Beverley Holden Johns, a nationally recognized expert in the field of disabilities, strongly disagrees with Arne Duncan. Duncan wants children with disabilities to be able to perform on the highest level of NAEP tests. She points out that NAEP was not designed for this purpose. Duncan unilaterally changed the requirements of the IDEA act, without Congressional authorization. Having changed NCLB without Congressional authorization, he must think that ignoring the law is routine. In Néw York, we learned how students with disabilities do when they took the Common Core test: 95% failed.
Beverley Holden Johns writes:
NCLB required all students to be proficient on State tests by 2014.
Failure of the public schools to reach that goal has been widely
viewed as the failure of public education, requiring movement
to Charter Schools and even increasing the talk of Vouchers in the name of Choice.
Now Arne Duncan seeks to require ALL students with disabilities to
demonstrate proficiency or advanced mastery of challenging
subject matter on the NAEP tests?
As this is impossible (students without disabilities do not
come close to doing it and are making very little progress
toward meeting that goal), what will be the impact on special ed?
Special education will be deemed to be an utter failure, and
some will urge Response to Intervention, RTI, often called MTSS,
and Full Inclusion for all (although there is no evidence that will
cause students to meet the NAEP goal).
What is wrong with using NAEP?
(1) National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was not designed for any such purpose, or validated for any such purpose.
(2) NAEP is given at only a few schools in each State to get
a sample of how the State is doing in the 4th and 8th grades
in math and reading every 2 years.
NAEP makes no pretense of testing all children or all schools.
So NAEP offers no accountability whatsoever at the vast majority
of schools in each State.
(3) There have been consistent problems on whether students
with disabilities even take the NAEP, and on whether the NAEP
tests will offer accommodations for students with disabilities
(on which each State has made tremendously varying decisions).
So the percentage of students with disabilities in each State
taking the NAEP varies tremendously from State to State
(making State to State comparisons totally invalid).
(4) NAEP is not aligned with the Common Core so it does
not reflect what may be taught in the classroom.
What does Arne Duncan state that the goal of special ed Results Driven Accountability is?
“While the goal is to ensure that ALL Children with
Disabilities demonstrate proficient or advanced mastery
of challenging subject matter, we recognize that States
may need to take intermediate steps to reach this benchmark.”
Please see footnote 7 at
Can anyone provide a complete description of this accountability
system that parents and educators can understand?
On August 4, 2014, all 8 Republicans on the U.S. Senate
education committee in a 3 page letter asked Arne Duncan
detailed questions about this special ed Results Driven Accountability:
“It is troubling that the department made unilateral changes
to the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] compliance
framework without seeking legislative approval, disregarded
congressional intent, and appears to have violated the clear letter of the law.”
“The changes spelled out in your ‘Results-Driven Accountability’
framework clearly amount to federal influence on the standards
and assessments states and school districts use to direct the
education program of students with disabilities and would give
the federal government authority to use students proficiency as
measured by the NAEP to evaluate and either reward or
sanction school districts.”
No Child Left Behind, the joint product of George W. Bush and
Ted Kennedy, has positives and negatives, but overall it has
been a disaster for the public schools because it had unrealistic
and utopian goals.
We cannot allow special ed Results Driven Accountability
to be a similar disaster.