Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Students with intellectual disabilities should be held to the same standards as their peers: So says The U.S. Department of Education. The agency is planning to eliminate a rule that allows states to count some students with ID as academically up to par, even if they don’t meet grade-level standards.
Back in 2007, the Education Department began allowing 2 percent of students per state to learn from a curriculum based on modified objectives and standards. But per the agency’s proposal, schools could no longer use those standards. Instead, students would take general assessments, and receive support and instruction as necessary.
This is something advocacy groups including Easter Seals and the National Center for Learning Disabilities are ALL for. Back in July, those groups and 98 others wrote a joint letter to President Obama as part of the Constortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) urging him to end the use of the regulation and noting that school districts and schools need to better understand the needs of students, including revising their IEPs as necessary. Those students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (an estimated 1 percent) could still take modified tests. But the idea is, doing away with the “2 percent rule” would raise the bar for students who can make good progress with support and instruction.
Holding students to higher standards will ultimately better prepare them for college and career—and be a Good Thing for society, too. As U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement, “We have to expect the very best from our students…. That means no longer allowing the achievment of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards. This prevents students from reaching their full potential, and prevents our country from benefitting from that potential.”
Of course, schools need to make sure they do provide any extra support or instruction necessary. Already, plenty of parents of students with special needs struggle mightily to get their kids what they need. But I couldn’t agree more with this decision—and also think it’s generally something for parents of children with special needs to keep in mind. Whether in classrooms or at home, we should expect the most from our kids. That’s not to say we should always hold our children to “typical” standards; that is, in fact, the bane of many parents’ emotional existence. Wishing that our kids will develop and progress on the same timeline as children who don’t have disabilities is a sure path to despair and even depression. But always, always, we should have the hopes and expectations that given the right support, our children can and will succeed in their own right.
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Tags: 2 percent rule, US Department of Education | Categories: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Down Syndrome, Must Read, SPD, Special Needs, Special Needs Parenting, To The Max