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Special Assessment By most accounts, D.C.’s special education system may take years to fix. But last week, schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and Special Education Director Anne Gay appeared on the verge of eradicating an ill that once appeared reform-immune: the backlog of students requiring special needs assessments and adjudication hearings. In a presentation last week before the Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees, Deputy Superintendent Elois Brooks reported that the assessment backlog has shrunk from 2,400 in 1998 to a mere 81—and that the number of cases in need of adjudication has fallen from 900 to 250. In practical terms, the numbers mean that students now wait just weeks, rather than years, for the assessments and hearings to determine their entry into special ed programs. “We worked all last summer, on weekends and evenings, to get this straightened out,” explains Brooks.