On Wednesday, February 18, 2015, the House Education & the Workforce Committee approved the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to reauthorize and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act). The full House of Representatives is preparing to consider the bill on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
While TASH is pleased that the bill includes several provisions important to the disability community – such as annual assessments in grades 3-8 and once in high school, disaggregation of data by student categories, the 95% student participation rate for all students as well as for student subgroups in annual assessments, and the use of universal design for learning principles in assessment design – the bill does not go far enough and we must voice our significant concern that HR 5 does not fully support students with disabilities. In fact, it creates incentives for schools and districts to remove students with disabilities from being taught the general curriculum and being eligible to earn a regular high school diploma.
TASH urges the House to work on bipartisan legislation that continues to provide meaningful access to rigorous standards for all students and fully includes students with disabilities in every local school. Any bill to reauthorize ESEA must include the following:
- Limit the use of Alternate Assessments based on Alternate Achievement Standards to 1% of all students assessed;
- Ensure that parents are involved in the decision that their child will take an alternate assessment;
- Ensure that students with disabilities, including students who take an alternate assessment participate in and have the opportunity to progress in the general curriculum and are kept on track to earn a regular high school diploma;
- Prohibit the elimination of maintenance of effort provisions.
HERE’S HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Representatives, and
- Urge them to make sure any bill to reauthorize the ESEA must adhere to the four principles outlined above
ESEA has been our nation’s greatest driver of educational equity for the past 50 years.
Since its passage in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, ESEA has been our nation’s driving force for educational equity. For the communities we represent—students of color, students with disabilities, English-language learners, and low-income students—a strong ESEA is vital to ensuring that states and school districts are living up to their obligation to provide a quality education to all on an equal basis—not just for the most privileged or wealthy.
The proposals pending in Congress strip out ESEA’s most effective provisions and, if passed, would thrust us back to a time when schools could freely choose to ignore students of color and students with disabilities.
The reauthorization proposals currently pending in Congress would strip millions of students and their parents of the protections and resources that have helped them to hold their schools accountable for equitable funding and treatment. The results, for these groups of students and for our nation as a whole, would be devastating.