Dear Commons Community,
Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, announced yesterday a new framework for measuring states’ compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the federal law that supports special education and services for children with disabilities. The law originally was known as the Education of Handicapped Children Act of 1975. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“After years of holding states accountable under the law for such things as timely evaluations of students and due process hearings, the Education Department plans to look at results. For the first time, the government will define compliance with the law not just in terms of what states do for students with disabilities, but with how those students perform.
According to this new results-driven accountability framework, states will be responsible for students with disabilities’ participation in state tests, gaps in proficiency between students with disabilities and their peers, and performance on the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, the only national standardized test. This marks the first time the NAEP, which is often described as a low-stakes test, has been used for school accountability.
The U.S. may deem states to be meeting requirements, needing assistance, needing intervention, or needing substantial intervention. Consequences range from extra help to financial penalties. If a state needs assistance two years in a row, the law mandates that the Education Department “take actions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient,” according to a government press release.
The new framework will mean most states are failing to comply with the law. Last year, 41 states and territories were deemed compliant. But under the standards that will be announced Tuesday that consider results, only 18 states will be in compliance.”
I wish I could say that Duncan’s new framework will improve special education services in our public schools but it won’t. It is just more of the testing and accountability mentality that has driven our national education policy for the past decade. Public school principals, teachers, parents, and students have pretty much had it with federal mandates for testing and accountability and have little confidence in anything that comes out of Washington, D.C. There is a growing grassroots campaign for localities to take back their schools from policymakers in Washington D.C. who are driven by politics and ideologies and not what is good for the education of children.