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Friday, December 11, 2015

ESSA and the Disability Community

At Education Week, Christina Samuels reports on passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Though NCLB is gone, to be replaced with far-more state-led accountability, there are some "guardrails," as Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington and an architect of the law, has said.
For example, states must still separate and report the performance of students with disabilities on state tests, and those tests must still be given in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

Most students with disabilities will be taking the general assessment: The bill maintains a 1 percent cap on the percentage of all students who can take alternate assessments and be counted as proficient. One percent of all students equates to about 10 percent of students with disabilities. These alternate assessments are intended for students with severe cognitive disabilities. The new law also says that taking the alternate assessment should not preclude a student from attempting to get a regular high school diploma.

The law requires states to develop plans on how they plan to reduce bullying and harassment,restraint and seclusion, and suspensions and expulsions—all of which disproportionately affect students with disabilities.
From Autism Speaks:
Approval of the legislation comes on the heels of the 40th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when individuals with autism and their families celebrated the improvements in public education for those with developmental disabilities, but challenged Congress to go further to help all students reach their fullest potential.
The improvements to federal education policy come after the U.S. Department of Education recently announced rule changes aimed at monitoring and prioritizing the progress of students with disabilities, including those with autism.
The new rules disallow states from testing students with disabilities with alternative academic standards. Advocates point out that using alternative academic standards for students with disabilities may hinder their access to general education curriculum and graduation. By codifying these accountability provisions, the Every Student Succeeds Act establishes expectations for academic achievement for students with disabilities.