John King, the Education Commissioner for New York, has proposed allowing disabled children in New York, up to 2% of the student body, to be tested at their intellectual level as opposed to their actual grade level; up to two grade levels below the grade in which they are actually in.
If this measure passes, a child who suffers from a learning disability will be allowed to have a less onerous set of requirements than outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act passed by Bush in 2001. According to Section 1001 within the No Child Left Behind Act, the purpose of this piece of legislation is to:
“…ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.”
King’s proposal comes as part of a yearly ESEA flexibility appeal to the Federal Government; a request submitted yearly that allows states to rework “specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive State-developed plans.” While King’s intentions are undoubtedly pure and compassionate, advocates of disabled children, such as The National Center For Learning Disabilities, are beating the drum to get this petition overturned or withdrawn.
The reason these advocacy groups are dissatisfied with King’s proposed decree is that it allows sub-standard performance from people who are already struggling to learn. They believe this would create a “cycle of low performance that happens regardless of their own abilities” according to the article in the Huffington Post; going so far as to call it “inappropriate and offensive.”
Proponents of the change claim that it actually hurts children to consistently test them on material that is too difficult for them. They argue that it doesn’t do them any good, nor their parents or teachers, to consistently test these children on subject material that is different from what they are learning on a day-to-day basis.
A spokesperson for King, in a politically correct statement, said that they are fielding all comments and input and will use that to help make the final decision. According to their office, these changes came about because teachers of special education were claiming that these tests were too hard for their students; that they weren’t cohesive with the classroom environment and the educational abilities of the kids.
King, doing the correct thing, listened to his teacher’s and proposed these changes. After all, part of a teacher’s job is to know their students, their abilities, and gage where they are at. If they aren’t consulted on these issues, what kind of message is being sent?