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Submit Comments to Support Elimination of the 2% by Nov. 26th

Monday, November 25, 2013   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

Please take 5 minutes and send in comments urging elimination of what is known as the 2% Assessment.

COPAA submitted comments in support of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which will amend current §§ 200.1 and 200.6 to eliminate a State’s ability to define modified academic achievement standards for certain students with disabilities; develop and administer alternate assessments based on those standards; and, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted for AYP purposes under current § 200.13(c), use the scores from those alternate assessments in AYP calculations. This regulation has been of significant concern to COPAA since it was enacted in 2007.

COPAA members are unfortunately all too familiar with the negative impact this policy has had on certain students’ opportunities to maintain access to the general curriculum, be taught in the regular classroom and achieve a regular diploma.

By issuing this NPRM, the U.S. Department of Education is supporting not only the rights of students with disabilities to participate and make progress in the general curriculum with their peers, but also that assessment decisions must help drive the instruction and supports provided to assure positive outcomes for these students.

COPAA especially appreciates that the NPRM reiterates the direct connection of the revised Title I policy to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and clarifies: …the transition from alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards under Title I of the ESEA also would apply to how States include children with disabilities in these assessments under the IDEA.

For these reasons COPAA wholeheartedly supports the NPRM and believes the Department is taking a much needed positive step toward assuring all students are expected to and taught to achieve grade level standards with their peers.

To underscore the need to remove the "2%” regulation we point to data recently published in an article in the Huffington Post by Todd Grindal, Laura Schifter and Thomas Hehir:

"Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has permitted school districts to hide the performance of up to two percent of students (or approximately 20% of students with disabilities) by allowing students with disabilities to be measured using substantially less challenging assessments. This provision, referred to by education policy wonks as the "2% rule" encourages inappropriate referrals to special education, paints an inaccurate picture of school performance, and, worst of all, reinforces stereotypes that students with disabilities cannot succeed in school.” Furthermore, and most concerning: "A growing body of research suggests that the 2% rule has had damaging consequences. We examined data from the Houston Independent School District and found that more than half of the students who were measured using these assessments were students who were diagnosed with "learning disabilities" such as dyslexia rather than students who had the sorts of significant cognitive impairments that might impede them from completing a standard assessment. Even more disturbingly, we found that African American students with learning disabilities were up to six times more likely to be assessed on these low-rigor tests than were similar Caucasian or Latino students with learning disabilities. In other work, researchers found that some students were included in this easier assessment even though they scored proficient on the regular assessment in the prior year. Research out of California suggests that the 2% rule led to an inflation of schools' ratings. In 2012, approximately 210,000 California students (5% of all students and nearly 50% of all students with disabilities) took the California Modified Assessment. In some California districts, as many as 76% of students with disabilities were assessed using this easier assessment. These data demonstrate that the use of these assessments far exceed the intended use, provide inaccurate pictures of school performance as well as inappropriately low expectations for poor and minority students--the students that NCLB is intended to protect.” [1]

Data shows that the incidence of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, the students who are currently supposed to take the AA-AAAS, is no more than 0.5%. The proficiency rate for students who take the AA-AAAS is currently far higher than it is for students with disabilities in other assessments, which has created an incentive to place students in an AA-AAAS."

As Secretary Duncan stated before the American Association of People with Disabilities in March of 2011 -- "the 2 percent rule obscures an accurate portrait of the academic needs of America's students with disabilities.” Students with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities, must have access to grade-level general education curriculum and must be expected to demonstrate achievement on the academic content standards set forth by their state."

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-grindal/closing-the-lowexpectatio_b_3883527.html

The Department needs to hear from as many people as possible in support of this elimination! The comment period has been re-opened until Tomorrow, Nov 26th. Every letter is being counted - so send one in today!

To submit visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Be sure to reference Docket ID ED–2012–OESE–0018.

Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under ‘‘Are you new to the site?’’


Suzanne Whitney says...
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2013
If the arbitrary lowering of standards was tied to race or gender, regardless of the ability of the particular student to learn the curriculum with appropriate instruction, this might be clearer for the administration to see. As it is, the administration's overall dismissal of citizens with disabilities has obscured their vision in this area.
Alina Kantor Nir says...
Posted Monday, November 25, 2013
This is a way for schools to bow out of the sense of urgency they should be feeling to teach children with special needs to read, write and do mathematical computations necessary to be able to lead self sufficient and productive lives.

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