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How Will the New Education Accountability Standards Affect My Child in New Jersey

March 14th, 2012

Ten states have been granted waivers to implement their own accountability systems rather than follow all of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act’s requirements. The NCLB mandates that schools educate children to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 or face tough sanctions. The states that recently had their waivers approved include New Jersey, Massachusetts, Indiana, Minnesota, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Other states are also working on their waivers.

The Obama Administration and the Department of Education will review a state’s application and grant a waiver if the state’s standards are higher than the NCLB mandates and can be realistically implemented. A state’s plan must still prepare students for higher education, careers, and increase achievement for low performing schools. Teacher and school administration evaluations are still critical to these plans being approved.

In New Jersey, the state’s Department of Education will launch the new accountability plan this coming September. Schools will be measured on absolute achievement of the new plan’s goals and growth. State funds will be focused on improving failing schools and those that have big achievement gaps. Students will also have greater school choice in under-performing districts. High achieving teachers will be rewarded and teachers who need help to increase their student’s results will get support.

The state’s DOE will revise its school Report Cards and publish them for public review. This will help parents and state officials identify the performance levels at a child’s school. All these efforts will emphasize effective lesson planning and teaching strategies for the student body, including students with special needs and English as a second language students.

Overview of new education accountability standards in New Jersey:

  • New accountability plan coming in September 2012
  • New Jersey schools to be graded on absolute achievement of the new plan’s goals and growth
  • State funds will improve failing schools and those with big achievement gaps
  • Students have more school choice in under-performing districts
  • High achieving teachers rewarded and those that need help to increase their student’s results will get support
  • Plans cover general student body, students with special needs, and ESL students
  • Concerned parents should contact a New Jersey special education advocate to discuss how the new plan can affect their child with special needs to ensure child’s IEP plan and supports are in place for the next school year

Parents who want to learn more about these changes and how it will affect their child should contact a special education advocate. To learn more about New York special education advocacy, visit or

Click here to read how you can get involved in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March.


Friday, March 9th is Family Advocacy Call-In Day

March 7th, 2012

NYSARC and CP of NYS have collaborated on March as Family Advocacy Month. The message is simple:

Funding is needed for additional services for people with developmental disabilities in New York State. According to the OPWDD, there is a waiting list across the state of more than 11,000 people. Please ask your assembly member and Senator to add funding for these much needed services.

It has become difficult to coordinate a single statewide Family Advocacy Day. This year, Family Advocacy events will be held throughout the state on different dates. Many types of events will be held throughout March including calls to legislators, letter writing campaigns and emails and visits to their district offices.

We are spreading the word about having families participate in the Alliance of Long Island Agencies “Family Advocacy Call-In Day” on Friday, March 9th, 2012.

  • To find your Assembly Member:
  • Call 518-455-4100 and ask for public information or
  • Click on the link:
  • To Find your State Senator:
    • Call 518-455-2800 and ask for public information or
    • Click on the link:

Action Needed:

  1. 1. Family members need to call their representatives
  2. 2. State their name and address
  3. 3. Read the message above or make a similar plea for additional services

For more information please visit or


What is the Current Status of the Blue Cross Class Action Lawsuit to Cover Autism Therapy?

March 1st, 2012

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that a class action lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan can proceed. The large insurer is being sued because they denied coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, a therapy utilized by individuals with autism. The insurer deems this therapy “experimental or investigative,” whereas the plaintiffs assert that there is substantial scientific and medical evidence on the benefits of this therapy. The plaintiffs are two parents that have sons with autism who need this therapy that the insurer continues to deny.

Blue Cross tried to appeal the class action certification order in late February. The plaintiffs have filed their case under the Employee

Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) back in December 2010. Beyond the standard damages they are seeking, the plaintiffs want to ensure that future coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis therapy will be available for all those that were denied coverage by Blue Cross or did not seek out this type of therapy, but needed it, because of the insurer’s policy. The case seeks to include all persons affected after Dec. 16, 2004 in regards to this type of therapy.

A similar case back in 2009, Johns v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, resulted in a settlement where Blue Cross reimbursed 100 families for this type of therapy.

What are the takeaways from the current Blue Cross class action lawsuit to cover autism therapy:

  • Circuit Court of Appeals has decided in favor of letting class action lawsuit proceed
  • Case will go back to the District Court Judge to read
  • Plaintiffs say Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is needed for children with autism and is supported by scientific and medical research whereas BCBS deems it “experimental”
  • Plaintiffs seek to have coverage for this type of therapy approved for future use by policyholders and be reimbursed for past expenses
  • Parents with questions about their BCBS coverage and therapies for special needs should contact an experienced special needs attorney to get access to benefits and services and learn more about the class action lawsuit.

Parents who are concerned about how this case could affect them should contact a special needs attorney. Individuals can learn about special needs planning and advocacy at

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