CA Dept. of Education


On Haitus

Secondary Issues Archive 2010


Priscilla Harvell, M.A., CCC-SLP
Secondary and Speech/Language Specialist

Priscilla Harvell's expertise is supported by over 20 years in the field of Special Education as a Speech and Language Pathologist, Special Day Class Teacher and eight years as a Secondary Specialist for the Northern California Diagnostic Center.

Submit A Question

Click a topic below to expand the full question and answer.

  • Is there ever an age that a child is considered too old for speech?


Is there ever an age that a child is considered too old for speech?

My child has the diagnosis of severe expressive and receptive language delay, and is fully included in the general education classroom with accommodations. My school district has tried everything to do away with his speech services, and now only has him slated for 15 minute weekly consult services. One of the reasons they say that to stay on general education track, and graduate with a regular diploma he can only be out of the classroom x amount of time. How can I secure his speech services and keep him mainstream?



Hi Angela,

Thank you for your question.  Not knowing your child’s school district’s policy regarding speech/language services makes it challenging for me to comment directly on their rationale regarding SLP service delivery time vs. accumulation of graduation requirement hours.  I assume your child’s district speech and language pathologist (SLP) collaborates with the IEP team to provide comprehensive language and speech intervention for your child.  The SLP services may be provided in individual or small group sessions, in classrooms when teaming with teachers or in a consultative model with teachers and parents.  If, as you say, the SLP provides “consult services” for your child, she/he may be implementing this model by discussing with teachers effective strategies to integrate speech-language goals within the natural context of the curriculum to achieve successful academic outcomes and functional communication performance.  This may be an appropriate approach if it allows your child to receive services in the least restrictive environment, provides FAPE (free appropriate public education) and meets his/her speech and language needs.  Read more about FAPE at

To determine appropriate delivery services (how much, how long, when, where, etc.), requires the SLP to review a student’s past and current speech/language performances.  As part of this review, I would interview persons who know the student.  The following questions are a sample of ones I might ask: 

  • How long has the student received speech and language services?
  • How much progress has he/she made toward achieving targeted goals?
  • Does intervention focus on compensatory strategies or on a “fix it” approach or drill and rote skills approach?  
  • Can speech/language strategies be provided in the natural environment of the classroom as he/she interacts with peers?
  • Have speech/language skills generalized across environments/classes?
  • What does the student want?  Is he/she part of the decision making process?
  • Is the student motivated; does he/she want SLP services?

Asking these questions and others related to your child’s speech/language services should determine the best way to address your concerns.

I suggest that you review and discuss the above questions with your child’s SLP to get a thorough understanding of “consult services”.  Find out if your child’s speech/language needs are adequately addressed within the inclusion classes, e.g., SLP consultations with the teachers re the effectiveness of speech/language accommodations your child uses, ongoing monitoring, and whether generalization of skills occurs.  A student centered approach to providing realistic speech/language goals/services should be the primary focus of service delivery.  Using such an approach, supports your child’s current language needs and prepares him/her for future post-secondary options and activities.

Finally, if you feel that your child is not being served, talk with someone who is familiar with your district’s policies on SLP services for older adolescents to further explore your concerns.  On another note, you may wish to explore what legal representatives have to say about your concerns.  Lozano Smith, Attorneys at Law (Partnering for Excellence in Education and Government) is one such source; their website is

Good luck.

  • Resource(s) about postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities?


Hi Priscilla,

Can you give me a resource(s) that talks about postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities?

Thanks, Kyle M.


Hi Kyle,

Good question.  I addressed a similar question in November 2008.  Go to to read additional resource information. 

With that said, the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS-2) continues to be a leader in long term research.  The original NLTS study began in 1985 to 1993 (results can be found online).  The current study, NLTS-2, began in 2001 and ended this year 2010.  The Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education funded the study as part of the national assessment of IDEA '97  The focus of the study was to obtain information in the following areas:

  • Describe the characteristics of secondary school students in special education and their households.
  • Describe the secondary school experiences of students in special education, including their schools, school programs, related services, and extracurricular activities.
  • Describe the experiences of students once they leave secondary school, including adult programs and services, social activities, etc.
  • Measure the secondary school and postschool outcomes of students in the education, employment, social, and residential domains.
  • Identify factors in students' secondary school and postschool experiences that contribute to more positive outcomes.

Go to the NLTS-2 website for a comprehensive breakdown of the study at
Another resource is the Network on Transitions to Adulthood, funded by the MacArthur Foundation.  You can read data on vulnerable youth (youth aging out of foster care, juvenile justice system, young adults with mental health issues, ex-offenders, homeless youth, and youth with disabilities and serious health concerns.  Go to
Hope this information helps you with your research.  Priscilla

  • Should parents expect fully mainstreamed kids to have the same services as SDC kids?


Hello Priscilla,

How do I handle tough advocates and parents who expect more from A + B students? Should parents expect fully mainstreamed kids to have same services of SDC kids?



It is challenging to answer your question due to the limited amount of information you provided. These are questions/information that I would want to know in order to respond appropriately to your questions. For example, in your first question, I would want to know the following information:

  • What are the parents’ expectations?
  • Are their expectations realistic?
  • What is it that they want more of (homework, extracurricular activities, etc.)?
  • Is the student able to access the curriculum with/without supports?
  • Does he/she struggle and/or stress to achieve the As/Bs?
  • Does the student have an IEP or 504 Plan that addresses accommodations?
  • Are the student’s As and Bs earned with/without accommodations or are these effort grades?
  • What does the student say? Is his/her voice heard?
  • Are they putting too much stress on their child?

I am sure you also have other questions. If I were meeting with the IEP team, parents and their advocate, these are questions we would discuss. I would also engage the parents in terms of what they can do to facilitate success outside the classroom. Ideas might include:

  • Highlight and validate their child’s strengths.
  • Independently work with him/her to develop self determination and self-advocacy skills. This will allow their child to independently problem solve and make informed decisions, necessary skills for school and the adult world. Review “Transition Basics” with their child at Unit IV will be especially helpful.

In response to your second question, the answer is no. The district must provide FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) to any student with an IEP, e.g., the student receives the programs and services to specifically address individual needs, to achieve positive results. To ensure that the district is providing FAPE, document this via the IEP process, e.g., the student is progressing and meeting IEP goals. You are then meeting your educational responsibility to your student.

A point to drive home to the parents and advocate is that a fully included student with an IEP has special education services that “fit” his/her specific needs. This is what the law requires and is the purpose of the IEP team collaborative process. “One size does not fit all” is a concept you must convey to the parents and their advocate. Any accommodations that are provided should be “necessary” not just “nice”.


Wrights Law (accommodations)

Let me know how everything turns out.

Priscilla Harvell

  • What is the requirement of a high school in accepting goals that relate to job skills, independent living skills, etc?


I am a consulting teacher for students with autism in a small rural area of Northern California.  I have 3 students in High school, and I am having some difficulty with IEP planning for transitions.  The students are all academically achieving in a combination of General Ed. and Resource classes.  Two of them have already passed the CASHEE, and one is only a freshman.  The parents are often being told that the goals and services on their IEP must only relate to their student’s ability to access the Gen. Ed. curriculum.  The schools will not write or accept goals that relate to job skills, independent living skills, college related skills, community access, etc.  The reasoning for this has been because they are within the High School curriculum.  What is the requirement of the high school in these areas?  Are the high schools mandated to provide work ability?  What level of support and planning must they provide for these families?  What other resources are available?

Thank you for your help,



Hi Lauren,

This is such an important question because Transition planning can be complicated and involved due to the many dimensions of adulthood.

As for your question, are you saying the school is integrating Transition services and goals into the students’ IEP? If so, that’s great and they are using best practices. In addition, are they must write measurable post-secondary goals (MPSG) in the mandated (by IDEA 2004) areas of Education/Training, Employment, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills/functional vocational evaluation. If not, and the school is refusing to follow this mandate, that can be problematic as are Transition requirements that schools must comply with under IDEA 2004 (Indicator 13) which applies specifically to Transition services:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized on December 3, 2004 and its provisions became effective on July 1, 2005. In conjunction with the reauthorization, the U. S. Department of Education through the Office of Special Education Programs required states to develop six-year State Performance Plans in December, 2005 around 20 indicators, on which data will be submitted annually (beginning February 2007) in Annual Performance Reports. The 13th Indicator relates to transition services for students.

National Secondary Transition Technical Assessment Center (NSTTAC

Read and share the checklist for Indicator 13 at ( If your word processor cannot open this link, cut and paste it into your web browser).

The MPSG helps the IEP team, family, and student develop annual goals and activities to guide the student toward achieving a successful future. With the reauthorization of IDEA 2004, the following changes were made and need to be addressed in the students IEP:

summary of requirements

These requirements apply to ALL students with an IEP, e.g., inclusion students, those in special day/Severely Handicapped (SDC/SH) classes, resource students, those with Other Health Impairments (OHI), students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.

If a student has an IEP and is 16 or older, Transition services are a must as part of the planning process to postsecondary options/activities. If your pars are concerned that their child’s Transition requirement are not being met, they should say so at the IEP meeting and advocate for their child’s services.

This IEP should indicate any supports he/she needs in order to move toward achieving their future post school goals. The IEP team’s responsibility is to identify and implement the Transition services that a student will receive in order to support for him/her attaining the shorter term IEP annual goals and longer term postsecondary goals. Here is an example of a MPSG:

Transition Services goal: Education/Training

After high school, Shelley will enroll at Chabot Community College to pursue a career in business.

The transition services to support Shelley’s reaching her goal might include the following:

  • Instruction related to keyboarding skills
  • Tutoring in reading comprehension intervention/strategies
  • Self-monitoring strategies to regulate behavior and keep her on task
  • Self-determination skills (problem solving, decision making, self-advocacy)

Does this example look like your students’ IEP MPSG? If not, refer to the book, Transition to Adult Living: A Resource and Information Guide, a great resource for Transition information. It provides more examples of what I described above; go

Share this information and resources with your schools and continue to advocate for your students’ legal right to have Transition and IEP goals included in their IEPs that reflect job skills, independent living skills, college related skills, community access, etc.

You mentioned WorkAbility which is a State of California Transition Program. Schools are not required to provide WorkAbility; however, this program offers valuable employment preparation and experiences that student need as they pursue successful futures. This program can be included in their course of study. Find out more at

I applaud your stance to get it right for your students! You now have general information and resources to document your position and share with schools, IEP teams, families, etc. so that they can provide appropriate academic and Transition opportunities. Don’t forget that schools must write IEPs for students 16 and older that will:

  • Capture the student’s postsecondary goals in concrete, measurable terms;
  • Write corresponding IEP goals to support and prepare the student to achieve the postsecondary goals after leaving high school;
  • Reflect the IEP team’s decisions about the transition services the student needs (including what the student will study while still in high school) in order to achieve the postsecondary goals;
  • Include the parent as key players in the planning process.

Additional resources to add to your selection include:

  • National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
  • National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center
  • National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) 
    Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures; read the hot topics sections.

Best of luck!

  • What agencies can you suggest that could be resources as ongoing services for an 18 year old.


Hello Priscilla,

I read your answer for the student who is coming from a criminal background and will be working with this student in some of the suggestions you had shared. My specific question is for a student who is coming from a residential non-public school. He is also a student who is hard of hearing communicating mainly with sign language. He is turning 18 and asking to come home and be involved in the community. What agencies do you know of that could be a resources or a support to him as he is an adult and will need on-going services. His cognitive level is within the average range and he does not qualify for regional center services.

Thank you for your support,


Your student has many challenges, e.g.

  • Attends a residential non-public school and desires to come home
  • Hard of hearing and communicates via sign language
  • Turning 18 (age of majority)

A few questions come to mind as I read and attempted to clarify/answer your question:

  • Are you saying he is returning to a regular high school setting with/without special education services?
  • What transitions are in place if/when he transitions back to a general high school setting? 
  • What is his grade level status, e.g. at or below grade level. Is he on track for graduation? When? 
  • Does he have a specific learning disability, e.g. math, writing, etc., in addition hard-of-hearing?

Without this information, it is difficult to respond. It is important that the student’s IEP team convene to discuss the appropriateness of his return and to carefully craft a transition (return) plan. This meeting should include his voice and identify his needs for a successful return and identify appropriate programming options. At this meeting, the residential non-public school staff should identify community resources already in place and whether these existing services will/can continue if/when he transitions back to general high school setting.

Regarding agency resources and possible supports, consider the following:

On a final note, remember to complete a Summary of Performance (SOP) document if this young man is graduating from, remaining in high school until 22 or voluntarily leaving school once he turns 18. This is an opportunity to help the student and his family in accessing additional supports in the adult system which may include referrals to some of the above agencies. For more information SOP’s go to

Good luck exploring!

  • How far back will the retroactive suspension of the CAHSEE passing requirement go?


Hello Priscilla and Happy New Year.

I wanted to submit a question, but was unable to do it via the website. I am interested in finding out how far back the retroactive suspension of the CAHSEE passing requirement will go. I have a family member, 24 years old, who completed all high school graduation requirements, except for passing the CAHSEE, and did not receive a diploma. I would appreciate this information both for his and my students' benefit. Thanks very much.


Margaret Velasquez


Hi Margaret,

Thank you for not giving up your attempt to contact me. Your question is timely in that State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, has shared information regarding the exemption of the requirement to pass the CAHSEE as a condition of graduation from high school for eligible students with disabilities - California Education Code Section 60852.3.

However, according to my interpretation, this exemption pertains to individuals who left school between January 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009 without a diploma due to not passing the CAHSEE). If you go to this California Department of Education website,, you can view a list of general questions and answers regarding the CAHSEE exemption issue. I have selected questions 5 and 6 that may shed some light on your question.

  • May a student with a disability who left high school between January 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009 without a diploma (because he or she did not pass CAHSEE) be allowed to re-enroll in high school and receive a diploma under the new law?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students are entitled to special education services until age 22 or until they receive a diploma. Thus, a district may be required to reopen and revise an IEP for a student who left high school without receiving a diploma, if the student has not reached age 22. If appropriate, the IEP team may revise the IEP of an eligible student. Such appropriate revisions should include additional quality instruction to help the student pass the CAHSEE and may include receiving a diploma without passing the CAHSEE. If the revised IEP calls for receipt of a diploma after July 1, 2009, and the student has satisfied all other graduation requirements, then the student may be exempted from the CAHSEE requirement under the new statute. It is within the discretion of the IEP team to determine what revisions to the IEP, including further instruction , are appropriate for a particular student. A dispute over that determination would be subject to due process.

Students with only 504 plans do not have the same procedural protections as students with IEPs. Federal regulations indicate that one way to guarantee Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under Section 504 is to provide the same procedural protections as required under the IDEA. However, since the rules are not identical, school district personnel should consult with local counsel when adopting or applying policies regarding reenrolling students with only 504 plans for purposes of receiving a diploma under the new exemption statute.

  • Does this exemption apply to students with disabilities with IEPs or 504 plans who completed all graduation requirements, except passing the CAHSEE, and received a certificate of completion in 2008 or 2009?

Yes, students with IEPs or 504 plans who completed all graduation requirements, except passing the CAHSEE, and received a certificate of completion in 2008 or 2009, are eligible for this exemption as described in No. 5 above.

Contact Diane Hernandez, administrator, CAHSEE office at 916-445-9449 or by e-mail at for additional information.

Let me know what you find out.

  • How to differentiate instruction properly.



I teach middle school in Berkeley, California. This year our school, like other schools in the state, has been hit by budget cuts. This has translated into higher class sizes for us. Although I love my students and consider them truly, intelligent wonderful individuals, I am struggling to meet the needs of this diverse set of learners. In one English/History class, I have an ED child, two severely learning disabled children, and a few more mildly learning disabled students. This is in a class of thirty middle school students.

I am an experienced teacher, with ten years experience teaching in a few different very urban settings, and I feel now that I am hitting a wall. It seems that there are not enough hours in the day to meet the needs of all of these deserving students and while the administration continues to pile duties upon us, I am not receiving the help I need. What advice can you give me on how to differentiate instruction properly, while still maintaining my sanity?


C. Sweeney


Hi Ms. Sweeney,

First, I want you to close your eyes, slowly inhale and exhale, and relish/commit to memory that relaxed feeling.

There are some teachers who have an attitude of, “That's not who I signed up to teach, that's not my problem, and that's not my kid.” Therefore, before you” hit the wall” or “lose your sanity”, I want to commend your commitment to educating ALL your students during these times of financial woes and budget cutbacks and No Child Left Behind expectations.

Next, I have listed below a few general tips toward enhancing your teaching methods/relief. Ready?

  • Collaboration – work with the special education teacher(s) to problem solve and trouble shoot. Find pockets of time (lunch, etc.) to brainstorm and share information about your inclusion students (IEP goals, accommodations, behaviors, etc.).
  • Co-teaching – consider co-teaching with the special education teacher. Carve out small blocks of time in the beginning to discuss course content and necessary adaptations; later planning can occur on an as needed basis by phone or e-mail.
  • Multimodality teaching approach – one size teaching does not fit all students’ needs. Always use a multimodality approach to teaching, e.g., auditory, visual, hands-on; this approach is good for every student.
  • Universal Design (UD) - UD means that, rather than designing your instruction for the average student, you design for students with a broad range in ability, disability, age, reading level, learning style, native language, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics. Key point regarding UD is that teachers can apply it to all aspects of instruction, e.g., teaching styles, curriculum and assessment. UD examples may include:
    • Implementing practices within the class climate that includes values that reflect inclusivity and diversity.
    • Ensure that your classroom is accessible to and is usable by all of your students.
    • Provide regular and effective interactions between students and the instructor(s); check that communication methods are available to all students.
    • Keep resources and technology flexible and accessible to all your students. Engage students with activities, notes, and resources that motivate and inspire learning.
    • Discuss necessary IEP accommodations with the special education teacher for students who need them.

For additional information on UD, go to

Here is a checklist of differentiation strategies for teaching special needs students in an inclusive classroom. This list is not all inclusive, but provides tips for successful student performance no matter what student’s skills are.

A Checklist for Inclusive Teaching

Choose flexible curriculum materials and ask special education teacher for accommodation suggestions (should be in IEP). Refer to Nine Types of Curriculum Adaptations for suggestions.

Present directions in more than one way, e.g., verbal paired with visual cues, overhead transparencies/PowerPoint presentations, flip charts.

Use multiple, accessible instructional methods that are accessible to all learners.

For visual learners, read written information, directions, and procedures aloud. See auditory learner information below.

For auditory learners, provide charts, lists, maps or icons for them to move through tasks. Provide work samples so they see what you expect a completed task to look like.

Evaluate the physical arrangement of your classroom. Do you have quiet and active areas? Is the seating arrangement conducive to the needs of all your students? Are your special needs students isolated in the back of the class engaged in their own independent activity unrelated to everyone else’s?

Use paired or group reading when necessary and appropriate.

Use checklists to help students remember what to do and in what order. Remind them to check off each step as it is completed.

Make content relevant, useful, and p uts learning in context.

Include strategies that are developmentally appropriate and hands on.

Assign “study buddies” to help with directions as appropriate.

Provide opportunities for a variety of ways for students to learn new material or knowledge, e.g., verbal/visual, role play, videotape, projects.

Offer options for students to work in various groupings, e.g., alone, in pairs, and in small groups.

Provide a TimeTimer or stopwatch to remind the more kinetic students of when they can move about. Establish what the appropriate amount of time on task is and what happens after they reach that time.

Some students may need to move around as they learn and complete activities. Identify and clearly communicate when students can leave their work places and where they may go.

Make each teaching method accessible to all students . Provide the same means of participation to all students, identical when possible, adapted and equivalent when not. Vary teaching methods.

Provide multiple ways for students to gain knowledge. Incorporate their learning style(s) and student familiarity with background information.

Deliver instructions clearly and in multiple ways . Provide instructions both orally and with visual support. Ask questions for clarification and have students repeat directions and give feedback.

Use large visual and tactile aids. For example, manipulatives to demonstrate content, visual aids as large as reasonable (i.e., large, bold fonts on uncluttered overhead displays and use a computer to enlarge smaller images).

Resource Review:

I am also providing a few resources (with brief content descriptions) that offer approaches to understanding and teaching diverse learners. I hope these help.

  1. Glasgow, Neal A. and Hicks, Cathy D., 2003. What Successful Teachers Do: 91 Research-Based Classroom Strategies for New and Veteran Teachers, Crown Press, Inc. This book covers the following areas:
    • Interacting and collaborating with students
    • Managing classroom time
    • Organizing curricular goals, lesson plans, and instructional delivery
    • Using student assessment and feedback to maximize instructional effectiveness
    • Working with special needs students
    • Celebrating diversity in the classroom, e.g., emphasizing the positive in cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and gender identity
    • Integrating technology in the classroom
    • Enhancing teacher self-assessment and reflection
    • Developing a professional identity
    • Enhancing professional relationships with colleagues
    • Fostering a positive relationship with parent
  2. Gregory, Gayle H. and Chapman, Carolyn, 2007 (2 nd Ed). Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All, Crown Press, This book covers the following areas:
    • Expands on the concept “one size doesn’t fit all”
    • Talks about creating a climate for learning
    • How to get to know your student, e.g., learning style, suggestions for using the students learning style
    • How to gather feedback and evaluate the diverse learner
    • Managing the adjustments, ways to compact information, and grouping
    • Appropriate instructional strategies for student success
    • Curriculum approaches for the differentiated classroom
    • Putting all of your planning together for the differentiated classroom
  3. Heacox, Diane, 2002. Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach ALL Learners, Grades 3-12, Free Spirit Publishing Inc., This book covers the following areas:
    • Defines “differentiation”
    • Discusses student profiles and how to find out information
    • Provides essential questions to ask re what to teach
    • Asks teachers to look at how they teach (planning for challenges and variety)
    • Takes a look at what students need in terms of flexible instructional grouping
    • Looks at what students re tiered assignments, choice making
    • Discusses grading and managing differentiation for special populations
  4. Silver, D., 2005. Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers, Incentive Publications, This book covers the following areas:
    • Discusses setting the pace for yourself, classroom management and parental involvement
    • Understanding the diverse learner and how they learn and function in various groupings
    • Personalizing your own approach to classroom community
    • Provides material, e.g., reproducible pages, discussion guide to support learning in the classroom

Let me know if this information and the resources are useful.