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S1571 Would Discriminate Against Children with Disabilities
By Sue Whitney, Wrightslaw Research Editor

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On October 19th, 2011 Senator Isakson (R-GA) is expected to offer an amendment, S 1571, to No Child Left behind during Senate Committee consideration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011.

The amendment, S 1571, would discriminate against student with disabilities by allowing schools to significantly lower the academic expectations for students with disabilities, based on their scores in state accountability tests.

This use of this test, for this purpose, would apply only to children with disabilities. S 1571 would provide additional remediation to a student who scored poorly on the state accountability test, unless that child had a disability.

The first rule of evaluation is to use a test for the purpose for which it was designed. The state accountability tests were designed to assess what a child had been taught, not what the child is able to learn.  IDEA already has provisions in place to provide an alternative or modified curriculum for children who are unable to learn the regular education curriculum. These decisions are made based on valid assessments and by the child’s IEP team.

Opposition to the Bill

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, which includes the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, wrote to Chairman Tom Harkin of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on October 14th to voice their opposition to this bill http://www.copaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/CCD-S-1571-sign-on-letter-final_101211.pdf.

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates prepared a fact sheet outlining some of the main points of this bill http://www.copaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Isakson-Amendment-One-pager.pdf.

This bill would discriminate against children based upon the subgroup into which their state accountability test scores are assigned.

Do Something Today!

Write to your Senator. Tell your Senator to vote NO on the Isakson Amendment because all children deserve equal access to education.

It is especially important to contact members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The HELP Committee has members from these states:

Rhode Island
New Mexico
North Carolina

The Isakson amendment would remove the existing limits on the number of  students with disabilities who  can be counted as making sufficient progress using a less challenging systems of standards and assessments.

If this amendment passes, schools would be allowed to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade, simply because they receive special education services. 

Most students with disabilities are able to learn and achieve when given the appropriate services and supports.  The overuse of alternate assessments based on educationally unsound use of state accountability tests would negate the advances made in educating students with disabilities over the past 10 years.

Your Message: Vote NO on S 1571

1. CALL your Senators today! 202-224-3121 (TTY 202-225-1904).

2. Find your Senator and contact information using this link www.senate.gov.  Ask for the staff member who handles education or disability.  Tell them to vote NO on the Isakson Amendment.

3. E-mail: You can e-mail your Senators using this link http://1.usa.gov/Senat .

Below is the message suggested by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates:

Members of Congress pay particular attention to personalized messages from their constituents. Include a personal story about how your child has had academic success and has achieved in the regular classroom with his/her peers due to high expectations and appropriate services and support.

Message:  Vote NO on Isakson amendment to lift caps on alternate assessments for students with disabilities.

Dear Senator (on HELP Committee):

Under current law and regulations, States have established a set of assessments and modified (lower) standards for children with disabilities who are supposedly not able to achieve based on regular assessments and standards.  This is commonly referred to as the 2% regulation.  Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, States presently are permitted to only use a limited amount of these assessment results in their accountability systems, the results of approximately 20% of students with disabilities.  There is also a similar regulation for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities which also limits the number of results for accountability purposes to approximately 10% of students with disabilities.  This is commonly referred to as the 1% regulation.

The Isakson amendment would remove the limits on how many students with disabilities can be counted as making sufficient progress using less challenging systems of standards and assessments.  This amendment would allow schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools, relegating them to lower career and college expectations—simply because they receive special education services.

Please vote NO on this amendment so that students with disabilities can have the same opportunities to achieve college and career ready standards as all other students.

Action Alert: http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/11/al.1017.esea.htm

Created: 10/17/11

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