Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Special ed exemptions

As expected, Spellings announced yesterday that 3% of special ed students will be exempted from standard state assessments. The previous level was 1%.

In Texas, the news was welcomed. But last year Texas exempted 9% of special ed students and said that the Education Dept. was out of touch with Texas students' needs. If 9% needed exemptions, why is 3% OK?

There are two competing issues here: One, some special ed students really can't take a standardized test. Their disabilities genuinely prevent them from having a chance on a test. Two, too many students who fail to perform on tests are being thrown into special ed programs and exempted so that the school isn't punished under NCLB sanctions.

Spellings is trying to find a middle ground. Most education policy wonks I've talked to think the 3% is fairly reasonable. I think eventually a 5% cap on exemptions would be more reasonable.

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