January 8, 2004

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Vol. 23, Issue 17
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States are confronting how to help a diverse population meet the same standards expected of all.
Federal law demands that schools teach the same content to children they wrote off a quarter-century ago.
Teachers agree in principle that students with disabilities should be taught to high standards, but their opinions stand in stark contrast to the more concrete policies embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as revised in 1997, according to an Education Week poll.
With African-American students showing up in classrooms for children with mental retardation at 3.3 times the rate of white students, it was obvious in 1997 that Alabama had an equity problem with its special education programs. Ordered by a federal court that year to fix it, the state set to work.
Special education students succeed with a general education curriculum.
Special education classes have permanently closed shop at James Russell Lowell Elementary School.
Collaborative teaching, a resourceful approach to main streaming, is a keystone of this school's plan to raise the achievement of special education students and move them into the era of state standards-based education.
The assignment looks simple for an 11th grader: Learn to use a weekly planner to write down homework assignments, with common abbreviations and teachers' shorthand. But this special education class, dubbed "Strategies for Success," may give the four Cabrillo High School students and their peers here the boost they need to perform well on state tests--and earn high school diplomas.
Each weekday at W.G. Pearson Elementary School kicks off with more than two hours of reading instruction and activities. Pupils in kindergarten through 5th grade begin with basic word skills, work on spelling and vocabulary, take part in group- and individual-reading activities, and delve into frequent writing tasks.
Under orders to test every student with a disability, states are pondering how to do so fairly and accurately.
School never came easy to Jennifer Hunt. She needed extra time to write clearly and understand words on the page, but those hurdles never tripped up her ambition. Despite coping with the disorder known as aphasia, the Indianapolis native resolved early on that she would make it to college, and eventually, to a career in physical therapy.
Tailored for children with autism, the Princeton House Charter School in center-city Orlando is exempt from the A-to-F state system of school grading that strikes fear in so many Florida educators' hearts. But don't think Carol Tucker is unaccountable for results.
Florida’s one-of-a-kind voucher program for children with disabilities does not require participating private schools to give standardized tests. Ask Jay P. Greene if that should change, and he says he's of two minds.
Teaching students with disabilities to high standards will depend on the skills of their teachers.
States must deal with demands of higher academic standards and increasingly severe disabilities.
State strategies for financing special education are almost as diverse as the populations the programs are meant to serve. Moreover, the amount and sources of money provided for special education vary greatly from state to state.
States are making great strides in including students with disabilities in their standards-based systems.
Students with disabilities often take state tests with accommodations, such as extra time, so that the exams more accurately measure what they know and can do.
One of the most daunting challenges Hawaii has faced in the 10-year effort to overhaul its special education system is finding enough adequately trained teachers to meet students’ needs.
Federal law requires states to provide "alternate assessments" for students with disabilities who cannot take regular state tests, even with accommodations. But the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides few details about how such measures should look. The result is a wide variety of approaches.
States have added a wealth of data to report cards, giving the public a better idea of the state of education.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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