TL:DR on the link (though it is short and a must-read): in a nutshell, the Department of Education (nationally) is proposing to eliminate the 2% exemption rule for the most seriously impaired special education students, holding them accountable for the SAME “college and career-ready standards” that the remaining 10% of special education students must fulfill.
What the DOE is talking about here isn’t your neighbor’s kid with ADHD, or even kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities. Those kids aren’t the 2% being exempted here. For one thing, there’s a LOT more than 2% of those sort of kids, and those are the kids who struggle even now and are getting culled out academically in the name of “college and career ready” rather than giving them the support and training they need.
No. We’re not talking about those kids.
We’re talking about what those of us in the special education business call the “low-incidence disabilities.”
We’re talking about kids who may not be verbal.
We’re talking about kids with a functional IQ way below the 70 points required to classify a student as intellectually deficient (the new term for mental retardation).
We’re talking about kids who may be medically fragile ALONG with a cognitive impairment.
We’re talking about kids who may not have the life skills to functionally care for themselves, whose entire academic life is centered around teaching them those skills in some form so that they CAN be functional at their level as an adult. Whose academic learning focuses on safety words and signs. Who struggle with counting change.
The learning of THOSE skills is what those modified assessments have been all about. Measuring growth through the learning of the necessary skills these kids will need to possess in order to become functioning and contributing adults in society.
I’ve administered those modified assessments in the past. I’ve watched this 2% struggle. I don’t regularly work with kids at that level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about the challenges.
WHAT FRACKING GOOD DOES MAKING THESE KIDS TAKE A GRADE LEVEL TEST SERVE??!?@!!
Because, make no mistake, that’s what Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, is advocating for.
Direct quote from Duncan, lifted from the link:
“We have to expect the very best from our students and tell the truth about student performance, to prepare them for college and career,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “That means no longer allowing the achievement of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards. This prevents these students from reaching their full potential, and prevents our country from benefitting from that potential.”
Make no mistake, I support the notion of high expectations for all students. But this proposal, and the absurdity that Duncan’s quote represents, doesn’t move that 2% of students forward.
What it does is shove those kids out of the public system and back into the bad old system of separate, non-public, non-education in church basements. Make no mistake, what is going to happen is that some unscrupulous districts and states will quietly find a way to shed those kids who bring those test scores down, and by implementing value-added evaluation of teachers based on test scores, ensures a revolving door of special education teachers as they continually get sunk and dumped because none of their students can meet assessment goals.
Dear sweet mother of God, has this man EVER, EVER, seen or worked with that 2% of students? Or been the teacher struggling through the alternate assessments with these kiddos? Hell, has he EVER seen what forcing some of the other 10% of special education students through unmodified assessments does to their interest in learning?
I’m thoroughly sickened by the cynicism in this proposal.
This is immoral.