Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reauthorize Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]-- Comments Sought

Parents, advocates and school staff:

Please send comments on the need to reauthorize Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]. This is the basis of most special education plans, programming as well as building based services and accommodations.

Let your legislators know that you want this Act to stay in place to educate children with disabilities.


Improving Youths with Disabilities Outcomes for Postsecondary and Employment
John H. Hager, assistant secretary of the Office of SpecialEducation and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department ofEducation, is pleased to share with you an important message regarding a Notice of Proposed Priority and Definitions for Special Demonstration Programs-Model Demonstration Projects-Improving the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youths with Disabilities.

The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) called for states to set measurable targets for the progress of students with disabilities. Together with the No Child Left Behind Act, the IDEA is holding schools accountable for making sure students with disabilities achieve to high standards. We must ensure that all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, graduate from high school with theskills they need to successfully transition into post secondary education and the workforce.Youths with disabilities face significant challenges both in the school environment and in their transitions to adult life.National studies and reports have shown that, compared to their non-disabled peers, students with disabilities are less likely to receive a regular high school diploma; drop out twice as often; enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs at half the rate; and, up to two years after leaving high school, aboutfour in 10 youths with disabilities are employed as compared to six in 10 same-age out-of-school youths in the general population.

These and other related findings on the secondary and postsecondary outcomes of youths with disabilities have spurred federal and state efforts to improve transition policies and practices.Federal and state efforts to improve the postschool outcomes ofyouths with disabilities have resulted in some important gains over the past decade, including graduation rates, enrollment in postsecondary education and the number of youths entering theworkforce; however, despite these gains, far too many youths with disabilities continue to experience difficulties in achieving successful post-school outcomes. We are making progress, but we still have work to do.

Toward that end, I am excited to share with you the Federal Register notice inviting public comment on the Notice of Proposed Priority and Definitions under the Rehabilitation Services Administration's Special Demonstration Programs Model Demonstration Projects Improving the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youths With Disabilities. This priority is intended to improve the post-school and employment outcomes of youths with disabilities. We invite you to submit comments to help ensure that it does.

The NPP is open for public comment until Mar. 19, 2007.


John H. Hager
Assistant SecretaryOffice of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
U.S. Department of Education

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