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Legislative Announcements Listed in Past Issues

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Governors and Education Leaders Sign Agreement on Graduation Rate
On July 17, 2005 the National Governors Association (NGA) announced that, for the first time in the nation's history, states agreed upon a common definition of the high school graduation rate. Forty-seven governors and 12 national organizations signed on to Graduation Counts: A Compact on State High School Graduation Data during the NGA Annual Meeting, thereby agreeing to begin implementing a standard four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.

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."

U.S. Surgeon General Issues First Call to Action on Disability Health
On July 26, the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona released “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities.” Developed in collaboration with the Office on Disability, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Call to Action describes the particular challenges to health and wellbeing faced by persons with disabilities of all ages and identifies four goals that, together, can help people with disabilities to experience full, rewarding, and, above all, healthy lives as contributing members of their communities.

White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth
This fall (2005), First Lady Laura Bush will convene the first-ever White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth to promote public awareness of the various problems facing at-risk youth. The conference will bring together policymakers, research experts, foundations, faith-based and volunteer organizations, educators, coaches, and parents to share examples of what makes a difference in the lives of youth and to generate new ideas that can be used across the country.

2005 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme Announced
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has announced the official theme for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month: “Workers with Disabilities: Ready for Tomorrow’s Jobs Today.” The theme will be used by the private sector; federal, state, and local governments; and advocacy organizations to plan events and programs that showcase the abilities and skills of job candidates with disabilities.

IDEA 2004 Public Comment Period Underway
The U.S. Department of Education has announced proposed regulations to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) and invites public comment. The official version of this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) has been published in the Federal Register in both PDF and text formats. The public comment period ends September 6, 2005.

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.

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