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ERIC Number: EJ918244
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar-9
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Overhaul of ESEA Could Drop Option of Alternate Exams
Shah, Nirvi
Education Week, v30 n23 p1, 19 Mar 2011
Renewal proposals for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the current version of which is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, are still being discussed by congressional lawmakers and staff. Capitol Hill aides and U.S. Department of Education officials have suggested that a current federal regulation governing alternate testing for students with disabilities won't be a part of the law going forward. The so-called "2 percent rule" allows schools to give some students with disabilities exams that are different from those for general education students and based on modified achievement standards. The tests aren't based on easier, less challenging content, but they are intended to allow students to demonstrate mastery of that content in less depth and with some built-in accommodations that enable them to better show what they know. For example, multiple-choice questions may have three choices instead of four. If the point of a question is to test whether students know how to use a particular equation, they may be given the equation, rather than having to remember it, too. Schools and districts can use scores from these tests that are considered proficient or better when calculating adequate yearly progress under NCLB law, as long as the number of scores they include doesn't exceed 2 percent of all students in the grades that were given tests. Questions about how students are being identified for the exam and concerns that some schools have assumed that students with disabilities who scored low on general assessments could never master grade-level content are driving the move to do away with the 2 percent clause. Another exception that allows schools and districts to use alternate assessments for a smaller percentage of students with severe cognitive disabilities--tests that are based on an entirely separate set of standards--is likely to survive the next iteration of the law. The Education Department has awarded a separate grant to develop a new generation of these assessments. But in the next version of ESEA, lawmakers want to be sure that schools are more discerning about using these exams. They argue that if a child with severe cognitive disabilities needs the alternate assessment for one subject, schools shouldn't automatically use an alternate test for a subject in which the child could take the general assessment. The proposal to dump the 2 percent rule has been embraced by many advocates of students with disabilities, some of whom say the rule has been applied in an uneven, haphazard way.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001