ACSE Public Report 2006–2007

Legislative Report

Legislation is how policy and philosophical discussions are translated into action. The commission is committed to engaging in this process in order to take effective action on behalf of students with disabilities. As part of this effort to be more proactive in the arena of legislation, the ACSE revitalized its legislative committee, contacts, and processes. Its members created a legislative platform to guide the commission’s evaluation of pending legislative measures. In addition, the legislative committee is now convening the day before scheduled commission meetings in order to have the necessary time to make appropriate recommendations. The ACSE legislative platform for the 2006–7 year established seven clear priorities:

Two major themes emerged for legislative consideration this year, occupying a good deal of the commission’s attention: the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and the critical shortage of trained and certifi ed speech-language pathologists. In support of students with disabilities taking the CAHSEE, the commission delivered testimony to the State Board of Education and ultimately declared support for Senate Bill 123 (Romero), which provides for a “juried assessment” that would allow different paths to passage of the CAHSEE for students with disabilities. Working with the California Speech- Language-Hearing Association, the ACSE supported several bills aimed at increasing the number of qualifi ed school practitioners.

The commission will continue to play an active role in the development of legislation to fulfi ll these and all of its objectives in support of the best education possible for students with disabilities.

ACSE Public Report 2006 – 2007 The California Advisory Commission on Special Education

Liaison Efforts

The ACSE continues to build on its efforts to form positive working relationships with organizations and agencies active in the education of students with disabilities. The commission believes that when the community of interest operates in concert and with knowledge of the activities and goals of other stakeholder organizations, students with disabilities benefi t. Toward that end, the ACSE assumed a leadership role and sponsored a meeting in the summer of 2006 that gave these various organizations an opportunity to brainstorm better ways to share a common set of objectives. In general, ACSE commissioners maintain ongoing communications with the following organizations, with commissioners participating in their regular meetings:

ACSE commissioners also worked on the following:

Additionally, ACSE commissioners serve as liaisons to the Coalition for Adequate Funding, receiving monthly information on the status of current legislation relating to state and federal funding for special education. Commissioners also serve on committees and workgroups developing the IDEA Implementation/Federal Review/Corrective Action Plan (CAP) and the California State Improvement Grant. Finally, in the capacity of liaisons, ACSE commissioners attend to issues related to the education of individuals with hearing impairments, the juvenile justice system, transition from school to adult living, and autism. At their regular meetings, ACSE commissioners continue to welcome input from individuals and organizations. Special recognition is extended to the following organizations whose representatives regularly attend ACSE meetings and offer valuable input to commissioners: CTA (California Teachers Association), CARS+ (California Association of Resource Specialists and Special Education Teachers), PTA (Parent Teacher Association), CSHA (California Speech-Language-Hearing Association), SEACO (Special Education Administrators of County Offi ces), and SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) administrators.

The California High School Exit Exam

The CAHSEE proved again to be an emotional topic for the ACSE in 2006–7. While graduating high school seniors with disabilities were provided an exemption from the CAHSEE in 2007, the provision in last year’s Senate Bill 267 (Romero) did not afford students with disabilities the same option for 2008. Instead, SB 267 required the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, with the approval of the State Board of Education (SBE), to recommend to California’s legislature a course of action for students with disabilities by June 1, 2007. The ACSE heard public testimony and presented recommendations and comments to the SBE in an effort to determine and suggest a course that would best serve students with disabilities. After many hours of testimony, the SBE voted to recommend to the legislature only a small change in the waiver process relative to the CAHSEE. The ACSE found the waiver process in general to be an unnecessary hurdle and was disappointed in the SBE’s recommendation. Prior to these recommendations, Senator Romero introduced SB 123, which proposed the option of a juried assessment to serve as an alternate way of measuring the achievement of a student in special education who was not able to successfully pass the CAHSEE, but who had completed all other required coursework. The ACSE voted unanimously to support this measure and provided testimony to the legislature. At the time this report was written, Senate Bill 123 remains in the Senate Appropriations Committee, awaiting further approval.

It is the ACSE’s position that students who receive special education services in California have yet to experience the full negative impact of the CAHSEE. Without further measures to address the inequities of the CAHSEE for students with disabilities, there will be a further decline in the number of diplomas awarded to these students. And without a high school diploma, they face serious limitations in their employment opportunities, which in turn affect their quality of life.

Assistive Technology

This past year the commission heard a number of reports about the role that assistive technology plays in the lives of California’s students. While students with disabilities benefi t greatly from assistive technology, any equipment that is provided to them must be returned upon graduation. Because equipment is expensive and not often easily replaced, this situation can leave a critical gap that affects a student’s capacity to navigate the world of independent living and adult life. The commission is currently exploring ways to remedy this situation, including the possibility of securing fi nancial support from foundations. This area will continue to be studied during the 2007–8 year.

Charter Schools

The ACSE has continued to be involved in developing strategies to ensure effective special education service delivery for charter schools. Two years ago, the commission unanimously adopted recommendations that were sent to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. These recommendations called for the creation of fi ve pilot programs that would build the capacity of charter schools to implement special education services and provide options for charter schools to become Local Education Agencies (LEAs). This past year, the ACSE participated in a statewide workgroup to identify and implement these pilots, which currently reside within LASER (Lodi Area Special Education Region), Desert-Mountain SELPA (special education local plan area), Placer County SELPA, and the El Dorado County Offi ce of Education SELPA. These entities have provided access for charter schools to become LEAs, including those charters with physical locations outside of the SELPA boundaries. In addition, the state workgroup is addressing the needs of all SELPAs with charter schools and will continue to work through the 2007–8 school year. The workgroup includes California State Director of Special Education Mary Hudler, Charter Schools Director Marta Reyes, and representatives from SELPAs’ County Offi ces of Education and from charter schools.

Finally, the ACSE has participated in the development and dissemination of a primer for charter schools and special education (go to sp/se/sr/ and scroll down to “Technical Assistance For California Charter Schools On Implementing Special Education Requirements” for a copy). The primer provides information and resources to facilitate the successful inclusion of students with disabilities in charter schools, as well as specifi c information on building the capacity of charter schools that wish to become LEAs. Workshops on the primer have been held throughout the past year.

The GOAL Award

The Advisory Commission on Special Education was proud to present its annual GOAL Award (Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning) to Valley View Community School in the Sulphur Springs School District for its Win-Win Program. Principal Gayle Abril, Superintendent Bob Nolet, and ten members of the Valley View community attended the May 25 GOAL Award ceremony. Chief Deputy Gavin Payne from the offi ce of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Dana Mitchell from Assemblywoman Betty Karnette’s offi ce joined the commission in celebrating the Win-Win Program and its extraordinary effects on all students and parents at Valley View. In addition to the GOAL Award itself, the commission presented the school with a $2,000 gift to advance the program’s goals. Funds for the GOAL Award were provided by Brian Grazer and Corki Corman on behalf of their son, Riley Grazer.

The purpose of the GOAL Award is to recognize each year an educational program in the state that excels in its efforts to support students with disabilities. Applications for the 2007–8 GOAL Award can be found at The commission and the California School Boards Association include GOAL as part of their Golden Bell application options.

“People First” Language

The ACSE commissioners have noticed that many presenters at ACSE meetings, as well as commissioners themselves, are in the habit of using phrasings that place the disability before the person when talking about individuals with disabilities. In an effort to help others understand the importance of addressing people in a respectful manner, the ACSE is giving to all of its speakers guidelines and a brochure entitled People First Language. The commission believes that helping people change the language they use will also help change attitudes toward individuals with disabilities, and, in the long run, contribute to students with disabilities receiving the respect they deserve.

Response to Intervention

Response to intervention (RtI) is the process of discovering what each student needs in order to learn. This includes screening all students in areas of academics and behavior and providing research-based instruction and interventions by highly trained staff in the general education setting. RtI is a general education function and usually utilizes three tiers of intervention, with each consecutive tier offering an increasing intensity of supports. The data gathered as part of the RtI process can be used to determine whether or not a student has a learning disability and qualifi es for special education services. In summary, it is a schoolwide collaborative model that blends services to benefi t all students; this includes students receiving special education services.

However, the ACSE has concerns about the ability of both general education and special education service providers to implement RtI with fi delity. Representatives of the commission’s stakeholder groups have expressed concerns about the lack of existing guidelines for consistent implementation, about the validity of using RtI to determine a student’s eligibility for receiving special education services, and about the impact that an RtI approach in a school would have on the roles of special education service providers.

In an effort to proactively address these concerns, the commission has begun to explore effective RtI models, gather available research that addresses implementation, and hear concerns presented by stakeholders in the field. The commission has developed an RtI ad-hoc committee to continue this fl ow of information. Its members represent special education students, parents, and educators statewide. Over the summer of 2007, the members of this committee will participate in a statewide RtI technical workgroup to develop guidance for the fi eld in the areas of data management, progress monitoring, implementation, and eligibility determination, and for the compilation of a database of research-based practices.

A Look Toward the Future

A number of important issues will continue to capture a large share of the commission’s attention as the ACSE looks towards its 2007–8 year. These include a desire to identify additional successful programs for GOAL Award consideration and to study the impact the California High School Exit Exam on students with special needs, including the effect of recommended additional supports in helping these students pass the examination and earn their high school diplomas. This past year the commission also began a study of response to intervention and assistive technology; next year these areas will likely generate additional interest.

Most importantly, the commission will place a significant emphasis on studying and making recommendations to address the shortage of highly qualified special education teachers. Not only will this work address incentives and credentialing options, but it will look into the factors that promote the retention of special educators and the school organizations and districts where those factors manifest themselves. As a commission we look forward to another robust year, one that is filled with ever enriching and deepening relationships with the educators, parents, and students who are at the heart of our work.

Commission meeting dates and locations, 2007–2008*

September 20–21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento February 21–22 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento

November 15–16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento March 20–21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento

January 24–25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento May 22–23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento

* Exact dates may change. Please visit the ACSE website ( or contact the commission’s secretary for the most current information or to obtain a schedule. Location: California Department of Education, 1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95818.

The ACSE is an advisory body required by federal and state statutes to provide recommendations and advice to California’s State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Legislature, and Governor in new or continuing areas of research, program development, and evaluation in California special education.

Membership Directory, 2006–2007

Stacy Begin,
Patty R. Boyle, Vice Chair,
Susan Brooks,
Morena de Grimaldi,
Diane Fazzi,
Angela Hawkins,
Judith Holsinger,
Fern Laethem,
Janet Mangini,
Laurie Newton,
Don Shalvey, Chair,
Laureen Sills,
Jim Woodhead,
Kristin Wright,

Student Members
Nicholas Moore
Dani Anderson
Eddie Rea

Legislative Members
Joe Simitian, Senate Member, 916-445-9600,
916-327-3523 (fax),

Betty Karnette, Assembly Member, 916-319-2054,916-319-2154 (fax)

Dana Mitchell, Staff Representative,

Executive Secretary

Mary Hudler, 916-445-4602, 916-327-3706 (fax),

Governor’s Office, Secretary for Education Liaison

State Board Liaison
Yvonne Chan, 916-319-0827,

State Special Schools Liaison
Ronald Kadish, 916-327-3850,
916-445-4550 (fax),

Commission Staff Liaison

Anthony Sotelo, 916-327-3545,
916-327-3706 (fax),

Commission Secretary

Gloria Sannino, 916-324-5709,
916-327-3706 (fax),

The California Advisory Commission on Special Education: Public Report 2006–2007 is developed by the California Advisory Commission on Special Education. The reports are edited and designed by staff at California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT). The contents of this document do not necessarily refl ect the policies or positions of the California Department of Education or of CalSTAT. © 2007 by the California Department of Education All rights reserved. Additional copies of this public report may be obtained by calling the Advisory Commission on Special Education at 916-445-4602. It may also be viewed online at, the website of the Special Education Division of the California Department of Education. For more information regarding the activities of — or any of the current vacancies on — the Advisory Commission on Special Education, please contact the commission’s liaison, Anthony Sotelo (see contact information above); or visit the ACSE Web site at



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