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Legislative Announcements Listed in Past Issues

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Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities
On April 25, 2006, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Elementary and Special Education released a Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities. It provides up-to-date guidance on designing and implementing high-quality assessments for students with disabilities, and includes a set of technical assistance products that offer practical, research-based approaches to the challenges schools face in assessment, instruction, behavioral interventions, and use of accommodations. The Tool Kit also includes information about research now underway to further expand our knowledge about how best to support teaching, learning, and assessing.

New Web Site: Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the U.S. Department of Labor has redesigned its Web site to better reflect the policy nature of its mission. ODEP provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability-related employment policy and practice affecting the employment of people with disabilities. Its Web site provides information for adults with disabilities, businesses and employers, federal partners/collaborators, researchers, service providers, state partners/collaborators, youth and families, and veterans.

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 Americaís 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 Spellingsí 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 childís 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 IRSís 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."

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