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Division of International Special Education and Services

The Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES), a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, promotes knowledge exchange, collaboration, human rights and advocacy to those who provide services for individuals with disabilities. DISES promotes international communication, cooperation, and progress in education and services for children who have disabilities and/or gifts and talents. DISES serves as a catalyst for the international exchange of special education practice, promotes international research, and sponsors forums for professional development, and establishes networks that foster international association. You can visit the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) website here.

Mission Statement

The Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES), a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, promotes knowledge exchange, collaboration, human rights and advocacy to those who provide services for individuals with disabilities.

DISES Objectives

● Improve understanding of the conditions facing individuals with exceptional education needs and the professionals, parents, and others who provide education and services for them throughout the world.
● Serve as a catalyst for the international exchange of information on practice, research, technology and issues related to education and services for individuals with exceptional education needs.
● Promote international research and cross-cultural studies that advance education and services for individuals with exceptional education needs.
● Sponsor forums for professional development and discussion among those who are involved in providing education and services for individuals with exceptional needs.
● Engage in international projects and partnerships that join people from various societies and cultures in working toward common goals.
● Establish networks that foster collegiality and international association, recognize achievement and leadership, and foster broad understandings of the international experience in education and services for individuals with exceptional needs.
● Disseminate information in support of the Division’s purposes.


DISES President's Message - July 2021
Dear Colleagues,

Happy Summer! I hope you are enjoying a glorious summer filled with sunny days and good times, including some time for reflection and relaxation. Whether it is a planned vacation or leisurely activities in your home community, take time for self-care and renew your spirit this summer. You deserve it after such a challenging year!

We would like to update you on current DISES activities all related to our international focus on networking, information and resources, and knowledge sharing.

Virtual Events
Our latest event on June 26th was a tremendous success! Our guest speakers from Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria and India shared their perspectives on the theme: Culturally Sustaining Partnerships with Families Around the World to include effective strategies and resources to strengthen partnerships between the home and school. Participants had several opportunities to engage with the speakers during the facilitated discussion and learn about their amazing experiences. You can access the recording at https://youtu.be/3atHR2pWYSo

Sip and Chat Series- Informal and Informative!
The DISES membership committee has also offered a series of informal virtual chats as another networking opportunity for members and others to engage in conversation about their work, common interests and to learn more about the DISES mission, etc. Our chat on Saturday, May 22, was a great way for colleagues to interact and learn about each other and enjoy stimulating conversation related to their work focus. Please join us for the next Sip and Chat event on September 25, 2021, 5:00 pm ET.

Member Spotlight- Highlights from the Field
Sharing the important international work many of our members are engaged in has been another way to highlight their interesting experiences with our global community. We are pleased to showcase Dr. Joseph Seyram Agbenyega this month and his work in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and involvement in other countries. Click here to view the current Member Spotlight and all those archived to read about the tremendous work our members are engaged in in several countries. We welcome others to contact us at info@dises-cec.org if you are interested in sharing your experiences in this format for a future Member Spotlight.

Information Brief- A Resource for You
DISES continues to offer resources to our members and others on our website to expand our global knowledge networks such as our series of Information Briefs on relevant topics designed as resources to enhance the quality of our work. Our latest brief on the Mental Health of Students During the Time of COVID is a timely brief on the impact of the pandemic on students’ mental health and related resources we hope you will find helpful. Click here to read the Information Brief.

Committee Participation- Interested in Becoming More Involved with DISES??
We are always looking for ways to involve our members in committee work to promote the DISES mission. Please email us at info@dises-cec.org if you are interested in joining the Membership, Awards or Communications ( Member Spotlight or Information Brief) committees and our committee chairs will be happy to follow -up with you.

Coming Soon-----
Stay tuned for the following information and opportunities ---coming soon:
Dubai 2022- Call for Papers- New Strand
Website Migration to CEC Website- August 2021
Back to School Membership Campaign- 50% discount

We appreciate your interest and participation in DISES activities and look forward to seeing you at one of our future events. Continue to enjoy summer fun, family and friends and stay tuned for more information from DISES coming soon!

All my best,
Mary V. Kealy, EdD
President, Division of International Special Education and Services

All Are Invited To Join Us For Our Upcoming Virtual Event
Sip and Chat - May 22, 2021
Join us for our next Sip and Chat session, Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 5pm ET, for an opportunity to network with colleagues in a friendly, informal environment. Learn more about DISES, discuss trends and meet new colleagues. Non-DISES individuals are very welcome! Click here for details.

CEC Now Accepting Nominations for the 2022 Yes I Can Awards
If there's one thing we know about special educators, it's that you are fierce advocates who see every child and youth for their abilities. And as their #1 fans, we also know you are the best people possible to help us acknowledge them! If you know a child or youth with exceptionalities who goes above and beyond the expectations that have been set for them, send in your nomination for the 2022 Yes I Can Awards. Presented at the CEC 2022 Convention & Expo. in Orlando, the Yes I Can Awards are a powerful opportunity to recognize children and youth with exceptionalities for their outstanding determination, abilities, and accomplishments. Call for nominations ends September 8, 2021, so get those nominations in early!

Learn more about how to nominate a student today.

Guidance for Learning Loss and Recovery Services
Students with disabilities may encounter learning loss as a result of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of these circumstances, educators may need to determine if educational gaps in learning or loss of skills may exist. When implementing equitable and inclusive learning environments, check out the Council for Exceptional Children’s guidance: Nine Recommendations for Inclusive Learning Recovery for Students with Disabilities.

The Virginia Department of Education’s Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities guidance document highlights considerations and information related to compliance, documentation, and progress monitoring.

Virginia LEARNS (Leading, Engaging, Assessing, Recovering, Nurturing, Succeeding) Guidance Documents
View these 2 excellent guidance documents in the links below prepared by the Virginia LEARNS workgroup on best practices in addressing the opening of schools to in-person instruction, recovery from unfinished learning, and the social- emotional learning needs of students and school staff. The focus on the social emotional wellness and physical health needs of students, families, and staff will be critical to re-engage students in learning, rebuild relationships and school communities, and create equitable learning environments for all students. This guidance is designed for educators to examine and reconsider the academic, behavioral, and functional needs of students with disabilities as public schools and other settings reopen:
Considerations for Learning Loss
Consideration Learning Loss_FINAL.pdf
The Student and Staff Wellbeing Checkpoint
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education’s Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities guidance document highlights considerations and information related to compliance, documentation, and progress monitoring

Lessons from the Field - Returning to In-Person Learning: Supporting Students, Especially Those with Disabilities, through Intensive Instruction, Effective Learning Environments and Family Engagement
U.S. Department of Education and a panel discussion with practitioners who shared lessons learned and strategies utilized to support all students, especially those with disabilities, returning to in person learning. Together they focused on how district and school staff can intensify instruction, create effective learning environments, and engage families in ways that benefit all students, especially students with disabilities, when returning to in-person learning.


COVID-19 Resources
Dear Members, please check this link for some helpful resources related to COVID-19.

Instructional Resources

National Center for Intensive Intervention (NCII)
COVID-19 Resources for Data Collection and Lesson Planning
Click on the headers to find resources organized by topic area. They include example lessons, implementation videos, tip sheets, and data collection strategies.
These activities were developed by practitioners that participated in the NCII Community of Practice during spring 2020 to showcase example strategies that educators have used to deliver intervention in a virtual environment during the pandemic.

Resource Spotlight on Inclusive Practices
These instructional resources from a variety of sources are focused on effective inclusive practices and co-teaching in virtual, hybrid or in-person environments.

Distance Learning Report
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released this full report: DISTANCE LEARNING, Challenges Providing Services to K-12 English Learners and Students with Disabilities during COVID-19. Read their full report to learn what is happening across the nation in our schools and the information that is being reported to our elected officials.
To read more about the GAO report click here

Teaching Online for Global Competence U.S. Department of State is offering a self-paced online course called, Teaching Online for Global Competence. This course will be available until March 1, 2021. Participants will explore tools and methods for virtual learning within cross-cultural communities in three different modules.


EdWeek Research Center
Student Mental Health During the Pandemic: Educator and Teen Perspectives

This report examines results from winter 2021 EdWeek Research Center surveys of high school students and educators to gauge the pandemic’s impact on students’ mental health.

Education Week Research Center: Virtual Learning Report
Virtual learning has become the norm during this unprecedented time. In this report from the Education Week Research Center, review new data on what’s working for both students and educators; gain perspective on what the future may bring for virtual learning; discover tips for educator training in a virtual world; and hear feedback directly from the students.

American Institutes for Research (AIR)
AIR COVID-19 - Response and Research
Research Brief: Spotlight on Students with Disabilities (October 2020)
This brief reports national survey results about school districts’ challenges and their responses related to serving students with disabilities during COVID-19.

Center on Disability & Community Inclusion
Paraprofessional/Teacher Assistants
This guidance document from experts focuses on the utilization of paraprofessionals during COVID with the premise that no matter what, the instruction needs to be teacher-driven and not paraeducator driven. (July 2020)


IDEA Topics in the Current COVID-19 Environment
The topic areas page includes information and resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and other Federal agencies.
COVID-19 documents and other related resources are on the IDEA.gov COVID-19 page.

Catalog of Department Resources
Check the Department's COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel web page for additional information and resources.

Resources for Continuity of Learning
We know that these are challenging times so we wanted to share a list of some resources for Continuity of Learning during COVID-19. Click the links below for easy access.

Council for Exceptional Children
This site from Council for Exceptional Children offers a collection of resources to support special education professionals to apply good teaching practices remotely to provide services to students and families. They are updated regularly.

TTAC (right click on the link and open in new tab)
This comprehensive site managed by TTAC at George Mason University, VA includes a wide array of excellent resources for educators and families in several instructional, social-emotional and behavioral areas, in addition to disability specific resources , webinars, guidance documents and also includes links to many of the national centers, such as NCII and CEEDAR, etc. The website is ttaconline.org .

Educating All Learners During the COVID-19 Disaster (Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA)
Coronavirus is posing unprecedented challenges to public schools around the country. To help ensure the continuity of special education services during remote instruction and to spotlight best practice approaches for schools and educators, an alliance of national education organizations has come together to ensure equity for all learners. EducatingAllLearners.org creates a hub of curated tools, strategies, tips and best practices for supporting students with disabilities online. Our goal is to both curate and create special education resources for educators to serve students who learn differently during this time of challenge. This site includes a section on Events and Webinars and a Resource Library (Resources and Guidance, Technology Tools and Access, and Voices from the Field).

VA Learns Anywhere
The focus on a number of critical elements relevant to academic success, including equity, deeper learning, and the social emotional health of our students. Members on this Task Force, including teachers, instructional leaders, and content knowledge experts, came together to craft comprehensive guidance that will ensure learning continues for all students, while also ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English Learner status, or special needs. The guidance includes an emphasis on instructional models that could include blending of non-technology; face-to-face, small-group learning sessions; virtual platforms; and/or a combination of all of these models.

Special Education Instructional Services (SEIS) Resource Repository
The Virginia Department of Special Education and Student Services, Office of Instructional Services, offered a new resource that focuses in on instructional resources to benefit educators and instructional leaders in the field. These resources are focused on serving students with disabilities on a variety of topics and content areas and reflective of the current challenges of serving students with disabilities during extended school closures as a result of COVID-19.

Professional Development Guidance for Administrators
The Professional Development Guidance (PDF) document connects administrators to information about opportunities and resources that provide professional learning opportunities for public school educators to support Continuity for Learning for all students.
This document provides key considerations to assist administrators, Central Office, and Principals as they establish professional development that will support quality instruction and prevent further expansion of learning gaps. Guidance for supporting the physical, social, and emotional needs of students, families, staff, and the community is included and should inform those professional development decisions. Creating an environment to ensure safety, belonging, and mental health as a foundation for learning is imperative. Adequate support to ensure student success should include training for school staff on culturally responsive student and family outreach strategies. It is meant to help us focus our PD efforts when creating professional learning opportunities for staff.

See past president's messages here!