Special Education Requires Special Consideration (10-4-07)
"No Child Left Behind" is a nice sentiment. But as the nation's current public education policy, its attitude regarding special education students leaves a bit to be desired.
Testing students annually to make sure they're performing at proper math and reading levels is fine. The problem is, virtually all special ed students are held to the same standards as everyone else in determining a school's success or failure - even though, by definition, these students face a unique set of challenges.
Of course we should expect them to learn and prepare for productive adult lives like every other student. But requiring them all to show the same grade-appropriate proficiency is just unrealistic.
Some can, of course. But many others never will.
Last year, over half of Kentucky's schools that failed to meet established goals did so only because their special ed students didn't perform at grade level. But shouldn't the proper standard in evaluating special ed students be their progress toward reaching grade level proficiency - not whether they've arrived at the final destination?
Of course special ed students shouldn't be excluded from testing. But education is all about maximizing student potential - whatever it may be. And when that happens, those who make it happen should be judged as successes - not failures.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my Point of View.