According to information given to me by Deborah Abramson Brooks, the U.S. Dept. of Education is insisting that the New York Board of Education continue to force all students with disabilities, except for those with the severest disabilities, to take the tests matching their chronological age, not their developmental age, ignoring their cognitive disabilities. HERE is the notification from June 29.

In addition, they are still insisting students struggling to learn English must take the regular tests after one year instead of two.

They will not consider the waiver requested by the Regents.

Both requests were aimed at reducing stress on students and yielding more useful results. State officials say that federal rules that require testing students at their chronological age, with narrow exceptions for students with very severe disabilities, set up some disabled students for failure and turn the tests into stressful guessing games. School officials in districts with many immigrant students say one year often is not enough for new arrivals to be ready to take language arts exams written in English.

Certain civil rights groups, as we know, have been behind this draconian testing too, along with, U.S. Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle who is leaving to be the new CEO of the ASCD. The requirements, she says, are “necessary to ensure that teachers and parents of all students, including (English learners) and students with disabilities, have information on their students’ proficiency and progress in reading/language arts and mathematics” and “to ensure that schools are held accountable for the academic achievement of all students.”

The U.S. DOE is on a trajectory to privatize public schools and the only way they can do it to make it look like teachers are failing to teach students with disabilities or students learning a new language. They will continue to sacrifice the mental health of children and jobs of many teachers to do this. In New York, like everywhere else, testing has been tricky business.

What happened to the Individual Educational Plan (IEP)?

We have also been in the process of witnessing the end of special education, and a return to the old days of stigmatizing children. Instead of institutions, students will be segregated into for-profit charter schools with Teach for America, turnaround teachers. Or parents will be pushed out of public school into homeschooling.

It is amazing the lengths high ranking authorities at the U.S. Dept. of Education will continue to go to make public schools, teachers and their students look bad, all while they are breaking up special education and converting public schools into charters.

The IEP meeting is where parents who want their children to take a test, or not, should work it out. No so-called advocacy groups or politicians have the right to paint all students with one broad stroke. The purpose of special education is to individualize!

The U.S. DOE is overstepping its authority. They should have been sued a long time ago. The State of New York needs to protect its children! As does the rest of the country.

Some will say these draconian plots are because those at the U.S. DOE don’t know anything about kids with disabilities, and it is easy to get that takeaway when you watch Education Secretary Arne Duncan bumble about trying to explain why there is no concerted plan for children with dyslexia.

But the assault on special education has been going on since the day the ink dried on PL 94-142. Few politicians wanted to fund it. That we had some good years in the seventies to pull children out of dismal institutions and insist that they could learn and should have rights like every other child was a miracle.

Where is the safety net now? This push to test all students this way heightens the stigma children face—does not remove it. There will be no pleasant futures made based on these test scores for many of these children.

It is pure meanness. I know of no other words to describe it.

bailey-489_0_0-300x199Nancy Bailey is an education activist and a former special education teacher.  Her book is titled Misguided Education Reform: Debating the Impact on Students.  Her blog is Catch up with her on twitter @NancyEBailley1

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