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U.S. Department of Education Proposes End of 2 Percent Assessments

August 27th, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed Regulations, published on August 23, 2013, to transition away from the so-called “2 percent rule.” Under the existing regulations, States have been allowed to develop alternate assessments aligned to modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS) for some students with disabilities and use the results of those assessments for accountability purposes under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In making accountability determinations, States currently may count as proficient scores for up to 2 percent of students in the grades assessed using the alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards. The alternate achievement standards are commonly known as 2 percent tests.

The notice emphasizes the Department’s commitment to holding all students to high standards that better prepare them for college and career.  Under the Department’s proposed regulation, students with disabilities who have been taking the AA-MAAS will transition to college and career ready standards and general assessments that are aligned to those standards and accessible to all students.The proposed amendments would permit states that administered the  modified testing during  2012-13 to continue doing so on a transitional basis, and include the results from these tests in AYP calculations “subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted for AYP purposes,” according to the Notice of proposed rulemaking.  The proposed amendments also would apply to accountability determinations made by eligible states that receive ESEA flexibility waivers and have requested a waiver of making AYP determinations, the notice says.

The U.S. Department of Education cited research showing that low-achieving students with disabilities make academic progress when provided with appropriate supports and instruction. The general assessments, “in combination with such supports and instruction for students with disabilities, can promote high expectations for all students, including students with disabilities, by encouraging teaching and learning to the academic achievement standards measured by the general assessments.” The US Department of Education expects that elimination of the alternate achievement standards will give states the opportunity to “refocus their assessment efforts and resources” on developing these general assessments.

The rules are only proposed and will alarm parents of students with disabilities, as assessments just became more rigorous, with the introduction of the Common Core.  However, alternate assessments have not been very effective in measuring progress, so their elimination could be a positive development.   Ask your school what additional supports may be available for your child.

Bottom line: Do not panic. Take some time to review the rules and comment and ask your school district to do the same. Then, wait for the final rules and state guidance.

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