The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 16: Education
Chapter 099: GENERAL POLICY
§ 2901. Success for all students in the general education environment
(a) Each local school district shall develop and maintain, in consultation with parents, a comprehensive system of education that is designed to result, to the extent appropriate, in all students succeeding in the general education environment. A comprehensive system of education includes a full range of services and accommodations that are needed by students in the district. These services could include a separate alternative program if the district finds that some of its students could be better served in an environment outside the classroom, or if the district finds that separate placement is the best way to provide services to a student who is having difficulty learning in a traditional school setting for educational, emotional, or personal reasons and thereby impairing the ability of the classroom teacher to provide high-quality services to that student or to other students. This chapter does not replace or expand entitlements created by federal law, nor is it the intent of this chapter to create a higher standard for maintaining a student in the general classroom than the standard created in the following federal laws: 20 U.S.C. chapter 33, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; 29 U.S.C. § 794, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and 42 U.S.C. chapter 126, Americans with Disabilities Act.
(c) No individual entitlement or private right of action is created by this section. (Added 1989, No. 230 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 1995, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1999, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 2009, No. 44, § 40, eff. May 21, 2009; 2017, No. 173 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 25, 2018.)
§ 2902. Tiered system of supports and educational support team
(a) Within each school district’s comprehensive system of educational services, each public school shall develop and maintain a tiered system of academic and behavioral supports for the purpose of providing all students with the opportunity to succeed or to be challenged in the general education environment. For each school it maintains, a school district board shall assign responsibility for developing and maintaining the tiered system of supports either to the superintendent pursuant to a contract entered into under section 267 of this title or to the school principal. The school shall provide all students a full and fair opportunity to access the system of supports and achieve educational success. The tiered system of supports shall, at a minimum, include an educational support team, instructional and behavioral interventions, and accommodations that are available as needed for any student who requires support beyond what can be provided in the general education classroom and may include intensive, individualized interventions for any student requiring a higher level of support.
(b) The tiered system of supports shall:
(1) be aligned as appropriate with the general education curriculum;
(2) be designed to enhance the ability of the general education system to meet the needs of all students;
(3) be designed to provide necessary supports promptly, regardless of an individual student’s eligibility for categorical programs;
(4) seek to identify and respond to students in need of support for emotional or behavioral challenges and to students in need of specialized, individualized behavior supports;
(5) provide all students with a continuum of evidence-based positive behavioral practices that promote social and emotional learning, including trauma-sensitive programming, that are both school-wide and focused on specific students or groups of students;
(6) promote collaboration with families, community supports, and the system of health and human services; and
(7) provide professional development, as needed, to support all staff in full implementation of the multi-tiered system of support.
(c) The educational support team for each public school in the district shall be composed of staff from a variety of teaching and support positions and shall:
(1) Determine which enrolled students require additional assistance to be successful in school or to complete secondary school based on indicators set forth in guidelines developed by the Secretary, such as academic progress, attendance, behavior, or poverty. The educational support team shall pay particular attention to students during times of academic or personal transition.
(2) Identify the classroom accommodations, remedial services, and other supports to be provided to the identified student.
(3) Assist teachers to plan for and provide services and accommodations to students in need of classroom supports or enrichment activities.
(4) Develop an individualized strategy, in collaboration with the student’s parents or legal guardian whenever possible, to assist the identified student to succeed in school and to complete his or her secondary education.
(5) Maintain a written record of its actions.
(d) No individual entitlement or private right of action is created by this section.
(e) The Secretary shall establish guidelines for teachers and administrators in following federal laws relating to provision of services for children with disabilities and the implementation of this section. The Secretary shall develop and provide to supervisory unions information to share with parents of children suspected of having a disability that describes the differences between the tiered system of academic and behavioral supports required under this section, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. chapter 33, including how and when school staff and parents of children having a suspected disability may request interventions and services under those entitlements.
(f) It is the intent of the General Assembly that a gifted and talented student shall be able to take advantage of services that an educational support team can provide. It is not the intent of the General Assembly that funding under chapter 101 of this title shall be available for a gifted and talented student unless the student has been otherwise determined to be a student for whom funding under that chapter is available.
(g) The tiered system of academic and behavioral supports required under this section shall not be used by a school district to deny a timely initial comprehensive special education evaluation for children suspected of having a disability. The Agency of Education shall adopt policies and procedures to ensure that a school district’s evaluation of a child suspected of having a disability is not denied because of implementation of the tiered system of academic and behavioral supports. The policies and procedures shall include:
(1) the definition of what level of progress is sufficient for a child to stop receiving instructional services and supports through the tiered system of academic and behavioral supports;
(2) guidance on how long children are to be served in each tier; and
(3) guidance on how a child’s progress is to be measured. (Added 1989, No. 230 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 1995, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 1997, No. 87 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1999, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 1999, No. 117 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2009, No. 44, § 40, eff. May 21, 2009; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 192, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2015, No. 48, § 5; 2017, No. 173 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. May 25, 2018.)
§ 2903. Preventing early school failure; reading instruction
(a) Statement of policy. The ability to read is critical to success in learning. Children who fail to read by the end of the first grade will likely fall further behind in school. The personal and economic costs of reading failure are enormous both while the student remains in school and long afterward. All students need to receive systematic reading instruction in the early grades from a teacher who is skilled in teaching reading through a variety of instructional strategies that take into account the different learning styles and language backgrounds of the students. Some students may require intensive supplemental instruction tailored to the unique difficulties encountered.
(b) Foundation for literacy. The State Board of Education, in collaboration with the Agency of Human Services, higher education, literacy organizations, and others, shall develop a plan for establishing a comprehensive system of services for early education in the first three grades to ensure that all students learn to read by the end of the third grade. The plan shall be updated at least once every five years following its initial submission in 1998.
(c) Reading instruction. A public school that offers instruction in grades one, two, or three shall provide highly effective, research-based reading instruction to all students. In addition, a school shall provide:
(1) supplemental reading instruction to any enrolled student in grade four whose reading proficiency falls below third grade reading expectations, as defined under subdivision 164(9) of this title;
(2) supplemental reading instruction to any enrolled student in grades 5-12 whose reading proficiency creates a barrier to the student’s success in school; and
(3) support and information to parents and legal guardians. (Added 1997, No. 60, § 9, eff. June 26, 1997; amended 2009, No. 44, § 40, eff. May 21, 2009.)
[Section 2903a repealed effective June 30, 2024.]
§ 2903a. Advisory Council on Literacy
(a) Creation. There is created the Advisory Council on Literacy. The Council shall advise the Agency of Education, the State Board of Education, and the General Assembly on how to improve proficiency outcomes in literacy for students in prekindergarten through grade 12 and how to sustain those outcomes.
(b) Membership. The Council shall be composed of the following 16 members:
(1) eight members who shall serve as ex officio members:
(A) the Secretary of Education or designee;
(B) a member of the Standards Board for Professional Educators who is knowledgeable in licensing requirements for teaching literacy, appointed by the Standards Board;
(C) the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;
(D) the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;
(E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators or designee;
(F) the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals’ Association or designee;
(G) the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and
(H) the Executive Director of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee; and
(2) eight members who shall serve two-year terms:
(A) a representative appointed by the Vermont Curriculum Leaders Association;
(B) three teachers appointed by the Vermont-National Education Association who teach literacy, one of whom shall be a special education literacy teacher and two of whom shall teach literacy to students in prekindergarten through grade three;
(C) three community members who have struggled with literacy proficiency or supported others who have struggled with literacy proficiency, one of whom shall be a high school student, appointed by the Agency of Education in consultation with the Vermont Family Network; and
(D) one member appointed by the Agency of Education who has expertise in working with students with dyslexia.
(c) Members with two-year terms.
(1) A member with a term limit shall serve a term of two years and until a successor is appointed. A term shall begin on January 1 of the year of appointment and run through December 31 of the last year of the term. Terms of these members shall be staggered so that not all terms expire at the same time.
(2) A vacancy created before the expiration of a term shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired portion of the term.
(3) A member with a term limit shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. A member appointed to fill a vacancy created before the expiration of a term shall not be deemed to have served a term for the purpose of this subdivision.
(d) Powers and duties. The Council shall advise the Agency of Education, the State Board of Education, and the General Assembly on how to improve proficiency outcomes in literacy for students in prekindergarten through grade 12 and how to sustain those outcomes and shall:
(1) advise the Agency of Education on how to:
(A) update section 2903 of this title;
(B) implement the statewide literacy plan required by section 2903 of this title and whether, based on its implementation, changes should be made to the plan; and
(C) maintain the statewide literacy plan;
(2) advise the Agency of Education on what services the Agency should provide to school districts to support implementation of the plan and on staffing levels and resources needed at the Agency to support the statewide effort to improve literacy;
(3) develop a plan for collecting literacy-related data that informs:
(A) literacy instructional practices;
(B) teacher professional development in the field of literacy;
(C) what proficiencies and other skills should be measured through literacy assessments and how those literacy assessments are incorporated into local assessment plans; and
(D) how to identify school progress in achieving literacy outcomes, including closing literacy gaps for students from historically underserved populations;
(4) recommend best practices for Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 literacy instruction within the multitiered system of supports required under section 2902 of this title to best improve and sustain literacy proficiency; and
(5) review literacy assessments and outcomes and provide ongoing advice as to how to continuously improve those outcomes and sustain that improvement.
(e) Report. Notwithstanding 2 V.S.A. § 20(d), annually on or before December 15, the Council shall submit a written report to the House and Senate Committees on Education with its findings, any recommendations for legislative action, and progress toward outcomes identified in this section. The report shall contain an executive summary, which shall not exceed two pages.
(1) The Secretary of Education shall call the first meeting of the Council to occur on or before August 1, 2021.
(2) The Council shall select a chair from among its members.
(3) A majority of the membership shall constitute a quorum.
(4) The Council shall meet not more than eight times per year.
(g) Assistance. The Council shall have the administrative, technical, and legal assistance of the Agency of Education.
(h) Compensation and reimbursement. Members of the Council shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement of expenses as permitted under 32 V.S.A. § 1010 for not more than eight meetings of the Council per year. (Added 2021, No. 28, § 5, eff. May 13, 2021; repealed on June 30, 2024 by 2021, No. 28, § 7.)
§ 2904. Reports
Annually, each superintendent shall report to the Secretary in a form prescribed by the Secretary, on the status of the educational support systems in each school in the supervisory union. The report shall describe the services and supports that are a part of the education support system, how they are funded, and how building the capacity of the educational support system has been addressed in the school action plans, and shall be in addition to the report required of the educational support team in subdivision 2902(c)(6) of this chapter. The superintendent’s report shall include a description and justification of how funds received due to Medicaid reimbursement under section 2959a of this title were used. (Added 1999, No. 117 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 2005, No. 54, § 14; 2009, No. 44, § 40, eff. May 21, 2009; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 193, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 2905. Repealed. 2021, No. 52, § 10, effective June 3, 2021.
§ 2906. Vermont Expanded Learning Opportunities Special Fund established
(a) As used in this section, “Expanded Learning Opportunity” means a structured program designed to serve prekindergarten through secondary school-age children and youth outside the school day and year on a regular basis, including before and after school and during the summer, by providing opportunities for personal, emotional, and academic growth for children and youth.
(b) There is established a Vermont Expanded Learning Opportunities Special Fund comprising grants, donations, and contributions from any private or public source. Monies in the Fund shall be available to the Agency for the purpose of increasing access to expanded learning opportunities throughout Vermont. The Commissioner of Finance and Management may draw warrants for disbursements from this Fund in anticipation of receipts. The Fund shall be administered pursuant to 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, except that interest earned and any remaining balance at the end of the fiscal year shall be retained and carried forward in the Fund. (Added 2015, No. 48, § 9, eff. June 3, 2015.)