March 26, 2004

In this Issue:

1. Department Awards $34.6 Million Contract to Develop and Operate World's Largest Education Database

Source: Dept. of Education, Press Releases - March 18, 2004

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a five-year, $34.6 million contract to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of Rockville, Md., along with its subcontractors, to develop and operate a new database system for the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). The ERIC database will use the latest search and retrieval methods to cull education literature and give high-quality access to educators, researchers, and the general public... With the new ERIC, individuals will be able to go to one Web site to search a comprehensive database of journal articles and document abstracts and descriptions and, for the first time, directly access full text. The database will include as much free full text as possible, and links will be provided to commercial sources so that individuals can purchase journal articles and other full text immediately. For additional information go to:

2. Notice of Intent To Establish an Advisory Committee on Head Start Accountability and Educational Performance Measures

Source: Federal Register - March 19, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 54)

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has determined that the establishment of an Advisory Committee on Head Start Accountability and Educational Performance Measures (the ``Committee'') is in the public interest in connection with supporting the school readiness of low-income children and overall effectiveness and purpose of the Federal Head Start program. The purpose of the Committee will be to help assess the progress in developing and implementing the Head Start National Reporting System (NRS) and provide recommendations for integrating the NRS with other on-going assessments of the effectiveness of the program. The Committee will work in coordination with the existing Technical Work Group (TWG) which helped develop the NRS, and make recommendations for how the NRS can be included in the broader assessment frame found in the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), the national Head Start Impact Study, Head Start's Performance Based Outcome System, and the ongoing evaluation of the Early Head Start program. For more information go to

3. Public Policy and the Shaping of Disability: Incidence Growth in Educational Autism

Source: Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12(11) - March 16, 2004

Autism has gained the attention of policy makers and public administrators in recent years. The surge in prevalence, in tandem with a growing social preference for community inclusion of individuals with disabilities, strains a variety of policy infrastructures. Autism and related disorders, which were first described in 1943, were originally thought to be extremely low incidence and usually coincident with mental retardation. In accordance with the disability policy paradigm of the era, public services for autism were provided predominantly in institutional settings. Since then, however, autism and related disorders have come to be understood as more common than was originally thought and more rarely associated with mental retardation. In this article, shift-share analysis is used to gain insight into how the growth in autism incidence is being differentially experienced and recorded within a single arena of policy across the United States. The challenges associated with a sudden growth in supply (that is the number of children with autism), while unique to autism in some respects, include aspects that are similar for other disabilities and in policy challenges in other arenas. Especially since the implementation of the Government Performance Results Act of 1996, there is increased pressure to create public policy infrastructures that are anchored by clearly cut categorical service delivery. If the categories themselves leave significant room for interpretation and their use actually has a shaping effect on the target population, then it is important to administration and policy evaluation to understand how the effect is playing out.

Citation: Baker, D. L., (2004, March 16). Public Policy and the Shaping of Disability: Incidence Growth in Educational Autism. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12(11).

To access the full text of this article online go to

4. Language Barriers to Health Care Access for Children with Special Health Care Needs Assessed

Source: MCH Alert - March 26, 2004

The study findings "illustrate the substantial effect that language can have on families of children whose needs for health care are greatest," state the authors of an article published in the March-April 2004 issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics. The article describes a study designed to (1) assess the prevalence of selected health care access characteristics by the language of interview, (2) isolate the effect of language on access, and (3) demonstrate the effect of language on access among Hispanic children with special health care needs (CSHCN). For more information go to

[Originally published in MCHAlert 2004 National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health and Georgetown University. Reprinted with permission.]