Update: from the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet on this story:
How well special education students perform on a test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, will be one of the factors considered. This marks the first time that NAEP scores have been attached to any education policy that has potential consequences; the Education Department could withhold federal funds to states that don’t comply with the new special education regulations, though officials there said that is not something they want to do. But NAEP, a test given every two years to a nationally representative sampling of students, wasn’t designed for this purpose. When asked by reporters about whether using NAEP for this purpose was turning it into a high-stakes test, Duncan said, “I wouldn’t call it high stakes.” He said his department was using NAEP because, however “imperfect,” it was the “only accurate measurement we have.”
Well, shades of MAP, imagine using a test for a purpose it was not designed for.
end of update
An interesting collection of statements from Arne Duncan came out as he issued new regulations on how schools are to serve Special Education students. From NPR:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced what he calls "a major
shift" in how the government evaluates the effectiveness of federally
funded special education programs.
"It's not enough for a state
to be compliant if students can't read or do math," Duncan said. "We
must have a system that will do more than just measure compliance."
latest government figures show that the dropout rate for students with
disabilities is twice that for nondisabled students. Two-thirds of
students with disabilities are performing well below grade level in
reading and math. By the eighth grade, that figure rises to 90 percent.
Apparently creating an IEP (individualized education plan) will no longer be enough. Duncan is saying that it isn't enough for schools to say they are serving these students but that the students are making academic progress.
Fair enough, perhaps, but then there is this:
Under the new guidelines, Duncan says he'll require proof that these
kids aren't just being served but are actually making academic progress.
know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations
and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel," Duncan said.
He was joined in this announcement by Kevin Huffman, Tennessee's education commissioner. Huffman said that students don't lag behind because of disabilities but because they not given "demanding homework" and "did not have access to strong assessments."
I'm puzzled at that last statement because if parents want their Sped student to take a regular assessments, I believe that is entirely in their control. Maybe they want accommodations because their students need them.
"We know that when students with disabilities are held to high
expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel," Duncan
said. (per NPR coverage)
And I'm pretty sure we don't know any such thing. I'm pretty sure that
the special needs students in schools across the country are special
needs precisely because they have trouble meeting the usual
But who knows. Maybe Arne is on to something. Maybe blind students can't
see because nobody expects them to. Maybe the student a colleague had
in class years ago, who was literally rolled into the room and propped
up in a corner so that he could be "exposed" to band-- maybe that
child's problems were just low expectations. Maybe IEPs are actually
assigned randomly, for no reason at all.
When Florida was harassing Andrea Rediske
to have her dying, mentally disabled child to take tests, they were
actually doing him a favor, and not participating in state-sponsored
Don't tell me reading is hard because of your dyslexia, kid. Just do it. And take this test.
We don't need IEPs-- we need expectations and demands. We don't need
student support and special education programs-- we need more testing.
We don't need consideration for the individual child's needs-- we just
need to demand that the child get up to speed, learn things, and most of
all TAKE THE DAMN TESTS. Because then, and only then, will we be able
to make all student disabilities simply disappear.