CNMI Special Education Program Gathers Stakeholder Input

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities

On November 25, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Public School System (PSS), Special Education Program convened its Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP), CNMI’s key stakeholder group, comprised of PSS administrators, agency/organization representatives, parent representatives, and individuals with disabilities. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon supported the CNMI Special Education Director during the review of CNMI’s FFY 2018 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Annual Performance Report (APR) indicator performance data and information, including discussion of reasons for “slippage” from last reporting year’s performance, where applicable. In addition, trend data for each APR indicator were reviewed to gather input from SESAP members on proposed indicator targets for FFY 2019, a requirement of the FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR. SESAP’s stakeholder input for proposed FFY 2019 APR indicator targets was a consensus amongst all members.

On the same day, Ms. De Leon supported the PSS Assessment Coordinator who facilitated an afternoon session with 21 special education teachers and student teachers on the “CNMI Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) Results & Data Interpretation.” The components of the district, school, and individual student reports were reviewed to increase understanding of the student results from administering the Spring 2019 MSAA. In addition, implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities was discussed with resources provided to support lesson plan development. Positive feedback from the session indicated that the information shared, especially the student results from the Spring 2019 MSAA administration, was helpful to improve instruction and to be prepared for the Spring 2020 MSAA administration.

On November 25, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon (sitting left front) supported the CNMI Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP) members during the review of CNMI’s
FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR.

GDOE Provides an Online Tool for Students with Reading Barriers

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Guam Department of Education

The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS held overview sessions on Nov. 25-26 at the GDOE Tiyan main office for Special Education teachers, Division personnel, and parents centered on how to use Bookshare to help students with a print disability have access to reading materials. Bookshare, a Benetech initiative, is an ebook library that contains over 770,000 titles. Bookshare makes reading easier for people with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and physical disabilities. Bookshare allows users to listen to books being read aloud, to follow along with audio and highlighted text, to read in large type, and to read in Braille. Free membership in Bookshare is available for all qualified U.S. students of any age through funds from the U.S. Department of Education.  The sessions were facilitated by Christine Jones, the Associate Director for U.S. Education for Bookshare/Benetech.

On Nov. 25, Christine Jones (standing), Bookshare/Benetech Associate Director of U.S. Education; assists Untalan Middle School Special Education teachers Beverly Chargualaf (left) and Dolores Bakker (right).
On Nov. 26, representatives from the GDOE Psych program listen to the Bookshare presentation. From L-R: Alma Terbio, Psych Evaluator; Marita Gogue, Psych Evaluator; Diella Rico, Academic Evaluator; and Maria Pia Watson, Psych Evaluator.

2019 AUCD Conference Engages Leaders to Lead Change

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

Over 1,100 people from around the United States and internationally participated in the 2019 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Conference in Washington D.C. from November 17th to November 21st, 2019. The theme, “Leading Change Together,” focused on how people with and without disabilities come together to celebrate the many ways to lead change as an organization that works with diverse communities and people through research, practices, and advocacy that impacts a broad spectrum of disabilities. The extensive pool of resources and knowledge in one setting ignited interesting discussions and generated ideas on how to implement new program services as well as to enhance existing services to better serve individuals with disabilities and their families.

During the conference, AUCD also hosted a meeting with Julie Hocker, Administration on Disabilities Commissioner, who provided insights on the administration’s initiatives: increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, health education, healthcare, and post-secondary transition services.

The AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Network members consist of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) receiving core funding from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD); 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs receiving core funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB); 15 Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC), receiving core funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD). These programs serve and are located in every U.S. state and territory and are all part of universities or medical centers. They serve as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change.

On November 21, AUCD facilitated a US Territories University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Education, Research, & Service (UCEDD) Directors’ meeting that was attended by UCEDD Directors and Staff Members from Guam,
Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the US Virgin Islands. Pictured from the front row (LR) Carol Pagan, Puerto Rico UCEDD Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Kimberly Mills, Virgin Islands UCEDD Director; Pamela Sablan, Saipan Developmental Disabilities Center Director. Second row (L-R) Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Shamika Thomas, Virgin Islands UCEDD Program Coordinator; Dawn Rudolph, AUCD Senior Director of Technical Assistance & Network Engagement; June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.
On November 20, AUCD hosted a UCEDD Director’s meeting with ACL Commissioner Julie Hocker. US Territories’ UCEDD Directors are pictured with the ACL Commissioner. (L-R) June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Julie Hocker, ACL Commissioner; and Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.

Guam Congressman Meets with Guam CEDDERS Leaders

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

The “Hafa Adai spirit” and gracious welcome from Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas and his wife, Mrs. Kathy San Nicolas, could be felt in our nation’s capital as CEDDERS Interim Director June De Leon and CEDDERS Associate Director Michelle Aguigui visited the Congressman in his office in Washington D.C. during the AUCD Hill visits on November 21th. Surrounded by the classical ambiance of the “Tunnel Restaurant,” the afternoon was filled with networking and educating our Congressman on topics that were discussed during the 2019 AUCD Annual Conference, such as increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, improving healthcare, and post-secondary education transition services. The Congressman also shared the various initiatives that he is working on to increase services for individuals with disabilities residing on Guam.

On November 21, CEDDERS visits Capitol Hill. (L-R): Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Kathy San Nicolas, wife of Congressman; June De Leon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; and Michael San Nicolas, Guam Congressman.

GDOE Provides School-Level Support for Assessments

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Early Childhood Guam Department of Education

On November 18, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE), in partnership with Guam CEDDERS, provided school-level support to aimswebPlus trainers at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. The training session included 10 school-level trainers and centered on how to generate data reports using the new aimswebPlus portal. AimswebPlus is the universal screener used by the GDOE to identify students who may be at-risk in reading and math. School-level trainers will use the skills gained in the session to assist their colleagues at each grade-level in generating reports. Teachers will use the data in the reports to adapt instruction and interventions in order to meet the unique needs of students in their class. The training session was facilitated by Guam CEDDERS Training Associate Josephine Cruz, and consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua.

Guam CEDDERS Training Associate Josephine Cruz (pointing to the laptop screen) assisted teachers in generating data reports. L-R: Lalaine Ocampo, 4th grade teacher; Josephine Cruz; Michelle DeGuzman, 1st grade teacher; and Kasaundra Penaflor, Kindergarten teacher.
Guam CEDDERS consultant Nieves Flores (standing) answered questions for teachers at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School. Seated L-R: Joe Fernandez, 3rd grade teacher;
Mi’ami Hayes, 2nd grade teacher; Aurelia Perez, 5th grade teacher; and Marianne Gutierrez, 5th grade teacher. (Not pictured: June Quitugua,Guam CEDDERS consultant)

GDOE Administrators and Teachers Review MSAA Results

Community Services: Technical Assistance Community Services: Training Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Guam Department of Education

On October 15 & 16, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Division of Special Education held three-hour sessions to review the results of the Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) administration and to discuss implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These sessions entitled focused on “Spring 2019 MSAA Results and Data Interpretation,” were designed for school administrators and elementary and secondary special education teachers who served as test administrators for the Spring 2019 MSAA on-line alternate assessment system administered to students with significant cognitive disabilities requiring an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) in ELA and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon provided technical support during the review of the state (Guam) and school summaries of Guam’s MSAA participation and performance data. In addition, each school received their individual student reports for dissemination to parents during the 1st quarter parent conferences.

The sessions also provided an opportunity to review the Spring 2019 MSAA results in relation to the curriculum, instruction, and assessment framework for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities requiring an AA-AAS. Additional resources were provided to support teaching ELA and Mathematics that align to the grade level content standards, which included sample templates for lesson creation that incorporated a process for identifying adaptations needed for addressing the learning needs of the students.

On October 15, Nancy Diaz (Left) Principal, P.C. Lujan Elementary, confidently presented her table team’s response during an activity related to the MSAA results. (L-R) Table team members include Nancy Diaz; Kaiana Mendiola, Special Education Teacher, UPI Elementary; Cassandra Flores, Student Teacher, P.C. Lujan Elementary; and Elizabeth Umagat, Special Education Teacher, P.C. Lujan Elementary.

GDOE Hosts “Our Pacific Journey for Improvement”

CEDDERS CORE Community Services: Technical Assistance Community Services: Training Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Guam Department of Education OSEP

The island value of living in a spirit of togetherness and belonging was obvious at the Pacific State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Collaborative, “Our Pacific Journey for Improvement,” as the six Pacific entities convened to focus on improving educational results of all students with disabilities in the Pacific. Not even the threat of a storm could dampen the spirit of community that was nurtured throughout the week-long activities. The event was held from October 7-10 at the Westin Resort Guam and from October 11-12 at the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) Main Building.

The collaborative was hosted by GDOE with support from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The six participating Pacific entities were American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, Republic of Palau, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. Each entity sent teams comprised of entity-level general and special education administrators and specialists; school-level principals; general and special education teachers; coaches/mentors; and parents of students with disabilities to participate in the convening.

The convening engagement activities were facilitated by technical assistance providers from four National Centers, the Regional Educational Laboratory-Pacific (REL-Pacific), and Guam CEDDERS. The facilitators included:

•Sheryl Lazarus and Maureen Hawes from the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO);

•Cesar D’Agord with virtual support from Kathleen Pfannenstiel from the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI);

•Amy Peterson from the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII);

•Sarah Sayko and Carol Dissen from the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL);

•June De Leon and Josephine Cruz from Guam CEDDERS, with support from consultants Nieves Flores and June Quitugua; and

•Christina Tydeman, Meagan Taylor, and Dale Lewis from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific.

The overall goal of the collaborative was to improve educational results of all students with disabilities in the Pacific entities by focusing on each entity’s capacity to increase the reading achievement of students with disabilities within a multi-tiered system of supports. In doing this, the resulting outcomes of the collaborative were an enhanced understanding of the following: assessment systems, infrastructure systems to sustain and scale-up, sustainable job-embedded professional development, sustainable coaching supports, and increased engagement of key stakeholders, in particular parents of students with disabilities.

The regional event was years in the making and resulted in increased collaboration and partnerships across the Pacific region. The learning and partnerships made as result of the Pacific SSIP Collaborative will surely be enduring and a hallmark of the persistent Pacific spirit.

On October 11, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director June De Leon (3rd from left front) joins the National Center and REL Pacific facilitators for a photo at GDOE. (L-R) Sheryl
Lazarus, NCEO; Carol Dissen, NCIL; Amy Peterson, NCII; June De Leon; Sarah Sayko, NCIL; Dale Lewis, REL Pacific; Christine Tydeman, REL Pacific; Maureen Hawes, NCEO;
Meagan Taylor, REL Pacific; and Cesar D’Agord, NCSI.

GDOE Takes the Lead in ASD Assessment Training

CEDDERS CORE Community Services: Technical Assistance Community Services: Training Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Guam Department of Education

Guam Department of Education (GDOE), in partnership with Guam CEDDERS, University of Southern California University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (USC UCEDD), and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), prioritized building capacity of GDOE personnel to identify and assess young and school age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since April 2016, Irina Zamora, Psy.D., from USC-CHLA, facilitated the assessment training series for the development of GDOE Cohorts 1 & 2 comprised of 17 early intervention and special education personnel representing an interdisciplinary team of early interventionists, speech pathologists, school psychologists, social workers, and consulting resource teachers-technical assistance. The training series included on-site and off-site consultation to ensure competencies in administering, scoring, and diagnosing children with ASD using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2), which is considered the gold standard for observational assessment of ASD.

During school year 2018-2019, GDOE committed to developing another interdisciplinary team, or Cohort #3, to complete the ASD assessment training. With GDOE Cohorts 1 & 2 serving as coaches, Dr. Zamora facilitated the on-site and off-site consultation for Cohort #3 members with the October 1-4 on-site visit to Guam concluding the training series with the seven Cohort #3 members taking the Western Psychological Services (WPS) ADOS-2 certification examination. The individually completed examination booklets were submitted to WPS for scoring and certification.

In conjunction with Dr. Zamora’s October on-site visit to Guam, Dr. Zamora conducted technical assistance and training visits to Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Palau from September 16-28. During her visit to Guam’s neighboring islands, Dr. Zamora conducted classroom observations, home visits, and workshops for parents and staff on the identification and evidence-based strategies for children with ASD.

Through funding from the Republic of Palau (ROP) Special Education Program, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon and consultant Donna McNear conducted a two-day technical assistance visit to Pelelui Elementary in ROP on November 5 and 6. The visit supported ROP in its efforts to improve programs and services for students with visual impairments. The visit included classroom observations and training for school personnel and parents on community supports for improving educational services for students with visual impairments. The visit also included individual meetings with the parents, teachers, and principal of the students with visual impairments enrolled at Pelelui Elementary. The meetings were an opportunity to learn from the parents about priorities for their children and how the school can support their priorities.

On October 4, The GDOE ADOS-2 Cohort 3 members and their coaches posed for a picture with Dr. Irina Zamora. L-R (front): Janice Almoguera, ADOS-2 coach; Marita
Gogue, ADOS-2 coach; Pia Watson, Cohort 3; Dr. Irina Zamora, consultant; Rowena Dimla, Cohort 3; Barbara Bernardo, Cohort 3; Alma Terbio, ADOS-2 coach; Anna Perez,
ADOS-2 coach. L-R (back): Audra Mesa, Cohort 3; and Jonathan Guerrero, Cohort 3. Cohort 3 members not shown: Nadine Cepeda and Arnell Medler.

Senior Citizens Participate in Technology Demonstrations

Community Services: Demonstration Services Community Services: Model Services Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Guam Systems for Assistive Technology
On September 20, senior citizens at the Yona/Talofofo Senior Center posed for a photo after participating in an interactive GSAT presentation on the different assistive technology devices.
On September 26, the Guam System for Assistive Technology (GSAT) presented the various assistive technology devices available at the GSAT office to Senior Citizens at the Mangilao Senior Center. Pictured is a senior citizen who volunteered to demonstrate the use of a knee rover, an alternative to crutches mobility device that can be used by individuals recovering from foot or lower leg injury/surgery.
On November 30, the Guam Systems for Assistive Technology (GSAT) presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Sinajana Senior Citizen, Mrs. Annie Sablan, for her generous donation of a Hoyer Lift (valued at $400.00) to GSAT. Through the Assistive Technology Reutilization Program, donors are able to donate equipment to GSAT which in turn can be loaned to other individuals in need of the equipment. Pictured (L-R): Tanya Simer, Guam CEDDERS Research Associate; Leah Abelon, Guam CEDDERS GSAT Coordinator; Annie Sablan, Donor; Ken San Agustin, Sinajana Senior Center Program Coordinator.

College Students Learn About GSAT Services

Community Services: Demonstration Services Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Guam Systems for Assistive Technology Information Dissemination
On September 23, Leah Abelon, GSAT Center Coordinator, conducted a presentation on GSAT services and the Akudi Loan Program to students attending the University
of Guam Social Work Program. Students also toured the Assistive Technology Demo Center and the Model Home.