This time…it’s personal


Dear Melody Musgrove,

I’ve read with alarm plans to have the OSEP  change their approach to compliance with IDEA to emphasize test score monitoring, and cutting back on state compliance officers. As the parent of a child with an IEP, I have many concerns about this approach, and feel it would not meet my child’s needs and therefore would violate his rights.

My child is more than a test score, and his IEP is about more than test scores. You see, my son has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He is of normal intelligence, and does pretty good on standardized test. If test scores were the only criteria looked at for his “success” he would leave school with some serious deficits. Autism treatment has made great strides in recent decades because of a concentrated focus on developing social and executive function skills. Those are not skills that show up on a standardized test.

In addition, it’s not as if states and school districts are “compliant” at this point, and no longer need monitoring. I know of a child who has been waiting since January for an iPad to assist with writing (he has a degenerative disease and can no longer write for long periods of time). The child was unable to finish work, and failing classes in the meantime. You’d never know there was a problem because writing is not tested in his grade. It’s on his report card, but NOT on his test scores.

When you make a change in compliance policy, you send a signal about what counts, and what is a secondary concern. If you choose to focus on test scores, that will be all that counts. If you cut compliance officers at the state level, you will not see when these non-tested skills are not being met. My child’s social skills are not a secondary concern, they are necessity for him to be an independently functioning adult. That’s important to me, and it should be important to you and the education department as well. Please reassess your priorities and do the right thing for our children and for all of us.

Read more

Undermining Special Education?

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