To remind schools of the need to prevent and end bullying in our schools, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a guidance to schools letter during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. It is a reminder that bullying persists in our schools, especially for the 6.5 million students with disabilities. The letter details public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (both of which OCR enforces) to protect students with disabilities from bullying. The increase in the number of OCR complaints indicates that disability-based harassment is a troubling trend, and schools need to fully understand their legal obligations. Building on past letters, this guidance letter explains that bullying a child with a disability can result in a denial of FAPE (either 504 FAPE or IDEA FAPE) or a disability-related harassment violation. When a school knows or should know about bullying based on disability, it must take immediate, appropriate action to remedy the violation. For information on bullying prevention and remedies, visit the federal website, www.stopbullying.gov. Also, a fact sheet for parents on schools’ obligations to address bullying is available in English and in Spanish.
In an effort to reduce anxiety and be proactive, the Assessment and Exceptional Student Services Sections want to provide some information regarding students with disabilities who will be participating in the new statewide achievement assessment. Please share this information with your district administrators, principals, department heads, special education teachers, school psychologists, and case managers.
As a reminder, all students are required to participate in state assessments. It is not a requirement that IEP teams convene specifically to identify the name of the new state achievement test in a student’s IEP. Exception: If a student qualifies for the Alternate Assessment and is participating in the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) or AIMS A Alternate Assessment, the IEP team must be convened to address eligibility for the tests, including why the particular alternate assessment the student will be participating in is appropriate for the student, and why the student cannot participate in the regular assessment. (IDEA 2004 300.320(a)(6).)
Per IDEA 2004 (300.320(6)(i)) and the Elementary and Second Education Act 612 (a)(16), if a student has specific accommodation(s), these must be identified for use in the state achievement assessment. Accommodations should only be identified if they are used routinely during instruction. The identification of accommodations should not be limited to nor based on what is allowed on the state achievement test. Accommodations should be determined based on individual student need rather that what is allowable on an assessment.
Concern has been expressed that since the allowable accommodations are not yet known for the new state assessment, if a student needs specific accommodation(s), these should have already been identified in the student’s IEP. Please note that what is most important regarding accommodations is to identify what type of accommodations your student needs. Once the accommodations for the new assessment are known, ADE will make that information available as soon as possible.
The following online resources are free tools that will help you determine appropriate instructional accommodations for your students.
- AIM Navigator is a tool to help IEP teams make decisions about need, selection, acquisition, and use of accessible instructional materials: http://aim.cast.org/navigator/page/.
- AIM Explorer is a free simulation that combines grade-leveled digital text with access features common to most text readers and other supported reading software, including: custom text, background colors, text to speech, text highlighting, and layout options that allow students to decide which of these supports might help them to access and understand text: http://aim.cast.org/navigator/page/.
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 October 20, 2014, Rule Making Communique for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the October 20 meeting. Also attached for your review and comment is proposed guidance regarding evaluation and IEP.
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 October 3, 2014, Rule Making Communique for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the October 3 meeting.
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 September 12, 2014, Rule Making Communique for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the September 12 meeting.
The Arizona Department of Education, along with First Things First, Head Start, West ED, and various school district personnel, has comprised a cohort to create a common definition of school readiness. Arizona’s School Readiness Framework will serve as a document that describes what the adults in a child’s life can provide as supports for the child to prepare him/her for kindergarten.
Through the last year, multiple statewide vettings have been conducted, asking participants (early childhood educators, kindergarten teachers, administrators, directors, parents, librarians, etc.) to review, edit, and provide feedback to Arizona’s School Readiness Framework. The result is a final draft, in which we are inviting you to review a final time in preparation for its completion.
To view the final draft of Arizona’s School Readiness Framework, copy and paste the following link into a new web browser:
Thank you for your time and commitment to this project. We appreciate your feedback by October 1, 2014.
The Arizona Department of Education is planning a submission to Governor Brewer’s Office for the Preschool Development Grant. This is a statewide application with potential benefits for targeted high-needs communities within Arizona. Please see the attached information for more details.
The application does address the needs of children with disabilities as it outlines a requirement for LRE options of higher quality within the high needs communities. It also proposes providing site based coaching to support more inclusionary practices.
We appreciate your support as we move forward with the process.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Deputy Associate Superintendent
Early Childhood Education
Head Start State Collaboration Director
High Academic Standards
Arizona Department of Education
Next Meeting of Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP)
The purpose of SEAP is to provide policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities in Arizona. The next meeting is September 16, 2014, 9:30 am–3:30 pm, at the Arizona Department of Education/Central Office, 3300 North Central Avenue, 16th Floor, Room 104, Phoenix, AZ. If you plan to attend, contact the Arizona Department of Education/Exceptional Student Services for more information at 602-542-4013.
The Arizona Department of Education/Exceptional Student Services (ADE/ESS) is excited to offer two new supports to the field for the 2014-2015 school year:
1) To implement OSEP’s Results Driven Accountability (RDA) vision, ESS will offer a criteria-based RDA Implementation Grant to assist districts and charters in creating professional development plans that lead to increased academic achievement for students with disabilities. This grant will provide funds to implement items needed to sustain changes in teacher practices and student gains, including team time, materials, presenters, evaluation tools, and monitoring resources. Capacity coaches will be provided to all awardees to assist the district teams in the grant implementation.
2) In collaboration with ADE’s K-12 Standards, ESS created a request for proposal (RFP) to identify qualified educational service providers that offer research-proven services to assist districts and charters in implementing effective professional development and measuring progress toward achievable, sustained outcomes. Note that this is not an all-inclusive list; it includes only those educational service providers who chose to submit materials for review upon invitation. Arizona is a local control state that allows all charters and districts the freedom to choose their own professional development providers, including those not awarded through this RFP process.
For more information on both of these new supports, please join Exceptional Student Services for a webinar on Friday, September 5, 2014, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm MST at https://student.gototraining.com/r/7087794260575985408
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 August 18, 2014, Rule Making Communique for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the August 18 meeting.