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State to miss out on new education program

An innovative method of teaching students who have cognitive disabilities will not be coming to Mississippi schools despite the Department of Education’s best efforts.

The University of Kansas Center for Research and the Mississippi State Department of Education had agreed on a $995,920 contract to bring the Dynamic Learning Maps program to Mississippi. On Tuesday, the Personal Service Contract Review Board denied approval for the deal.

The MDE issued a press release after the announcement that lists which students would be affected by the lack of a DLM program. The release states that students with significant cognitive disabilities must be assessed in accordance with state and federal law beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. The No Child Left Behind Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates students with disabilities be given a different style of assessment, the release states.

The MDE began examining programs that offered the newly required alternate assessment and eventually came to an agreement on a contract with the University of Kansas Research Center, according to the release. The Mississippi Board of Education approved the contract in October.

The DLM program is accessible for students with autism, hearing and visual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and other health issues. The entire system costs less than $100 per student, according to the release, which states the previous cost for caring for such a student was $375 on average.

State Director of Special Education Gretchen Cagle said in the release that teachers will be disappointed to see their students missing out on this unique educational opportunity.

“DLM is the only system of its kind that has been specifically designed for this population of students,” said Cagle in the release.

“Not only will our most vulnerable population of students be denied the opportunity to have a meaningful assessment, but state resources will be wasted,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright in the release.