US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell have announced that applications are now available for the $250 million Preschool Development Grants competition. It’s for states that want to develop or expand high-quality preschool programs. To read the announcement from both departments, see http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-secretary-duncan-and-health-and-human-services-secretary-burwell-annou. A flyer is available at this link: http://www.azed.gov/special-education/files/2014/08/ec-grant.pdf.
The Center for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recently published a five-page informational bulletin, “Clarification of Medicaid Coverage of Services to Children with Autism,” which is found at: http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Downloads/CIB-07-07-14.pdf. The document discusses preventative and diagnostic services, as well as therapy services. It’s technical, but it includes a way to ask questions about these services: AutismServicesQuestions@cms.hhs.gov.
To keep special educators (and directors) up on alternate assessment news, our monthly newsletter, Tidbits, addresses topics of interest and important dates for pilot testing and assessments. This month’s newsletter focuses on increasing performance expectations and Results Driven Accountability. To access the newsletter, go to http://www.azed.gov/assessment/aims-a/ and click on Newsletters.
President Obama recently signed the bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes the Workforce Incentive Act, which includes the vocational rehabilitation programs. A one-page summary of the legislation is at http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/workforce_innovation_and_opportunity_act_-_one_pager.pdf. Prominent in the information presented is the fact that individuals with disabilities have the highest rate of unemployment of any group, and more than two-thirds don’t participate in the workforce. If you’re interested in the entire bill, search for H.R. 803 at http://thomas.loc.gov.
The US Department of Education (ED) has issued a press release on keeping students and parents informed about what kinds of student data is collected and how it will be used. Schools are urged to be proactive in communicating how they use student data and to have answers to questions ready before they are asked. Here’s the links to the privacy center: http://ptac.ed.gov/ and the guidance document: http://ptac.ed.gov/sites/default/files/LEA%20Transparency%20Best%20Practices%20final.pdf.
The US Department of Education (ED) has established a family policy website to dispense information about the two federal laws concerning privacy in schools—the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). The website includes videos, resources for parents and school officials, and ways to contact ED with privacy questions. You’ll find the website at http://familypolicy.ed.gov/.
The US Department of Education is requesting public comment on actions it should take in addressing disproportionality related to race and ethnicity among special education populations. This issue may affect the identification, placement, and discipline of children with disabilities. Comments will be accepted through July 31, 2014, related to several questions: proposed regulations regarding a standard approach to determination and other possible actions and research. Click HERE to download a copy of the Federal Register document that requested public comment (published June 19, 2014). And to make your comments, go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Then type in Special Ed Disproportionality on the search line.
The Special Education Rule Committee’s purpose is to examine Arizona Special Education State Board 401 rules, to propose rules that are clear, instructive, and aligned to the IDEA, and to provide guidance for implementation. Please read the July 18, 2014, Rule Making Communique for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the July 18 meeting. Also for your review are the two drafts pertaining to child find and evaluation.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has announced a new competition in the Federal Register. The competition will select an organization to establish and operate a National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities. Because many students with disabilities continue to struggle in completing high school and gaining the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, OSERS and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) are collaborating to support this technical assistance center. The center will coordinate its expertise and resources and build capacity by implementing evidence-based practices and strategies in state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), and vocational rehabilitation (VR) service agencies.
The Federal Register notice can be accessed at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-07-02/pdf/2014-15437.pdf. This competition is open to SEAs, LEAs (including charter schools that are considered LEAs under state law), VR agencies, institutes of higher education (IHEs), other public agencies, private nonprofit organizations, outlying areas, freely associated states, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and for-profit organizations. The Department intends to fund one project for $2.5 million a year for 5 years. The deadline for submitting completed applications is Monday, August 18, 2014.
The Department of Education (ED) has recently posted a new press release about the announced teacher equity initiative. The initiative is aimed at helping states and school districts support great educators for the students who need them most–low-income students in high-need schools. To read the press release, go to http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-initiative-provide-all-students-access-great-educators. To read the letter addressed to the chief state school officers, click here.