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New California special ed standards announced, forthcoming

It wasn't that long ago that the state of special education in California was deemed to be so lacking in quality that national regulators declared it to be in need of intervention efforts by the federal government.

That was a dire pronouncement, indeed, and a clear indication from officials within the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that California's formal programs for special education students were comparatively deficient when measured with the initiatives of many other states.

The interventionist alarm bells didn't ring for long, though. As noted in a recent media article discussing new special education training standards for California teachers, the DOE declaration was withdrawn last year, when federal officials "issued a less dire finding" noting only that California special education is "in need of assistance."

By all indications (and owing in no small part to the fact that federal money is allocated to -- and sometimes withheld -- from state special ed programs), California regulators have responded energetically to the clarion calls for improvements.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has been a primary catalyst for change, with one of its directors noting that, "We have to be more effective in our teaching."

Enhanced effectiveness, the commission states, centrally means that general education teachers -- and not just special education instructors -- need to up their games in the classroom to better promote learning for children with disabilities. The commission recently announced a new requirement mandating that all future teachers must learn various techniques aimed at fostering learning for disabled students.

A second focus area is understandably on special education teachers, with new training standards slated to be released sometime next spring.

The bottom-line goal is obvious and unwavering, namely, the need to ensure that all teachers are well trained to work with disabled students and provide them with truly meaningful educational opportunities.

We will keep readers duly updated on the new standards as more detailed information emerges regarding their scope and specific provisions.

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