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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Should special education students participate in standardized testing?

Should special education students participate in standardized testing?

Related Tags: Special Education
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We differentiate instruction, teach the students at their proximal level of learning, and accept a variety of ways of demonstrating learning in our classrooms, but our students have to take standardized one-way-of-assessing tests. Is this fair? And if not, is it ethical? And if not, what do we do about it?

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Mr. Dodger's picture
Mr. Dodger
SDC Science in Los Angeles

Here's a novel idea --
Why can't all students be assessed on Academic Growth? Surely some agency can come up with a Standardized way to measure Growth...

Marys's picture

Should students with disabilities be required to take the same standardized tests as their non-disabled peers? No. Should they be given the opportunity to take the same tests? Of course. Way back when, I had to fight to have one of my students take the state exams at the high school level, so that he could earn a regular diploma. (He did take them, pass,graduate and get a decent job). Is it appropriate for all students. No. How ridiculous is it that a student with a 65 IQ is forced to take the same exam as the class valedictorian?

Tiffany's picture
Tiffany
Middle School CDC

Why should I give a kid who cant read a test on their grade level? I teach CDC and we never teach the general curriculum but we still have to give a state assessment test to kids who cant even understand the curriculum. And of course our kids are not proficent. I teach my kids how to bubble B when they dont know an answer. Law makers have no idea what they are forcing us to do by testing these kids. I think before a law maker can make these laws they should be required to spend a day in our class. It is wrong to force these kids to frustration when we should be teaching life skills. I have wrote senators but no one listens.

Lori M's picture
Lori M
Special Educator/Educational Technologist in Nevada

[quote]Special ed students are held accountable. It is called an IEP. It is to be monitored progress proven and goals met. I believe that when we require a special ed student with a reading disabilty to READ a reading test their civil rights are being denied.[/quote]

I agree wholeheartedly with you. It is a shame that students who already have been determined to need accommodations, modifications, and goals and benchmarks that are not the same as their same-age peers now have to be subjected to standardized tests. I blame two groups--the companies who are out to sell these tests to school districts and the administrators that fall hook, line and sinker for their sales pitch.

I too would like to see this unnecessary testing become a civil rights case. It has been my experience that parents of students who have learning disabilities often don't have a strong voice in legal action. Often, if they have a say in the course of their children's education, it gets drowned out by parents of students with other challenges such as autism.

Bottom line--when did IEPs become insufficient indications of what a student can and cannot do?

Barbara's picture
Barbara
HS speical ed teacher in Middlesex County, NJ

[quote][quote]Special ed students are held accountable. It is called an IEP. It is to be monitored progress proven and goals met. I believe that when we require a special ed student with a reading disabilty to READ a reading test their civil rights are being denied.[/quote]

I agree wholeheartedly with you. It is a shame that students who already have been determined to need accommodations, modifications, and goals and benchmarks that are not the same as their same-age peers now have to be subjected to standardized tests. I blame two groups--the companies who are out to sell these tests to school districts and the administrators that fall hook, line and sinker for their sales pitch.

I too would like to see this unnecessary testing become a civil rights case. It has been my experience that parents of students who have learning disabilities often don't have a strong voice in legal action. Often, if they have a say in the course of their children's education, it gets drowned out by parents of students with other challenges such as autism.

Bottom line--when did IEPs become insufficient indications of what a student can and cannot do?[/quote]

Students in our district (NJ) who have a significant reading disability are exempt from passing the standardized tests but must take it along with their peers. They are tested in small groups with accommodations.

Parents need to meet with their Child Study Team case manager and request a change in their child's IEP if it is not the case.

michelle henrie's picture

Teachers should be held accountable by if the student met the goals at the prior IEP that is written by teacher, parents and staff alike who know each childs individual needs. Plus all districts us some form of test to identify and I iuse that to show growth at their level

Mr. Woodard's picture

I am a Teacher Consultant with over 25 years of teaching experience. I agree with most of these posts. I have argued all the way to the State of Michigan's head of the MEAP test regarding the misuse of this test for SPED students.There is no argument that it is absurd to give a test to a student that is below their level of competence. I went before the Education Reform Committee at the State and argued with another Senator as to why this is so. He stated that ALL students have to be held accountable, according to NCLB. I explained to the committee that no one in the room would be asked to take a test that is 2-4 times above their education level, let alone not getting the chance to study for it. This fell on deaf ears. They asked me for a solution. I stated, "Why not give them the MEAP test at their level? (WJIII test scores/Teacher evaluations-assessments, etc.) For instance, if they have a 2nd grade reading level, give them a 2nd grade MEAP test. Or, if you want to challenge them, try the 3rd grade test. At least they ARE taking the state-mandated MEAP test, and they will see success. We will be able to accurately track their progress and ours as well by using this level playing field. The Senator went on to say that this would give the "regular" education students an unfair advantage. I stated to him that he is just "one slip and fall from being on someone's caseload". He sat down with a humbled look on his face. Some audience members applauded. Our SPED students are already labled by school board members and administrators as "sub-groups." As if they do not have enough labels already! I left the meeting satisfied with what I had argued. They have no real answers. Like most people in charge, they'd rather wash their hands of this and keep the status quo. What a shame.

Tom Woodard
Ypsilanti

Barbara's picture
Barbara
HS speical ed teacher in Middlesex County, NJ

I've conducted the Alternative Proficiency Assessments on high school students which should be the way they are assessed if unable to have retained the content of the standardized tests or have been in replacement classes. The assessments are student oriented tasks over a period of several months tracking their level of proficiency throughout that time. Students have input and teachers/programs are held accountable for implementing a curriculum that will enable student growth in areas of communication, math, and science. Unfortunately, districts are limited to the percentage of students that can be assessed in this format. Since the NCLB wants program/teacher accountability, they should approach it realistically. The APA is a much more accurate assesment for SPED student performance than the standardized tests. The APA holds teachers accountable and also allows them to develop creative, relevant curriculum structured for each individual student's needs and learning style. A related topic to this is the newest expectation that all students will be expected to pass Algebra 2...I don't think that is possible. Education should not be one size fits all. Education should be supporting our students' strengths and talents, not finding ways to accentuate their weaknesses.

LPS's picture
LPS
Cross Categorical/self-contained - Teacher

Standardized testing for students that are typically non-responsive doesn't make any sense. I have 3 grade levels and cannot possibly present all 3 curriculums for students to even come near passing benchmark tests. I try to expose them to various aspect of the curriculum so that when they go to 3rd grade they are at least able to respond to some assesments that are at grade level. Most of my students need significant modifications and adaptations to the GE curriculum. One years growth based on instructional level makes sense. I am curious what will happen with this new Presidential term and what will come of NCLB???

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