December 19, 2003, Extra Credit
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December 19, 2003
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 December 18
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Final Exam Week: True / False On Students With Disabilities

True or False: No Child Left Behind sets impossible standards for students with disabilities and then unfairly holds schools accountable for the results.

Answer: False. The reality is that of the nearly 6 million elementary and secondary students with disabilities in America, some are below grade level, some are at grade level, and some are above grade level. There is absolutely no reason to dismiss these students as unable to learn.
An example of the way students with disabilities rise to the challenge can be seen in Kansas, where significant progress was recorded after the state made an intensive effort to improve the achievement of students with disabilities. In 2000, only 26.1% of 5th grade students with disabilities achieved at proficient or above in reading on the Kansas State Assessments (KSAs). In 2003, 48.7% made the mark – an increase of 86.6%. Likewise, in 2000, only 36% of 4th grade students with disabilities achieved at proficient or above in mathematics on the KSAs. By 2003, 58.8% were making the mark – an increase of 63.3%.
No Child Left Behind, building on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), provides accountability and flexibility:
  • Accountability: No Child Left Behind ensures that students with disabilities are not excluded from states’ accountability systems (this is also required by IDEA). As a result, parents and teachers have valuable information about students’ progress and level of learning. All students - including those with disabilities - deserve teachers who believe in their potential and who will encourage them to make progress, just as all parents and teachers ought to have the assessment information they need to target their efforts and provide all students a high-quality education.

  • Flexibility: As part of the flexibility of No Child Left Behind, states can provide students with disabilities with accommodations such as increased time or the use of assistive technology to ensure that their unique needs are taken into account as they participate with their peers in the assessment process. The key is that they are challenged to meet the same grade level standards as their peers. As for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, a No Child Left Behind regulation allows schools and school districts the flexibility to measure their progress based on alternate achievement standards.

Note: The No Child Left Behind Extra Credit will not be published the weeks of December 22 and December 29. Publication will resume on January 5, 2004.


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: 12/19/2003