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Legislative Announcements Listed in Past Issues

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SSA Commissioner Announces New Disability Determination Process
On March 28, 2006, U.S. Social Security Administration Commissioner Jo Anne B. Barnhart announced that the final rule establishing a new disability determination process was now publicly available. The new process, built upon Social Securityís electronic claims process, will shorten decision times and pay benefits to people who are obviously disabled much sooner.

Presidentís Statement on the Fifth Anniversary of the New Freedom Initiative
Five years ago, President Bush announced the New Freedom Initiative to build on the progress of the Americans with Disabilities Act and more fully integrate people with disabilities into all aspects of life. This Web page describes the Administration's efforts to implement the Initiative and their results, as well as the Administrationís vision for future efforts.

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.

Report to the President: Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility
In November 2005, the federal Interagency Transportation Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility submitted a report to the President on Human Service Transportation Coordination. The report, Executive Order 13330, outlines recommendations to help existing transportation services to be more cost-effective and accountable and to help providers become more responsive to people with disabilities.

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.

Supreme Court Decides Schaffer v. Weast
In this November 14, 2005 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the burden of persuasion in an administrative hearing challenging an IEP is properly placed upon the party seeking relief, whether that is the child with disabilities or the school district. Opinion available in PDF (26 pages, 240 KB).

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao Announces New Freedom Initiative Awards
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao recently announced that one individual, three non-profit organizations, and three businesses have been selected to receive the Secretary of Laborís New Freedom Initiative Award for outstanding support of employment for people with disabilities. The award recognizes exemplary and innovative efforts to train, recruit, and hire people with disabilities and to incorporate into workplaces the principles of the New Freedom Initiative, which was introduced by President George W. Bush in 2001.

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.

25th Annual Report to Congress on IDEA
This two-volume publication from the U.S. Department of Education reports the results of a national assessment of activities carried out under the reauthorized IDEA 1997. It discusses student performance results, student characteristics, and some of the programs and services available within schools for children with disabilities and their families. Free copies available by request from ED Pubs.

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).

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