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$14 Million to Help States Better Assess Students with Disabilities Under No Child Left Behind, IDEA


As part of a special education partnership with states, the U.S. Department of Education today announced that it has awarded more than $14 million in grants to help them meet requirements for students with disabilities under the No Child Left Behind Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

A total of 27 states will benefit from the awards in a grant program in which states were encouraged to work together and apply for funding in a consortium with other states.

“These funds will be used to develop more appropriate assessments for a small group of students with disabilities who cannot take the general assessment,” said Deputy Secretary Raymond Simon. “With more appropriate assessments, we can better determine what children know and can do, which will help improve instruction and make sure they receive the help that they need.”

The funds will be used for developing:


Modified academic achievement standards.

Alternate academic achievement standards (for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities).

State assessments based on modified or alternate academic achievement standards.

Clear and appropriate guidelines for Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams, which include parents, to identify children with disabilities who should be assessed based on alternate or modified academic achievement standards.

Training on those guidelines for IEP teams.

During the past few years, the Education Department has announced major steps to help states meet the requirements for serving students with disabilities under the No Child Left Behind Act and IDEA.

In 2003, the department said that when measuring adequate yearly progress (AYP), states and school districts could count the proficient and advanced scores of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who take alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards -- so long as the number of those proficient and advanced scores did not exceed one percent of all students in the grades assessed.

This so-called “one percent cap” amounts to about 10 percent of the total population of students with disabilities.

Then, in 2005, the department announced that states could include proficient and advanced scores of students who take assessments based on modified academic achievement standards in determining AYP, capped at two percent of the tested population at the district and state levels.

That group amounts to about 20 percent of the special education population. Consistent with the department’s longstanding position to hold all students to the highest standards, the department has emphasized that modified academic achievement standards must be based on grade-level content standards.


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