Flexibility for States Raising Achievement for Students with Disabilities
May 10, 2005
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A New Path for No Child Left Behind. President George W. Bush and Secretary Margaret Spellings believe that no child should be left behind in our efforts to ensure that our nation's elementary and secondary schoolchildren receive an education that fully prepares them for college and the workforce. The U.S. Department of Education will extend flexibility to those States that are raising achievement and are continuing to implement the requirements that are the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act: that all students, including students with disabilities, be held to challenging content and achievement standards; that their progress be measured annually by high-quality assessments aligned with those high standards; and that schools and school districts be held accountable for achieving results.

A New Commonsense Approach to Raising Achievement for Students with Disabilities. This guidance follows up on Secretary Spellings' April 7, 2005, announcement of a new, commonsense approach to implementing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and the guiding principles that will set the parameters for flexibility. In addition to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (the 1% already covered under Title I), research indicates that there is another group of students with disabilities, approximately 2 percent of the school-aged population, in need of modified standards and assessments who can make progress toward but also may not reach grade-level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students. Secretary Spellings and the U.S. Department of Education will work with States in both the short term and the long term to ensure they will have the flexibility needed to raise achievement for ALL students.

States Must Raise Achievement for Students with Disabilities. To be eligible for short-term adjustments to Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), States must meet the following guidelines:

Short-term Options. The short-term policy will allow eligible States to exercise additional flexibility in making AYP determinations for the students with disabilities subgroup for the 2004-05 school year, based on assessments administered to those students during the 2004-05 school year.

Long-term Policy. The U.S. Department of Education will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking in the near future to permit States to develop these modified achievement standards, develop aligned alternate assessments based on those modified standards, and include proficient scores of these students (subject to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State level) in determining AYP. This rule will work to raise achievement for students with disabilities in need of modified achievement standards and assessments.

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Last Modified: 06/01/2005