National Survey Shows: Parents, Special Educators Want Strong School Accountability in Rewrite of ESEA


Washington, DC – A national survey of parents and special educators reveals the importance of holding schools accountable for the academic performance of the 1 in 5 students in the United States with brain-based learning and attention issues related to reading, writing, math, organization and focus.

The study, conducted by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), further confirms that parents expect the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – known as No Child Left Behind – to make clear that schools must set goals for the academic performance of students with disabilities and take action when students fall behind.

NCLD’s survey was completed by over 1,200 parents of children with disabilities and special educators between September 16  and October 8, 2015.  Every state was represented in the survey respondents.

“As an organization established by and for parents of children with learning disabilities, NCLD stands alongside families who entrust their children’s education to our nation’s public schools.  The one in five children with learning and attention issues and their families must have complete confidence that schools will do everything they can to support the needs and ensure the success of all students,” stated James H. Wendorf, NCLD Executive Director.

Highlighted findings from NCLD’s survey include:

  • 97% of parents and 93% of educators believe that schools should be held accountable for students making academic progress.
  • 98% of parents believe that schools should be required to find a way to help students who are underperforming; and 95% of educators believe that schools should be required to provide interventions to help students who struggle.
  • 84% of parents believe that states should set goals for student academic progress and high school graduate rates as a way to improve how they serve students.
  • 72% of educators believe that student academic progress and high school graduation rates are important indicators of how schools are serving students, and 70% believe the federal government should require states to focus on these two elements in their accountability systems.

As Congress now works to finalize ESEA reauthorization and efforts are underway to weaken accountability for students with disabilities, it is critical to remember the impact accountability has in the classroom for students with disabilities.  A study commissioned by the Institute of Education Sciences found that when schools are held accountable for the performance of student performance, students with disabilities are more likely to:

  • Deliberately be moved from self-contained classrooms to general education classrooms.
  • Receive 2-3 hours per day of extra instruction in reading and math
  • Receive extra opportunities for instruction outside and within the school day
  • Have access to co-teaching (general and special educators teaching together)
  • Have educators who have had more professional development related to teaching students with disabilities.

NCLD has joined the nation’s top civil rights organizations in calling for stronger accountability in ESEA reauthorization.  To date, the House and Senate bills do not go far enough toward ensuring that schools will be held accountable for the performance of students with disabilities.

Instead, consistent with Senate Amendment #2241, a final ESEA reauthorization must include 3 elements for a strong accountability system:

  1. Emphasis on academic achievement
  2. Meaningful goals for improvement and gap-closing
  3. Action based on meeting/missing goals

“A strong accountability system has the potential to help families better understand how their child is performing and allows schools to know where to target their resources to support improving achievement. These are two vital functions of accountability systems and our federal education laws must maintain them if we want to see all students reach their potential,” stated Wendorf.

You can view the official press release here.

A summary of the survey results is included in NCLD’s 5 Ways School Accountability Supports Student Success.