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February 19, 2004, Extra Credit
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February 19, 2004
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The Importance of Accountability to Students with Disabilities

No Child Left Behind makes sure that schools are held accountable for the educational results of students with disabilities. In the past, students with disabilities were often excluded from accountability systems. No Child Left Behind ensures students with disabilities have the same opportunity as other students to learn to grade level content standards and to be assessed against those standards. Following are excerpts from an article by Cathy Heizman, the Director of the Child Advocacy Center in Cincinnati:

"All the time (my adult daughter) Cara received special education services, no one was held accountable for her learning. She was in general education classes, but the teachers weren't expected to teach her anything. The special education staff, who were supposed to provide support services, often just chose not to do what was on her IEP. As long as Cara didn't cause trouble and she made it to class on time, they were happy.

"My daughter has a good life. She has a job, a steady volunteer opportunity, friends and family who care about her. But, I can't help but wonder what other chances she might have had if someone had actually tried to teach her academics while she was in school.

"Now, [because of No Child Left Behind] we are all accountable for every child's educational progress. The percentage of students on IEPs who pass proficiency tests, will be listed separately on district and building report cards. The entire community will understand if the schools have actually taught our kids what they need to know, what all the other kids know. We'll finally have something to hold on to. We will be able to hold someone responsible.

"This is a time for all of us to work closely together to make certain that we grab this opportunity to raise the expectations for every child. This could be the last best chance we get. If nothing changes, if our children don't learn, if the schools don't perform, then it will all have been for nothing. It is our obligation to make this moment in time mean something."

The complete text of this article can be found on page 12 of the Winter 2004 edition of DD Quarterly, a publication of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. It is available online at: http://ddc.ohio.gov/Pub/DDWinter04.pdf.

More information about No Child Left Behind and students with disabilities is available at: http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/extracredit/2003/1219.html

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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 02/19/2004