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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Special Education and the Reauthorization of ESEA

Alyson Klein reports at Education Week that a number of interest groups are weighing in on the ESEA reauthorization, including special education advocates:
The NCLB law, which requires states to break out student achievement data by particular groups of students, including those in special education, "has provided so much good information we never had before about how students with disabilities are really performing," said Lindsay Jones, the director of public policy and advocacy for the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
That doesn't mean, she added, that there should be overtesting or "bad tests." But annual, statewide, assessments have provided educators with "an important data point" she said, helping to clarify "how kids with disabilities are performing compared to their nondisabled peers." The vast majority of students in special education can and should be up to par with most general education students, she said. 
Back in October, as the testing issue was beginning to heat up in Washington, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, which includes the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Easter Seals and other organizations, sent a letter to the leaders of the House education committee opposing legislation that would have scaled back the number of tests required in the law. (Back then, it was Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who was and still is chairman of the panel, and Miller, who has been replaced by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.)
At the time, the groups were referring to this bill, by Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., that would have called for grade-span testing, and this one, by Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., that would have reduced the number of tests students are required to take. But similar legislation seems likely to be reintroduced in the new Congress, so that letter has taken on renewed significance.