Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu

What's new in special education

State guidance on co-teaching in integrated ENL classrooms

Topic Briefs About Integrated Co-teaching in the English as a New Language Classroom (NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, April 2024) is not your typical state guidance on an important and timely topic. In addition to defining co-teaching in an integrated ENL class is (a class with a certified English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher and a K-5 classroom teacher or 6-12 content area teacher co-delivering instruction with the intention of meeting both content and English language and literacy goals simultaneously), it clearly explains what it is not: an opportunity for the grade or content teacher to have a teaching assistant, translator, roaming teacher or someone who teaches skills or content not aligned with curricular goals for all students. The brief unequivocally states, “there is no co-teaching unless lessons are collaboratively planned and implemented” and clearly explains that co-teachers must be free to select pedagogical models based on instructional content, student needs and each co-teacher’s style of teaching, There are eight briefs in total, with one devoted exclusively to the role of school administrators. If you serve students with ENL needs, the briefs are definitely worth a look. 

Federal guidance on assistive technology requirements

The U.S. Department of Education recently issued guidance to increase understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA’s) assistive technology (AT) requirements, dispel common misconceptions regarding AT, and provide examples of AT devices and services for children with disabilities. Titled Myths and Facts Surrounding Assistive Technology Devices and Services, the guidance reminds educators and families that assistive technology must be considered any time the IEP team meets to develop, review, or revise a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Evidence shows that AT not only lowers the impact of disability for many students but also increases motivation and engagement.

Special Education Advisory Council report released

In December 2022, Chancellor Banks announced plans to convene a Special Education Advisory Council to "reimagine special education in NYC." The goals were to 1) support the design of a long-term vision for special education, 2) gather information on student and family experiences to inform planning, 3) make recommendations for improving special education, and, 4) build awareness of special education programs and services. The council released their report, Reimagining Special Education, in Jan. 2024.  

Guide on language to use when speaking about students with IEPs

In Jan. 2024, the DOE’s Office of Special Education announced the Inclusive & Interdependent Language Initiative and released Say This, Not This!, a glossary of terminology “designed to promote equity, interdependence, and belonging.” Recognizing that individuals with disabilities may prefer other terms and that regulatory language may differ from the glossary’s recommendations, the guide advises that the individual preference of the person with a disability should be honored.

NYSED issues new guidance regarding the right of English Language Learners (ELLs) who are students with disabilities to receive services under Part 154 and federal civil rights law. 

The new guidance is a “must-read” for school professionals who work with ELLs with disabilities. Among other issues, the guidance clarifies that: 1) there is no minimum period that must pass prior to evaluating a newly enrolled ELL for special education services, and 2) ELLs with disabilities may only be declassified from ELL status if the student scores at the Commanding level on the NYSESLAT or scores on the Expanding level on the NYSESLAT and attains a proficient score on the annual ELA exam. IEP teams have no role in the declassification decision and cannot exempt ELLs with disabilities from the NYSESLAT or from bilingual education or ENL programs.

Testing season is right around the corner

The New York State Education Department has updated the Guide on Test Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. The revised guidance addresses many new topics, including computer-based testing tools and accommodation features; the new science assessment for fifth-grade students who participate in the New York State Alternate Assessment; considerations involved in diagnostic testing and district-wide screenings; and student refusal to use accommodations and waiver requests. There is a lengthy set of questions and answers. Notably, the Q&A clarifies that a paper test is an available accommodation for students who are scheduled to take computerized assessments and that teachers cannot exercise discretion when administering test accommodations. The Q&A also provides a menu of instructional and assessment accommodations for physical education.