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NCLB redo

NCLB redo

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Published by: balk1 on Dec 08, 2011
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05/04/2012

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1
No Child Left Behind and Students with Disabilities
In 2001, Congress passed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and on January 8, 2002, it wassigned into law. This federal legislation is a reauthorization of the Elementary and SecondaryEducation Act (ESEA). The ESEA came about in 1965, and was the central federal law for pre-collegiate education. Its most recent reauthorization was in 1994, and it provided federal fundingfor education programs primarily for disadvantaged students.
 NCLB defines and describes ESEA’s education programs. It also added new
accountability mandates that all states must meet in order to receive program funding. Closingthe achievement gap between students of various demographic groups is NCLB
’s primary goal.
NCLB breaks students up into demographic subgroups, one of which is students with disabilities.This subgroup has significantly lower achievement levels. NCLB has brought more attention tothe education and assessment of students with disabilities. However, there are concerns that itsimpact has not been completely positive. Most concerns are related to the way in which theachievement of students with disabilities is assessed. This paper will address those concerns andsome suggested ways to address them when NCLB is reauthorized.The main accountability mandate in NCLB is associated with the assessment of studentachievement. NCLB requires states to develop grade level standards for reading, science, andmath. Based on these standards, states must also develop adequate assessments. NCLB obligesstates to test students in grades 3-8 annually in reading and math. Students only need to be testedonce in high school in these subjects. Testing in science is less frequent, twice in elementaryschool and once in high school. NCLB also requires schools and school districts to measuretheir yearly progress and report these results to the national government. All schools arerequired to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in their reading and math scores. By 2014 all
 
2students are expected to be performing at proficiency levels. Students are broken up intosubgroups racially, ethnically, and economically. There are also sub groups for students withdisabilities and limited English proficiency. These students are also required to make grade levelproficiency. If at least one subgroup fails to make AYP the school fails
and is deemed “
in need
of improvement,” (Taylor, Stecher, O’Day, Naftel, LeFloch
, 2010). Schools are required to takecorrective action, offer school choice, or provide supplemental education services if they fail tomake AYP two years in a row. If after five years the school is still not making AYP it will beclosed or restructured (Chudowsky & Chudowsky, 2009).Even though students with disabilities are required to take state math and readingassessments annually, the government is somewhat flexible in the way they are assessed. Thegovernment allows several different assessment options for students with disabilities. They maytake the regular grade level test or a version of an alternate test. Students taking the regular testmay take it the exact same way as students without disabilities or they may receive appropriateaccommodations. The alternate assessment can be based on similar grade level academicachievement standards, slightly modified standards, or alternative standards all together (U.S.Department of Education, 2007). However, a one percent cap was set in December 2003, for thenumber of students that could take an alternate assessment and have their scores counted towardsAYP. There is a two percent cap set for students to take a modified assessment (Reder, 2007).NCLB is not the only piece of legislature that deals with students with disabilities.President George W. Bush signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) intoeffect in 2005 (U.S. Department of Education-Office
 
of Special Education Programs, 2007).IDEA gives states more flexibility in appropriately measuring achievement of students withdisabilities. It also provides students with disabilities with additional federal funding and certainlegal protections. Schools are required under IDEA to develop individualized education plans
 
3(IEP) for students with disabilities to ensure that they are being assessed properly and are makingprogress towards
grade level achievement. It is also the school’s job to properly identify
students with disabilities, determine who is eligible for special education services, and find outhow to best serve their needs. (U.S. Department of Education, 2007).Fourteen percent of school-aged children in the U.S. receive additional support throughspecial education programs. This is approximately 6.6 million children. Special education is aspecially designed instruction that does not cost parents anything. Its goal is to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Learning disabilities make up the largest subgroup of students withdisabilities, around 50 percent (Cortiella, 2009). Most people automatically assume that studentswith disabilities are incapable of performing at their grade level. This is false of course. Onlyaround 25 percent of students with disabilities have severe intellectual impairments (Chudowsky& Chudowsky, 2009). The extra support they receive and IEPs help them to be at the same levelof achievement as other students in their grade (Cortiella, 2009).When comparing, on a national basis, the achievement of students with disabilities tostudents without disabilities it is quite common to analyze National Assessment of EducationalProgress (NAEP) scores. NAEP has been conducting testing for over 40 years. In order forstates to receive their NCLB funds, students in grades four through eight must participate in thistesting. The majority of educators view this as a reasonable and valid assessor of studentachievement. Compared to just state test data, NAEP collects student performance informationat the local, state, and national levels, making it a vital component of our evaluation of the
 progress and condition of the nation’s education (
National Assessment of Educational Progress,2010).NAEP data shows very little improvement in 4
th
and 8
th
grade reading scores since theimplementation of NCLB. On the 4
th
grade test, from 2002-2009, average test scores for

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