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Together We Can Conference – May 6th

Could be a great day of learning!!


Click  CONFERENCE AGENDA to see more details.


The Role of the Paraeducator/Job Coach

The Role of the Paraeducator/Job Coach

The following excerpt, The Role of the Paraeducator – Job Coach is taken from the School-Based Job Coach Training Manual, which was created by  the Nebraska Department of Education – Job Coach Technical Assistance Guide.

It is a basic overview of several components, including:  the role of the paraeducator, the code of ethics, the role of the Job Coach, Job Coach Responsibilities, What is Task Analysis, and What is Job Training.

As schools work to increase the vocational skills of their students, especially in the junior/senior years of high school, it is more important to make sure our paraeducators have a strong understanding of the differences between being a classroom paraprofessional and that of a job coach, if they are serving dual roles.

It is critical that the job coach/paraprofessional understand how to do a task analysis of the job(s) that the student is assigned to do, and then to monitor the student’s progress at increasing their time on those tasks.  The job coach paraprofessional also needs to do a weekly evaluation of the student’s improvement of skills.  Most importantly, the job coach must fade the support that they have been providing as the student masters the job skills to ensure that they become as independent as possible at the job site.

There are a wide variety of evaluation forms that can be used, and may need to be developed in relationship to the specific job.  Some examples include:

This information can also be found under the RESOURCES tab:  Job Coach Resources

 As more information is released, we will keep you updated!


ASVAB: There’s an App for that!

asvab-passMy, how times have changed!  There seems to be an app for almost everything!  And, if you happen to know a student who is thinking that the military is just right for them, they can now practice for the ASVAB test with the help of an app!   But, unlike the days of old,  a high school diploma is required to enter most military branches today.

The ASVAB test consists of eight sub-tests, so taking practice tests helps the student have a better idea of what to expect, which can increase their final test score.

The list of apps is too long to even begin to list, even just for the free ones.  There are apps for Android/Google Play or for iPad/iPhones, depending on your need.

Of course, there are also free practice tests online as well, such as ASVAB Practice Test Online  or  ASVAB Practice Tests just to name a few!  And there are many options to purchase various study guides as well.

Bottom line, it is important for students to know that each branch of the military has a required AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) score.  The AFQT score will determine whether they qualify to enlist in their particular branch of service.  The ASVAB test also produces several line scores, which are different for each branch of service. Line scores determine which military jobs the students are qualified for, so the higher their score, the more job opportunities they have.

Students who are determined that the military is right for them should  meet with the military recruiters when they come visit the school.  The High School Guidance Counselor can arrange for a specific recruiter to come, and then the recruiter can explain the requirements and expectations for that specific branch of service.

As students begin to explore post-secondary options, let’s help them understand all the facets involved…. simply by helping them know the steps that they need to take!





Important IEP Perspective…

As we focus on student’s IEPs, let’s remember to keep the focus that is highlighted below:


This is a great reminder that EACH of us have our own strengths AND weaknesses…. and we are constantly working to reach our full potential!  This is now printed and hanging on my wall as a daily reminder!  🙂


MAJOR CHANGE on the B13 Transition (Special Ed) Compliance Review Process

There has been a major change in the B13 Transition File Review process starting this year.  In the past, schools had been a part of a 5-year cycle that was followed by the state site visit.  The site visit process has been replaced with differentiated accountability.  This will now be the method used for the Special education file review.  Starting this school year in December, all districts in our AEA serving students of transition age (13 or above) will have IEPs randomly pulled by the Department of Ed.  Those districts that had been scheduled for a 2016-17 B13 file review will instead be included in this new file review process.  The criteria for review remain the same.  BOTTOM LINE:  chances are good that the MAJORITY/ALL of our schools will probably have IEPs pulled for review this year!

So, what does that look like?  Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, the secondary transition file review will be conducted in a three-year cycle.  The first year of the cycle (2016-17), file reviews will be completed for every district across the state.  There will be 670 IEPs reviewed this year from each AEA.  This data will be used to set the desired threshold levels for universal, targeted and intensive support for the following year(s):

    • Districts in the universal level will not need to have IEP file reviews until the next statewide data collection period (3 years, the 2019-20 school year).
    • Districts in the targeted and intensive support levels will have file reviews every year until the next statewide data collection period.  The resident AEA will be responsible for file review in Years 2 and 3 of the cycle.
      • Descriptions of the supports to be provided at each level will be shared later this year.

AEA staff will complete the file reviews during the data collection window beginning December 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.   The IEPs to be reviewed will be randomly assigned and equally distributed across all AEAs.  This means that AEAs will be reviewing IEPs from districts outside of their own AEA.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either of the transition coordinators (Diane Nelsen @  or Elaine Cook @ ) or Chris Wells @ .



Transition Teacher Training – October 27th

We are offering an all day Transition Training:  Roadmap to Success on Thursday, October 27th at the Pocahontas AEA office from 9:00 – 3:00.

This is a repeat of the well-attended transition training we had last year for special education teachers.

We are offering it again for those NEW special education teachers serving Middle & High School transition-aged students OR for those sped teachers who were not able to attend last year due to scheduling conflicts.

This training will be limited to the first 60 teachers who register.

Registration closes on Friday, Oct. 14th.

To attend, register by clicking on  TRANSITION TRAINING.

We will be covering many transition topics, from IEP alignment to basic information on Voc Rehab and County Waiver Services.

Email us if you have any questions.   We hope to see you there!!  

SAVE the Date… again: Iowa Transition Conference – Sept. 28-29th

In case you missed this in the back-to-school rush, here is the information again about the upcoming Iowa Transition Conference in September!  It is for everyone:  Teachers, Parents, Students, AEA,  Voc Rehab, etc.  Keep reading for more details:

ITC 2016

The 2016 Iowa Transition Conference, “Opening Doors to Opportunity” is just around the corner. The conference will offer content of interest to teachers, administrators, AEA staff, VR counselors, parents and others interested in secondary transition for students with disabilities.

Please consider attending this FREE conference!

  • WHEN:  September 28-29, 2016
  • WHERE:  Scheman Building, Iowa State Campus
                      1805 Center Dr.  Ames, IA  50011
  • COST:  FREE!  (How great is that?!?!)

More information and the registration link can be found here:


Please help spread the word about this great conference, and sign up today to reserve your spot.  We hope to see many of you and your colleagues for great learning together in Ames this September!



Save the Date: Iowa Transition Conference, Sept. 28-29th

You are all invited (both parents, teachers, and AEA) to attend the Iowa Transition Iowa Transition Conference 2013Conference being held this year at the Scheman Building in Ames on September 28-29th. There are a few things that are different this year which hopefully will allow more people from around the state to attend:

  1. It is being held in a more central location this year – Ames
  2. The registration cost is significantly less than in the past few years – $0🙂

The planning committee is working diligently to make this an informative two days for you and your co-workers. Some of the topics on the draft agenda include:  executive functioning, occupational therapy and its place in the transition process, transition resources in the classroom and community, service dogs in the school and the workplace, customized employment, assistive technology, etc.

Additional information about the conference, including the registration link and hotel information can be found on the Department of Education’s website at:

Please help spread the word about this great conference, and sign up today to reserve your spot.  We hope to see many of you and your colleagues for great learning together in Ames this September!


Registration link for Special Education Symposium!

The registration link is finally up for the Special Education Symposium!  Click here:  REGISTER”  to sign up today!  See the details on the flyer below for more information.

SPED Symposium Registration 2016

Registration is under way for the 2016 Special Education Symposium held in Des Moines June 13-14.

The symposium, which is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education and is at no cost to participants, is intended for special education teachers, teacher leaders and mentors, Area Education Agency staff, administrators, and families with students with disabilities.

Breakout sessions will include topics such as enhancements for early interventions, literacy and significant disabilities, improving adolescent literacy, leadership supports in special education, teaching social emotional skills, and addressing Specially Designed Instruction through diagnosis, design, delivery and engagement.

Keynote speakers are Don Deshler, a nationally known expert is Specially Designed Instruction and Todd Whitaker, who specializes in staff motivation for teachers and administrators. Another keynote speaker is Tim Harris, a 26-year-old with Down Syndrome who owns and runs his restaurant in Albuquerque, Ariz. He also runs a nonprofit, Tim’s Big Heart Foundation, which helps people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

In addition to the keynote speakers, there also will be nationally renowned speakers at the breakout sessions.

The symposium will be held at the Iowa Events Center. When making hotel reservations, be sure to mention that you are attending the Iowa Department of Education Symposium.

We look forward to learning and networking with you there!


WIOA what?!?

No… that is NOT Iowa spelled incorrectly!  If you have heard the acronym “WIOA” it stands for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.   WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.


There are still lots of details to work out as this new process moves forward, so to help you have some basic information, here are several documents that may help you understand some of these changes:

  1.  Memorandum of Agreement notice between IVRS & the DE
  2.  WIOA Webinar Powerpoint  – Dec. 2015
  3.  WIOA Webinar – approximately 30 minutes
  4.  FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) 

All of the information above may be found on the Department of Education website under Special Education/Secondary Transition.

As more information comes out, we will keep you posted!