IDEIA requires schools to implement Universal Design in the classroom. Nevertheless, Universal Design is not well defined or widely implemented. CAST, a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting Universal Design for Learning ["UDL"] defines it as "[e]mbedded features that help those with disabilities eventually benefit everyone. UDL uses technology's power and flexibility to make education more inclusive and effective for all." Some obvious examples are curb cuts (usable for baby strollers and wheelchairs) and closed captioning which can support literacy and those with hearing impairments.
In some schools around the Washington D.C. area teachers are using signed letters and words to better manage their classes. Students flash a signed letter to the teacher such as "B" for bathroom or "L" for library and the teacher responds with a sign or other gesture, which allows him or her to go on with the lesson without interruption.
Perhaps without even realizing it, these teachers are using UDL for more effective classroom management. Special education methods when used creatively in the classroom can benefit all students and the teacher. Similarly, I have effectively advocated for a visual behavior system that was aimed at a student with autism, also proved highly effective for the entire the class without stigmatizing the "target student." It is nice to see a school that views all students as part of one common community of learners, where methods from special education seamlessly cross-over to the entire class. It might even be fun to see teachers flashing signs like a third base coach down the road, so long as they do not flash the universal sign to throw a student out of the class (game).
Well finally something to get excited about. Senators Mikulski and Sanders have proposed a bill that would increase funding for IDEA by over $44 billion dollars over 5 years with an increase of $10 billion in 2008. Now that is something to rally around and press for Congressional approval. OK now, Barack, Hillary, Rudy, John, and Mitt where do you stand on this issue of IDEA funding and no fudging please !
Improving Youths with Disabilities Outcomes for Postsecondary and Employment
John H. Hager, assistant secretary of the Office of SpecialEducation and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department ofEducation, is pleased to share with you an important message regarding a Notice of Proposed Priority and Definitions for Special Demonstration Programs-Model Demonstration Projects-Improving the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youths with Disabilities.
The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) called for states to set measurable targets for the progress of students with disabilities. Together with the No Child Left Behind Act, the IDEA is holding schools accountable for making sure students with disabilities achieve to high standards. We must ensure that all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, graduate from high school with theskills they need to successfully transition into post secondary education and the workforce.Youths with disabilities face significant challenges both in the school environment and in their transitions to adult life.National studies and reports have shown that, compared to their non-disabled peers, students with disabilities are less likely to receive a regular high school diploma; drop out twice as often; enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs at half the rate; and, up to two years after leaving high school, aboutfour in 10 youths with disabilities are employed as compared to six in 10 same-age out-of-school youths in the general population.
These and other related findings on the secondary and postsecondary outcomes of youths with disabilities have spurred federal and state efforts to improve transition policies and practices.Federal and state efforts to improve the postschool outcomes ofyouths with disabilities have resulted in some important gains over the past decade, including graduation rates, enrollment in postsecondary education and the number of youths entering theworkforce; however, despite these gains, far too many youths with disabilities continue to experience difficulties in achieving successful post-school outcomes. We are making progress, but we still have work to do.
Toward that end, I am excited to share with you the Federal Register notice inviting public comment on the Notice of Proposed Priority and Definitions under the Rehabilitation Services Administration's Special Demonstration Programs Model Demonstration Projects Improving the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youths With Disabilities. This priority is intended to improve the post-school and employment outcomes of youths with disabilities. We invite you to submit comments to help ensure that it does.
The NPP is open for public comment until Mar. 19, 2007.
The Federal Register notice, including relevant dates and
directions on how to submit comments, may be viewed in HTML and
PDF formats by clicking here.
You may view this notice, as well as all other Department of Education documents published in the
Federal Register at http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister/index.html.
John H. Hager
Assistant SecretaryOffice of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
U.S. Department of Education
The FDA has issued new warnings for many of the medications prescribed to treat some of the common symptoms of ADHD. Included on the list are Ritalin, Adderal, Concerta, Focalin, Strattera among others. The FDA is requiring additional drug guidance to address concerns about the following:
" reports of serious cardiovascular adverse events in patients taking usual doses of ADHD products revealed reports of sudden death in patients with underlying serious heart problems or defects, and reports of stroke and heart attack in adults with certain risk factors.
Another FDA review of ADHD medicines revealed a slight increased risk (about 1 per 1,000) for drug-related psychiatric adverse events, such as hearing voices, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic, even in patients who did not have previous psychiatric problems.
FDA recommends that children, adolescents, or adults who are being considered for treatment with ADHD drug products work with their physician or other health care professional to develop a treatment plan that includes a careful health history and evaluation of current status, particularly for cardiovascular and psychiatric problems (including assessment for a family history of such problems)."
The bottom-line message is that under IDEA 2004 and for good sound medical reasons, decisions regarding medications should be decided in a doctor's office not at an IEP meeting.
The U.S. Department of Education, as required under IDEA 2004, has published model forms for procedural safeguards notice [Download modelform-safeguards.doc], forms for IEPs [Download modelform-iep.doc] and prior written notice [Download modelform-notice.doc]. While these forms are models and that does not make them mandatory, it could be argued that a significant departure is in violation of the law. I am particularly interested in the form for prior written notice.
The U.S.Department of Education has issued guidance in the form of a sheet of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the rights of parents who have placed their children in a private placement when the school district has offered a FAPE. Download faq-parent-placed.doc This is an area that I am questioned about frequently. These FAQs should clarify this area, but unfortunately the simple fact remains that the obligations of school and the rights of parents are limited, and the opportunity to enforce even the minimal rights granted is very limited.
JCAR the legislative committee that passes on state regulations blocked the pending special education rules based upon a determination that the regulation pose "a serious threat to the interests of children with disabilities and special-education teachers." The primary rationale for this decision was that the proposed regulations removed limits on class size and case loads. Hearings before legislative committees are now pending to consider amendments to the rules.
So the fight in Illinois over getting fair and effective regulations for children with special needs moves from the administrative setting to the legislature for now. This struggle over state regulatory implementation of IDEA 2004 promises to play out in other states over the next several months. Parents need to monitor their states Department of Education websites to have an active role in the shaping of these important regulations.
From my source Sandy Alperstein:
JCAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) took action this morning to stop the Illinois special ed rules (Part 226) from taking effect.
Illinois Special Education Coalition
The next steps are likely to be a revision of the regulations and a resubmission in the near future. I will post as I get more details.
The following is an announcement from my collegue Sandy Alperstein:
As background, the JCAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) will meet on January 9, 2007 to review ISBE's proposed special ed rules (Part 226). If they choose, they can require ISBE to make changes, or they can approve these proposed rules. Problems with these proposals include the format (confusing to parents), the elimination of caseload and class size limits, and the mandate for RTI without support, guidance or resources for general educators to apply RTI correctly (and incorrect application could result in children not receiving needed services). click here for the email for JCAR.