Testing the disabled
In special education, there’s no accountability. If Johnny can’t read, it’s hard to say whether he wasn’t taught properly, didn’t work hard or is not capable of learning to read. Still, the new federal law requires schools to test disabled students. The Orange County Register explains the challenges: Even the alternative test for the disabled isn’t appropriate for every student. It doesn’t help to read questions aloud to deaf students or to ask blind kids to point to pictures. However, the feds are backing off on administering a standard test to all disabled students.
. . . because of the difficulty of creating a single such test, the federal government is now proposing that the law exempt the most severely disabled children from testing.
In the meantime, state officials say educators should realize the test’s limitations. They say teachers should stop administering the test to students who can’t physically complete answers. Some alterations are allowed, like enlarging pictures. Still, state officials currently have little leeway under federal rules.
“In some cases, we’re asking adults to apply common sense,” said Geno Flores, state deputy superintendent.
Asking adults to apply common sense? Surely not.
Most special ed students are diagnosed with mild learning disabilities that shouldn’t stop them from achieving. Exempting severely disabled students, and using a little common sense, should make it possible to introduce some accountability for the vast majority of special ed students.