By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the latest version of the largest federal law governing public education in the U.S., contains several key provisions important to students with learning disabilities (LD) and their parents. Understanding these opportunities is critical to maximizing the potential they hold for students with LD.
NCLB is intended to improve the academic achievement of all students attending the nation's public schools, with a particular focus on children of low-income families. As such, the Act's requirements regarding parental options apply to schools that accept federal grants under Title I of NCLB.
Recently, Candace Cortiella, founding director of The Advocacy Institute, and an expert on legislative issues that affect people with learning disabilities, talked about opportunities for supplemental services under NCLB.
A: Any school that is eligible for and accepts funds under any programs authorized by Title I of NCLB is a "Title I school" for purposes of the parental choice provisions of the law. Schools may receive grants to support targeted services for specific children or school-wide programs that include all children in the school. Parents can determine if their child's school is a "Title I school" by searching the Public Schools database supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics.
A: NCLB requires that schools make steady progress toward the ultimate goal of all students performing at a "proficient" level in reading, math, and science by the year 2014. This progress is defined as "adequate yearly progress," or AYP. Title I schools that do not achieve AYP for three or more consecutive years must notify parents and make available "supplemental educational services" to students from low-income families, including those with disabilities.
Supplemental educational services are additional academic instruction designed to increase the academic achievement of students in low-performing schools. Services may include tutoring, remediation, and other educational interventions. Services must be provided outside of the regular school day and must be aligned with the State's academic content standards. Eligibility for supplemental services is not dependent on whether the student is a member of a subgroup whose performance resulted in the school not making AYP.
States must provide a list of providers who are "approved" to provide such services and the parents select a provider from the list. States must insure that approved providers have a "demonstrated record of effectiveness in increasing the academic proficiency of students."
A: States must insure that eligible students with disabilities have access to supplemental educational services. Accommodations must be available, but not necessarily from each provider. If no provider is able to offer the supplemental services with the necessary accommodations, the school district must provide such services, with necessary accommodations, either directly or through a contract.
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