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Legislative Announcements Listed in Past Issues

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To Raise Achievement of Students with Disabilities, Greater Flexibility for States, Schools
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings recently announced proposed regulations to enhance the ability of schools and states to more effectively measure the achievement of America’s students with disabilities. The proposed rules are designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities who may not reach grade level within the same time frame as their peers, but who can make significant strides given the right instruction.

Secretary Spellings Announces Growth Model Pilot Proposal Under NCLB
On November 18, 2005, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced a pilot program where interested and qualified states can submit proposals for developing high-quality growth models that follow the bright-line principles of No Child Left Behind. These states will be allowed to meet NCLB accountability requirements by measuring student growth over time, rather than the current practice of comparing this year's students against last year's students.

Teachers Ask the Secretary: New Feature on U.S. Department of Education Web Site
Teachers are invited to ask U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings a question via the U.S. Department of Education Web site. Visitors to this page can also view Secretary Spellings’ answers to questions that have already been submitted.

GAO Report: Most Students with Disabilities Participated in Statewide Assessments, but Inclusion Could Be Improved
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on the participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments in 2002. The No Child Left Behind Act requires yearly progress assessment of all students; Students with disabilities are eligible for alternative testing approaches, but states often struggle to create and use these alternatives. GAO determined 1) the extent to which students with disabilities were included in statewide assessments; 2) what issues selected states faced in implementing alternate assessments; and 3) how the U.S. Department of Education supported states in their efforts to assess students with disabilities. Available in PDF (42 pages, 676 KB).

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Deduction Guidance on Special Education Expenses
In March 2005, the IRS issued a new ruling that may help families with the costs which may be incurred for their child’s special needs in education. The private-letter written determination clarifies areas when special education costs may qualify as medical expense deductions. Although the private-letter ruling applies only to the taxpayers who requested it and should not be cited as precedent, tax advisers say it is a useful illustration of the IRS’s thinking. Available in PDF (3 pages, 18 KB).

New Definitions of Family-Centered Care and Cultural Competence from Maternal and Child Health Bureau
The Division of Services for Children with Special Health Needs, U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau, has developed new definitions and principles of both family-centered care and cultural/linguistic competence. The definitions are preceded by a letter from Merle McPherson of the Department of Health and Human Services. Available in Word (3 pages, 52 KB).

U.S. Department of Education Announces New Study Finds Students with Disabilities Making Great Strides
According to a report released by the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, students with disabilities have made significant progress in their transition to adulthood during the past 25 years with lower dropout rates, an increase in postsecondary enrollment, and a higher rate of gainful employment after leaving high school. The report, entitled Changes Over Time in the Early Postschool Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities, is available in PDF (113 pages, 1.1 MB) at

U.S. Department of Education to Calculate New Graduation Rate
Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon recently announced that the U.S. Department of Education will begin calculating an "Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate" for all states that will be used to compare state reported rates under the No Child Left Behind Act. This announcement follows the recognition that several national organizations have been "justifiably clamoring for a more accurate, consistent, and transparent method of calculating high school graduation rates."

Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
Beginning January 1, 2006, prescription drug coverage will be available to all Americans with Medicare through the Medicare prescription drug plan. This Web site provides information and training materials for community leaders as part of the President’s national outreach effort to educate seniors and Americans with disabilities about the new prescription drug benefit.

No Child Left Behind: Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to further clarify the roles of states and districts in implementing supplemental educational services under the No Child Left Behind Act. The document, “Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance,” features ideas for connecting parents to supplemental education services providers, who offer free tutoring and other academic enrichment activities to qualified students whose schools aren’t meeting their yearly progress goals. The guidance was last updated in 2003, and since then the Department has made several important policy decisions to address concerns from states, school districts, parents, and academic service providers.

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