Lawmakers are wading into the complicated issue of accountability tests as they ponder changes to the law currently known as No Child Left Behind, but a group of disability advocacy organizations are already saying they don't want to see one change that has been floated—an elimination of the cap on students who can be tested to "alternate achievement standards."
Currently, about 1 percent of all students—equivalent to about 10 percent of students with disabilities—can be counted as proficient for accountability purposes on tests that have less depth, breadth, and complexity than the assessments given to their typically developing peers. These "1 percent tests" have been aimed at students with severe cognitive disabilities. (The tests are formally known as "alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards," or AA-AAS.)
The draft renewal legislation proposed by Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee who chairs the Senate education committee, would lift those caps, leaving it up to the states to decide how many students can be counted as proficient when taking these alternate tests.
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities' education task force—a coalition of more than 20 groups— said in a Jan. 21 letter that such a move would "essentially wipe out a decade of progress which has allowed parents, teachers and school leaders to better understand the potential of students with disabilities."