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Big Idea 2: Measuring Academic Achievement of All Students
One of the ways NCLB and IDEA work to ensure that the best education possible is provided to every student is by holding schools accountable for educational results. Schools must show adequate yearly progress (AYP) in student academic achievement, as determined by the achievement of all students and all student subgroups. One way for parents to think about high expectations and related requirements in NCLB and IDEA is by thinking of them as a set of action steps for the state:
- First, as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, states defined ambitious academic standards for what all children must know and do in mathematics, reading and language arts, and science at each grade-level.
- Next, state assessments began to measure the achievement of all students in learning the content defined by the academic content standards.
- As a result, states decided what level of achievement students must show to be considered proficient in math, reading and language arts, and science. This is the academic achievement standard that shows how well students have been taught.
The tool to measure whether students have been well taught is called a state assessment. Results from state assessments help parents know whether schools have been successful in teaching students the knowledge and skills contained in the state's academic content standards. That is why it is so important to include all students in statewide assessments—so that the public can hold schools accountable for all students' learning.
You and your child's individualized education program (IEP) team will decide which assessment option is right for your child. IEP teams decide how each student will participate in assessments, not whether students will participate. An alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards is an assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities that will measure achievement separately in reading and language arts, math and science.
These alternate assessments make it possible for your child to show what he or she has learned—and for the school to be held accountable for that achievement.
... [A]cademic opportunities increase my child's life opportunities.
— Mary Calie, parent