Special ed overhaul faces BESE scrutiny next week

Article By: Will Sentell | August 5, 2014 | Originally Posted on theadvocate.com

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education next week will start the lengthy process of implementing a controversial law to give some special education students a new path to a traditional high school diploma, officials said Monday.

The measure, which emerged from the 2014 Legislature, was reviewed by the Special Education Advisory Panel, which advises BESE.

The committee includes parents of students with disabilities, educators and others.

Under current rules, most high school students with disabilities face the same standardized exams as their peers, which critics say poses a major roadblock to graduation.

Under the change, a special education student’s advisory team could hammer out an alternative route to graduation, regardless of how the student fares on traditional exams.

“This is a quantum leap forward for kids with disabilities,” said Mark Martin, a member of the panel.

However, officials said BESE and other officials face a huge task setting up the new system, including criteria the advisory teams will use in charting new paths to a high school diploma.

The initial work starts when BESE meets on Aug. 12-13.

The state has about 74,000 special education students.

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