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Friday, August 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

In response to Alabama State Board of Education member Ella Bell’s comments on August 24, 2017 suggesting that students with disabilities should be ‘moved out’ of public schools to help improve test scores, Denise Marshall, executive director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) issued the following statement:

“COPAA calls on Mrs. Bell to fully retract her statements regarding segregating students with disabilities in separate schools to improve local test scores. Mrs. Bell must immediately apologize to the children and their families affected by this discriminatory, ill-informed and insidious statement. There is no room for discrimination against students with disabilities in the public discourse over state academic standards and related assessments.”

Marshall continued, “over 6 million students with disabilities are educated in our nation’s public schools, the majority of whom — 67 percent — spend more than 80 percent of their school day in the general education classroom, learning alongside their peers without disabilities. Historically, children with disabilities were thought to be unable to learn. However, research, best practice, and public policy advances have dispelled this myth. Students with disabilities — when given services and supports — can and do thrive in school and in life.

With specific regard to testing, states such as Alabama are required by federal law to assess 95 percent of all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading in math, including students with disabilities. Alabama can provide a general assessment that tests students against challenging state standards. And, for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, Alabama can and has developed an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards. This assessment may be given to up to 1 percent of the entire student population across the state.

We urge Mrs. Bell to apologize to the public, to read the law and to work with the Alabama Board of Education to promote high standards and high expectations for all children. Together, they have the power to provide access to quality instruction along with the supports, services and interventions that children with disabilities need in order to succeed in school.”

COPAA is an independent, nonprofit organization of parents, attorneys, advocates, and related professionals. COPAA members nationwide work to protect the civil rights and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 6.5 million children with disabilities in America. COPAA’s mission is to serve as a national voice for special education rights and is grounded in the belief that every child deserves the right to a quality education that prepares him or her for meaningful employment, higher education and lifelong learning, as well as full participation in his or her community.  



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