Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Impact of ADA, Perkins, and NCLB at Different Levels

De Nguyen
November 28, 2006

Americans with Disabilitis Act, Perkins, and No Child Left Behind are federal legislation programs that have a major impact on career and technical education. How these programs impact the K-12 school system, Regional Occupational Programs, Adult Schools, Community Colleges and Universities?

There are several federal legislation programs that impact career and technical education. The main three programs are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Perkins Act (Perkins) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These programs have also made an impact on primary, secondary and post-secondary levels of education. Each program has prompted significant change to the educational systems that we know today.
Americans with Disabilittis Act (ADA)
President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The determination of whether any particular condition is considered a disability is made on a case by case basis. Certain specific conditions are excluded as disabilities, such as current substance abusers and transsexuality.
ADA is divided into five titles. Title II of the ADA covers state funded schools such as universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers private colleges and vocational schools (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights 2006).
If a school receives federal dollars regardless of whether it is private or public it is also covered by the regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requiring schools to make their programs accessible to qualified students with disabilities.
A school may not discriminate on the basis of disability. It must insure that the programs it offers, including extracurricular activities, are accessible to students with disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act 2006). Title II of the ADA requires that all programs, services and activities of public entities comply with the ADA because public entities are considered instrumentalities of the government. Public entities must assure to individuals with disabilities access to all of their facilities’ programs, services and activities. Program accessibility means that, when viewed in its entirety, each program is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Program accessibility is not only for individuals with mobility impairments, but also for individuals with vision and hearing impairments. Thus, entity officials need to consider not only physical barriers such as doors, restrooms and sports fields, but also programmatic barriers such as accessible building signage, public telephones and alarms with visible signals.
Testing can be a great barrier for students with disabilities. Although each student’s disability is individual, under ADA, schools must establish a process for making testing possible, whether it be allowing extra time to complete a test or providing a distraction-free space, sign language interpreters, readers, or alternative test formats. These accommodations are made to enable individuals with disabilities to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter being tested.
By implementing ADA, students with disabilities now have equal access to the many educational privileges that at one time were near impossible.
The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Perkins) was originally authorized in 1984 and most recently reauthorized by President George H. W. Bush on August 12, 2006. It is the newest legislature of a series of federal career and technical education funding Acts. The purpose of Perkins is to develop more fully the academic, vocational, and technical skills of secondary and postsecondary students who elect to enroll in vocational and technical education programs by:
1) Building on the efforts of states and localities to develop challenging academic standards;
2) Promoting the development of services and activities that integrate academic, vocational, and technical instruction, and that link secondary and postsecondary education for participating vocational and technical education students;
3) Increasing state and locals flexibility in providing services and activities designed to develop, implement, and improve vocational and technical education, including tech-prep education; and
4) Disseminating national research, and providing professional development and technical assistance that will improve vocational and technical education programs, services, and activities (California Department of Education 2006).
Types of Activities Supported: State and local funds generally are to be used for the following types of activities:
Serving as a catalyst for change by driving program improvement
Developing a strong accountability system that ensures quality and results
Strengthening the integration of academic, career and technical education
Ensuring access to career and technical education for special populations, including students with disabilities
Purchasing equipment to ensure that the classrooms have the latest technology
Providing career guidance and academic counseling services
Providing professional development and technical assistance for teachers, counselors, and administrators
Supporting career and technical education student organizations
Current Perkins law allows for more state and local flexibility and raises expectations for students participating in career and technical education by holding them to the same high academic standards as all other students. States and localities are embracing the new accountability requirements of the 1998 Perkins law and are working to develop effective methods to improve programs and measure student progress and success (Association for Career and Technical Education 2006).
No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, commonly known as NCLB, is a United States federal law that reauthorizes a number of federal programs that aim to improve the performance of U.S.'s primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools, as well as providing parents more flexibility in choosing which schools their children will attend. Additionally, it promotes an increased focus on reading and re-authorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB is the latest federal legislation which enact the theories of standards-based education reform, formerly known as outcome-based education which is based on the belief that high expectations and setting of goals will result in success for all students.
The act was written with provisions for accountability. These provisions state that it must describe how it will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including those who are disadvantaged, achieve academic proficiency. It must produce annual state and school district report cards that inform parents and communities about state and school progress. Schools that do not make progress must provide supplemental services, such as free tutoring or after-school assistance; take corrective actions; and if still not making adequate yearly progress after five years, make dramatic changes to the way the school is run (U.S. Department of Education 2006).
Under NCLB, school districts have more local freedom. It will be possible for most school districts to transfer up to 50 percent of the federal formula grant funds they receive under the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants, Educational Technology, Innovative Programs, and Safe and Drug free School programs to any one of these programs, or to their Title I program, without separate approval. This allows districts to use funds for their particular needs, such as hiring new teachers, increasing teacher pay, and improving teacher training and professional development. Similarly, the law’s consolidation of bilingual education programs gives states and districts more control in planning programs to benefit all limited English proficient students.
A new demonstration program allows selected states and school districts to consolidate funds received under a variety of federal education programs so that they an be used for any educational purpose authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the NCLB Act in order to assist them in making adequate yearly progress and narrowing achievement gaps. In addition, the new Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program gives states and districts greater flexibility to choose the teacher professional development strategies that best meet their needs to help raise student achievement.
NCLB puts special emphasis on determining what educational programs and practices have been proven effective through rigorous scientific research. Federal funding is targeted to support these programs and teaching methods that work to improve student learning and achievement.
Reading programs are an example. NCLB supports scientifically based reading instruction programs in the early grades under the new Reading First program and in preschool under the new Early Reading First program. Funds are available to help teachers strengthen current skills and gain new ones in effective reading instructional techniques (U.S. Department of Education 2006).

Americans with Disabilities Act (2006). Retrieved on November 16, 2006 from
Association for Career and Technical Education (2006). Carl D. Perkins Act – Background. Retrieved on November 16, 2006 from http://www.acteonline.org/policy/legislative_issues/Perkins_background.cfm.
California Department of Education (2006). Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998. Retrieved on November 20, 2006 from http://www.cde.ca.gov/perkins.
Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (2006). ADA Q & A: Section 504 & Postsecondary Education. Retrieved on November 16, 2006 from http://www.pacer.org/pride/504.htm.
U.S. Department of Education (2006). No Child Left Behind. Retrieved November 20, 2006 from http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml.

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