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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
March 11, 2003


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Issue - 203

ISSN: 1538-3202

In this Issue

What is Your Bell Curve IQ?

Tests & Measurements for the Parent, Educator, Advocate & Attorney

Testing, Testing . . . IDEA, Section 504 & Kids with Disabilities

Tests: Myths & Realities

High-Stakes! Can the School Use a Single Test to Retain My Child?

Success Story: How My Son with Down Syndrome Passed High Stakes Tests

Glossary of Assessment Terms

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In the last issue of The Special Ed Advocate, you learned how to organize your child's file and manage documents. This week, we focus on evaluations, the bell curve, and how to use test scores to measure your child's educational progress.

Parents must learn about tests and measurements - if you do not learn how to track your child's progress, you will not be able to be an equal participant in planning your child's special education.

Quote of the Week: “Knowing how to use the bell curve is more important than knowing the law.” (Scroll down to see who said this.)

The Special Ed Advocate is free - please forward this issue or the subscription link to your friends and colleagues so they can learn about special education law and advocacy too. Thanks!

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1. What is Your Bell Curve IQ?

To be a successful advocate, you must learn about tests and measurements - statistics. Statistics allow you to measure your child's progress or lack of progress (regression) using numbers.

You need to learn how to use the bell curve to measure educational progress. You also need to learn about standard scores, percentile ranks, and standard deviations.

We wrote the Bell Curve IQ Quiz to help you master this information - and have some fun while you are doing it!

Test your knowledge (and get a Wrightslaw Game Plan).


2. Tests & Measurements for the Parent, Educator, Advocate & Attorney

A child has received special education for three years. Has the child caught up with the peer group? Has the child fallen further behind? How do you know? What do standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest scores, and age and grade equivalents mean?

To successfully negotiate for special ed services, you need to know how to interpret test scores.

Read Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate & Attorney

Note: This article is large and may take a few minutes to download.

Tips: Read this article 3 times. Use a highlighter. Make margin notes. Retake the Bell Curve IQ Test.

To supplement this article about tests and measurements, we created a slide show to show you how to use test scores to create educational progress graphs.

Question: Who said "“Knowing how to use the bell curve is more important than knowing the law.”

Answer: Pete Wright.


3. Testing, Testing . . . IDEA, Section 504 & Kids with Disabilities.

This excellent Memorandum from the U. S. Department of Education answers 26 questions about IDEA, students with disabilities, and state and district assessments.

Learn about rights and responsibilities under IDEA and Section 504, parental permission, the role of your child's IEP team, accommodations and modifications, alternate assessments, out-of-level testing, accountability, and more.


4. Tests: Myths & Realities

How many of these statements about testing are true? How many are myths?

  • Testing suppresses teaching and learning.
  • Testing promotes "teaching to the test."
  • Testing does not measure what a student knows.
  • Testing discriminates against different styles of test-takers.
  • Testing hurts the poor and people of color.
  • Testing increases dropout rates and create physical and emotional illness in children.
Confused about testing? "Testing: Myths & Realities" will answer many of your questions about testing.

Parents and teachers need to learn why tests are essential to measure progress and learning. Learn about the "Myths of Tests - and the Realities!"

Note: "Tests: Myths & Realities," is excerpted from "Testing for Results: Helping Families, Schools and Communities Understand and Improve Student Achievement" published by the U. S. Department of Education (2002).

Learn about tests, assessments and evaluations on our Tests Page.


5. High-Stakes! Can the School Use a Single Test to Retain My Child?

I just returned from my son's school where I was informed about changes in promotion and retention for grades K-5. My son is in 2nd grade and has a IEP.

My son is doing well in school and is capable of passing the test. However, because of his disability, he is more likely to have an "off day," not pass the test, and have to repeat his current grade.

It is ridiculous that a single test can determine if a child is promoted or retained. My questions are:

  • Have you heard of this piece of legislation in Florida?
  • Is this legal, with respect to IDEA or other legislation for disabled children?
  • Why do we spend so much time on IEPs and teacher training to help kids with disabilities if one test can disrupt everything we are working toward?
  • Do you know of any special interest groups that are fighting this legislation?
  • What can I do to change this ridiculous legislation?

Do you have questions about retention and high-stakes testing? Get answers to your questions in "High-Stakes! Can the School Use a Single Test to Retain My Child?" by Sue Heath.

Read "Fear, Confusion and Tears: FCAT can stress kids" by Lori Horvitz, Staff Writer, Orlando Sentinel.

Download our high-stakes testing flyer.


6. Success Story: How My Son with Down Syndrome Passed High Stakes Tests

As you will see when you read this success story, calm, sensible adults help children deal with stress related to high stakes tests.

"My son Dylan has Down Syndrome. I wanted him to be re-evaluated every few years. The IEP team tried to talk me out of having him take any standardized tests. This year, he took the high-stakes tests . . ."

Read more success stories.


7. Glossary of Assessment Terms

Confused about an unfamiliar word or term in the Tests & Measurements chapters?

Turn to the "Glossary of Assessment Terms" in Appendix K of Wrightslaw: From Emotions To Advocacy (begins on page 361).

If you do not have Wrightslaw: From Emotions To Advocacy, don't despair! You can download a Glossary of Assessment Terms (in html or pdf) from our Fetaweb site:

Of course, you can order Wrightslaw: From Emotions To Advocacy too!

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8. Subscribe & Contact Info.

The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, and tactics and strategies. Subscribers receive "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.

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Contact Information

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletters@wrightslaw.com

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

 

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