Closing the Achievement Gap for Students with Disabilities

Presenter: Sue Zake, director and Wendy Stoica, assistant director, Office for Exceptional Children, Ohio Department of Education

Summary: Zake and Stoica discussed recent activities and resources aimed at helping districts raise student achievement and close the gaps for students with disabilities:

  • Zake said that educators of students with disabilities need to be a vital part of school improvement through the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP), which has a strong focus on the needs of students with disabilities
  • ODE has won a federal grant to study how teacher-based teams can improve instruction, teacher professional development, and parent and educator partnerships.
  • The Academic Content Standards – Extended are a first-time effort to explain learning standards for students with disabilities. These standards will work in conjunction with new Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities. Training for this assessment will be in two months.
  • Third Grade Reading Guarantee – A guidance document here explains that this new provision provides opportunities along with challenges for educators of students with disabilities.
  • Dyslexia Pilot Project – will identify students at risk and evaluate the effects of reading programs on these risk factors.
  • Age 14 Transition Planning – Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) written after Sept. 24, 2012, must address transition for children who are age 14 and must be updated annually.
  • Operating Standards for SWD – are being revised again and will be posted in early December for comments. Changes will be in effect July 1.
  • Discipline and IDEA – The new policy on Restraint and Seclusion will be presented to State Board in December. See for a related new resource.


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