Monday, January 31, 2005

Reality meets NCLB - News - Official: No Child test contradicts disability act 01/30/05
Seven districts in LaSalle and Bureau counties were notified they did not make AYP, which eventually could hurt funding. Allen is now exploring the best approach to take in appealing because of the late notice and contradiction of approaches with the state law.

Each of the seven districts have been contacted by Ottawa High School about joining a federal lawsuit to change the way special education progress is measured. The Streator district board has not decided whether it will join that lawsuit

'Many of these students will never meet or exceed the standards,' said Allen. Among the problems that can't be addressed is that No Child requires students be tested at their age-appropriate level.

If they were able to perform at that level 'they wouldn't be in special education in the first place,' said Allen.

Of the 1,900 students in Streator grade school, 450 are in special education. Of those, 76 percent have severe reading or comprehension problems and cannot adequately be tested under No Child guidelines. State law requires in a special education student's plan that they be instructed at their functional level.
I see this as yet another example of Right wing's "problem of the weak". NCLB seems to have as its foundation the idea that every child can "perform" at a required level. On the face of it, that's absurd. It's akin to assuming a blind person with sufficient testing and remediation will learn to match color swatches.

On a practical level, however, NCLB has some advantages. It's easy for educators to push special education students into a twilight zone of vague and unment IEP goals. NCLB may become a major driver for the implementation of evidence-based reading programs that work for all comers -- including children with learning disabilities.

If we were a "better" species, I'd say that NCLB is stupid and pointless. It's degrading and hurtful to force a child to take a completely inappropriate and pointless exam. But humans are not a "better" species -- we are what we are. Given our many failings, maybe NCLB isn't hopelessly absurd. We may find a way to use it to our advantage -- even as we fight its absurdities.

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