Effects on the Higher Education Community in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)

What IDEA'04 Says | Implications for Academic Programs | New Professional Development Grant

What IDEA'04 Says

This new law contains many changes for ASHA's school-based clinicians. It also contains a number of changes that ASHA's members in higher education may want to take note of. IDEA'04 eliminated the requirement that state education personnel standards meet the highest requirement for a profession or discipline in that state. Under IDEA'97, standards for school-based related services providers must have met the "highest requirement in the state" for a profession or discipline, although waivers were allowed on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis. This linked State education agency personnel standards with standards established by other state agencies or regulatory bodies such as state license boards. Under the new law, qualifications for related services personnel, including speech-language pathologists, must now be consistent with ANY state-approved or state-recognized certification, licensing, or other comparable requirement applicable to a specific professional discipline. The new law further stipulates that such personnel must not have had their certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis. The accompanying report language to the bill indicated concern that IDEA'97 had "established an unreasonable standard for State educational agencies to meet, and as a result, has led to a shortage of the availability of related services providers."

Reference: P.L.108-446, Title I, Part A, Section 602 Definitions, paragraph (26); Part B, Section 612, subparagraph (a)(14); and Part C, Section 635, subparagraph (a)(9)

Implications for Academic Programs and CSD Students

States that now waive certification or licensure requirements in school settings for related services personnel, including audiologists and speech-language pathologists, on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis can no longer use such a waiver. These states may act swiftly to modify their personnel standards so that related services providers who now meet emergency qualifications can be given a full credential. Other states who have tried to lower standards in the recent past for other reasons may also act quickly before the U.S. Department of Education regulations potentially restrict their options. Still other states will take no action because they believe that their standards are in the best interest of their school children.

CSD academic programs may notice new trends in their baccalaureate and/or graduate programs as a result of the changes in personnel standards. States may develop, expand, or accelerate the certification and credentialing of baccalaureate level CSD graduates to enable them to work in school settings. This may present new challenges and opportunities to CSD academic programs. Funding from federal and state sources may become available to enhance undergraduate programs. States may look to complete the education of school-based practitioners who are working under temporary, provisional, or emergency licenses. States may also look for innovative/non-traditional ways to enhance the supply of providers through distance learning programs, professional development partnerships between academic programs and school districts, and other methods for filling vacancies in shortage areas. Academic programs may notice that fewer undergraduate students continuing their education and opt to work in school districts that credential them.

New Professional Development Grant

The new law renames and revises the current Part D, Subpart 1, State Program Improvement Grants with a program called the State Personnel Preparation and Professional Development Grants. The law allows the Secretary of Education give priority in awarding these grants to States that: (1) have the greatest personnel shortages; or (2) demonstrate the greatest difficulty in meeting Part B requirements for personnel qualifications.

The grant requires state education agencies, in order to be considered for a grant, to: (1) establish a professional development partnership (PDP) with Local Education Associations (LEAs) and other State agencies involved in, or concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, including institutions of higher education and the State agencies responsible for administering IDEA Part C, child care, and vocational rehabilitation programs; and (2) work in partnership with other persons and organizations involved in and concerned with the education of children with disabilities.

For Part D, Subpart 1, State Personnel Development Grants, the law authorizes funding as "such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2005 through 2010". Appropriations for fiscal year 2005 amounted to $50,652,512.

The funding competition for this grant for fiscal year 2005 opened on March 4, 2005 and submissions were due to the U.S. Department of Education no later then May 17, 2005. For more information about eligibility, applications, and contact information go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/osepsig/applicant.html

Reference: P.L.108-446, Title I, Part D, Sections 651-655; for funding: Part D, Section 655

For Part D, Subpart 2, Personnel Preparation, Technical Assistance, Model Demonstration Projects, and Dissemination of Information, the law authorizes funding as "such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2005 through 2010". Except that the Secretary shall reserve $1 million in fiscal year 2005 and additional amounts in fiscal year 2006 to conduct and complete a study on ensuring accountability for students who are held to alternative achievement standards.

The law revises IDEA'97 provisions on technical assistance and demonstration projects to require such activities to be rooted in scientifically based research. IDEA'04 gives priority to applications that propose to: (1) serve teachers and school personnel directly in the school environment; or (2) strengthen the capacity of States and LEAs to improve instruction practices of personnel serving children with disabilities. The law directs the Secretary to support certain activities concerned with, among other things: (1) inappropriate behavior of students; (2) valid and reliable yearly progress assessments; (3) different learning styles of children with disabilities; and (4) effective transition to post-school settings.

IDEA'04 establishes two new education personnel training programs: (1) a beginning special educators program, which adds a fifth-year clinical learning opportunity; and (2) a program to assist general educators (including principals and administrators) in having the skills, knowledge, and leadership training to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

IDEA'04 reduces the focus of research in "high incidence" disabilities by eliminating the specific authorization for it. IDEA'04 does not prohibit the Secretary of Education from awarding grants to researchers of high incidence disabilities; it is no longer a priority area. High incidence disabilities research is an eligible activity in Part D. In addition, one of the duties of the new National Center for Special Education Research is to, "examine the education, developmental, and transitional needs of children with high incidence and low incidence disabilities." It is speculated that Congress wanted to shift the focus on high incidence disabilities to more high cost and complex disabilities; and that with the new and expanded early intervention efforts in IDEA '04 that the growth in "high incidence" disabilities, e.g. learning disabilities, will be slowed or reduced, further reducing the need to focus research on this area.

Grant applicants are directed to focus on the following priority: to increase the number and quality of personnel who are fully credentialed to serve children with disabilities, especially in areas of chronic shortage, by supporting projects that prepare special education, early intervention, and related services personnel at the associate, baccalaureate, master's and specialist levels. In order to be eligible under this priority, programs must provide training and support for students to complete, within the term of the project, a degree and/or State certification, professional license, or State endorsement in early intervention, special education or related services.

IDEA'04 contains nearly identical language to IDEA'97 regarding leadership preparation program and other programs for personnel development. The funds appropriated under this section may be used to prepare personnel, including related services personnel, at the graduate, doctoral and postdoctoral levers of training. IDEA'04 includes interdisciplinary training for various types of leadership personnel but adds an allowable activity that includes, "children with disabilities who are limited English proficient children."

The grant competitions for leadership and other personnel preparation grants for fiscal year 2005 opened on March 28, 2005 with applications due back to the Department of Education no later than May 9, 2005. For more information about this grant competition go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/osepprep/applicant.html#84325d

Reference: P.L.108-446, Title I, Part D, Section 667

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