Assessing Students With Learning Disabilities Under No Child Left Behind
Make informed choices about state assessments your child with learning disabilities is required to take.
By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB), all students must participate in annual state assessments, including students with learning disabilities (LD). Parents need to understand the requirements of NCLB and the important decisions they will need to make as part of their child's educational program.
NCLB is intended to improve the academic achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap between various subgroups of students, including those with disabilities, by imposing new requirements for standards, assessments, accountability, and parental involvement.
In this article, parent advocate and special education expert Candace Cortiella addresses questions regarding the participation of students with LD in the assessments required under NCLB.
Q: What are the assessment requirements of No Child Left Behind?
A: Under NCLB each state must measure every public school student's progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 though 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12. Schools must tests students in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school. These assessments must be aligned with the state academic content and achievement standards.
Q: Are the academic content and achievement standards on which these assessments are based the same in every state?
A: No. Under the previous version of this federal education law, states were required to develop or adopt content standards in mathematics and reading/language arts, and NCLB mandated the development of science standards. States'academic content standards must be "challenging" and must have the same expectations for all children.
Achievement standards must be aligned with the content standards and have at least three achievement levels, two levels of high proficiency (proficient and advanced) and a third level of achievement (basic) to describe progress by lower-achieving children.
The U.S. Department of Education does not review or approve the quality of states' academic content and achievement standards. Therefore, academic content and achievement standards can and do vary from state to state.
Q: Are the requirements for student participation the same in every state?
A: Yes. Every state must assess all students in the grades previously described every year. These assessment scores are used to determine if schools, school districts, and states are making "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) toward bringing all students to a "proficient" or higher level of achievement in reading, math, and science by the year 2014.
Students may also be expected to participate in assessments in other subject areas, such as history, geography, and writing skills, if and when the state requires it. However, NCLB requires assessments only in the areas of reading/language arts, math, and science.
|NCLB Testing Requirements|
|Reading/language arts and mathematics:|
|Grades tested:||Each year, grades 3 through 8
Once during grades 10-12
|Grades tested:||Once during grades 3-5
Once during grades 6-9
Once during grades 10-12