Thank you to everyone who took action and wrote to the U.S. Department of Education about the end of the “Two Percent Rule” and Alternative Assessments on Modified Academic Standards (AA-MAS). We had a goal of 250 actions, but you outdid yourseves—close to 320 of you spoke up for including our kids!
I was deeply moved by many of the personal stories that you included in your comments. You reaffirmed my belief that ending the Two Percent Rule was the right thing to do. Here are some of your stories that I want to share with the entire community:
I have experienced the downside of [the Two Percent Rule and] AA-MAS with my son, who is 16 years old and has specialized learning disabilities. Instead of putting proper supports in place for him to be able to achieve the same objectives as other students, he was “downgraded” to a lower-level diploma... [I] felt that the school system and I were not on the same team when it came to supporting my child. —a parent in Virginia
My son has dyslexia and while he has challenges reading he is brilliant in mathematics and science. Thank you for giving him the opportunity he deserves. —a parent in Massachusetts
I am the proud parent of a six year old child who has Developmental Dyspraxia, Hypotonia, Vision issues, Sensory Issues, along with other issues. Despite my son's conditions he is a very social, loving and bright boy. By the age of two he already knew the alphabet along with the phonetic sounds, could count past 30, knew so many colors, shapes, and knew all the U.S. Presidents by full name and had basic reading skills. I believe he is not being given the chance to reach his full potential by being separated from his normally developing peers. I hope to change my son’s IEP this year to have him included in the class he belongs in and the chance to succeed. —a parent in Missouri
I teach middle school students with Moderate to Severe Learning Challenges and I know they can rise if the bar [is raised]. —a teacher in California
These children (mine included) deserve to have the opportunity to learn and excel like all other students. My son is Dyslexic it [is] harder, takes a little longer but can do it!! The schools need to be revamped to allow more programs suitable for them... Please don’t limit these children you may be missing out on someone that can Change the world!! —a parent in Mississippi
I have a daughter who is 11 [years] old and is in special education. she is a very bright individual who wants to learn. she has dreams of being a teacher one day. While sitting in her special ed class one day, she came home and told me “ma I want to do more and learn more can I go to the regular classroom.” Let me just say when she transitioned to a general classroom only for math, she was so excited. She was taking notes and very excited to do her homework. She did not care that it was a little more challenging she just wanted to learn more. So I ask please, please, please, please end the two percent rule. —a parent in Illinois
As the mother of a son with LD-EFD, I think it is imperative that this rule should be ended! Many children and teens are borderline “gifted” whose needs are not met within the education system today. Our kids need “Inclusion; not Exclusion!” —a parent in California
I am the parent of an eleven year old dyslexic child. Because my child received appropriate, researched based teaching methods beginning at age seven, he began the current school year fully re-integrated back into the general ed classroom. Treating children with learning differences as if they can’t learn is immoral. Please end the 2% rule! —a parent in New Jersey
These are just some of your stories, and now, it’s time to put them to work. I’m going to share your stories with policymakers to help ensure that students are supported as they transition from AA-MAS. Today, I’m submitting your letters to the Department of Education electronically. In addition, after the government shutdown ends, I’m going to go to the department’s offices and present your letters in person. When I’m there, I’ll connect with key decision makers so that they hear what you have to say.
Thank you again, and remember this is a big deal. In the 2010–11 school year, more than 400,000 students were taking AA-MAS in reading, math or both. We need to be doing right by all of these kids.
Lindsay is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She leads a team that designs and implements NCLD’s legislative strategy in Washington, D.C., aimed at advancing government policies that support the success of individuals with learning disabilities in school, at work and in life.