2013 was a tough time to eke out any news on special education at the federal level. Sure, there were the effects of the sequester cuts (and the prospect that those cuts may soon be alleviated), but Washington was not where special educators were looking in the past 12 months.
Instead, they were intensely interested in any news relating to the Common Core State Standards, judging by a look at the most-read blog entries for On Special Educaton Blog in 2013. A post noting that the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of the test-writing consortia, was seeking comment on proposed accommodations drew high readership, as did follow-up blog posts noting that PARCC had released a proposed accommodations and accessibility manual for students with disabilities, and that the organization adopted a final version of the manual in June.
A post on PowerUp WHAT WORKS, a federally-funded collaboration that offers common-core themed lesson plans for special education teachers, also drew attention, as did an entry on common-core resources compiled by PARCC.
Readers were also interested in classroom research: a study that found high-quality teaching for young students with autism was more important than a particular program got attention. So did a study from the What Works Clearinghouse that found that most postsecondary programs for students with disabilities have not been studied rigorously for effectiveness, and a report spelling out the poor graduation rates of students with learning disabilities.
Response to intervention also made its way onto readers’ radar, with a post on a University of Kentucky student’s doctoral research that outlined inconsistencies in RTI implementation.
The Education Department did make news that garnered reader attention this year; for example, when it released guidance saying that schools must provide equal access to athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, and when it asked for comment on a proposal to revise its monitoring focus to pay more attention to outcomes, not just procedural compliance.
Finally, this year marked the long-awaited fifth revision to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, which, among its changes, eliminated some subsets of autism such as Asperger’s Syndrome. And the American Association of School Administrators tried to make sure no one forgot the Individuals With Disabilities Act, through a proposal that would dramatically change due-process procedures. Will we see those changes come to pass in 2014? Stay tuned!
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.