March 24, 2007

Accommodations

Alison Kepner's report in yesterday's News Journal deals with the "fairness" issue in state testing -- is it fair that disabled students get all sorts of accommodations during the DSTP?

The accommodations are meant to level the playing field for students with disabilities, decreasing the chance the disability will keep them from demonstrating what they know, but some worry the number and extent of modifications sometimes means teachers and parents no longer get a true reflection of what a student knows.

"Accommodations are provided with the very best of intentions, attempting to provide good access for kids with disabilities, but the implementation is so flawed that it limits confidence in results obtained," said Elizabeth Siemanowski, associate psychology professor at Wesley College and retired Delaware school psychologist. "We live in a very high-stakes educational testing environment. The current accountability model ... puts undue pressure on kids and school administrators to obtain the best scores for kids."

I'd add, is it fair that kids labeled "special ed." can only be suspended from school no more than 10 total days for the school year? Is that "fair" to the other kids in class (and the school) ... the further disruptions they may cause once that ten day limit is reached?

Back to state testing, is it "fair" that a school can get a negative rating merely because ONE subsection of a school's [up to] 30+ total subsections (the divisions of students by race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.) did not show a gain? That a school could show gains in all the 30+ other subsections, but because ONE subsection was stagnant or didn't show any gain, the entire school (via its No Child Left Behind rating) suffers?

What about these issues of "fairness"?

Posted by Hube at March 24, 2007 08:13 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

As a parent of a special needs kid I can tell you the problem here is one of broad brushes. My son is autistic to he has no sense of what behavior is "appropriate" and what is "not appropriate". He doesn't understand that hitting another student or staff member is unacceptable. If he were subject to normal rules, he'd be suspended several times per week.

Likewise, he is exempted from state testing as he has no linguistic or other academic skills. However, there are other students who can do some of the testing and do need some help. Many of them will never improve due to cognative limitations or show only small gains. By lumping these students in with those who are merely delayed you're really mixing apples and oranges.

Posted by: Duffy at March 26, 2007 09:59 AM

Duff,

When I write about this topic, I am TOTALLY not including special needs kids like autistic children and those with moderate to severe mental handicaps. The problem is, the big new "fad" is "mainstreaming" where kids with severe behavioral issues can end up in a regular classroom, yet they usually fit the bill as "special ed." and hence cannot be suspended for more than 10 days total per year.

Posted by: Hube at March 26, 2007 03:49 PM