Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center
Newsletter Issue 26

March 2015

In This Issue
R4 logo

This Quarter in Region 4
Welcome to the March Issue of the Region 4 PTAC Newsletter.
Each  newsletter focuses on a theme, pulled directly from OSEP's 14 priority areas. This edition will focus on Data-based decision making; - 

to inform instruction; to advance school reform efforts.

A review of OSEP's 14 Priority Areas:

  • Evidence-based education practices that improve early learning
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve school-aged outcomes
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve post-secondary outcomes
  • College- and career-ready standards
  • College- and career-ready assessments
  • School reform efforts to improve student achievement and increase graduation rates
  • The use of data to inform instruction
  • The use of data to advance school reform efforts
  • Best practices in outreach
  • Best practices in family-centered services
  • Best practices in self-advocacy skill building
  • Best practices in nonprofit management
  • Best practices in the use of technology in service provision
  • Best practices in the use of technology in nonprofit management


53 Ways for Board Members to Raise $1,000

Your parent center board plays a crucial role in fundraising. This article suggests asking board members to write out a plan, or "contract" with goals and a timeline, to remind themselves of their commitments and inform staff of their individual goals. For this to work, it is helpful to give the board ideas of specific ways they could actually raise money by themselves. Almost any board member should be able to use two or three of these ideas. Besides the 53 ideasalso included is a sample format for a contract.

12 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Instagram and Vine Video

With the surging popularity of Instagram and Vine, here are 12 ways your center can use these tools to make compelling, interesting and thought-provoking videos. Creative videos drive website traffic and increase engagement on social media sites. All you need is a smartphone, some creativity, and a few minutes to raise awareness for your parent center and result in increased donations.. Instagram and Vine are mobile apps used tp shoot short videos (15 seconds and 6 seconds respectively); Instagram is also used for photos. Your center can use these mobile sharing tools to push out your message to other social media channels, which increases engagement and recruits new supporters to your cause. All you need are some great ideas and a smartphone.


Universal Design for Learning Tip

GoNoodle is a website that provides short video based brain breaks that are free, fun, and engaging.  There are many different types of brain breaks to choose from including yoga poses, breathing exercises, stress relievers, energizers, etc.  GoNoodle is great for staff meetings, professional development, student classrooms, or anytime you have groups of people sitting for long periods of time.  Go to and create a free account to get started.


36th Annual Report to Congress on IDEA  



OSEP's 36th Annual Report to Congress (2014) is available online with data from 7/11-12/12 for IDEA Part C and Part B.  The report provides summaries of findings and determinations resulting from OSEP reviews of state implementation of IDEA; special education research conducted under Part E; national special education studies and evaluations conducted under IDEA section 664(a) and (c); and extent and progress of assessment of national activities related to determining the effectiveness of IDEA and improving its implementation. Parent Centers should check out data from their own state. 

Who Are You Going to Call?

OSEP funded 4 national Centers to respond to requests for TA from state Part C and Part B 619 agencies -the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), IDEA Data Center (IDC), and Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC). This document helps sort out the distinct but overlapping areas on which the Centers focus. The two centers that focus largely on data, IDC and DaSy, are highlighted below.


Building Capacity for High-Quality IDEA Data


The IDEA Data Center provides technical assistance to build state capacity for collecting, reporting, and analyzing high-quality IDEA data. IDC focuses on data requirements under Sections 616 and 618 of IDEA, including data focused Part C and Part B for children Birth to age 21 (as, SPPs, APRs).



This center provides technical assistance to build high-quality state systems for data collection, analysis and reporting under IDEA Part C and B 619 for children Birth to 5. The DaSy Center website includes great resources to help families understand why data are important, to help families ask good questions about data, and to help them partner with program staff to set directions based on data. 

Understanding Data Use to Improve Instruction   

This short online workshop, from REL NE & Islands, provides an inquiry cycle framework related to data use that Parent Centers and school professionals can use to improve their decisions related to exploring root causes of instructional challenges for students.                           


Practitioner Data Use Workshop Toolkit   

This Toolkit, from the Institute of Education Sciences, can help build the capacity of Parent Center staff and parents to understand, interpret, and use education data to improve instruction. The Toolkit includes structured activities, a facilitator guide, and workshop handouts for a workshop that guides participants through the creation of a personal data use plan.


Academic Progress Monitoring Tools Chart

The National Center on Intensive Intervention has released an updated  Academic Progress Monitoring Tools Chart which is intended to assist educators and families in becoming informed consumers who can select evidence-based tools to measure student academic progress that best meet their individual needs. The chart includes comments on the technical rigor of the tool.  An audio tour of the chart is available.

Helping Parents to Participate in Decision Making Groups

All groups use data and often parents get confused and discouraged because of the charts and the spreadsheets provided to them at meetings. How can these parents maximize their participation in committees, boards or any other decision-making groups? The following module is an introduction to understanding data within decision-making groups.  The resource provides a parent-friendly discussion on collecting, displaying, and analyzing data as these concepts related to their everyday lives. There are a lot of different terms used in talking about data and these online training provides parents with key concepts to get the most out of their participation while serving in groups.

The printed version of the "Understanding Data" module is available in English and Spanish.

Boost those e-Survey Response Rates!


More and more parent centers are utilizing web-based programs to collect evaluation data for their projects.  Deploying electronic surveys is simple, quick and often the best way to reach consumers.  However, many centers have expressed their concern about the low response rates to these surveys.  Consider shortening the survey, personalizing the email with the survey, and offering multiple methods to access the survey.  For easy to implement strategies and great examples,  review these articles:  

Cut through a Crowded Marketplace: 15 Ways to Increase Online Survey Response Rates

Best Practices for Improving Survey Participation 

Guidance on Bullying

The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issued new guidance explaining that bullying of a student with a disability on any basis (disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) can result in denial of FAPE under Section 504; and that this denial must be remedied by schools. 

See Dear Colleague Letter: Responding to Bullying of Students with Disabilities, 10-21-14.

The new Technical Assistance Center (MPTAC) has launched!  Known as The Branch, the MPTAC is available to assist Parent Centers to increase their visibility with and support for military families within their communities. We are rapidly developing universal information and tools that will be useful for parent centers. What can The Branch do for you? What do we have?

  • A dedicated website contains resources, and more are coming! New things will be going onto the site regularly.
  • Three dedicated staff to support you in your work as a parent center for your state and its families. Each Branch staff member is the primary contact for a region.  Check out who is your contact here.
  • A map of the US and US territories that link to the military installations in that region.  The links offer valuable information on branches of service in that area, contact information for military personnel, history of the installation, where they are located etc. 
  • Resources in a library, including one-pagers organized by  topic areas, such as military courtesies, Exceptional Family Member Program, TRICARE (military insurance), permanent change of station, Department of Defense Educational Agency  schools, Early Intervention and EDIS (spell out please), Medicaid, and childcare. The Branch will also produce a quarterly e-newsletter that will include information from your fellow Parent Centers, military subject matter experts and resources.

We are just beginning. Please feel free to contact us with your questions and requests.  We look forward to using your skills and knowledge to help build the capacity of Parent Centers to use best practices to address the needs of military families of children with disabilities.  The Branch Website

Four Surprises in Scholastic Survey


Scholastic released its 2014 annual survey of children's reading practices, Kids and Family Reading Report. Four findings from data collected are highlighted in this article by Lisa Guernsey: 1. Boys and older teenagers are reading books for fun with less frequency. 2. Parents of preschoolers place high importance on reading aloud to their children, but less than 2/3 do so daily. 3. Kids want books in print - as opposed to in electronic format - and so do their parents. 4. Kids wish their parents had continued to read to them after they reached school age.


Region 4 PTAC Summer Working Meeting  

June 24-25, 2015

Traverse City, Michigan!


Pre-Meeting Nonprofit Management Day - June 23 


Complete Information & Registration Link 




4/1 - Region 4 Webinar: Is Your Employee Handbook Up to Date and Effective?

          Keith Kopplin, Employment Law Attorney, 1:30-2:30 CDT

4/27-28 - OSEP Project Directors' Conference (virtual)



5/6 - Region 4 Webinar - CPIR Workspaces

5/8 - Parent Center Continuation Reports due

5/27-28 - IDEA Data Center/NCSI Data Institute, Chicago



6/2 - Region 4 Webinar

6/23 - R4 PTAC NPM Programming, Traverse City, MI 

6/24-25 -   R4 PTAC Summer Working Meeting, Traverse City, MI 

Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
serving parent centers in: 
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin
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The contents of this e-newsletter were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education,  #H328R130010. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department 
of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer - Perry Williams