Pass or Fail? Check Your School District’s 2008 Report Card

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In July, US DOE reported that only thirteen states met their own “self-imposed” requirements for educating children with disabilities. Not very promising, but a slight improvement from 2007 when only nine states met their requirements.

IDEA 2004 established a requirement that all states develop and submit a State Performance Plan (SPP) to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

The state plan should:

  1. evaluate the state’s implementation of IDEA
  2. describe how the state will improve implementation, and
  3. indicate how the state will improve the educational and functional outcomes for children with disabilities, using baseline data, projected targets, and activities to achieve those targets.

Each state is required to submit an Annual Performance Report (APR) on the performance of each of its local agencies according to the targets in its Plan (SPP).

Each state is required to post its Performance Plan SPP on the state education website and is required to annually report its progress to OSEP and the public.

Last year when State Report Cards were released, we questioned what would happen. Would schools take the data to heart and use it to improve performance?

The 2008 Report Cards on state performance released in July indicated:

  • 8 states “Need Improvement”
  • 23 states remain on the “Need Improvement” list for the 2nd consecutive year
  • 4 states “Need Intervention”
  • 3 states remain on the “Need Intervention” list for the 2nd consecutive year

Read more about the IDEA 2004 requirement for State Performance Plans. IDEA Report Cards

Do you know your state’s performance? Pass or fail? Find your state’s Report Card here.

Individual state letters can be found here:

To find the specific data for your state and your school district, go to your State Department of Education or simply google “[your state name] state performance plan”.

  1. The Special Education Performance Report for Virginia state and division levels has not been posted for the public for year 2007-08. Pam, shouldn’t this be available by now?

    The VDOE says they are still collecting and compiling (making the numbers come out right, maybe?) and it will be available in spring 2009. If this were the general report, it would not be tolerated being this late.

  2. Re: Teaching to the Test

    If the (fill in your appropriate state assessment) is based upon state standards (a criterion referenced test) and we’re teaching to the test, aren’t we teaching the state standards…even if weakly?

    You can’t have a focus on achievement without assessment (and lots of it). This has long been true in other industrialized countries: Le Bac, A-Levels, the Abitour. These are high stakes tests (much higher than in our country) and are all anxiety producing. As a whole this is eustress and not distress.

    Make up your minds. You can have a focus on achievement without lots of burdensome assessment or you can have pedagogical nihilism. People have a vision of touchy feeling education, but it is really about priorities, you have to pick one set over another. Ed Policy should be outcomes based, i.e. data driven.

  3. Wrightslaw,

    Memorization is a good learning strategy.
    My son was an A student in all subjects including band. The day that he was placed on an IEP, we were informed that he could no longer participate in Band, P.E. ride the bus or attend assemblies. His placement was eventually changed to home based which then changed to home based with no teacher provided.

    After multiple consecutive years of exclusion from educational services and a documented 34 point decrease in IQ, the district’s only goal in having my son memorize the answers to the test was to demonstrate that a child can be denied a FAPE with no side effects.

    My son currently has an overall 98.3 GPA. His Spanish grade is above 100 due to extra credit earned. That requires ongoing good memory.

    Memory has its place in education but should never replace education.

  4. Chris:

    I disagree that memorizing is bad. Some information must be learned and over-learned so it becomes automatic and requires little or no effort to recall.

    Young children need to memorize their home addresses and phone numbers (and their parents’ names). Older kids need to learn the alphabet, multiplication tables, rules of spelling and grammar. Later, we memorize rules for algebra, geometry, trig.

    How can you learn the periodic table of elements without memorizing?

    Do you want to learn to speak another language? To be successful, you need to be willing to memorize. Small price to pay. As a child, I didn’t feel put upon by the need to memorize these things. I took it as a sign I was growing up!

    How did memorizing essential information get such a bad rep? It’s a boon!

  5. Re: Teaching to the Test con’t

    Karen, I don’t disagree with you. Much of the anxiety we see in our kids is related to teacher anxiety. Many teachers expect to be blamed if their students do not do well on high stakes tests. This leads to endless drilling. I’m glad your DH was able to reassure your child.

    High stakes tests are supposed to be aligned with the state’s “high academic standards.” As this post demonstrates, state academic standards are not very “high.” Most state exit exams test skills at the 6th to 10th grade level. States develop “easy” exit exams because they don’t want to deal with huge numbers of kids who fail — and their angry families.

  6. Re: Teaching to the Test con’t

    When we found out what was happening in the classroom, my DH reassured our son that his grade for the yr did not depend on this particular series of tests – that it was a test for the school district to show how well they were doing their job.

    Once that pressure was removed from his shoulders, our son relaxed. In the end, he did very well on the 2nd grade test. This yr’s tests are the biggies, so we expect the same kind of pressure.

    I understand that there are high standards that have to be met, but it seems that too much time is spent on drilling when, if the SD is doing its job in the 1st place, kids should already have obtained this knowledge & be able to shade in ovals w/ a pencil.

    At least, that’s what I remember from when I took standardized tests in elementary school.

    Am I wrong?

  7. Re: Teaching to the Test

    What I mean by this is the district spends an extraordinary amount of time on drilling the kids to pass this test so the school can meet the NCLB standards. The time spent is at least a month.

    While I don’t have a problem spending a wk doing practice tests so the kids know how to fill in an oval w/ a # 2 pencil, I do have a problem w/ my 2nd grade son having HW based upon this test & being anxious that he HAS to do well on the test.

    Pressure is placed on these kids to “do well” so the district will do well. Kids take practice test after practice test, & there are no outside activities allowed during this time period – assemblies, field trips, parent volunteers in school, classroom visits from parents, speech therapy, meetings w/ the CST – until the real tests & then regular school schedules resume.

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  9. Good teachers teach kids how to learn as opposed to having them memorize specific information.

    My child’s school district used a lot of creativity in justifying denial of a FAPE for multiple consecutive years.

    My child took the HSAP (High school exit exam) at home due to the educational arrangements at the time. The district sent out a school psychologist during the week before the test. The psychologist brought a copy of the test with answers so my child could “practice” the type of questions that would be on the test.

    We did not allow our child to practice because we were not concerned with ability to memorize.

    Standard based instruction can be great. Without real enforcement of regs, kids may not benefit from the efforts.

  10. Exactly what does “teaching to the test” mean?

    In the last reauthorization of the ESEA (aka NCLB) during the Clinton administration, States were required to develop high academic standards that all children would meet. The law required States to devise tests to measure how well they were doing in teaching these standards. Preparing children to pass these tests is often called “teaching to the test” as if this is a bad thing.

    When teachers were “just teaching,” there was no consistency in what children learned – everything depended on whether you had good teachers.

    I don’t have a problem with “teaching to the test” if this means kids learn to read, spell, write a sentence and a paragraph, do math accurately – along with science, history, geography, and literature.

  11. My home state of NJ may pass IDEA standards, but at the expense of children, starting in the 2nd grade, spending months out of the school year “cramming” for the state tests. They are teaching to the test rather than just teaching.

    The state of NJ also needs to define what a gifted & talented program should be; right now all school districts are required to have a G&T program, but there is NO definition of what a G&T program should include.

  12. Wouldn’t it be nice if the real world worked the way that our parents taught us when we were growing up?

    Passing grades leads to privileges. Schools that do not have passing grades should devote most or all their travel/conference funds to areas of identified weaknesses.

    When the school earns a passing grade, conferences at vacation resorts could resume for the district admins. Why should they be allowed to travel while our kid’s education is going nowhere?

    It is a simple ABA technique. Do not allow them access to rein forcers until they demonstrate appropriate behaviors. Once they learn that they can gain access to desired rein forcers without demonstrating appropriate behaviors, negative behaviors are likely to occur.

    Under NCLB they need to learn that NO means NO.

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