NCLD Comments on Race to the Top Assessment ProgramThe U.S. Department of Education (USED) has announced proposed regulations governing the Race to the Top Fund — part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that provides a $4.3 billion competitive grant program to states. The "Race to the Top Fund" is designed to encourage and reward states that are implementing significant education reforms in key areas outlined by the Secretary of Education.
The proposed regulations include a variety of ways to measure student achievement that, in turn are used to measure student growth. Rates of student growth will be used to measure principal and teacher effectiveness. The proposed definition of "student achievement" includes the rates at which students meet goals in individualized education programs (IEPs).
The National Center for Learning Disabilities believes that IEP goals should not be used to measure student achievement as part of IV Definitions: Student Achievement.
In 2005, USED itself stated "IEP goals are individualized for each student, and a student's progress toward each goal is measured for purposes of reporting progress to parents for making individualized decisions about the special education and related services a student receives." "IEP goals may address a broad range of individualized instructional needs, as well as behavioral and developmental needs, and might not be based on the State's academic content standards. IEP goals may cover a range of issues beyond reading/language arts and mathematics, such as behavior, social skills, or the use of adaptive equipment, and, as such, an examination of how well a student met his or her IEP goals is not synonymous with achievement..."
NCLD believes such inappropriate use of achievement of IEP goals may lead to the unintended consequence of a reduction in rigor, resulting in a lowering of expectations for students with disabilities. Since student achievement is designed to be used to determine student growth and to measure principal and teacher effectiveness, it is particularly important that the use of IEP goals to measure student achievement be deleted from these proposed regulations.
On December 2, 2009, NCLD submitted its comments regarding the "Race to the Top Assessment Program."
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