Some interesting legal rulings have come across my desk.
One is from Ed Week that 529 Plan Savings can be used to pay for college courses taken in high school.
As long as students are getting college-level credit and are enrolled
as students at a college, there is no age requirement about when
families can start using savings from their 529 plans, according to
Joseph Hurley, founder of Savingforcollege.com in Pittsfield, N.Y.
"This is an expanding area as parents look for ways to deal with higher college costs," says Hurley.
Dual- or concurrent-enrollment courses are now offered in nearly 48
states (with Maryland and Vermont recently coming on board), and the
majority have students pay a portion of the tuition, says Adam Lowe,
executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Using 529 plan money for dual enrollment can be helpful, as federal
financial aid, including Pell Grants and Stafford loans, are not
available to students unless they have a high school diploma or
equivalency, he adds.
If you are in the Washington State GET program, you might check into this. There may be penalties for using this money. More info on this story from US News.
Also from Ed Week, the state of Hawaii lost a case trying to restrict special education to students 20 and younger.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act generally
requires states to provide a free, appropriate public education to
students with disabilities from age 3 to 21, inclusive. But the federal
law provides an exception for ages 3 through 5 and 18 through 21 when a
state law or practice limits education services for those age groups.
Hawaii did pass a law to restrict students from attending public school after age 20 and applied to special ed students as well. But, because Hawaii provides a "general secondary education diploma" for adults, federal law says they then have to continue to provide special ed services to those students even if they are over 20.
"The [Hawaii education department] offers, at taxpayer expense, the
opportunity for nondisabled 20- and 21-year-olds to complete their
secondary educations and earn high school diplomas," the 9th Circuit
court said. Therefore, providing special education services to students
with disabilities of those ages be would consistent with the IDEA's
language about "state law or practice ... respecting the provision of
public education," the court added, "so the state must do so."
The issue of teacher evaluation continues its climb up the ladder of big deal issues to Secretary Duncan. Today the DOE put out more requirements for states with NCLB waivers to keep those waivers.
To get a two-year extension of their waivers, states must reaffirm
their commitment to college- and career-ready standards and tests, and
to implementing differentiated accountability systems that focus on
closing achievement gaps, according to new state guidance issued today.
States getting a waiver renewal must also continue implementing new
teacher-evaluation systems by the 2014-15 school year—but the waiver
renewals would take these requirements a step further. States must, by
October 2015, use teacher-evaluation data to ensure that poor and
minority students are not taught by ineffective teachers at a higher
rate than their peers. This issue of teacher distribution is a very
important one to civil rights groups.
What's more, under a renewal, states and districts must improve the
use of Title II funds for professional development, with a requirement
that districts spend the money on "evidence-based" programs and link
them to new college- and career-ready standards. (Importantly,
"evidence-based" is not defined.)