The following is a press release from the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, of which TASH is a member. Additional information, including the full report referenced below, can be found at https://thecpsd.org.
Washington, DC – The Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD) today released a series of recommendations from leading experts in special education policy concerning academic achievement and its measurement for students who take alternate assessments on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAS). The recommendations are intended to offer guidance to members of Congress and the administration as they seek to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and meet the goal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide a free appropriate public education that focuses on the needs of each child with a disability.
“It is clear from the analysis and recommendations contained within this paper that there is a serious systemic problem in the way the students who take an AA-AAS are prepared for post- school life and in the way they are assessed. High quality assessments can drive high quality instruction,” stated Madeleine Will, CPSD Chair and former Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education. “However, the language and implementation of the regulations for the AA-AAS are actually undermining IDEA in many local education agencies (LEAs) and schools.”
The CPSD recommendations, which were gathered at a May 2012 roundtable, focused on three areas: college and career readiness; systems of accountability and teacher/principal evaluations; and monitoring of IDEA to ensure educational results and post-school outcomes pursuant to the statute.
The recommendations emphasize preparing students with significant disabilities for integrated competitive work in their communities and postsecondary programs in order to become contributing, taxpaying members of society. The proposed solutions also include an emphasis on the development of growth models that accurately measure the academic progress of students who take the AA-AAS.
One major concern expressed by the experts is the unintended consequence resulting from students who take the alternate assessment and then become ineligible for a regular high school diploma, which severely limits future work opportunities in an integrated environment.
“Placement in the AA-AAS often results in the removal of these students from general education classes, which limits their opportunity to participate and make progress in the general education curriculum and to earn a regular high school diploma”, noted Ricki Sabia, Associate Director for Education at the National Down Syndrome Society Policy Center.
The experts were also dismayed at the extent to which students who take the AA-AAS are not receiving services and supports for communication competence, which robs them of the opportunity to express their needs and demonstrate knowledge.
CPSD is a national non-partisan coalition of national organizations that advocates for innovative public policy reform focused on promoting the effective transition of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities into adulthood by preparing them to pursue and obtain optimal outcomes in the areas of employment, economic advancement, and independent living.
To download the full report, and for additional information on CPSD, visit https://thecpsd.org/.