The Washington State Department of Education is reviewing whether to adopt new guidelines on how schools should evaluate students, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The department is reviewing “whether to adopt” a set of guidelines, which are expected to be released in the coming months, one of the sources said, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The Department of Justice, which oversees the Education Department, is also considering how schools might approach students with disabilities, according the source.
A Department of State spokesman declined to comment.
One source familiar with education policy told The Washington Times that the department is considering creating a separate policy on students with disability to better align federal oversight of schools with state policies.
The sources, who asked not to be identified because the department was discussing internal deliberations, said that while the department has a longstanding commitment to ensuring equal opportunity, its current policies do not fully comply with federal law.
The guidelines are the result of months of intense scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services, which in June released a report criticizing schools for failing to treat students with physical disabilities fairly.
The report detailed a variety of systemic failures, including a lack of training and guidance for educators, an inadequate response to bullying and other bullying incidents, and inadequate oversight of the school’s policies and practices.
“It’s not just about education.
It’s about kids.
They need to have equal opportunity to learn,” one of two officials who spoke to The Washington Sun said.
The report also found schools that use race as a factor to rank students on standardized tests are more likely to drop out of high school, and that students with special needs are more at risk of leaving school early because they are more difficult to accommodate and integrate into their communities.
In the past, the department had required schools to consider race in evaluating students with autism and other disabilities, but that rule was eliminated in 2017.
At least one school district in Oregon recently announced it was discontinuing its use of race as an element in the placement of students with learning disabilities.
The district said that although its policies and procedures had been “inherently designed” to make accommodations for students with intellectual disabilities, that does not always happen.
“In these challenging times, it is not feasible for every school district to consistently comply with all of our state and federal laws,” the school district’s chief operating officer, Tim DeMarco, wrote in a statement.
“As a result, we are reevaluating our policies and processes in the light of recent news about the impact of bullying on students of color, particularly with regard to the integration of students who may be identified as having intellectual disabilities.”
A spokesman for the Oregon Department of Administration said the department would review the department’s guidelines and consider their impact.