NCLB- commentary re: special ed

29 01 2007

Schools Matter: Testing and the "Darkest Underbelly"

In the meantime, of course, there are the millions of children, parents, and teachers who are being sacrificed each year in order to attain the assured failure that has been planned for them. The choking canaries in this dark poisonous mine are, of course, the poor, the disabled, the immigrant, the minority–the ones supposedly for whom the title of this legislation was stolen from the Children’s Defense Fund. No Child Left Behind, indeed.
Bush and Spellings have shown zero interest in acknowledging the impossibility of children reaching their 100% proficiency target in math and reading by 2014.
At this time, about 40 percent of our student body is special-needs students. One part of the No Child Left Behind Act requires special education students to meet the same benchmarks as their counterparts in general education.
A little-known aspect of this policy is that a school can be judged deficient solely on the basis of the Education Department’s judgment that special education students are not successful on state assessments. This indeed is the mechanism by which Campus West was designated as needing improvement. The policy of judging an entire school program by measuring special education student achievement on standardized testing precipitates much more negative fallout than the simple label implies.

Lastly, and the reason for this explanatory piece, the policy of judging a school by the success of its special education students on standardized tests affects student responses to their educational program. One bright student, perhaps reflecting her parent’s comments, was recently overheard: "Campus West is a "bad’ school because we have "dumb’ kids taking these [standardized] tests."

Much more could be said, but to me, this statement reflects the darkest underbelly of the unwarranted use of standardized testing and provides its own commentary.

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