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NCLB Outrages

Disabled students' tests jettisoned

Ohanian Comment: This lack of trust in teachers, this imposition of rules that makes no sense, makes me so angry I want to do damage to the U. S. Department of Education. Maybe that makes me a terrorist.

The federal government says that "all students, disabled or not, should meet state academic standards in reading, math and science by 2014." Such federal stupidity and malevolence should make everyone angry. It should make us angry enough to stop cooperating.

What will it take to get people to this anger threshhold?

by Steven Carter
The Oregonian

Oregon is being forced to scrap tests given to some disabled students because the tests do not meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Given to students with moderate to severe disabilities, the tests allow educators to assess progress among students who might not reach grade-level benchmarks but nonetheless demonstrate some knowledge or skills. The tests are variously called modified assessments, partial assessments or life-skills tests, and they differ from standard tests taken by general education students.

But this year, a broad federal review of Oregon's curriculum and testing determined that these tests don't accurately reflect students' knowledge of math, reading and other subjects that must be assessed under the law. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Education said the tests can no longer be used in judging whether Oregon schools are making adequate academic progress. Oregon must scrap the tests immediately and devise new tests for use this year. The act says all students, disabled or not, should meet state academic standards in reading, math and science by 2014.

Oregon is scrambling to develop new tests that will meet federal requirements, but the forced changes and the short timeline have left Oregon School Superintendent Susan Castillo frustrated.

"We are very concerned," she said. "We agree all students need to be tested, but we need the federal government to give us more guidance on how. They just can't say no."

Oregon has about 80,000 special-education students, but only a fraction of them take modified tests. State education officials said about 5,800 students in third, fifth, eighth and 10th grade took the modified tests in 2005.

State testing director Tony Alpert said all students will continue to be tested in one form or another.

— Steven Carter
The Oregonian


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