Wednesday, January 17, 2018

State School Accountability Systems: Education Commission of the States Iuuses 50 State Comparison Reports #school accountability

The United States Education Commission of the States has issued reports comparing the accountability systems of all of the states. The comparisons contain a wealth of valuable information and allow comparison of the approaches of the various states. The Commission said this about the comparisons:

ESSA offers states more authority over their accountability systems than they had under previous federal law. As a result, many states are transitioning from a system focused on assessments and graduation rates to one that incorporates a wider variety of measures of school quality. While each state must weigh the pros and cons of codifying its accountability system, many states’ current policies do not currently align with their ESSA plans.
This resource captures an important transition period in state accountability systems by providing a national overview of these systems as described in current state statute and regulation, where available, and in states’ ESSA plans (as of October 2017). 

You can read the 50 state comparison of current accountability systems here. You can read the 50 state comparison of state ESSA plans here. Individual state accountability profiles are available here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weekly Question!

As we begin 2018, what will be the biggest issue in special education law? #hot button

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Breaking: U S Commission on Civil Rights Issues Report on Inequities in Public School Funding #school funding

The United States Commission on Civil Rights has issued a new report concerning the inequities in public school funding. The conclusion of the report is that America's schools are profoundly unequal. 

Here are the recommendations of the Commission:
 We agree with the Equity and Excellence Commission that the federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools. 
 Congress should: 

 incentivize states to adopt equitable public school finance systems that provide meaningful educational opportunity, promote student achievement for all students, and close achievement gaps where they exist; 
 incentivize states to ensure adequate funding for students with disabilities, without incentivizing classifying students into special education 
 incentivize states to invest in facilities which can help to provide an equitable environment for students to achieve. 
 increase federal funding to supplement state funding with a goal to provide meaningful educational opportunity on an equitable basis to all students in the nation’s public schools; 
 promote the collection, monitoring, and evaluation of school spending data to determine how funds are most effectively spent to promote positive student outcomes; 
 develop mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of federal spending on enhancing student achievement and closing achievement gaps; and 
 Since the Supreme Court’s decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, a quality education has become even more mandatory for students to gain the skills necessary to work in the new global information age economy and it has become clear that some states and cities are continuing to discriminate against students of color in the funding of their schools. Congress should make clear that there is a federal right to a public education. 
 Federal, state, and local government should develop incentives to promote communities that are not racially segregated and do not have concentrated poverty, which in turn would positively impact segregation and concentrated poverty in public schools and the educational challenges associated with such schools. 

You can read the entire 158 page report here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weekly Question!

As we begin 2018, what will be the biggest issue in special education law? #hot button

Friday, January 5, 2018

My Summary of Caselaw 2015-2016 Is Now Available For Purchase #JG Outline

So listen: I only run about one ad per year.  I am planning on allowing a few tasteful ads on the blog in the future, but I have so far resisted the temptation to load up a ton of ads. The blog is a lot of work and I spend a lot of time posting what I hope is useful information, but I primarily mean it to be a public service. Our main goal in establishing this blog eleven years ago was to provide a discussion of special education law issues from an impartial perspective and to put special education stakeholders and practitioners in touch with other available resources. However, I am rethinking the ad policy and I would appreciate your thoughts.

Another purpose of the blog, however, is to inform people of the services I offer in the field of special education law.  I, therefore, o occasionally let readers know on these pages some of the resources and services that I make available. 

I have a legal update that I want you to buy.  Now available for purchase is a  350 page outline of the caselaw from courts and hearing officers that were issued in calendar years 2014-2015. This is the same legal update outline that I use when training hearing officers, mediators, complaint investigators, monitors, state department of education staff and other persons.  The outline has been successfully used by hundreds of people as a starting point for legal research on a topic of interest or an issue in a special ed case.  Lawyers, advocates, parents, school officials and other readers of this blog will find the outline to be an invaluable tool as a starting point for their research.  It does not cover every decision and I can only provide my take on the caselaw, but it is a very thorough legal update. I prepare one each year for the caselaw primarily from the two previous years, with a few classic oldies thrown in for context. 

The price of the outline is $299.00.  
If you are interested in purchasing the outline, please send me an email at and I will send you all of the details. 

There was a positive reaction to the summary of caselaw the last year on this blog.  I appreciate your feedback on this matter as well as the use of ads on the blog in general.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

School Choice, Private Schools and the Continuum of Alternative Placements #school choice

The readers of this blog are very smart. I could write on this topic for many days, but here is a very clear recent example:

We recently ran a post on OSEP non-regulatory guidance concerning the meaning of the Endrew F Supreme Court decision. One of our smart readers called to my attention that the OSEP guidance provides the following for Q & A 17:

"17. How does the Endrew F. decision impact placement decisions? 
Consistent with the decision in Endrew F., the Department continues to recognize that it is essential to make individualized determinations about what constitutes appropriate instruction and services for each child with a disability and the placement in which that instruction and those services can be provided to the child. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to educating children with disabilities. Rather, placement decisions must be individualized and made consistent with a child’s IEP. We note that placement in regular classes may not be the least restrictive placement for every child with a disability. The IDEA Part B regulations specify that each public agency must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements (including instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, placement in private schools, and instruction in hospitals and institutions) is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services." (emphasis added)

The federal regulations provide as follows: 
"§ 300.115 Continuum of alternative placements. (a) Each public agency must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. (b) The continuum required in paragraph (a) of this section must— (1) Include the alternative placements listed in the definition of special education under §300.38 (instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions);..."

As you can see the words "placement in private schools" are added to the OSEP guidance, but are not contained in the federal regulations. The statement by OSEP is not wrong, where an LEA cannot provide FAPE to a student in a public school, it may have to place the child in a private school. Given the current education policy debate around school choice however, you can see where this inclusion of these particular words beyond those in the regulation could cause some concern. 

Regarding school choice, here is  one of our posts on a GAO report calling for federal legislation requiring states to notify parents of students with disabilities about changes in special ed rights in voucher/choice programs. Here are two NPR stories on school choice policy issues. 

So what do you think is the addition of the words "placement in private schools" -a sinister and draconian policy decision, or merely a correct statement of the law or something in between, or something else? {I believe that this covers all possibilities, but if you have another description, I'd like to hear it.}

You can review the OSEP non-regulatory guidance on the Endrew F decision here.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Weekly Question!

The Endrew F decision has been around for a while now, is it making a difference for children with disabilities? #FAPE