Search This Blog

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Special Ed & Standardized Tests in California

Previous posts have discussed standardized testsThe San Francisco Chronicle reports:
California schools have lowered the academic expectations for tens of thousands of students in special education over the past few years, allowing them take a shorter and easier set of standardized tests at a participation rate that far exceeds federal guidelines.
In the spring of 2012, more than half the state's 400,000 students with disabilities took the simplified version of the math, science and language arts tests.
That's nearly three times higher than it should be, and the state should intervene to make sure the modified test is not overused, federal Department of Education officials told The Chronicle.

In general, only 1 in 5 special needs students have a disability that could prevent them from achieving grade-level proficiency on the same tests students without disabilities take, U.S. officials said.
"We are concerned about the high rate of participation in the modified assessment," the U.S. Department of Education said in a statement in response to California's numbers. "We want to make sure that students with disabilities are held to the same high standards as other students."
The story raises the possibility that California is engaging in these practices less to help kids with disabilities than to game its performance stats:
The high rate of use of the California Modified Assessment for students with special needs has raised concerns not only about academic expectations, but also about the impact on overall state test scores and proficiency rates.
The 210,000 students taking the modified assessment - historically among the lowest scorers on the regular test - are no longer part of the equation in calculating state proficiency rates.
Without those students in the mix, the English proficiency rate is about 3 percentage points higher than it otherwise would be.