My colleagues at Edweek.org have posted a first look at an article I wrote this week on special education compliance and the states. The print version of the story will be in the Nov. 19 issue of Education Week.
The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act in 2004 came with some new compliance mandates for states from the U.S. Department of Education. States must collect information from their districts on a variety of topics related to students with disabilities, including graduation and dropout rates, parent involvement, transition planning, settlements in due process cases, and others.
These topics are called “indicators,” and states collect the information annually. States also create improvement plans for themselves, called state performance plans, based on these indicators.
From the very first time I wrote about this issue in 2005, state special education officials were concerned that takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to collect this much data and report it to the government. That feeling hadn’t changed in 2007, when I revisited the issue. But based on the response they have received from government officials, that is unlikely to change. From my most recent article:
Although some state officials have complained that collecting the required data diverts time and money away from educating students with disabilities, federal officials have said plainly that they disagree. Collecting the information does not “in any way negatively impact outcomes for students with disabilities,” the department said in a “comments and analysis” document released after a different round of public comments that was held last year. In addition, the department said it does not plan to trim down any requirements. “We believe, in order for the ... process to demonstrate its full impact, it is important to maintain consistency and will, with some minor adjustments, retain the original indicators,” wrote federal education officials.
Blogger Jim Gerl has also written about this issue, from the perspective of a due process hearing officer and a special education consultant. An excerpt from his take on the issue: “I have always been amazed at the SPP indicators. I think that the current NCLB-inspired theory that everything can be reduced to data and measured or assessed has hit its odd high point here.”
If you’re interested in offering your comments to the U.S. Department of Education on this issue, you have until Nov. 21 to do so. Written comments should be addressed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: Education Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW., Room 10222, Washington, DC 20503.
The Education Department says commenters are also encouraged to submit responses electronically by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to (202) 395-6974. If you comment electronically, there’s no need to send in a paper copy of your comments.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.