Education Week: On Special Education – Feds Pledge More Focus on Outcomes for Students With Disabilities

Federal special education officials on Monday reaffirmed a pledge to focus more on how special education students are faring, rather than almost exclusively concentrating on whether states are technically upholding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

At the IDEA Leadership Conference, Melody Musgrove, the director of the office of special education programs, shared trends on students’ performance on state assessments and on dropout rates for students with disabilities, which have been largely unchanged for the past few years.

“We’re proposing a new way to be held accountable in special ed,” Musgrove said.

While federal monitoring of some specific issues has improved states’ work in those areas, said Ruth Ryder, deputy director of the office of special education programs, focusing almost exclusively on compliance with the law hasn’t made much of a difference where it counts: those test scores and dropout rates, among other measures.

via Feds Pledge More Focus on Outcomes for Students With Disabilities.

Education Week: ‘Least-Restrictive Environment’ Must Be Considered at Workplace, Too

Too often, when students with disabilities are moving from school to the workplace—a phase typically called transition—some of the basic tenets of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are ignored, said Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin.

That includes being placed in the least restrictive environment—in other words, with nondisabled peers to the extent possible.

“We have long been concerned that children with disabilities in general were not getting what they needed in transition,” he said. For too long, “transition” meant a pipeline to work in a segregated environment, often at so-called sheltered workshops, which typically pay less than minimum wage, he said, “without any real conversation about whether this was appropriate. What about a job coach? What about assistive technology? [These are] all the things they consider for the classroom environment?

via ‘Least-Restrictive Environment’ Must Be Considered at Workplace, Too.

Education Week: Proposals for Reforming Special Education Law

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, lawyer Miriam Kurtzig Freedman shares some ideas for dramatically changing IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

An attorney might propose ways to reform the law—due for reauthorization for several years now—that are beneficial to that profession. But that’s anything but the gist of these suggestions.

via Proposals for Reforming Special Education Law.