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Contractor to Study Special Ed. in D.C.

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The District of Columbia school district, which has a checkered track record on serving students with disabilities, is taking an unusual step to try to reset its course.

Using $800,000 in money it got from the federal Race to the Top competition, the district is hiring the American Institutes of Research to study how students with disabilities are served in public and private schools in the district, to identify best practices, and to figure out what strategies and approaches can be scaled up. The hope, the district says, is to "create a common understanding of program quality among district stakeholders and a road map for expanding high-quality special education options for students."

The AIR's report is expected by January.

Most of the states that won Race to the Top money didn't put a particular emphasis on special education in their proposals to the U.S. Department of Education—although presumably states' plans to improve education would include students with disabilities. The 45,000-student district has set aside about $7.7 million of the four-year, $75 million grant for contracts.

The district has been sued over special education services in the past. Outsiders have been hired to improve efficiency, and students have been sent to private schools to best meet their needs.

Vol. 31, Issue 22, Page 4

Published in Print: February 29, 2012, as Contractor to Study Special Ed. in D.C.
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