Spec. Ed. Advocates Wary of Relaxing Testing Rules

From: Education Week
As Congress wrestles with reauthorizing the 5½-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, some disability-rights advocates fear high standards for students with disabilities could be sacrificed as states seek more flexibility in the law. Some education groups, as well as lawmakers, have called for more choice in how states can administer the law’s accountability provisions, including greater power for school-based teams to decide what type of assessment a student receiving special education services should take. That’s a step away from grade-level achievement as a goal for all students, said James H. Wendorf, the executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, a New York City-based group that works to provide opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities. Advocacy groups have also been calling on legislators to counter what they believe are negative impressions of the No Child Left Behind law, which passed Congress with big, bipartisan majorities in late 2001 but has encountered criticisms during its implementation. Several new members of Congress are serving on the House Education and Labor Committee, and those members may be hearing from their school districts that assessment of special education students is a problem, advocates believe. “I think they’re hearing a lot of frustration from schools that don’t have the capacity to do what they need to be doing,” said Jane E. West, the vice president for government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, in Washington, and a co-chairwoman of the consortium’s task force on education.

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