To help prevent civil rights violations, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) collects and samples data concerning civil rights at the school and district levels. OCR has recently released new information to delineate where schools and districts are making great progress and where they are lagging. The state and national data is based on a sample collection of data from 7,000 districts and 72,000 schools from the 2009–2010 school year. The technical notes provide some caveats and considerations users should consider when using the data. This information is in addition to the earlier released school- and district-level data and a document analyzing some of the same sample data.
Which special education “paperwork” tasks take “reams” of time? The chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, John Kline, sent a letter (linked here) to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a report on the administrative burdens of IDEA. The letter asks the GAO to examine what parts of IDEA place the biggest administrative load on schools, why the load is still significant after the 2004 reauthorization, and what could be done to reduce paperwork in the future. (Perhaps they are gathering ideas for reducing those reams in the next reauthorization.)
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) has a slide repository available at www.ed.gov/presentation/. It is a website of presentations (ED calls them decks), which include charts and other graphic data pertinent to graduation, standards, assessments, early learning, and improving education for all students. The slide presentations (on about a dozen different topics) are available to anyone and can be adapted for particular uses. While not specifically geared toward special education issues, the series of slides present some surprising data about improvements made in educational outcomes over time.
A new website, Progress: Teachers, Leaders, and Students Transforming Education, highlights local and state promising practices, innovative ideas, lessons learned, and resources involved in implementing educational reforms in K–12 schools. The website, accessible at http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/progress/, showcases reforms spurred by federal programs, such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, Promise Neighborhoods, and other grant and flexibility programs. Although created by the U.S. Department of Education, the website’s intent is not to promote federal policy but to spotlight the improvements, highlight the systems involved, and spur further innovations in classrooms. It also emphasizes college and career readiness for students, challenging professional development opportunities for educators, and greater leadership innovations for administrators.
Special education law is the purview of Perry Zirkel, professor of education and law at Lehigh University. He has written two recent articles in the Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, published in the spring 2013 edition. One was entitled, “Adjudicative Remedies for Denials of FAPE under the IDEA”; the second, “‘Appropriate’ Decisions Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” The first reviewed administrative remedies for denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including tuition reimbursement and compensatory education in a set of cases from 2000 to 2012. Implementation was an infrequent issue, but the article discusses procedural and substantive issues. The second article offers pointers for impartial hearing officers (IHOs) in adjudicating cases and determining “appropriateness” of a student’s educational placement.
The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) was recently inaugurated with a stated purpose of improving student access to charter schools, creating dynamic learning opportunities, and addressing those barriers that may impede charter schools from enrolling and educating students with disabilities. The Center, a nonprofit organization, will work proactively with states, charter school authorizers, and advocates for both charter schools and special education. The Center’s opening was announced at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers’ 2013 Leadership Conference in October. A press release, new report, and a FAQ are available and also can be found at www.NCSECS.org. You can also follow the center on Twitter @NCSECS for updates and new information.
The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, a program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), has published Sharing Ideas & Resources to Keep Our Nation’s Schools Safe! This report examines new products and applications to gauge and prevent potential school crises. It also identifies new uses for familiar technologies in school settings and highlights successful safety programs in urban and rural schools nationwide.
Education Week has prepared a document on teaching the Common Core to diverse learners. The report, Moving Beyond the Mainstream: Helping Diverse Learners Master the Common Core, is available for online reading at http://ew.edweek.org/nxtbooks/epe/ew_sr_10302013/ and for downloading by individual chapter at http://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/standards-report-diverse-2013/.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your teachers? The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has prepared a new report, State of the States 2013: Connect the Dots: Using Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness to Inform Policy and Practice. The report, available at this website, http://www.nctq.org/dmsStage/State_of_the_States_2013_Using_Teacher_Evaluations_NCTQ_Report, emphasizes the role that teacher effectiveness plays in student achievement.
Another item on the Center on Education Policy (CEP) website is a new report on state implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The report, Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: Transitioning to CCSS-aligned Curriculum and Assessments for Students with Disabilities, looks at state efforts to prepare students with disabilities for the Common Core. Transitioning to the new standards and professional development are topics of discussion.