Sunday, August 12, 2007

Strange Bedfellows and NCLB

Came across a guest column by Michael DeWitte, chariman of the "NM Business Roundtable for Educational Excellence" (yeah, the business thing with Chamber Honcha Terri Cole on it), in today's Journal (online) and found a paragraph that had me agreeing with an entity that would have Terri Cole as a member. Trust me, that doesn't happen often.

Anyway, here's the quote:

Students whose cognitive abilities do not match their chronological age are stressed and frustrated by having to take tests that, through no fault of their own or of their teachers, they cannot pass. The way in which assessments are administered to students with disabilities and the grade level at which students are assessed should be driven by the student's Individualized Education Plan, as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The percentage of students with disabilities allowed to take alternate assessments should be increased and driven by the number of students in a district that qualify as opposed to an artificial "cap."

Yeah, too many euphemisms, and an obvious attempt to avoid using the words "Special Education" at all costs, but the bottom line is that the "NM Business Roundtable for Educational Excellence" doesn't think many SpEd kids should be taking the exact same standardized test that "Regular Ed" kids do. I agree. And if I agree with an entity in which Terri Cole exists, then not only must there be a sizable rip in the space/time continuum, but there must be a ton of people who think the same way.

So let's get this done. Raise the proficiency standard for "Regular Ed" kids from its current pathetically low percentage, and give "SpEd" kids a different test, one that they have a chance to succeed upon. Do it for the kids. Do it for Terri Cole. Do it so I don't throw my laptop, wardrobe and whatever else I can find out the window in righteous anger.

P.S. Then there are "English Language Learners", about which the DeWitte of the "Business Roundtable" says:

English-language learner programs are severely underfunded and under-supported. NCLB has no provisions for students to be tested in mathematics with assessments in their home language, which means these students are tested with an English-language math assessment. This greatly handicaps non-English speakers who may understand the mathematical concepts but have limited fluency in English.

Man, this is freaking me out. I agree with that sentiment as well. Maybe I should change my voter registration to Republican, buy a Hummer and get some Mitt Romney bumper stickers. At this point, I'd almost promise to do all that if we'd just blow-up NCLB and start over with ideas like those expressed above. Now I have to go watch some golf on TV.


Natalie said...

I know, right? I agreed with this, as well. Our oldest was on an IEP last year. He wasn't tested and his IEP wasn't changed (from Illinois standards/assessments) for the entire year. It kept getting pushed back. When they began testing, I suggested he be given the opportunity to test in a different environment so he could concentrate. Nope, not gonna do it. I even invoked NCLB/AYP scores and the potential to lower them, by percentages, from his scores. Nope, nada...
Then... in freakin' April, he was tested and it was suggested that he come off his IEP and not have to "go through the rigors of being separated from his classmates."
I had a special, Special Ed moment, right then and there... to no avail.

You wanna hear something really uncanny? The TV had been droning on and on while I read this post and suddenly I realized I was listening to golf.

My head might just pop off.

Kelsey Atherton said...

No Child Left Behind is going to effect my vote this --- well, this primary, certainly. I have a hard time supporting anyone who believes this thing is a good idea, and I went through six years of it as a student. Now if only the youth vote mattered...