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LDA Legislative News – October 2014


body_professionCoalition Issues Roadmap for Teacher and Administrator Quality

The Coalition on Teacher Quality (CTQ), a national coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations, including LDA, has just issued two seminal documents to address the professional preparation of teachers and principals and the strategies for building a continuum of excellence.  CTQ has combined the commitment and expertise of individuals from civil rights, disability, parent, student, community, and education groups to reach consensus on a new comprehensive framework for teaching quality that focuses on ensuring a fully prepared and effective educator in every classroom.  

Profession-Ready Teachers and Principals for Each and Every Child provides the key elements that will result in quality teachers and principals.  One of the key elements is the completion of a residency program where aspiring teachers and principals work under the guidance of accomplished, experienced professionals, much like the current model for medical residencies.  A recent CTQ briefing on Capitol Hill highlighted an excellent example of such a program that has been in existence since 2011, the Seattle Teacher Residency Program. 

To be considered profession-ready, teachers must also complete several other elements:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree and demonstration of in-depth content knowledge in the area of their licensure.
  • Successful completion of a state-approved preparation program, including clinical experiences that use models of accomplished practice taught by faculties with K-12 experience.
  • Demonstration through a performance assessment of beginning proficiency of skills and knowledge necessary for classroom instruction.

Profession-ready principals must:

  • Hold an advanced degree and a demonstrated record of success as a classroom teacher.
  • Demonstrate leadership competencies through an assessment before entering a qualified principal preparation and certification program.
  • Demonstrate through a performance-based assessment a deep understanding of the domains of effective school leadership and related competencies.

CTQ has also released Excellent Educators for Each and Every Child: A Roadmap for Transforming the Teaching and Principal Professions.  The document outlines the strategies necessary for building a continuum of teaching and principal excellence.  Those strategies include strengthening the recruitment pipeline, ensuring the next generation of educators is profession-ready, providing opportunities for ongoing professional learning, and developing pathways for teacher and principal leadership.

The coalition is actively engaged in advocacy of these proposals in Congress.  They are looking ahead to planning additional briefings and opportunities to influence the educational policy debate after the election.



yang_whFederal Efforts to Employ Persons with Disabilities Expanding

In 2010 the president signed Executive Order 13548 to increase recruitment and hiring of individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce, establishing the federal government as a model for private businesses.  Following on that effort, the White House has rolled out the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative (“Curb Cuts”), a cross-agency effort to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for persons with disabilities, with a special emphasis on those with significant disabilities.  

Congress recently passed a reauthorization of the Workforce Incentive Act, known now as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  WIOA focuses particularly on advancing increased hiring of individuals with disabilities at the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, with these two agencies assuming the lead in a variety of initiatives to reach this goal.

The Curb Cuts initiative is a cross-agency program to coordinate and leverage resources across the federal government.  During the first year, the program will focus on supporting effective implementation of affirmative action and nondiscrimination obligations of federal contractors under the newly revised regulations of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Section 503 is designed to increase federal contractors’ recruitment, employment, and promotion of individuals with disabilities.  The Departments of Labor and Education will assume the responsibility of helping to prepare persons with disabilities to qualify for a variety of jobs, connect federal contractors with qualified individuals, and give those contractors the resources to recruit, retain, and promote those individuals.

Looking ahead to the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2015, the federal government is engaged in a number of other activities to help persons with disabilities participate meaningfully in the workforce.  These initiatives include, among many others:

  • Expansion by the Social Security Administration of the Ticket-to-Work Call Center and hosting of virtual job fairs targeted to help individuals on SSDI or SSI to learn about careers with federal contractors and agencies.
  • Launch of the National Employer Policy, Research, and Technical Assistance Center on the Employment of People with Disabilities at the U.S. Department of Labor, which will provide information on best practices and technical assistance to federal contractors and agencies.
  • Establishment of a partnership between the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration to recruit and retain SSDI beneficiaries into federal service.
  • Increased collaborations among federal agencies, American Job Centers, educational institutions, labor unions, vocational rehabilitation agencies, veterans’ organizations, and others to offer career path employment supports.
  • Targeted grant funds at the U.S. Department of Education to ensure vocational rehabilitation counselors are ready to meet the demands of employers and promote the employment of individuals with disabilities.



bully-free-zoneBullying Guidance Focuses on Students with Disabilities

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to school districts in the wake of increased complaints about the bullying of students with disabilities and the effects of those behaviors on their educational success.  OCR’s guidance aims to remind and inform schools about their legal responsibilities under the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to prevent discrimination against students with disabilities.  

OCR, in collaboration with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), has issued a series of documents over the past 15 years addressing the rights of students with disabilities and schools’ responsibilities for ensuring those rights.  Schools must be aware of disability-based harassment under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA which may deny educational opportunity to students with disabilities.  Other complaints may arise under the IDEA and Section 504 regarding the responsibility of schools to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Schools also have been put on notice in previous communications from OCR that bullying of students with disabilities on any basis may result in a denial of FAPE under the IDEA.

The latest guidance expands the discussion to ensure schools understand bullying of a student with a disability on any basis also can result in a denial of FAPE under Section 504.  OCR reminds schools of their obligation to address bullying conduct and the loss of educational opportunity. The guidance includes an overview of protections for students with disabilities under all pertinent federal laws, a discussion of how OCR analyzes complaints of bullying, and examples of conduct that may be disability-based harassment that violates FAPE. 

Click here to read the full document.



federal-grant-moneyFederal Grants will Benefit Gifted Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $3.9 million to partnerships of post secondary institutions and school districts that focus on increasing the number of minority and other underrepresented students in K-12 gifted and talented programs. The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education program supports demonstration projects and research to enhance services to gifted and talented students and replication and expansion of proven models. Awards are targeted to programs that enroll students who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English language skills, or have disabilities. 

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a wide gap continues for students among underrepresented groups in enrollment in programs for gifted and talented programs.  CRDC data indicate only 1 percent of students with disabilities participate in the programs, as compared to 7 percent of students without disabilities.  Only 26 percent of students enrolled in these programs are Latino and African-American, despite the fact they represent 40 percent of the student population in schools where programs are offered.

At least one of this year’s grantees will focus exclusively on students with disabilities.  The University of Hawaii has been awarded a five-year grant of $472,000 for a project entitled TEAMS (Twice Exceptional Students Achieving and Matriculating in STEM).  They will scale up and evaluate a model designed to increase the number of high school students with disabilities identified as “scientifically promising,” defined by high levels of academic achievement in science, examining intent to enroll and actual enrollment in postsecondary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.

Generally Javits-funded programs and projects must carry out one or more of the following:

  • Conduct scientifically based research on methods and techniques for identifying and teaching gifted and talented students and for using these programs and methods to serve all students.
  • Provide professional development for personnel involved in the education of gifted and talented students.
  • Establish and operate model projects and exemplary programs for serving gifted and talented students, including innovative methods of serving students whose needs may not be met by more traditional gifted and talented programs.
  • Implement innovative strategies, such as cooperative learning, peer tutoring, and service learning.
  • Provide technical assistance and information on how to serve gifted and talented students and, where appropriate, how to adapt these programs to serve all students.
  • Make materials and services available through state regional education service centers, higher education institutions, or other entities.
  • Provide challenging, high-level course work, disseminated through technologies (including distance learning), for students in schools or districts that would not otherwise have the resources for such course work.