Public school children with marginal learning disabilities must be taught at the regular grade level and awarded a standard diploma.
by ADDitude Editors
In an effort to ensure that the federal No Child Left Behind law lives up to its name, the U.S. Department of Education has proposed revising the rules that govern testing of special-education students, including those with AD/HD or learning disabilities.
The law requires public schools to periodically evaluate their students using standardized tests. If a school has large numbers of students who consistently perform poorly on the tests, it must take corrective action -- by providing tutors, allowing students to transfer to other schools, and so on. In some cases, school administrators are replaced.
Last spring, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings proposed a rule that would allow certain special-ed students to take a modified test that reflects their abilities. She was responding to concerns among school administrators that the rules were too rigid, but her proposal alarmed parents of children with special needs, who feared that schools would be allowed to shunt children with even marginal learning problems into the "modified testing" group and fail to instruct them at the appropriate grade level.
Under the latest proposed revision of the rules, announced by Spellings last December 14, schools will be required to teach marginal students at the regular grade level, even if they are taking a modified test, and to give these students the standard diploma upon graduation.
"Federal officials listened to parents' concerns about having their children excluded from important testing and curriculum opportunities," said James H. Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities in New York City. And officials responded "by putting some muscle into a requirement that schools truly include students with disabilities as they work to improve the achievement of all students. We believe that every child with a learning disability should be expected to receive a standard high school diploma and be required to stay on track to earn that diploma."