Special Education Column

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The Educational Testing Service and the New Jersey Department of Education are collaborating on a special project that officials believe will significantly reduce the amount of paperwork required of local special-education directors.

The project involves the use of microcomputers in 11 school districts in Mercer County, N.J., and a computer program developed at ets

Instead of maintaining a manual record-keeping system, the school districts are storing the information in their individual computer systems. When reports are required by the state, the information is retrieved and relayed by telephone.

ets officials say that information is retrieved much faster from the computer operation and is far more accurate than is possible with the manual system.

Because of the program's success, ets and state officials are now considering whether to make it available statewide.

The information-management system grew out of a program piloted in the Camden school district two years ago.

A major problem for people with physical handicaps is finding clothes that meet their special needs.

After thinking about that problem, faculty members at Iowa State University developed a model wardrobe and a set of slides that shows how clothes can be adapted to the needs of the handicapped.

Although clothing manufacturers are aware of the need, they have difficulty developing designs with special features because handicapped individuals "are not a concentrated population," according to Phyllis Brackelsburg, an assistant professor in the textiles and clothing department at the university.

However, Ms. Brackelsburg said, there are "lots of things that can be done" so that articles of clothing are adaptable and functional.

For example, one student in Ms. Brackelsburg's "clothing for special needs" class designed a dress that hides a 10-ounce black box that is required by a 5th-grade diabetic.

The university's slide show is available through the isu Extension Service, Ames, Iowa 50011.

Many studies have shown that personal interaction between teachers and students results in increased student achievement.

In one of the few "time-management" studies of special-education programs, Paul E. Sindelar, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, has found that even more personal attention by teachers is needed because of the additional problems experienced by special-education students.

Although the shortage of special-education teachers makes personal interaction less likely, Mr. Sindelar contends that there are ways of helping teachers take full advantage of their instructional time.

Mr. Sindelar will discuss his findings this month at the American Educational Research Association's meeting in Montreal.--sgf

Vol. 02, Issue 29

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