AYP Rules Miss Many in Spec. Ed.
More special education students are being excluded from federal accountability provisions, driving up the number of public schools able to make adequate yearly progress and raising questions about the pledge to “leave no child behind.”
To make adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public schools and districts need to meet annual targets for the percent of students scoring at least at the proficient level on state tests. That goes both for their student populations as a whole and for certain subgroups, including students who are poor, speak limited English, are members of racial or ethnic minorities, or have disabilities.
But a yet-to-be-published analysis, based on test score data in five states, found that more than 80 percent of schools that made AYP under the federal law in 2003 or 2004 did so without having to meet standards of proficiency for their special education students as a separate subgroup.
One of the biggest reasons, according to the study by the Dover, N.H.-based Center for Assessment, is the threshold sizes states are setting before a subgroup counts in calculating AYP.
Data gathered independently by Education Week showed a similar pattern.
“It’s disappointing that in so many places, students with disabilities are not being counted,” said Martha L. Thurlow, the director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, a federally financed research center. “I think that people do not realize that this is the case.”