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Every Educator an Advocate
Workshop #: CECO-30


This course will provide a foundation in the principles of special needs advocacy, with an emphasis on practical application of the fundamental legal requirements that drive special needs education.  Many educators who work with special needs students are skilled at implementing classroom strategies and adapting curriculum to help those who are struggling. Teachers and other professionals are often familiar with an IEP or 504 Plan, but may be relying on the school administration to interpret the why and how of educational plan development for special needs students.  The purpose of this course is to give educators and others working with special needs students an understanding of why special needs identification and planning works the way it does, and how to maximize effectiveness by writing S.M.A.R.T. goals and choosing appropriate accommodations and modifications.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 set the stage for identifying and programming for students with educational disabilities.  Course participants will learn about the IEP process and about 504 Plans, and using their knowledge of the rights and entitlements granted by the aforementioned special education laws will become better advocates for the needs of their students.

Educators will benefit from this course by developing a deeper understanding of how to navigate the special needs process and utilize best practices to develop specific and measurable outcomes for their students

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Understand the basic concepts and key terms in The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • Recognize signs and classroom behaviors indicating that a student may have an educational disability.
  • Identify general educational interventions and analyze data from these interventions to determine when a student should be referred for evaluation.
  • Identify the essential questions in the special needs eligibility process.
  • Utilize legal criteria to distinguish between eligibility for a 504 Plan and IEP.
  • Identify the parts of the IEP.
  • Effectively write specific and measurable goals based on a student’s present levels of performance.
  • Utilize their knowledge of a student’s strengths and needs, as well as appropriate accommodations, to develop an effective 504 Plan.
  • Prepare for various types of school meetings, including how to work effectively with school staff and parents in support of the needs of their students.
  • Utilize data gathering techniques in order to accurately and objectively report progress towards a student’s IEP goals.
  • Determine when a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) may be appropriate and how to implement a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) using Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies (PBIS).
  • Become familiar with educational options beyond neighborhood public school offerings and understand when discussion of these options might be appropriate.
  • Develop and use a working knowledge of dispute options, including state complaints, administrative review, mediation, and due process.

Texts, Readings, Instructional Resources:

Totally online- no additional textbooks required.

Course Requirements:

Students will be required to:

  • Rehearse the skills and report on the results (submit to instructor).
  • Complete written self-reflection exercises (submit to instructor).
  • Complete all quizzes.
  • Collaborate with peers using the on-line forum.
  • Assignments submitted to the on-line instructor (self- reflections, results of skills practicing, creating a plan, evaluating techniques).  The course moderator/mentor will interact with the participant to ensure the participants mastery of the knowledge and skills taught in the course.  The moderator’s assessment assures the participant’s new level of expertise will enable the participant to understand and implement the new skills and strategies immediately into their personal working situation.  The combination of the all the interactive components of the courses and the one-on-one interactions with the moderator/ mentor will determine the participant’s mastery.
  • Complete all aspects of the online course.


Participant assignments:

Quizzes (11)

Reflective Journal Exercises (16)

Activity (22)

On-Line Forum Assignments (19)

Credit: Upon completion of the course, students can decide if they would like to receive credit and from which university they would like to receive credit. Please see University Affiliations under the Information Center for the cost per credit.

Class Outline:


  • Lesson 1 Everyone is an Advocate: How and Why We All Advocate for Students
    • 1a Objectives:
    • 1b Overview of Special Education Law
    • 1c Signs that a student might have a disability
    • 1d Best practices in the classroom
    • 1e Referral process
  • Lesson 2 Evaluations
    • 2a Objectives:
    • 2b Educational Interventions and the Principles of Response to Intervention (RTI)
    • 2c Types of Disabilities (disability codes)
    • 2d Evaluation decisions, timelines, and the IEE at public expense
  • Lesson 3 Eligibility Determination
    • 3a Objectives:
    • 3b Key Considerations
    • 3c 504 Plan eligibility vs. IEP eligibility
    • 3d Timelines for development of IEP or 504 Plan
  • Lesson 4 Parts of the IEP
    • 4a Objectives:
    • 4b Overview, Identifying Information and PLOPS
    • 4c Statements of Assessment, Curriculum and Outcome and Transition Services
    • 4d Annual Goals and Short-term Objectives
    • 4e Accommodations, Modifications and Supplementary Aids and Services
    • 4f Related Services and Consideration of Special Factors
    • 4g Extended School Year and Educational Placement/Least Restrictive Environment
  • Lesson 5 504 Plans
    • 5a Objectives:
    • 5b How is a 504 Plan developed?
    • 5c Parts of a 504 Plan
    • 5d When is a 504 Plan reviewed?
    • 5e What are the key differences between a 504 Plan and an IEP?
  • Lesson 6 Dynamics of a School Meeting
    • 6a Objectives:
    • 6b Types of meetings
    • 6c Roles of MDT members
    • 6d Steps for preparation
    • 6e Working effectively with parents and family
  • Lesson 7 Effective Implementation of Student Plans
    • 7a Objectives:
    • 7b Re-evaluation planning and re-evaluation determination
    • 7c Behavior Interventions
    • 7d Gathering Data and reporting progress
  • Lesson 8 Educational Options Beyond Public School Offering
    • 8a Objectives:
    • 8b What does the school system have to offer?
    • 8c When does the law mandate private placement?
    • 8d What happens when a district determines the need for private placement?
    • 8e What happens when the parents and school district disagree?
  • Lesson 9 Dispute Options
    • 9a Objectives:
    • 9b Procedural Safeguards
    • 9c IEP and Facilitated IEP Meetings
    • 9d Administrative Review
    • 9e State Complaint
    • 9f Mediation
    • 9g Due Process
  • Lesson 10 Overview/Key Concepts
    • 10a Objectives
    • 10b Special Education Law
    • 10c Signs that a student might have a disability
    • 10d Evaluations
    • 10e Eligibility determination
    • 10f 10 Parts of the IEP
    • 10g What is a 504 Plan?
    • 10h Types of school meetings
    • 10i Gathering data and reporting progress
    • 10j Private placement at public expense and dispute options
  • Course Evaluation
  • Final Exam “Every Educator an Advocate”

Contact Information:  or 425-788-7275 Ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

Registration Fee
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