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NASP Capitol Hill Update May 2006

What Is Happening With the Final IDEA 2004 Regulations?

Assistant Secretary John Hager recently announced that OSERS hopes to release the final IDEA Part B regulations and the proposed Part C regulations by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. Hager stated that the final regulations will closely follow the language in the new IDEA law, but that the public comments provided on the proposed regulations were also considered. A discussion of the public comments will be included with the final regulations. Alexa Posy, the newly appointed director of OSEP, recently announced that OSEP’s Annual Leadership Conference has been re-scheduled for August 28-30, 2006 and will focus on the final regulations.

Learning Disabilities Resource Toolkit: OSERS plans to release in early June 2006 a downloadable “RTI resource toolkit” to guide local and state agencies in implementing RTI procedures. The kit will contain a series of RTI white papers, Q & A’s, parent information, and PowerPoint presentations. OSERS has commissioned the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (www.nrcld.org) to develop the toolkit.

IDEA 2004 Web Resources:

IDEA 2004 final bill: http://edworkforce.house.gov/issues/108th/education/idea/

IDEA Partnership – NASP, along with 55 national organizations, participates in a variety of cross-stakeholder activities to build capacity of states, districts and schools to improve results for students with disabilities. See website for IDEA and NCLB news, extensive resources, and information on IDEA Partnership initiatives. www.ideapartnership.org

NASP’s IDEA Information webpage for IDEA 2004 information, news, and resources, legislative updates: http://nasponline.org/advocacy/IDEAinformation.html

NASP’s Legislative Alerts and Updates – join the NASP Span Listserv to receive periodic alerts and updates regarding major policy issues affecting school psychology. http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/SPAN_sub.html

What Are Key Issues in No Child Left Behind for Students With Disabilities?

2 Percent Flexibility for Gap Students: The new flexibility allows states to develop modified assessments for students with disabilities who can make significant progress, but may not reach grade-level achievement standards within the same time frame as other students. The proposed 2 percent option is in addition to the 1 percent of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are allowed to take alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. The student’s IEP team will decide how a student will participate in the state standards testing. The proposed regulations require the student’s IEP team to use objective evidence (e.g., from state assessments), based on multiple measures, and collected over a period of time to identify students who are eligible under the 2 percent option. See FAQ’s developed by Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, “Assessing Students With Disabilities: IDEA and NCLB Working Together,” http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/toolkit/idea-nclb.doc.
Growth Models Pilots: On February 21, Secretary Spellings announced additional details on the growth model pilot project -- which will allow 10 states to use a growth-based accountability program to meet NCLB accountability mandates. While continuing to meet the goals of No Child Left Behind, states participating in this pilot program are able to receive credit for student improvement over time by tracking individual student achievement from year to year. This approach will allow educators to align curriculum and instruction with standards and assessment to better meet the needs of individual children – including those with disabilities. 20 states have submitted proposals to the Department of Education. See Spellings’ press release at: http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2006/02/02222006.html

“Be a Part of the 1-Minute Solution”

NASP encourages you to move from being part of the discussions about “what’s wrong with education and school mental health” to becoming part of the solution about what can be done to improve services and supports for students, families, and school personnel. Visit the Advocacy Action Center at: http://capwiz.com/naspweb/home and send a letter to your congressman asking for their support on important legislative issues.

Current Federal Legislative Alerts:

  • Full-Funding of IDEA: IDEA authorizes congress to pay up to 40% of the expense of implementing IDEA. Currently, the federal share is 17.8% and in the President’s proposed budget this share is reduced to 17%.
  • Restore Funding for School Mental Health Programs: Funding would be completely eliminated for programs including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP), Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities State Grants, School Dropout Prevention, and Mental Health Integration in the Schools.
  • Keeping Families Together: Many lower and middle class families are forced to give up their children to the state in order for them to receive intensive mental health services. The “Keeping Families Together” legislation offers reasonable, low cost alternatives that allow families to stay together.
  • Children’s Mental Health Personnel Shortages: The shortage of school psychologists and other child mental health providers is addressed through proposals that seek to recruit new professionals through loan forgiveness, scholarships, and higher education grant programs.

Information on State Issues:

  • The 65% Solution: The 65% solution is a funding proposal suggesting that 65% of all educational expenditures be spent directly on the classroom. Many current proposals exclude the services of school mental health providers (school psychologists, guidance counselors) as being eligible within this formula.
  • Mental Health Screening: The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (2002) calls for the availability of “universal mental health screening” with parental involvement. Many states are introducing bills that address this screening. Some are consistent with the recommendations of the commission, while others add unnecessary requirements and promote the stigma of mental health.
  • NCSP Parity: NCSP parity is when school psychologists holding the NCSP receive a stipend for this accomplishment similar to teachers and administrators holding national board certification. NASP advocacy materials to assist states in achieving parity are available at: http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/NCSPstateinitiatives.html

U.S. Senate Briefing, “Removing Barriers to Learning: The Role of School Mental Health Providers:

NASP co-sponsored a Senate briefing on March 21, 2006 on school-based mental health services and their link to student success. Other co-sponsors included the American Counseling Association (ACA), American School Counselor Association (ASCA), School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Pete Domenici (R-NM). A panel of school-based mental health professionals addressed how they eliminate barriers to learning by helping students improve academic achievement, develop interpersonal and social/emotional skills, and prepare for positive postsecondary opportunities. NASP member and 2003 School Psychologist of the Year John Kelly participated on the panel and NASP President Bill Pfohl provided summation remarks. Samples of some of the briefing materials may be found on the Advocacy website at: http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/senatebriefing.html.