Lawmakers should work to increase the number of special education teachers and establish consistency in the implementation of services when Congress meets next year to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a group of school principals says.

The recommendations are just two resulting from a task force of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The group composed of middle and high school principals, assistant principals and college-level educators came together beginning in 2007 to assess the current state of IDEA and recommend changes for the 2010 reauthorization.

The recommendations released this week are:

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• Help schools recruit and retain special education teachers.

• Boost opportunities for training and professional development for school staff working with students who have disabilities.

• Ensure that students have a transition plan with goals for life after high school by the time they are in the eighth grade or reach age 14.

• Research best practices for instruction and strategies to use with students who have various disabilities. Then, establish model individualized education plans (IEPs) and transition plans following these practices for school districts to base their own plans on.

• Create consistency across school districts so that student information can be easily transferred when a student moves to a new school.

• Improve year end evaluations so that IEP teams can better assess a student’s progress.

• Create incentives for highly qualified teachers to gain certification in special education as well as general education.

• Standardize language used across school districts to define a student’s disability and level of need.

• Fully fund IDEA.