Equal Access for English Language Learners Addressed in Joint Guidance Letter

A joint guidance letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice was recently issued to address equal access for English language learners. English learners (ELs) now constitute nine percent of all public school students, and their numbers are steadily increasing. The letter recognizes the recent milestone 40th anniversaries of Lau v. Nichols and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), as well as the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. The letter applauds those working to ensure equal educational opportunities for EL students, as well as those programs that recognize the heritage languages of EL students as valuable assets to preserve.

Also available are these resources: fact sheets in English and in other languages addressing school’s obligations to students, fact sheets in English and in other languages related to communicating with limited English proficient parents, and a toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students. The toolkit contains placement test checklists and sample home language surveys in several languages, which may be helpful when you have students from these language backgrounds.

TALK with ADE and SEAA MEETINGS – Friday, January 9


January 9,  2015

SEAA Meeting, 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

Talk with ADE Meeting, 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM

There are two ways to attend the Talk with ADE (attached agenda) and SEAA meetings. You can attend the meetings in person or join the meetings via webinar.

If you are attending the meetings in person

RSVP to maria.durazo@azed.gov.

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.

Webinar registration for Talk with ADE and SEAA meetings on Friday, January 9, 2015, 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM MST at:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information and directions on how to join the meetings. Space is limited.

Characteristics of Successful Districts

Beginning in 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) created a framework to better balance the focus of improving educational and functional outcomes for students with disabilities with the requirements of legal compliance.  The new framework is known as Results Driven Accountability (RDA). In support of Results Driven Accountability, the Arizona Department of Education Exceptional Student Services (ESS) team examined three years of state assessment data to identify districts and charters that demonstrated continual academic successes and performed well above the state average for students with disabilities. A number of Local Education Agencies met these criteria. The LEAs represent the varying demographics, populations and locations of Arizona.  Through site visits, ESS team members identified the systems, practices, policies and organization factors that contributed to the success of these Arizona districts/charters.  The results of this study, shared in the article, not only can be replicated in other districts to improve outcomes for all students but provides evidence that every student can be academically successful. Enjoy!

Please visit this document to see the similarities between these trends and trends found in other publications concerning systems change.

Special Education Rule Committee 12/15/14 Communique

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 December 15, 2014, Rule Making Communique  for more information about the Committee, the Core Team membership, and the December 15 meeting.

Foster Care Parents and Schools: Partners in Educational Stability

A new question and answer factsheet from the Legal Center for Foster Care and Education (www.fostercareandeducation.org) describes the educational provisions of the 2008 Fostering Connections Act and how it has been implemented. It also highlights information from a joint letter from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education about the act. If you have a significant population of foster care children in your schools and would like more information on fostering educational stability, download this factsheet at http://www.fostercareandeducation.org/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?portalid=0&EntryId=1996&Command=Core_Download.

Medicare and Medicaid Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Clarified

A new information bulletin is available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning services that are available for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Read this bulletin to learn of the preventative services, therapy services, and other licensed practitioner services authorized by the various sections of the Social Security Act. Access this bulletin at http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Downloads/CIB-07-07-14.pdf.

New Resources on Head Injury Available from National Association

Two new resources are available from the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators. Because traumatic brain injury (TBI) is not one of the 14 IDEA eligibility categories, each State has defined how traumatic brain injuries should be considered in terms of IDEA eligibility. The first resource includes a summary of state definitions for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and some overall guidance for educating children: Special Education and TBI: A Summary of  State Definitions and Guidance for Educating Students with TBI-related Disabilities. The second resource shows how states use various funding resources to deliver rehabilitation and community services: State Services for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Their Families.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Title VI Civil Rights Guidance

To ensure that all students have equal access to educational resources and safe school facilities and to create equal opportunities for all students’ success in schools, careers, and life, the Office for Civil Rights has issued a Dear Colleague letter providing guidance to schools on the legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Secretary Duncan’s words, “That means that all students regardless of their race, zip code, or family income should have equal access to educational resources—whether it’s effective teaching, challenging coursework, facilities with modern technology, or a safe school environment.”

The 25-page letter (which also contains endnotes) provides guidance on avoiding discrimination in all areas of school equity—curriculum, teaching, facilities, and technology—and discusses self-assessment and methods to ensure Title VI compliance. To view OCR’s Fact Sheet on Resource Equity in English, click here, and to view it in Spanish, click here. Also available from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are additional resources at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/resourcecomparability.html.

Guidance Package Makes Recommendations for Correctional Education

To enforce the rights of incarcerated youth to a quality education, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder have announced a new guidance package. This guidance builds on the recommendations of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report released in May. The package includes a set of guiding principles, a Dear Colleague letter from the Office of Special Education Programs on IDEA obligations, a Dear Colleague letter from the Office for Civil Rights, and a Dear Colleague letter on access to federal Pell grants. For more information or to obtain copies of any of these documents, please go to www.ed.gov/correctionaled.

PD OPPORTUNITY: ADE/ESS Recruitment and Retention Offers Three Webinars

The Arizona Department of Education/Exceptional Student Services is pleased to announce two upcoming webinars. We hope that you can join us for these learning opportunities.

ADE Special Education Certification Changes
This webinar will explain changes to special education certification that will be effective January 1, 2016. Reciprocity and proficiency exams will also be discussed.
Date: Friday, February 13, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Space is limited.
Reserve your webinar seat now at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/770619782.

Recruitment and Retention Strategies
During this webinar, strategies to recruit and retain special education teachers and personnel will be discussed. After discussing what the Arizona Department of Education is doing in this area, dialogue will then be opened to the field to discuss recruitment and retention strategies used in Local Education Agencies (LEAs) throughout Arizona.
Date: Monday, March 2, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Space is limited.
Reserve your webinar seat now at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/982456182.