Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Opposition to an Education Bill

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is opposing provisions in S. 1571, legislation by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Here are excerpts from the group's letter to the Senate HELP Committee:
While everyone agrees that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) needs revisions, certain key provisions have created a greater level of transparency about the achievement of our nation’s students and must remain as a part of ESEA. One such provision, about which there is widespread agreement, is subgroup accountability; namely, the requirement that states, districts and schools disaggregate data by specific categories of students, including students with disabilities. This disaggregation includes participation in, and performance on, state assessments and graduation rates. This disaggregation requirement has provided information about student participation, achievement and graduation that is critical to students, parents, educators and communities. Access to these data – and the accountability provisions that accompany it – has resulted in greater emphasis on student populations that have traditionally been underserved. While gaps remain, this progress has been important and must continue. Unfortunately, if enacted, S. 1571 would reverse much of this progress. Thus, the undersigned groups urge you to reconsider the policies in S. 1571 because they will negatively affect students with disabilities in the following areas:

This legislation would allow states to administer different assessments – either an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards or an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards – to any number of, or quite possibly all, students with disabilities. For purposes of accountability, it is important to note that both of these alternate assessments are different from the general education assessment. This is important because when a student with a disability takes a different assessment than a student without a disability, there is no way to compare their performance, no way to accurately measure achievement gaps and no way to know how well they have grasped the grade-level content. If large numbers or possibly all students with disabilities are given alternate or modified assessments, we will effectively – and under the proposed language – legally create a separate education system for students with disabilities.