Saturday, February 11, 2006

Getting Schooled On the Exit Exam

Today I attended a meeting at the Disability Law Center, where parents of children with disabilities were discussing the state law dealing with the Exit Exam and the new Alternate Assessment Testing program.

Via teleconference, Aran Felix was talking about the program and fielded questions from the parents.

The law in concern was AS 14.03.075. Secondary Student Competency Testing.

From listening to the parent's concerns and Aran Felix, what I found is, the state law on the Exit Exam is complicated and the Exit Exam needs to be tiered.

The standardized exam is based on a "normal person's" cognitive abilities. The law has made adjustments for the disabled but the law does not adjust the standardized exam.

In making laws that deal with school funding, the state will take into account the child's needs and disabilities. As such, you have a tiered funding plan that takes into account the child's disabilities.

The same should apply to the Exit Exam. A child who is autistic should be taking an entirely different exam than one taken by a child who is deaf or is without disabilities.

The other impression I was left with is, the parents of these children want their children to be challenged and want their chidren to receive a diploma instead of a certificate of completion.

One woman told of her son not being challenged by the school her son attended in another state. She felt her son was negatively affected by this.

Her story reminded me of my own story in that my mother, when I was young, would tell my teachers that I needed to be held accountable and I should be challenged.

And I was not a disabled child.

The state needs to correctly address this issue. If not, the state may then find itself in a lawsuit that should never come to be.

The solution is very simple and no blame can be placed on the No Child Left Behind Act.

The IEP of the child can be the directive to place a child in the appropriate tier on an exam suited to the child's true abilities.

Now to the Anchorage School District. On an IEP, a parent or guardian has to consent to various tools to be used in the Alternate Assessment portfolio.

I am looking at a 3 year IEP that is of a student who is in eighth grade. The date of the IEP meeting is February 9th, 2006 and the district has checked off without the signature of the parent.

It is important that the IEP team ensure that all blocks are filled and the parent is notified and their input is taken. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the issue.

Enough said.

1 comment:

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