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"In the past, we underestimated what students with disabilities could learn.... We now know that the vast majority of these children can achieve grade-level standards."
— U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
In his State of the Union Address, President Bush unveiled Building On Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act. It is designed to provide additional tools to our schools and educators to close the achievement gap and help America's students read and do math at grade level by 2014.
We know what works: high standards, accountability, a highly effective teacher in every classroom, more information and choices for parents, and sound, proven methods of instruction. These principles have increased attention and targeted instruction for students with disabilities.
The No Child Left Behind Act has evolved from idea to law to a way of life. It's the foundation upon which we must build, and the time to act is now. To further gains made by students with disabilities, the President's proposal:
Continues to require the disaggregation of achievement results so that students in critical subgroups remain the focus of attention. Schools are held accountable for improving the performance of all students.
Increases the amount school districts are required to expend per-child on extra tutoring for students with disabilities above what is already available under the supplemental educational services (SES) provision of NCLB.
Makes certain students with disabilities are all being properly assessed and fully included in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations.
Allows states to tailor assessments to small groups of students with disabilities with modified or alternate achievement standards as long as they are of high technical quality and promote challenging instruction.
Allows states to use growth models to achieve grade-level proficiency by 2014, as long as they have robust data systems, well established assessments, and set annual goals based on proficiency, not on students' backgrounds.