Thursday, June 30, 2016

Promising Changes for Special Education Under ESSA

Promising Changes for Special Education Under ESSA:

Promising Changes for Special Education Under ESSA

special education essa

For years, in many school districts across the country, it wasn’t uncommon to hear stories about special education students lacking adequate resources. They might go months without textbooks. Or, if they had textbooks, they were decades old. Technology was scarce in some schools while in other places it was outright broken. Additionally, students with severe cognitive delays were expected to take a standardized test, regardless of the recommendations of their individualized education program (IEP).
With the implementation of the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that’s about to change. “With ESSA, we get to be part of the conversation about what will be required of our students,” says Angela Waiters Jackson, a special education teacher for eight years, and now the president of the Guilford County Association of Educators in North Carolina. “Before we would just get whatever came along,” which was mostly brought on by No Child Left Behind.
Special education teachers are expected to see promising changes under ESSA, which reduces the federal government’s role over education policy and gives state and local authorities more control. The law also places less emphasis on testing, reduces the amount of schools labeled as “failing,” and gives educators a bigger opportunity to take make decisions based on the needs of their students and schools.
That’s music to Jackson’s ears. She’s seen firsthand the damage wrought by the old law’s requirements, especially in the area of standardized tests. “We were asking students to do things we knew we shouldn’t be asking them to do, but every student had to be tested,” says Jackson.

Testing Gone Wrong

Florida served as an example of standardized testing at its worst. In 2014, NEA learned of Ethan Rediske. He had entered the Orange County Public School system at the age of three. By the time he hit the equivalency of third grade, he was required Promising Changes for Special Education Under ESSA:

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