A settlement has been reached between the National Federation of the Blind, its affiliates, the parents of a blind high school student in New Jersey, and PARCC, Inc. (a nonprofit corporation established in 2013 by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). The settlement resolves the suit filed in late January by the student’s parents because the assessment tests that would be field tested at the student’s high school (and other schools) this spring were not accessible to students who were blind. Under the terms of the settlement, PARCC will make its practice tests accessible to blind students by the time of the field tests this spring 2014, by using Braille files (for embossing in hard-copy Braille) or by electronic access methods (such as refreshable Braille displays and text-to-speech screen reader software). Read the terms of the agreement in a suit filed in late January.
Before proposing new legislation related to the use of seclusion and restraint, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has released a new report on their use in schools. While federal regulations govern the use of seclusion and restraint elsewhere (hospitals, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, etc.), there is no such regulation in schools. The report points out that using these practices in schools provides no educational benefits and proposes discontinuing seclusion and limiting the use of restraints to emergency situations only. (The term seclusion does not include the use of timeout as a calming technique that is monitored and provided in an unlocked setting.) Read the report to learn of other proposals for the legislation here.
Special Education Directors,
We wanted to make you aware that the message below was sent on behalf of the Superintendent to teachers and administrators statewide.
Public Notice Regarding Application for Federal Funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)
Public Notice Regarding Application for Federal Funds under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is applying for federal funding under IDEA ‘04 for the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. The eligibility document serves as the basis for the operation and administration of activities to carry out the requirements of Part B of the IDEA. In accordance with 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.165 and 441 (b)(7), the federal regulations that implement the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) ((20 U.S.C. §1232d(b)(7)(B)), this application is posted for public participation and comment.
The Application document sets forth policies and procedures that Arizona will undertake:
1) to ensure that all eligible children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that includes special education and related services to meet their unique needs;
2) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected;
3) to assist public education agencies in providing for the education of all children with disabilities; and
4) to assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate those children.
The Part B State Application and Interactive Spreadsheet are available to parents, educators, and members of the general public for review and comment at the Arizona Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services, 1535 West Jefferson Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, or on the ADE website at www.azed.gov/special-education. Please note that the FFY 2014 allocations are not yet available through the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Therefore, the numbers on the currently posted Part B Interactive Spreadsheet, located on the Web site, are in draft form. The State will post the 2014 Interactive Spreadsheet as soon as it becomes available.
Comments may be submitted in writing until April 30, 2014 to:
Angela M. Denning, M.Ed
Deputy Associate Superintendent
Exceptional Student Services
Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson Street, Bin #24
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted sample test items on the testing platform students will use when taking the field test later this spring. Read the online tutorials first to see how to navigate through the test, how to use the computer-based tools, and how to access the accessibility features. Students can become comfortable with the computer functions that will be available on the field test—drag-and-drop, multiple selection, text highlighting, and an equation builder. The items are similar to the types of items students will see on the test in spring 2015. The sample items are available at www.parcconline.org/computer-based-samples.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) will be hosting a first-time summit for school practitioners on March 21–22, 2014, dedicated to developing practical strategies for alternatives to suspension and restorative practices for schools such as reducing violence and bullying, restoring relationships, and repairing harm. This summit comes after the release of the January 8 Civil Rights Data Collection, an analysis of new data on access to college, teacher equity, retention, access to pre-K programs, discipline, and other differences that underlie opportunity gaps in education. The summit, Restorative Practices in School Settings, will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Court Hotel. Registration is $75 per person and is nonrefundable. District teams of superintendents, administrators, educators, support personnel, and school-based mental health professionals are encouraged to attend. To register, go to http://go.aft.org/summit2014.
January 24, 2014, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Talk with ADE Meeting, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
SEAA Meeting, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
There are two ways to attend the Talk with ADE and SEAA meetings. You can attend the meetings in person or join the meetings via webinar.
If you are attending the meetings in person:
The physical meetings will be held at
Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007
4th floor, room 409
The visitors’ parking lot is east of the ADE building; entrance to the visitors’ parking lot is from Jefferson Street.
When you arrive:
Enter the ADE building from the South entrance and check in at the Security Desk. Security Desk personnel will direct you to the elevators to the 4th floor. The meeting is in room 409.
If you are joining the meetings via webinar
The meetings also will be available by webinar, which allows for remote participation using your computer and telephone (or only the telephone). Read the instructions below to participate remotely. Note that advance registration is required.
Join Talk with ADE and SEAA meetings via webinar on January 24, 2014
Register for Talk with ADE and SEAA meetings on Friday, January 24, 2014, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST at:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information and directions on how to join the meetings. Space is limited.
Materials for Talk with ADE
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) formed a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI)—to address schools’ discipline practices. SSDI has just released a guidance package to assist states and schools in improving school climate and discipline practices to ensure that schools are welcoming and safe, yet maintain fair, nondiscriminatory policies for misbehavior. The components, including a guidance letter, the guiding principles of the action steps, a directory of resources, and a collection of school discipline laws, are located at www.ed.gov/school-discipline.
At this same website, you can sign up to receive an e-Digest for Supportive School Discipline. It includes research summaries, examples of effective practices, announcements, and relevant upcoming events, such as the webinar series. The webinar series explores topics, including current school discipline philosophies; truancy and absenteeism; the role of school resource officers (SROs); the importance of youth, family, and community engagement; and the need for professional development for all stakeholders. To register for the January15th installment of the Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series, which will overview the resource package, go to http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/events/webinar/overview-school-discipline-guidance-package.
Monday night (January 13th) the House and Senate Appropriators unveiled an omnibus funding bill that would finalize federal funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2014 (FFY 2014). A letter announcing the news is linked here. The bill increases spending in most programs to near pre-sequestration levels; most education programs are slated for greater appropriations than pre-sequestration amounts, but not all are greater than FFY 2013 or FFYY 2012 amounts. See the table of educational appropriations prepared by the education funding committee. See the table of subcommittee allocations.
Special education state grants will increase by nearly $500 million over final FY 2013 funding, but don’t reach FFY 2012 amounts. Although the proposed preschool development grant was not included in the bill, Race to the Top now includes competitive grant funding for developing or expanding preschool programs. For a summary of the bill, go to http://democrats.appropriations.house.gov/top-news/summary-of-omnibus-appropriations-act/.
In response to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) proposal for data collection for school years 2014–2015 and 2015–2016, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) has submitted a letter during the second comment period. The letter, which is appreciative of OCR’s adding back questions about highly qualified teachers, also expresses concern over the burden on schools to collect the data. The NASDSE letter is linked.