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Statement from John Hager re: release of IDEA regs

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  • Alpy2@aol.com
    August 18, 2006 Dear Colleague: Alexa Posny, Director of the Office of Special Education Programs, and I would like to inform you that on Aug. 3, 2006,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27, 2006
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      August 18, 2006

      Dear Colleague:

      Alexa Posny, Director of the Office of Special Education
      Programs, and I would like to inform you that on Aug. 3, 2006,
      Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the release of the Part
      B Final Regulations implementing the 2004 reauthorization of
      the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
      Secretary Spellings has made it her mission to see that the
      promises of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and IDEA become a
      reality in every state, school district and classroom in the
      country. She has been, and continues to be, a strong advocate
      for the alignment of NCLB and IDEA to ensure equal access to
      education and to promote educational excellence for all
      children throughout the nation. The official version of the
      Part B Final Regulations was published in the Federal Register
      on Aug. 14. A link to these regulations can be found on the
      Department's Web site at http://www.ed.gov/IDEA.

      As you know, President Bush signed the reauthorization of IDEA
      on Dec. 3, 2004. These amendments strengthened the federal
      effort to ensure that every child with a disability receives a
      high-quality, free, appropriate public education, designed to
      achieve the standards reflected in NCLB.

      Following the reauthorization of IDEA, the Office of Special
      Education and Rehabilitative Services held two series of public
      meetings across the country to solicit suggestions and ideas to
      help us develop proposed regulations and to gather public
      comments on our proposed regulations. We received thousands of
      e-mails and letters from your organizations, as well as from
      school administrators, teachers, parents and advocates. The
      comments addressed a range of topics. Overarching themes
      emerged around the implementation of IDEA and NCLB, including
      highly qualified teacher requirements, private school
      placements for children with disabilities and response-to-
      intervention models to identify children with specific learning
      disabilities.

      We made significant clarifications in the final regulations,
      based on these comments. However, we still have work to do. We
      are working on the Part C regulations and on responding to
      comments and making appropriate revisions to our plans for
      implementing the Pilot Programs for Paperwork Burden Reduction
      and Multi-Year IEPs. Still, the IDEA Part B Final Regulations
      were our biggest challenge and we are pleased to see them
      released.

      While the regulations may, at first, seem overwhelming, we have
      restructured them into three main sections to make them easier
      to use. We integrated virtually all requirements from the new
      law and applicable pre-existing regulations. We've assembled
      these materials using the same general order and structure as
      those of the IDEA itself. We believe this organization will be
      helpful, both in reading the regulations and in finding the
      direct link from a regulation to its corresponding requirement
      in the law.

      The bulk of the document, the preamble, is nearly 70 percent of
      the entire package. This section does two things. First, it
      summarizes the major changes in the final regulations from the
      proposed regulations that we published in June 2005. Second, it
      includes the Analysis of Comments and Changes that describes
      the Department's analysis of the more than 5,500 comments
      received. The second section is the actual text of the
      regulations. This part covers less than one-quarter of the
      entire package. These are the actual requirements for special
      education and related services for children with disabilities
      that apply to all states receiving IDEA Part B funding. The
      remainder of the regulations package is a series of appendices
      that provide tools for implementation and use of the
      regulations. In addition, we have posted Model Forms for IEPs,
      Procedural Safeguards Notices and Prior Written Notices on our
      website at http://www.ed.gov/IDEA. These forms describe
      the minimum content that is needed to comply with the
      regulatory requirements for these topics.

      With the release of these Part B Final Regulations, we are
      ready to make important shifts in our thinking. We are excited
      about moving from concerns with writing the regulations to
      seeing the regulations used as a vehicle to substantially
      improve services to all children. We see these new regulations
      resulting in better planning, more accountability, improved
      instruction and higher achievement.

      Alexa and I agree that these regulations create an opportunity
      for a paradigm shift that will allow us to begin articulating
      new approaches to identifying and teaching children with
      learning difficulties. In 2002, another revolutionary law, No
      Child Left Behind (NCLB), promised a quality education to all
      students, including students with disabilities. These statutes
      will work hand-in-hand to fulfill the promise of high
      achievement for all students.

      We are working closely to see that NCLB and IDEA align
      effectively to ensure equal access to education and to promote
      educational excellence for all children throughout the nation.
      As the report of the President's Commission on Excellence in
      Special Education noted in 2002, we must think of children with
      disabilities, first, as general education students.

      We look forward to working with you in supporting the
      implementation of these regulations in several ways. We have
      identified opportunities to provide technical assistance,
      including a comprehensive introduction of the regulations at
      the OSEP Leadership Conference at the end of this month,
      community-based meetings and regional meetings. In the coming
      weeks, you will hear more about the details of the community-
      based meetings. We encourage you to attend these meetings in
      order to become more familiar with the Part B Final
      Regulations. We will also have a video, topic briefs and other
      materials to further support you in providing assistance to
      your constituents. In addition, we are developing a curriculum
      that can be used at both the state and local levels to train
      providers, parents, advocates and other stakeholders.

      OSERS is taking additional steps to help with this effort. In
      April, we partnered with Henry Johnson, assistant secretary for
      elementary and secondary education, to develop the Tool Kit on
      Teaching and Assessing Students With Disabilities. This Tool
      Kit represents a collaborative effort between OSERS and OESE to
      assist states, local education agencies and parents in raising
      the achievement of all students with disabilities. We have
      already broadly disseminated the Tool Kit and we plan to
      continue to make copies available to anyone who requests one.
      Our initial audience included those in state-level leadership
      positions, chief state school officers, state directors of
      special education, and state assessment directors. Our Web site
      will be updated with materials, particularly for parents, as
      they become available.

      We appreciate the commitment and dedication of parents,
      educators, policymakers and others interested in improving the
      education of children with disabilities, and we look forward to
      continuing the work with our partners and stakeholders in
      fulfilling the promises of NCLB and IDEA for children with
      disabilities across the nation.

      For your benefit, we are including the link to the Department's
      fact sheet, Raising the Achievement of Students With
      Disabilities: New Ideas for IDEA, which accompanied the
      announcement of the Part B Final Regulations.

      Sincerely,
      John H. Hager

      --------------------------------------------------------------

      Links to:
      Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities
      http://www.osepideasthatwork.org/toolkit/index.asp

      Raising the Achievement of Students with Disabilities:
      New Ideas for IDEA
      http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/ideafactsheet.html

       
      Sandy, Illinois (alpy2@...)
      Volunteer Co-Webmaster, www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com (IDEA reauthorization)
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