Thursday, April 30, 2015

ESEA Reauthorization: Tips on how the bill is organized with numbers and letters. Cliff notes #2

Reading legislation is made easier if you have an understanding of the form of outlining used.  With that knowledge you can more quickly grasp what is related to what. You can also determine what is a big idea and what is something pretty minor.  In this blog post, which is short, I will explain the general approach to outlining found in most federal legislation.

 One thing that makes reading a reauthorization to an existing law more complicated is that one of two approaches is followed in the amendment process.  The most reader-friendly approach  is to strike all of the old law and insert the new one. The amendment in such a case would only have to say "strike all of ESEA and insert the following:".  In such an approach parts of the old law may be retained but simply incorporated into a easily readable format along with new material.  The second approach is to refer in an amendment to a specific part of an existing law and say that the section is amended to read as follows. The second approach is more tedious, not as easy to read, and requires an expertise in legislative outlining to follow what is going on. In Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) the Senate reauthorization of  ESEA, the committee used both approaches to amendments.

 On pages 4 to 12 of the ECAA we find the table of contents for ESEA as amended by ECAA. There are nine titles in ESEA:

Title I:  Improving Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
Title II: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School
Title III: Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
Title IV: Safe and Healthy Students
Title V: Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity Through Innovation
Title VI: Flexibility and Accountability
VII:  Indian, Hawaiian Native, and Native Alaska Education
VIII: Impact Aid
IX: General Provisions

These nine titles are the big organizers for the ESEA.Think of them like major sections of a book or set of volumes on the same subject. Many titles have "parts" that are labeled with capital letters (A, B, C....), but some do not. A part can have "subparts".  Subparts are labeled with numbers.  Parts and subparts tend to be very big themes too. Within a part or subpart you have section numbers that begin with the title number. For example,  in ESEA the first section in title eight begins with section 8001, the purpose of title VIII that deals with Impact Aid ( i.e., funding for school districts that have a high concentration of military personnel and their families living in the districts).  Within a section you can have a subsection. Subsections are labeled with  small case letters.  Subsections contain paragraphs which are labeled with numbers. Subparagraphs within paragraphs are labeled with capital letters. Subparagraphs contain clauses that are labeled with lower case Roman numerals. If there are any subclauses these are labeled with upper case Roman numerals. This system could break down even further, but it usually doesn't, thank heaven. Below I give an example.

Title I
  Part A
      Subpart 1
      Subpart 2
           Section 1001
                 (a) (subsection)
                     (1) (paragraph)
                        (A) (subparagraph)
                            (i) (clause)
                                (I) (subclause)
              Section 1002

 If  a concept does not need to be broken down below a certain level then the the labeling process does not come into play. If you only have one provision at any level, the breakdown stops.  For example if you only have one point to make under a section, the lowercase letter process does not come into play. If you have two points to make under a paragraph you would use capital letters A and B and stop. Said another way, if you only have one point to make a a certain level, labeling is not triggered. If labeling is used, you must have at least two points to make at that level.

 So there you have it. Talk about tedious!

Common Grounder


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ESEA Reauthorization: Coordination Across Programs, How to Make It Real

The term “coordinate” is used 27 times in the Senate reauthorization bill, Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA), for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The term “coordinated” is used eight times in the reauthorization bill.  The term “coordination” is used 23 times. There are some strong assumptions underlying the use of coordinate and its derivatives. The most obvious one is this – vulnerable, at risk students, including those with disabilities, are most often served by multiple players both inside and out of the educational system that, unless asked to do so, do not coordinate with each other in meaningful ways.

In the absence of real coordination, we see redundant assessments, multiple plans being developed, endless meetings, an inefficient documentation process, divergent accountability systems, and mixed results.

Even with the good intentions underlying the frequent use of the word, “coordinate” and its derivatives in the Senate bill, I fear that not much will change because of the silos and politics at the local level. "Coordinate" is a vague term. Youcould do almost anything to comply – send an email, make a phone call, or include somebody in a meeting. Of course, if those involved in serving at risk and vulnerable children took the coordination provisions in ECAA seriously, they could devise ways to save time and money, reduce stress on parents and staff, and accomplish more. Although the U.S. Secretary of Education may opt to regulate on the term, I would recommend other options – with discretionary funds in ECAA, (1) establish websites where people can share effective approaches to coordination and (2) support one-stop shop demonstrations, where grantees have maximum flexibility as they experiment with family-friendly coordination.

Do these two ideas require amendments to ECAA when it reaches the Senate floor? No. But, amendments laying out how they would happen would make them more likely.

Thank you.

Common Grounder

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How About Some Cliff Notes on the ESEA Amendments? #1

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was originally enacted in 1965. It has been amended many times. The last time was when the No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2001. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have developed legislation to amend ESEA. The House bill, Student Success Act (H.R. 5) has been passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee (2/11/2015, 21 yeas, 16 nays), but has not yet been voted on by the full House. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities has shared its views with Chairman Kline and other members of the House Education and Workforce Committee 

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) recently completed work on its amendments to ESEA (4/16/15). The vote for it was bipartisan. All members of the Committee voted for it. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities has shared its views with Chairman Alexander and other members of the Senate HELP Committee

Both bills are a little over 600 pages, a daunting read. I read the Senate bill. I used the word "disabilities" as my search reference point. There are over 50 times "disabilities" is used in the Senate bill, Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA).

Below I give a brief description of references I identified. I give both page numbers and section citations to places in the Senate bill where the term disabilities is used 

Page 17 – sec. 1111(a)(1)(A). Under the basic state grant program, state grants must coordinate with other programs including IDEA.

Page 19 – sec. 1111(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I). Under the basic state grant program establishes peer review panels to assist in reviewing state plans which include individuals with knowledge of the needs of children with disabilities.

Page 30 – sec. 1111(b)(1)(E). States must adopt alternative academic achievement standards for children with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Page 36 - sec.1111(b)(2)(B)(vii)(II). Under the basic state grant program, the bill requires appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities in standardized testing situations.

Page 39 – sec. 1111(b)(2)(B)(ix). Under the basic state grant program, the bill requires states to have the ability to disaggregate data for reporting purposes.

Page 41 - sec. 1111(b)(2)(D). This provision in the bill gives the conditions that apply to the use of alternative assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, including limiting such assessments to no more than 1% of students being tested in a particular subject.

Page 47 – sec. 1111(b)(3)(A)(iii). This provision in the bill provides the categories of students covered under the statewide assessment requirements.

Page 58 – sec. 1111(c)(1)(D). In the bill if a state elects to use plan funds for multi-tiered systems of supports including behavioral interventions and supports, early intervening activities, or similar efforts by local education agencies it must coordinate with IDEA.

Page 71 - sec. 1111(d)(1)(C)(xi). The bill requires that a state report card include the number of students with significant cognitive disabilities and the percentage of these students who took alternative assessments.

Page 84 - sec. 1111(d)(8)(A)(i). The bill requires the Secretary's report card include data required by ECAA (this bill) and also IDEA with regard to students with disabilities.

Page 88 - sec. 1112(a)(1). This bill requires that local educational agency plans reflect coordination with the IDEA.

Page 93 - sec. 1112(b)(10). The bill requires that local education agency plans describe how they will coordinate with IDEA.

Page 94 - sec. 1112(b)(12). The bill requires that if an LEA elects to use plan funds for multi-tiered systems of supports including behavioral interventions and supports or early intervening activities, it must describe how it will coordinate with IDEA.

Page 96 - sec. 1112(c)(4). Under assurances in the bill, an LEA must ensure to coordinate services under its plan with services under IDEA.

Page 119 - sec. 1113(c)(2)(F)(iii)(II)(dd). In the bill if a school elects to develop a schoolwide plan, it must describe how it will coordinate with IDEA.

Page 121 - sec. 1113(c)(3)(B). In the bill under the schoolwide plan provisions funds must be used to supplement funds available from other sources, including IDEA funds.

Page 122 - sec. 1113(c)(4)(A). In the bill exemptions from regulatory or statutory provisions that may be developed and apply to schoolwide plans cannot apply with regard to IDEA  provisions.

Page 128 - sec. 1113(d)(3)(B)(i). In the bill children eligible to benefit under the Targeted Schools Assistance Program shall include students with disabilities.

Page 161 - sec. 1115(f ). In the bill under parent engagement and involvement requirements, accessibility is to be considered and addressed in dealing with parents or family members with disabilities.

Page 168 - sec.1201(2)(A). In the bill under  the provisions related to grants for statewide assessments, states may use funds to expand the accommodations they offer to students with disabilities during such tests.
Page 174 - sec. 1203(c)(1)(E). The bill requires that when developing demonstrations on statewide assessments, states will seek input from stakeholders representing students with disabilities.

Page 177 - sec. 1203(c)(2)(F). The bill requires that when developing demonstrations on statewide assessments, states must make alternative assessment available to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Page 180 - sec. 1203(d)(1). The bill requires the Secretary to implement a peer review process concerning state demonstrations related to statewide assessments that will include persons with knowledge of the needs of students with disabilities.

Page 231 - sec. 2101(c)(4)(B)(iv). The bill requires that when developing, expanding, or improving alternative routes to certification, states include consideration of acquiring teachers to teach students with disabilities.

Page 232 - sec. 2101(c)(4)(B)(v). The bill requires that when LEAs develop, improve or implement recruitment programs,  recruitment of teachers for students with disabilities should be included in such programs.

Page 244 - sec. 2102(b)(2)(B)(viii). In the bill for an LEA to get a subgrant under a state's recruitment grant, it must conduct a needs assessment which includes identifying schools with acute needs for teachers for students with disabilities.

Page 249 - sec. 2103(b)(3). In the bill LEAs may develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive evidence-based programs and activities. These shall include assessments involving students with disabilities.

Page 253 - sec. 2103(b)(3)(F). In the bill LEAs are given types of comprehensive evidence-based programs and activities they may elect to pursue. Students with disabilities are to be included within these efforts. Effective teaching of students with significant cognitive disabilities, effective use of behavioral supports, and participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments are specifically referenced among the the types of programs and activities.

Page 298 - sec. 2402(a)(2). The bill requires that State agencies that receive comprehensive literacy instruction grants shall students with disabilities.

Page 309 - sec. 2404(b)(1)(A). The bill requires that within-state eligible entities that elect to develop comprehensive literacy instruction plans serve students with disabilities.

Page 345 - sec. 3141(2). This provision in the bill includes a definition of an English language learner with a disability.

Page 367 - sec. 4105(a)(4)(J). Under the Healthy and Safe Students Program, through grants to LEAs, the bill allows grant funds to be used to develop and implement comprehensive positive behavioral supports programs that coordinate with those under IDEA.

Page 390 - sec. 5103(e)(2)(C)(i). Under charter schools provisions, the bill requires charter schools to comply with IDEA when serving students with disabilities and requires states to monitor compliance.

Page 415 - sec. 5105(b)(2)(D). The bill requires that entities applying to be charter schools describe how they plan to serve students with disabilities.

Page 419 - sec. 5105(b)(5)(C)(i). The bill includes a provision requiring charter schools to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Page 464 -  sec. 7111(c)(12). In the prekindergarten and and kindergarten provisions the bill references the provision of services to American Indian children with disabilities.

Page 538 - sec. 9101(31)(B)(xiv). These provisions in the bill describe a range of inservice training options that include giving teachers training in behavioral supports. 

Page 541 - sec. 9101(42)(A). This provision in the bill defines the term "specialized instructional support personnel" to include certain personnel covered under IDEA.

Page 587 - sec. 10002(????)(D). This provision in the bill addresses homeless children and youth with disabilities.

Page 590 - sec. 10002(?)(iii). This provision in the bill expresses that homeless children and youth with disabilities are entitled to services under IDEA.

I plan to write a series of posts on this bill. This is the first one.

Thank you.
Common Grounder