At Wrightslaw, our goals are to help you gain the information and skills you need to navigate the confusing world of special education. In this issue, we tackle high stakes testing. As school districts and states come under increased pressure to improve educational results, high stakes testing has emerged as a hot issue.
Highlights: IDEA, Section 504, and high stakes testing; judge issues injunction in California high stakes testing case; mom of child with Down Syndrome shares success story; changes to Wrightslaw site; join Pete & Pam in Columbia, SC for Wrightslaw Boot Camp; Back to Press-Thank You Sale ends Friday, March 15.
as of March 11, 2002: 39,133
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High Stakes Testing: IDEA, Section 504 & Kids with Disabilities
As school districts and states come under increased pressure to improve educational results, high stakes testing has emerged as a hot issue.
Many school districts do not provide disabled children with early, intensive remediation. As a result, children with special educational needs are not being taught the skills they must master to pass these tests. When children fail these tests, they pay a high price - they are not promoted or allowed to graduate from school.
According to the IDEA, the child's IEP team is responsible for making all decisions about the child's participation in state and district-wide assessments, and about accommodations and modifications the child needs and will receive.
As state departments of education implement these high stakes tests, some have developed blanket policies that prohibit or severely limit accommodations and modifications -- despite federal law and regulations that prohibit this policy. Recently, lawsuits have been filed in Oregon and California on behalf of children with disabilities.
As a parent, you represent your child's interests. What should you do?
You believe your child should not be penalized because the district failed to teach your child the required knowledge and skills - and you're right. As a parent, you want to protect your child from painful experiences. But if parents of disabled children pull their children out of state and district testing, accountability will go up in smoke.
You need to understand your child's rights under the IDEA, Section 504 and the ADA. For a good analysis of these issues, download, print, and read the OSEP Memorandum: Q's & A's: IDEA, Children with Disabilities & State and District-wide Assessments.
This "family friendly" article about assessments includes 26 questions and answers. Learn about rights and responsibilities under IDEA and Section 504, parental permission, the role of your child's IEP team, accommodations and modifications, alternate assessments, out-of-level testing, accountability, and more.
Federal Judge Issues Injunction in California High Stakes Testing Case
On February 21, 2002, a federal judge ordered the California Board of Education to provide accommodations for more than 45,000 learning disabled high school students who will take the state's high school exit exam in March.
Judge Charles R. Breyer issued a preliminary injunction in Juleus Chapman, et. al. v. CA Dept of Education, et al., regarding the state's plans to administer the California High School Exit Exam.
Judge Breyer ruled that students must be allowed to use calculators and other aids. He also ordered the state to develop alternative ways to assess the knowledge and skills of students who cannot pass the exit exam because of their disabilities.
To learn more about this important case please visit the Wrightslaw site.
Success Story: Why Kids With Disabilities Should Take High Stakes Tests - One Parent's View
Despite objections of her child's IEP team, a mom of child with Down Syndrome insisted that her son learn to take standardized tests. Although the learning curve was steep, this story has a happy ending. Read this mom's experiences and perspective about high stakes testing.
Free Pub: Do No Harm
If you are interested in high stakes testing, accommodations, and assessments, you will want to get a copy of "Do No Harm - High Stakes Testing and Students with Learning Disabilities" published by Disabilities Rights Advocates.
This manual describes accommodations, alternate assessments, appeals, procedures, and other safeguards that should be implemented for statewide assessment systems to comply with the law and guarantee educationally sound opportunities to students with learning disabilities.
To learn how you can get a free copy of "Do No Harm", go to our Free Pubs page and scroll down to "High Stakes Tests"
Upgrades of Wrightslaw Site: Navigation System, Viewing Problems
If you have visited the Wrightslaw site within the past couple of weeks, you know that we have a new navigation system. This new navigation system is designed to help you to get information quickly and efficiently.
On the left side of your screen are links to the main information sections of the site (Law Library, Advocacy Library, News, Sitemap, etc). Below this is a list of topics (from Advocacy and Assessment to Section 504 and Transition). On the right side of your screen are links to services, products, free resources, and the Advocate's Bookstore.
PROBLEM: Visitors who use older versions of Netscape Navigator software report that this new navigation system does not work with their browsers. Pages are several screens wide, word wrap does not work, text is left justified, etc.
We are working to resolve these problems! We ask that you be patient (or upgrade your software)! The site is best viewed with Internet Explorer software which is used by 88.2% of our visitors. Thanks!
Wrightslaw Boot Camp: Join Pete & Pam Wright in Columbia, SC (April 5-6, 2002)
Please join Pete and Pam Wright in Columbia, SC on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 for Boot Camp, an intensive two-day training program about special education law and advocacy. What is Boot Camp? Click here to find out . . .
On Friday, you will learn about special education rights and responsibilities. On Saturday, the program will focus on special education advocacy techniques and strategies.
Please pre-register. This program is limited to 200 participants.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! At two of our last three conferences, registrations sold out before the program. Walk-ins were turned away at the door. The exception was Skokie, Illinois, where 350 people registered and there were approximately 50 walk-ins.
The registration fee for the Wrightslaw Boot Camp is very reasonable and includes a copy of our new book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide and other materials.
The program is sponsored by
PRO-Parents of South Carolina, the South Carolina Autism Society, and
the SC Department of Education Office of Exceptional Children.
For more information, call PRO-Parents: 803-772-5688 or 800-759-4776 or email: PROParents@aol.com
Or call the Autism Society: 803-750-6988 or 800-438-4790 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out if we are coming to a town near you, please check our schedule:
Back to Press Sale Ends Friday, March 15, Don't Miss Great Savings
We hope you have taken advantage of our Back to Press - Thank You Sale! When you buy one Wrightslaw book at regular retail price ($29.95), you get the 2nd book for just $14.95 (50% off) -- buy two books, you save $15.00!
You can mix and match - two Law books, two FETA books, one Law book and one FETA book. To learn about this sale, go to
Subscription & Contact Info
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter about special education legal and advocacy issues, cases, tactics and strategy, and Internet resources. Subscribers receive announcements and "alerts" about new cases, events, and special offers on Wrightslaw books.
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