Special Education

IDEA Rules Await White House Review, State Special Ed. Officials Told

By Christina A. Samuels — November 01, 2005 4 min read

The U.S. Department of Education is following its own internal timetable for completing final regulations for the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, but the final approval of the rules may be bogged down in a bureaucratic logjam at the White House budget office, a federal education official told state special education administrators here last week.

John H. Hager, the assistant secretary in charge of the Education Department’s office of special education and rehabilitative services, said that the White House Office of Management and Budget is focused on preparing the fiscal 2007 federal budget proposal and dealing with hurricane-related issues. Those concerns, he said, have bumped the required OMB review of the special education rules to a lower priority.

BRIC ARCHIVE

“Our goal is to have them done at the end of the year, although we’ve got this little agency called OMB to deal with, and they’ll probably slow us down in the end,” Mr. Hager told the annual convention of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education here on Oct. 25.

The OMB reviews all proposed federal regulations. The IDEA rules expand on such issues within the special education law as highly qualified teachers for special education students and due-process procedures. (“Ed. Dept. Seeks Comment on IDEA Rules,” June 22, 2005.)

A separate OMB review has also delayed the Education Department’s final regulations related to testing flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act for special education students.

The department in April informally gave states the option of testing as many as 2 percent of their students by using alternate assessments based on modified standards. The flexibility is intended to provide an option for students who can make progress toward grade-level standards but may not reach them at the same time as their peers.

That flexibility is separate from another department policy that allows 1 percent of students—those with severe cognitive disabilities—to take alternative assessments and be counted as proficient under the No Child Left Behind law. Together, the policies affect about 30 percent of students with disabilities.

Such provisions are significant because schools must show that students with disabilities and other key subgroups, not just students overall, are making adequate yearly academic progress to comply with the NCLB law.

“The timing is something that has been frustrating,” Mr. Hager said about the 2 percent flexibility regulations.

“I would have thought it’d be out by now,” Mr. Hager added, offering an estimate of another six to eight weeks for the rules on testing flexibility under NCLB.

After his session, however, Mr. Hager said that he understood the workload issues of the White House budget office.

“I’ve learned to be much more mellow. I’ve become much more understanding,” he said. “After a certain point, it’s out of our hands.”

‘Response to Intervention’

The meeting here brought together education officials from as far away as Hawaii and the Federated States of Micronesia, a United Nations trust territory under U.S. administration in the North Pacific. Attendees also heard presentations on the challenges of working with youths who have disabilities and who are homeless, in the child-welfare system, or in jail; a national technology standard that is intended to get school materials more quickly to students who are blind; and the work of the special education directors’ group with states to ensure that charter schools are serving students with special needs.

The best-attended session was on “response to intervention,” an instructional method that was written into the 2004 version of the IDEA. Instead of waiting for a child to fall far behind his or her classmates academically before entering the special education system, schools are encouraged by the law to try different instructional approaches.

Finding Time, Money

Though response to intervention is not a new idea for teaching students, it is still different from what some states and districts have done in the past. Finding the time, money, and expertise to put a useful RTI program in place is a challenge, some directors said during small-group sessions.

But response to intervention “is not about diagnosing children with specific learning disabilities. RTI is about improving instruction,” said W. David Tilly, a presenter and the coordinator of assessment services for the Heartland Area Education Agency, based in Johnston, Iowa, in a comment that drew applause. The agency provides educational support to 55 Iowa school districts.

The point of response to intervention, he said, is to bring together special education and general education in a way that benefits all students. “RTI is not just a special education approach,” Mr. Tilly said.

“Our goal is to have [the IDEA rules] done at the end of the year, although we’ve got this little agency called OMB to deal with. ...”

A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as IDEA Rules Await White House Review, State Special Ed. Officials Told

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education The Challenge of Teaching Students With Visual Disabilities From Afar
Teachers of students with visual disabilities struggle to provide 3-D instruction in a two-dimensional remote learning environment.
Katie Livingstone
5 min read
Neal McKenzie
Neal McKenzie, an assistive technology specialist, works with a student who has a visual impairment in Sonoma County, Calif.<br/>
Courtesy Photo
Special Education 'They Already Feel Like Bad Students.' A Special Educator Reflects on Virtual Teaching
In a year of remote teaching, a high school special ed teacher has seen some of his students struggle and some thrive.
4 min read
Tray Robinson, a special education teacher, sits for a photo at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos, Calif., on April 21, 2021.
Tray Robinson, a special education teacher, says remote learning has provided new ways for some of his students to soar, and has made others want to quit.
Sarahbeth Maney for Education Week
Special Education What the Research Says Gifted Education Comes Up Short for Low-Income and Black Students
Wildly disparate gifted education programs can give a minor boost in reading, but the benefits mainly accrue to wealthy and white students.
8 min read
Silhouette of group of students with data overlay.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Special Education What the Research Says Most Students With Disabilities Still Attend Remotely. Teachers Say They're Falling Behind
A new survey finds that students with disabilities are struggling in virtual classes, even with added support from teachers.
3 min read
Image shows a young femal student working on a computer from phone, interfacing with an adult female.
Getty