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November 07, 2003

Left-Right convergence?

On idealistic stupidity that is... Standard tests for special ed draw fire

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires schools to test students and report the scores to show that they are meeting high academic standards, nearly all special-education students have to take the same tests as others their age. And they are expected to score on par with their peers by 2013-14.
"The reality is that for too long, we haven't expected enough and we've made too many excuses that these kids cannot learn," said Robert Pasternack, the U.S. Department of Education's assistant secretary for special education.

Posted by razib at 08:22 PM

So kids with an IQ below 60 don't have to take the test. I wonder what, if anything, they'll do for kids with an IQ over 140.

It really pisses me off that the schools have all sorts of special programs and classes for stupid kids but very little, if anything, for smart kids.

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 7, 2003 09:29 PM

Oh and I wonder if this is just going to give schools incentives to figure out how to get rid of stupid kids so they don't drag down their average test scores.

Smart kids might actually start to be valued more -- but the schools also might try to make it harder for them to escape to better options (homeschooling, early college admission, etc.) because they want the smart kids to stay and take their standardized tests.

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 7, 2003 09:33 PM

(When I left high school at 15 to go to college the school district could have gotten in the way if they wanted, but they were just glad to be rid of me and my complaining mother by then.)

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 7, 2003 09:36 PM

some news on our friend Bobby Jindal http://politicalwire.com/archives/003449.html

he was apparently once possessed by the devil...

Posted by: blah at November 7, 2003 10:43 PM

I'm surprised that GNXP doesn't pay more attention to special ed. It's one of the real strains on the educational budget, and lawyers often get involved (if the parents have money). Sometimes you'll have one full-time staff per one or two students.

So proportionately more money is spent on kids who in some cases are completely uneducable. I personally believe that a special effort should be made where there can be results, but sometimes you really just have to say "there's not much we can do".

One of the reason for bad morale in the schools is blaming schools for problems kids have before they get to school. Not just disability, but major behavioral, emotional, and attitude problems.

Special ed is often gamed for various reasons -- to get rid of problem students, to get extral fed money, to keep test scores up.

Posted by: zizka at November 8, 2003 10:07 AM

Check out www.tardblog.com for stories about real special education students, written by a special education teacher. Occasionally she writes about their family backgrounds and it's obvious that the problems go way beyond what the school can do anything about.

Posted by: Jacqueline at November 8, 2003 01:42 PM

Another downside to giving schools an incentive to maximize student scores is that now they'll want to keep smart kids in the system instead of allowing them to be homeschooled. Yesterday I saw stats in the local paper that showed that for Pennsylvania, homeschooled students had higher average SAT scores than students from any public school in my county (and better than all but four private ones). Since my wife and I plan to homeschool I would sooner not give the local schools any reason to make it harder for us.

Posted by: bbartlog at November 10, 2003 10:03 AM

In Seattle, parents of high-achieving students are threatening to boycott the state academic standard test (which would potentially put certain schools out of no child left behind compliance) if spending on programs for gifted children isn't changed...


Posted by: carter at November 10, 2003 12:53 PM