Wrightslaw  l  Wrightslaw Way Blog  l  IDEA 2004  l  Store  l  Yellow Pages for Kids

 Home > Advocacy Library  > Letters to Wrightslaw > When Can a Student Be Exempted From High  Stakes Testing?

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

2020 - 2021
Training Program

Oct 11 - ZOOM Colorado

Nov 4 - Decatur, GA

Nov 10 - ZOOM Utah

Jan 27 - Southern MD

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
Military Discounts
Student Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Print this page

Michelle writes: 

"A student is in the academic track and spends most of his day in the general education classroom with the help of an aide. His work, classroom tests and quizzes, and homework are all modified, per his IEP. Can the school exempt him from part of the SOL (standards of learning)? Since he is following the academic curriculum, he will not take the Alternate Assessment."

"I understood the law to read that the IEP team decides how the student will participate in statewide assessments -- not whether. The school says it is okay for them to exempt a student from part of the state assessment, as long as they explain how they will assess the student's knowledge. This seems to be a violation of the law."

Wrightslaw responds:

Issues relating to assessment and "high stakes testing" are very hot and will get hotter around the country as more states use tests to decide who gets what diploma.

Indiana Case: A few months ago, we published an article about learning disabled seniors in Indiana who asked a judge to issue an injunction so they could graduate. (Read this article about high stakes testing)

On August 24, 2000, Judith Heumann, Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) issued a Memorandum about Assessment (OSEP 00-24) to all State Directors of Special Education.

Get a copy of this Memoradum. You can download it from the Wrightslaw site. In essence, OSERS says that excluding children from statewide assessments on the basis of disability "generally would violate Section 504 and ADA."

The Memo cites the Report from the Committee on Labor and Human Resources (May 9, 1997): 

"Children with disabilities must be included in State and district-wide assessments of student progress with individual modifications and accommodations as needed . . . The committee knows that excluding children with disabilities from these assessments severely limits and in some cases prevents children with disabilities, through no fault of their own, from continuing on to post-secondary education." 

"The committee reaffirms the existing Federal Law requirement that children with disabilities participate in State and district-wide assessments." 

Here are some excerpts from this Memorandum: 

"Assessment is often associated with direct individual benefits such as promotion, graduation, and access to educational services . . . assessment is an integral aspect of educational accountability systems . . . Because of the benefits that accrue as the result of assessment, exclusion from assessments on the basis of disability generally would violate Section 504 and ADA."

The Memorandum talks the REQUIREMENT that ALL children participate in State and district-wide testing: 

"Participation of students with disabilities in State and district-wide assessments is not participation just for the sake of participation. Participation in these assessments should lead to improved teaching and learning.  Participation in assessments goes hand in hand with access to the general curriculum."

"Including all children in assessment programs can help to ensure a high quality educational experience for each student by creating high education expectations for all children and accountability for the educational results of all students. It is critically important that schools know how successful they are in preparing all students to meet high standards. Parents need to know this as well."

Download the new Memorandum about Assessment in pdf.

Download the new Memorandum About Assessment in rich text.

With clarification from this new Memorandum, it's hard to see how a school can justify excluding a child with a disability from state testing.

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!