Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Latest News on NCLB and Kids with Disabilities

See this article in the Times, which begins:

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced guidelines yesterday for states that plan to take advantage of new, short-term flexibility in the way special-education students are tested under the federal education law, No Child Left Behind.

To gain the extra flexibility, Ms. Spellings said, states must show that they are in compliance with other facets of the law and that their efforts to raise the achievement of students with disabilities are working.

Some state education officials and advocates for special-education students quickly criticized the requirements as too stringent.

Until now, the Bush administration has allowed only 1 percent of all students, those most severely handicapped, to be given special tests to assess whether they are comprehending material at grade level. All other disabled students have been required to take the same tests as the general student body.

Last month, Ms. Spellings said the Department of Education would give some states increased flexibility, allowing them to administer alternative tests to an additional 2 percent of students, those who have extreme difficulties with standard instruction and assessment.

Officials confirmed the offer yesterday, but only on a short-term basis, which was left unspecified. They also set a deadline of June 1 for states to apply for the concessions and said they would take effect next school year. In addition, Ms. Spellings restated the department's commitment to allocate $14 million in technical assistance and other help to eligible states.


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