SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Alaska meets the requirements of the federal special education law;
Data about school districts now available online


June 29, 2007

Alaska is one of nine states that have met the requirements and purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for students in grades K-12, federal officials said this month.

This is the first year the U.S. Department of Education has issued determination letters on states' implementation of the federal special education law. States are rated as meeting the requirements of IDEA, needing assistance, needing intervention, or needing substantial intervention.

"The federal determination for Alaska's special education programs reflects the diligent efforts of many people, within the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development and among our stakeholders, to do what's best for all our students," said Alaska Education Commissioner Roger Sampson. "This federal accolade speaks to the mission of the State Board of Education & Early Development, which is to ensure quality standards-based instruction to improve academic achievement for all students."

To make the statewide determinations, the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services reviewed states' five-year State Performance Plans, submitted in February 2007, and their Annual Performance Reports for federal fiscal year 2005, which correlates to the 2005-2006 school year.

Federal officials considered each state's compliance with the law, its timely corrections of noncompliance, and the accuracy of its data.

Under the 2004 revision of IDEA, each state is required to have a five-year State Performance Plan that evaluates its efforts to implement IDEA. The plan also describes how the state will improve its implementation of these programs. Each state also submits an Annual Performance Report detailing progress in meeting the targets in its State Performance Plan.

The performance plan covers indicators such as graduation and dropout rates, participation and performance in assessments, rates of suspension and expulsion, participation in regular classes, services for preschool children, parental involvement, racial and ethnic representation, a system of timely correction of noncompliance, and a system of satisfactorily handling complaints.

"The performance plan represents several years of work to determine the most important indicators of success in special education and to submit those measures to a process of continuous improvement, said Art Arnold, Alaska's Director of Special Education. "This process shows that Alaska is oriented toward good data collection and results for children across the state."

"This was an inclusive process. All levels of stakeholders were involved over a lengthy period of time," said Millie Ryan, Executive Director of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education.

Jerry Sjolander, Executive Director of Special Education at the Anchorage School District, said of the federal determination: "This is a confirmation that districts are aware of the requirements and willingly participating in the process to make certain that kids have better outcomes."

This year, for the first time, the public also can access online the data profiles for each Alaska school district, reporting how the districts fared in numerous indicators.


On the Web:

Data profiles for each Alaska school district

The State Performance Plan and the statewide Annual Performance Report

Information from the federal government about the determinations


Source of News:

Alaska Department of Education


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska