Wednesday, October 26, 2016

You Asked, CHADD Delivers: Online Teacher Training Now Available

by Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA

While you can find students with ADHD in every classroom across the country, teachers have limited resources to help them understand, teach, and manage students with ADHD. They receive little pre-service or in-service training in this area. In response to this knowledge gap and pressing need, CHADD has updated its teacher training program and made it available on a state-of-the-art online education platform.

Teacher to Teacher: Supporting Students with ADHD is now available on Pepper, the country’s leading online professional development platform for educators. (Read the press release.) For the first time, educators will have unlimited, on-demand access to the Teacher to Teacher course through self-paced online learning.

Teacher to Teacher helps educators identify common ADHD-related learning problems and learn about proven classroom techniques, interventions, and the latest research to enhance school success for students with ADHD. Designed by teachers for teachers, the program assumes that teachers are overworked and in need of practical classroom tools. Parents who need assistance on how to effectively advocate for their children at school can take the training as well.

CHADD’s next goal is to get the word out to make sure that all schools and teachers across the country are aware of this educational resource.

Last summer, the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education issued a letter clarifying schools’ obligations to students with ADHD. This was seen as necessary because of the numerous complaints the department was receiving about what was actually occurring in the public schools. We all know that what was implemented was a far cry from what the legislators intended, and this letter shows that our voices were heard. The letter:
•    Explains that schools must evaluate a student when a student needs or is believed to need special education or related services.
•    Discusses the obligation to provide services based on students’ specific needs and not based on generalizations about disabilities, or ADHD, in particular.
•    Clarifies that students who experience behavioral challenges, or present as unfocused or distractible, could have ADHD and may need an evaluation to determine their educational needs.
•    Reminds schools that they must provide parents and guardians with due process and allow them to appeal decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.

This is a wonderful improvement for our ADHD community, and we are pleased that CHADD’s Public Policy Committee assisted in its development. It remains to be seen how it will affect what actually occurs at our schools with our children, however. CHADD, of course, will continue working with the US Department of Education in monitoring compliance.

While the new guidance clarifies the obligations, it is not at all clear how individual schools and teachers will find the resources (primarily time) to comply and accomplish the aims of the legislation (and its clarification). This is hardly a new issue for schools (or other publicly funded services where more is demanded yet resources are constrained). The relevant question then becomes how can we help, what can we do to assist in accomplishing these, oh so necessary and appropriate goals. The scenario of 30 students with 10 percent having special needs is all too common and typically presents the teacher with a decision as to how to allocate time, knowing that not all 30 students will be comparably served, as required by the teacher’s own sense of equity as well as the law.

With Teacher to Teacher: Supporting Students with ADHD available on-demand to every teacher in the country, all educators will now have access to the best practices and strategies.

If you want to learn more, visit the Teacher to Teacher page on the CHADD website or email Share this blog or the T2T flyer with your child’s teacher and school. Help us get the word out!

Michael MacKay, JD, MS, CPA, is the president of CHADD.