NCSECS' Monthly Newsletter: February 2018

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February: Short on Days, but Full of Activity

February 15, 2018


NCSECS Hits the Road

On February 6, Executive Director Lauren Morando Rhim presented on a panel during a policy forum entitled “Increasing Equity through High-Quality Charter Schools: What Can We Learn from Research and Practice?” hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center at WestEd (MACC@WestEd). During the forum, national and state leaders discussed how high-quality charter schools can increase educational equity - highlighting current research, best practices, and MACC@WestEd’s forthcoming paper, which addresses the role of federal, state, and district policymakers in ensuring equity for all students.

Lauren hosted a standing-room only fireside chat on February 9 with Azure Angelov, co-author of "Charting the Course: Special Education in Charter Schools," for the Council for Exceptional Children's Special Education Convention in Tampa, Fl. They covered a broad range of issues about educating students with disabilities in autonomous charter schools and were joined by representatives from Paramount School of Excellence, who shared innovative practices leading to growth for students with disabilities.

Senior Fellow Paul O'Neill traveled to Vegas this week and partnered with NCSECS consultant Amy Trombetti to present best practices concerning enrollment of students with disabilities in charter schools as part of a year-long professional development series provided by NCSECS to Nevada schools and authorizers. 

On February 27, join NCSECS in Washington DC for a presentation of "Key Trends in Special Education in Charter Schools: A Secondary Analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection." A panel of policy stakeholders will discuss enrollment, placement, discipline, specialized schools, and more. Please RSVP on NCSECS' website.

Finally, NCSECS is excited to partner with UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute to build on the work of its seminal center on State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence-Based Practices (SISEP), supported by a new 5-year award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. More details to follow...


NCSECS in the News

“The billions of dollars in proposed cuts to the education budget is troubling, particularly when services and supports for students with disabilities are already significantly under-funded. We need to increase recruitment and training of teachers for students with disabilities and increase IDEA funding levels. The proposed budget cuts do neither. And while we are pleased to see that charter school programs are a priority, it is critical that any investments in school choice ensure that these programs support students with disabilities and rights conveyed by IDEA.”
- The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools,
on President Trump's Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2019.

A new report issued by American Civil Liberties Union finds that some Arizona school policies cap the enrollment of students with disabilities, an egregious violation of federal civil rights statutes. In her recent article on the 74, Rhim urged that both opponents and proponents of charter schools pay attention to the report's recommendations, which can help Arizona parents, charter school operators, charter school authorizers, and the Arizona Department of Education better serve students with disabilities.

In response to civil rights violations in Texas, O'Neill weighed in on federal oversight and enforcement by the Office of Civil Rights, specifically concerning the issue of discipline. His Education Post article highlights the necessity of oversight, particularly given states' mixed and often worrisome records of protecting rights, as well lopsided CRDC data showing that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school.


NCSECS Resources

NCSECS has identified several public charter schools across the country as exemplary “Centers of Excellence” and is documenting how each school uniquely leverages its autonomy to benefit students with disabilities. We are excited to share the profile of another "Center of Excellence," Indianapolis' Paramount School of Excellence. "Frameworks,” Paramount’s policy and instruction guide designed to support teachers’ practices, serves as the backbone for the school and distinctly reflects its commitment to truly inclusive, evidence-based practices. 

In case you missed it, check out our profile on Denver's Cole High School

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers and NCSECS recently published this Special Education Toolkit, which provides crucial, comprehensive guidance regarding how effective oversight can be leveraged to ensure the quality of education provided to students with disabilities in charter schools. It highlights best practices with the hopes that more authorizers will consider the needs of students with disabilities during each phase of the charter school lifecycle.


Field Updates

Selene Almazan Esq. of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), a NCSECS' Equity Coalition Partner, issued a response to the United States District Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District – highlighting that Endrew F. does in fact require a ‘new standard’ for determining progress on a child’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals and that such goals must be appropriately ambitious and challenging. 

Education Week's recent analysis of federal data indicates that leadership support may be especially important for special educators, who arguably have the highest turnover rate. The analysis underscores that teachers tend to experience a lack of support from principals, ignorance (and sometimes disrespect) about what they do from peers, and difficulty balancing competing priorities from various supervisors, which all detract from their mission: to teach and support students with disabilities.


Thank you for reading, and please join us in ongoing virtual conversations by following @NCSCES on Twitter and Instagram