Feds end ‘2% rule’ for disabled students

Disabled students won’t be counted as proficient — unless they’re really meeting college and career readiness standards, under  new regulations proposed by the U.S. Education Department. Currently, the “2 percent rule” lets states count up to 2 percent of disabled test-takers as proficient, regardless of their achievement levels.

“We have to expect the very best from our students and tell the truth about student performance, to prepare them for college and career,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “That means no longer allowing the achievement of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards.”

Being honest about students’ achievement is a good thing, but educators will be embittered — even more so — if they’re held to impossible standards. Students with disabilities achieve more when expectations are high, but — even with the best teaching in the world — many won’t able to meet standards linked to college readiness. (“Career” is thrown in there, but there are no lower career-ready standards.)

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  1. So teachers will now be rated as ineffective if they are not able to get mentally retarded students “college ready”. Give me a break.

  2. Crimson Wife says:

    As mom to a child with a serious disability (autism), I pray that her functioning will improve to the point where she is able to attend college or trade school some day. But realistically, I know that there are no guarantees.

    I would not automatically consider her K-12 education a “failure” if my DD is not able to attend college. The Feds shouldn’t either.

  3. Wow. The bottom 2% is mostly kids who can’t talk or take care of themselves. Even at high school, they are learning things like how to brush their teeth or how to use rudimentary spoken language. In my state, they take specially designed tests to measure those goals — I’ve administered a couple. Arne Duncan is purely ignorant if he thinks the 2% rule is somehow “lowering the bar” for functioning kids…

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    When you see rules like this, remember the real purpose is to make schools fail so the private interests can take over.

    • If only that were true but the real reason’s the widespread misuse of the policy.

      Kind of like what motivated the overwhelming, bipartisan passage of NCLB – widespread and casual misuse of ESEA money. If it were up to the likes of you 2% would end up being about half the kids in school.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Ouch, that hurt . . . .No, not really.

        No facts to argue with I see so you resort to insults.

        • Pot, kettle, black, baby.

        • Now that I’ve got a minute, if you’ve got anything other then your deep, dark suspicions about wicked profit-mongers feel free to introduce it. Otherwise your “real purpose” comes under the heading of “no facts”.

      • How could this policy be misused? The spread of kids with disabilities is statistically stable and predictable. There will always be about 2% of any area’s population of children that has disabilities so severe that traditional tests make no sense. Kids with learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, etc. will never be in that bottom 2%. What are you suggesting – that the skill will force a nonverbal student to take the regular test so that they can free up their spot in the 2% for some kid who is borderline? That makes no sense.

        I get being suspicious of low expectations, but seriously – the 2% rule is not about low expectations. We’re not talking about LD kids who might make it if teachers tried harder. We’re talking about kids who will be lucky to learn how to write their own names.

        • Yes, but the means by which a determination is made as to whether a particular child qualifies as disabled is open to interpretation, manipulation and the convenience of those who stand to gain by such. Hence the reference to NCLB and the ESEA.

          The latter was so widely misused by the public education system that it rose to the level necessary to get Congress’ attention, resulting in the former. It’s also why NCLB passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support – one way to get the angry attention of politicians is to make them look like schmucks which is what the public education system did by treating ESEA funds as general revenue.

          I don’t see any particular reason to think the same folks who misused ESEA funds won’t take full advantage of this opportunity to misrepresent the job they’re doing.

          • Crimson Wife says:

            The rate of autism is 1 in 88, and roughly half of those are cases of “classic” autism rather than Asperger’s or PDD-NOS. Add those kids to the percentage of kids with mental retardation, and you’ve got over 2% just with those two serious disabilities.

            There may be a problem with overdiagnosis of certain learning disabilities (ADD/ADHD being a big one, particularly as a way to fraudulently claim SSI benefits or to gain an unfair advantage on the SAT), but there isn’t a lot of misidentification going on with the more seriously disabled kids.

          • Where there’s a will, and an opportunity, there’s a way.

            If public education officials are under the gun to demonstrate performance improvements they will even if they have to engage in fraud. As we’ve already seen with the various cheating scandals around the country.

            Now along comes an opportunity to tuck away some undefined number of kids from the harsh light of testing, to do it with the blessing of those who are supposed to be judging schools on the basis of those tests, and the assumption should be that the results will be honest?


    • No, the real purpose is to end up with the government micromanaging our entire lives, from birth to death. Though some politicians will also try what you’re saying. It’s scary either way.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      No, Mike, that is not the real purpose, any more than the real purpose of Obamacare is to make us pathetic little wards of the state who will vote Democratic.

      The education business is full of happy thoughts and immense faith in the power of schooling. If you are applying for a teaching position and are asked at an interview, “Can all students learn?” you had better say, “Of course!” You risk getting turned down for having a bad attitude if you say, “Well, yes, but some can’t learn much.”

      A big, big, big part of the problem with NCLB is that legislators and bureaucrats are taking seriously the b.s. that many in the business believe. It might be worth it if we finally get realistic.

  5. CW: I agree. I’ve known parents who have pursued ADD diagnoses for (perceived) SAT advantage (especially after the SAT removed the non-standard testing conditions note on score reports), but it’s not likely that kids with Down’s Syndrome are being mis-diagnosed.

    I think one of the problems with the 2-to-?? percent with severe disabilities is that they’re unlikely to be evenly distributed across all schools and districts; that fact needs to be taken into account.

    • CW – exactly. It’s not like there is a lot of room for “manipulation” or “misinterpretation” when it comes to identifying students who are severely cognitively disabled. We could disagree about the exact diagnosis, about services, goals, etc. but not about whether these kids are truly disabled. If anything 2% is too conservative. I know my district has more than 2% that are in this category – we just have to eat their scores, and it goes into our overall failure rate. That’s something else to keep in mind when looking at reports about test passage.

      • Allen – it’s not an “undefined number!” It’s exactly 2% !

        • What difference does that make?

          This isn’t an issue of how many kids have enough in the way of problems that including them in school accountability statistics would skew the results to uselessness but a politically-motivated means by which public education officials can escape that accountability.

          And try to use the “reply” function. Using my handle tells me who the comment’s addressed to but not which of my comments your comment references.

  6. So, what is modern society going to with these millions of unemployable, unable to contribute to society citizens who need constant care and money from the state? Establish ‘Sanctuary Cities’ for them?