"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Abusing Special Education Students

When NCLB passed in 2002 one of its provisions was supposed to prevent academically disabled children from "falling behind." Since that time about 90% of all special education students have been required to pass standardized high-stakes tests at the same rate that other students. Millions of special education students have suffered the humiliation of repeated failures over the last 5 years. Nothing in the law provides the help or strategies needed to make it possible for these students to pass "the test."

Recently, Margaret Spellings, the US DOE Secretary of Education, has finally acknowledged how insane this is by reducing the number of special education students who will have to pass the high-stakes tests to 70%.

So, instead of most of 90% of students who are enrolled in special education programs across the country failing once again, we will have most of 70% of students who are enrolled in special education programs across the country failing again.

What seems to be missing from the NCLB formula is that students are in special education for a reason. If a 6th grade child is reading at a 2nd grade level does it make sense to test him on a 6th grade reading test? If the child is a special education student the tests have already been done and the child has been placed in a program where he can achieve at his own level at his own pace. The standardized high-stakes tests will do nothing more than affirm that he is, indeed, learning disabled.

It's time to take back the IEPs. Instead of writing education plans which call for a futile attempt to get kids to pass a test, let's write IEPs which identify a student's weaknesses, instruct that child at a level at which he can learn, and measure his growth.

Screw the tests...

1 comment:

sbloom24 said...

And don't forget the other aspect... because the stakes are so high, some teachers cheat/help the students through parts of the test (or the opposite, in order to screw the teacher from the year before). Good thing we have all these competent folks educating our at-risk kids... the ones who need the highest quality teachers!