The program had some early challenges.

Olmstead decision. In July 1999, the Supreme Court issued the Olmstead v. L.C. decision. The court’s decision in that case clearly challenged federal, state, and local governments to develop more opportunities for individuals with disabilities through more accessible systems of cost-effective community-based services. The Olmstead decision ensures that youth with disabilities who transition from school to adult life have increased opportunities for independent living by providing for noninstitutional options in care and services.

Challenges and Opportunities Facing American Muslim Youth

Goals 2000: Education America Act of 1994. This law established a new framework for the federal government to provide assistance to states for the reform of educational programs. It encourages the establishment of high standards for all children, including children with disabilities, and specifies eight national education goals for all children.

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NCAI’s Youth Commission offers youth ages 16-23 the opportunity to engage on National scale along-side tribal leaders to help address the issues facing Indian Country. Established in 1997, the NCAI Youth Commission has been a space for tribal youth to come together and discuss solutions to the unique challenges they face within their communities.

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Executed through public, private and charter high schools in , the Challenge encourages teens to create innovative ways to teach tolerance to elementary-aged children, as well as encounter new insights into these issues for themselves.

The contest winner in each contest city/region will receive a $5,000 college scholarship and become a published author!

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New Freedom Initiative. The Bush administration’s New Freedom Initiative’s goals are to increase access to assistive and universally designed technologies, expand educational opportunities, promote home ownership, integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce, expand transportation options, and promote full access to community life. This initiative specifically promotes full access to community life through the implementation of the Olmstead Supreme Court decision and Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.

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All states (or districts within states) have become engaged in the work of identifying content standards and setting performance standards for what students should know and be able to do (American Federation of Teachers, 2000). While these standards-setting efforts may not have initially considered students with disabilities (Thurlow, Ysseldyke, Gutman, & Geenen, 1998), as time has passed many states have reconsidered their standards in this light. This reconsideration occurred, if for no other reason, because the IDEA assessment requirements indicated that states would need to develop alternate assessments for those students who could not participate in general assessments. The alternate assessments, like the general assessments, were to be aligned to the state’s standards, a requirement reinforced by the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

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The current challenge is to integrate and align these transition requirements with other legislated requirements giving students with disabilities greater access to the general education curriculum and assessment systems. Several recent studies indicate that the implementation of transition service requirements has been too slow, with many states failing to achieve minimal levels of compliance (Hasazi, Furney, & DeStefano, 1999; Johnson & Sharpe, 2000; National Council on Disability, 2000). Areas of greatest noncompliance include having appropriate participants in IEP meetings, providing adequate notice of meetings, and providing a statement of needed services in students’ IEPs. These problems have been complicated further by state and local standards-based assessment systems that either fail to include students with disabilities or provide inadequate accommodations to support their participation.