TED Tips: New Online Courses at Transition in Texas

New online courses are available on the Transition in Texas website. These courses are available to the public at no cost.

Course titles:

  • Texas Transition Online (3 hours CPE)
  • Texas Special Education Graduation Options Online (2 hours CPE)
  • Texas Transition and Employment Guide Online (1 hour CPE)

Please note that taking these courses will meet the “minimum training guidelines” for TEDs (Transition & Employment Services Designees). At this point TEA has not clarified expectations, such as timeline or documentation of course completion, beyond what is required by TEC §29.011 (b):

(b) The commissioner shall require each school district or shared services arrangement to designate at least one employee to serve as the district’s or shared services arrangement’s designee on transition and employment services for students enrolled in special education programs under this subchapter. The commissioner shall develop minimum training guidelines for a district’s or shared services arrangement’s designee…..

Course registration is simple, but will require accessing the ESC Region 11 course catalog and Canvas portal. See below for options.

 Option 1

Go to www.transitionintexas.org

Click the course announcement image (Learn More)


Option 2

Go to www.esc11.net

Click Professional Learning

Click Browse Catalog

Click Online and Webinar

Courses are listed alphabetically


Once you have completed and passed the courses, you will receive a link in 7 to 10 days to complete a brief survey in order to access your certificate of completion.


For more information about training related to transition planning, please contact Elizabeth.Danner@esc13.txed.net


UDL Blog Series: Creating Expert Learners

When you think of the word expert you probably think of your college professor, a nationally renowned speaker, or an accomplished doctor. All of these are examples of people who have a high level of skill and significant content knowledge. In these examples expertise seems fixed and unchanging. In the book Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice, the authors say that “developing expertise in anything is always a process of continuous learning – practice, adjustment, and refinement.”

When considering expertise through the lens of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we understand that becoming an expert is about becoming great at the process of learning. Becoming an expert has ups and downs, which means that an expert learner will experience difficulty and even failure. Cultivating our students to become expert learners means helping them develop resilience so they can see difficulty and failure as a natural part of the learning process. The UDL Guidelines are a wonderful tool to help develop this resilience and to provide opportunities for students to connect at a deeper level with what they are learning.

Let’s start by examining how UDL helps foster a learning environment that cultivates expert learners.

Next, let’s examine the characteristics of expert learners and how understanding these characteristics can help create an environment that facilitates the growth of all students.

Finally, let’s examine how to foster expert learners in the classroom. How would you respond to these questions?


Don’t miss out!

Katie Novak will be at Region 13 on July 27th!

Register TODAY for UDL Now! with author Katie Novak.

For face-to-face registration click here

To attend workshop online click here

Attention Science Teachers!





The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the revised test blueprints and assessed curriculum documents for science on May 22, 2018. They are posted to the TEA STAAR Science Resources webpage and include documents for Grade 5 science, Grade 5 Spanish science, Grade 8 science, and Biology.

STAAR Science Resources Webpage: https://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/staar/science/

How can I use these documents?

Together the blueprints and assessed curriculum documents provide invaluable information for science teachers. Knowing the number of total test items, reporting category totals, and the percentage of readiness standard questions versus supporting standard questions can help focus planning so you make the most of your instructional time. The documents inform science teachers not only in the testing grades, but can guide vertical alignment planning efforts across grade levels.







The blueprints contain information about the STAAR tests including:

  • Total number of questions on the test
  • Number of questions from each reporting category
  • Breakdown for each category of readiness and supporting standards
  • A reminder that at least 40% of the test questions are dual coded. A dual coded question incorporates scientific investigation and reasoning skills standards along with content standards. These scientific investigation and reasoning skills standards are the process standards that focus on conducting investigations, safe lab practices, critical thinking, and using scientific tools. An example of a scientific investigation and reasoning skills standard from biology is B.3 – the student uses critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving to make informed decisions within and outside the classroom.


The assessed curriculum documents list all tested TEKS eligible for testing. For the 5th and 8th grade tests the assessed curriculum documents also indicate which lower grade supporting standards are associated with the grade level standards. For example, in 5th grade Reporting Category 3 (Earth and Space) contains TEKS 5.7 and 5.8 as well as 4.7, 4.8, 3.7, and 3.8. The assessed curriculum documents also identify which of the TEKS are readiness standards and which are supporting standards.

What’s the difference between readiness and supporting standards?

Readiness Standards

(60-65% of questions)

Supporting Standards

(35-40% of questions)

• emphasize the integration and application of major scientific concepts

are essential for success in the current grade or course

• are important for preparedness for the next grade or course

• support college and career readiness

• necessitate in-depth instruction

• address significant content and concepts

• focus on content that supports fundamental scientific principles

• introduced in the current grade or course but may be emphasized in a subsequent year

• reinforced in the current grade or course but may be emphasized in a previous year

• play a role in preparing students for the next grade or course but not a central role

• address more narrowly defined content and concepts


Is there a particular value for special education teachers?

Yes! Not only can these resources guide planning for teaching and student support in any classroom setting, but they can also inform ARD committee members writing science goals. When analyzing the needs of the individual student in science, consider content standards AND process standards and remember the balance of readiness and supporting standards.

What should I do with this information now?

In addition to helping you plan for the 18-19 school year, these documents can help determine your summer professional development. Is there a specific reporting category you want to focus on? Do you need more training regarding the scientific investigation and reasoning skills standards?

For more information about Region 13 science resources and workshops, contact Amanda Betz, 512-919-5373, amanda.betz@esc13.txed.net.

If you have questions about the blueprints and assessed curriculum documents, contact the TEA Science Team, Curriculum Standards and Student Support Division, (512) 463-9581.

Keynote for Beat the Heat 2018: Ruby’s Rainbow

We are happy to welcome Liz Plachta and Mark Hublar from Ruby’s Rainbow! 

This year’s keynote will cover the spectrum from elementary to adulthood! Ruby’s Rainbow is a scholarship program for adults with Down Syndrome to attend post-secondary education programs. This means access to college and other opportunities for lifelong learning. The keynote presentation will cover what access and inclusion can look like from earliest childhood all the way into advanced adulthood. No matter who you teach, where you teach, or what you teach, this exciting session is a must-see!

Liz Plachta

Liz is the executive director and co-founder of Ruby’s Rainbow. She launched this program in an effort to raise the standards for people with Down Syndrome, knowing that one day her daughter Ruby will be graduating from high school and looking for opportunities to continue learning. She will share stories from her life and her work, along with success stories from schools and communities in Texas and beyond.

Mark Hublar

Mark was a Ruby’s Rainbow scholarship recipient and attended Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been a public speaker for many years, sharing his story about growing up with an intellectual disability and his vision to “Aim High and Dream Big.”  His awards include “Citizen of the Year” award by Down Syndrome of Louisville, “Star Award” from Down syndrome Indiana, and “Local Hero Award” awarded by New Albany Parks Department. There’s a lot to say about Mark’s many accomplishments, but he says it best: “My goal is to become a successful spokesperson for individuals with disabilities, and help everyone to have a full time job and a full time life.”

We look forward to welcoming Liz and Mark to Beat the Heat!

2018 STAAR Online Testing Issues


The Commissioner has addressed the online testing issues experienced in April and again in May.

In April, the event impacted students taking the grades 5 and 8 mathematics, 4 and 7 writing and English I tests.  In May, the event primarily impacted students taking the grades 3-8 reading test.

During the April 2018 administration of STAAR, 41,702 students were testing online.  Of the 278,434 tested students served in special education, 14,673 were testing online and were impacted.

During the May 2018 administration of STAAR, approximately 29,307 students encountered a connectivity slowdown of approximately 90 minutes. Of the 278,434 tested students served in special education, 4,594 were testing online and were impacted.

Waiving SSI Requirements for Students Impacted by the Online Testing Issues

Students in grades 5 and 8 who were directly affected by either of the online testing issues above and who did not perform satisfactorily on the May 2018 assessment, will not be required to retest during the June 2018 SSI administration.

Districts should determine, on an individual student basis, whether accelerated instruction should be offered for students who did not pass the assessment in May. For the 2017–2018 school year, districts are not required to convene grade placement committees based on results from the affected subject test. Instead, districts should use local discretion and all relevant and available academic information (e.g., the recommendation of the teacher and the student’s grade in each subject) to make appropriate promotion/retention decisions for these students.

The complete press release can be found here: To The Administrator Addressed .

For additional information contact your campus or district testing coordinator.




Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, No Problem!

Help get your General Education teachers and staff ready to work with students who have a hearing loss.

Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, No Problem will address the needs of children in the general education setting who have a hearing loss and utilize hearing aids, cochlear implants, or bone anchored hearing systems.

The goal of this workshop is to prepare general education teachers and staff to understand the impact of hearing loss on the acquisition of language and learning. We will discuss effective classroom strategies, accommodations, assistive technology and interpreter use.

June 15, 2018 Workshop SU1839296 Register now!

Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, No Problem!

Teacher Access to the STAAR Student Portal

Now teachers can access the STAAR Student Portal, which was launched last summer by TEA as a tool to provide parents quick access to their student’s STAAR results. In addition to test results the portal also provides parents information such as:

  • Year-over-year growth information
  • Individual student responses to actual test items
  • Student expectations covered by the items
  • Wrong answer rationales

TEA created sample logins so teachers can explore the portal for themselves. The logins can be found in the Student Portal Generic Credentials for STAAR Grades 5 and 8 document.

Teachers who want to use the tool for planning immediate remediation can work with district testing coordinators who are authorized to provide item responses for each student in the teacher’s classroom.

To begin exploring the portal go to TexasAssessment.com. If you have questions or need more information please call TEA’s Student Assessment Division at (512) 463-9536.

Note: Since the portal includes real test content that has not been released yet, educators should not duplicate or disseminate any test items until they are formally released by TEA in August.


Announcing the Region 13 Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Professional Learning Community (PLC)!


Are you looking for a way to transform your teaching and your students’ learning?

Submit your application to join the Region 13 Universal Design for Learning Professional Learning Community!  This PLC is designed to provide cohort members with an understanding of the UDL framework, knowledge and resources to support UDL implementation, and individualized learning opportunities to address campus needs.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for creating an approach to your instruction based on principles that allow all students to have access to the general education curriculum. Using a proactive approach to remove learning barriers by considering the natural variability of how students learn, UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments to help optimize learning.

In addition, knowledge and implementation of UDL supports ESSA’s endorsement of UDL, enhances our connections to the student-centered focus of our appraisal systems, and provides a way to plan for social and emotional variability.

The UDL PLC application process is simple!  Just complete pages 3 and 4 of the application and submit it electronically by 5:00 PM on June 15, 2018.  To submit the application or for more information contact Kim West at kim.west@esc13.txed.net or 512-919-5314.

Toward Dignity and Opportunity: Dr. Michael Wehmeyer at Beat the Heat

Photo of Dr. Michael Wehmeyer

Region 13 is thrilled to announce that Dr. Michael Wehmeyer will be presenting at this year’s Beat the Heat conference in June! Why are we thrilled? Well . . .

He’s kind of a big deal . . .

Dr. Wehmeyer is a Distinguished Professor in Special Education with the Beach Center on Disability at University of Kansas, and has been a leader in the field of special education for over 30 years. His work includes a focus on transition planning for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He has written or contributed to countless books, articles, and other resources to promote understanding and application of self-determination skills to increase independence, communication, and connection for students with disabilities.

It’s kind of a big topic . . .

Self-determination has been a focus of special education for decades, as it has been shown to increase positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. In June 2017, Senate Bill 748 was signed into law requiring schools to provide supplementary aids, services, curricula, and other opportunities to assist the student in developing decision-making skills… and supports and services to foster the student’s independence and self-determination” beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Schools must provide these resources “as appropriate” for each student, individualizing according to each student’s needs and strengths, regardless of their support needs.

On June 21st, Dr. Wehmeyer will be hosting a full day presentation on Self-Determination for Individuals with Significant Disabilities. This is a great chance to receive resources for teaching self-determination skills in your classroom straight from the source: the distinguished speaker who *literally* wrote the book on it.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn from one of the leaders in the field of transition planning for students with disabilities!  Register for the 2018 Beat the Heat conference now!


Maker Faire @ Beat the Heat 2018

beat the heat, every child matters logo

When we say “maker,” you say “faire!” Why do our teachers and paraeducators love the maker faire at Beat the Heat? So many reasons; here’s a few:

  • Items are tied to content from sessions participants have just attended
  • Activities address functional and academic areas/skills
  • Items are designed to be engaging and span grade bands
  • Instruction templates include why the activity is beneficial to students, how to make it, instructions for use, application to adulthood, making it meaningful extensions, and additional resources
  • Serves as a networking, problem solving, and interactive brain break station

Here are ideas of what’s to come…

  • make a repetitive line nursery rhyme book with an unexpected twist adding environmental print
  • self-determination folder “games”
  • ten frame math puzzle activity
  • “active learning” interactive wrist bands
  • portable behavioral supports as pictured below
  • and MORE

We hope to see you there! For details and registration information please visit the BTH 2018 WEBSITE http://bit.ly/BTH18.


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