News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Department Planning Special Ed. Initiative
The Department of Education is drafting a plan to reduce the number of students identified as needing special education services, Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley says.
Mr. Riley told the American Association of School Administrators on Sept. 18 that the department is in the early stages of creating a proposal to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation's main special education law. He declined to release details of the plan.
In an interview last week, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Judith E. Heumann said officials there had been discussing ways to insure that all students receive appropriate educational services early on. Also, training regular education teachers to teach with a diverse group of learners is an ongoing concern, she added.
--JOETTA L. SACK
Riley Reiterates Literacy Challenge
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley recently challenged educators to retool their states' approaches to teaching reading and renewed calls for a comprehensive national crusade to improve reading instruction.
"From Congress to colleges to classrooms, we can do more to help children to read," Mr. Riley told attendees at a Washington conference on reading research. The event was organized by the Department of Education's America Reads Challenge office, which was created in response to President Clinton's push to ensure that all children are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
Mr. Riley called for parents and others caring for young children to work to build literacy skills from birth. He also endorsed more effective programs for teaching children with special needs to read and more stringent standards for teacher preparation in reading instruction.
The Sept. 18 summit focused particularly on a National Research Council report, "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," that was released earlier this year. ("Reading Lessons," March 25, 1998.)
--KATHLEEN KENNEDY MANZO
Vol. 18, Issue 4, Page 20