In Short

Education Department wants public help mapping the future of special education

By: - December 2, 2021 3:43 pm
Empty classroom with desks

Several new legislative proposals would require the state and school districts improve outcomes for students with disabilities. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The Oregon Education Department is writing a six-year plan to improve school results for students with disabilities, and it wants the public’s help.

Agency officials want to know how well public schools are preparing students with disabilities for life after high school, whether students with disabilities are being included in the same spaces as their peers without disabilities, how engaged families are in their student’s learning and how well students with disabilities are performing in key subject areas. 

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, all states must develop a plan every six years for improving equity and inclusion for students with disabilities. 

Oregon last produced its plan in 2014 and has annually reviewed progress against benchmarks.

Plans to update the plan last year were derailed by Covid-19, according to Eric Wells, director of the Education Department’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs.

The public can have its say at sessions scheduled for three Fridays in December, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Dec. 3 session will be around how well the state is preparing students with disabilities for life post-high school. On Dec. 10, the discussion will be around school inclusion for students with disabilities and how well families are engaged in their students’ learning and future planning. The last session, on Dec. 17, will be centered on student performance. 

Oregonians can register for each of the three sessions here and participate in several surveys here. Surveys must be submitted by Dec. 17.

The Education Department wants to hear from “anyone who is interested in special education within Oregon,” Wells wrote by email.“It is a public input session because every Oregonian has a stake in the vision we set for special education.”

Related coverage: Amid staff shortages, Oregon students with disabilities get short shrift

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Alex Baumhardt
Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post.