Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Student Success Act Could Derail Progress

I am inserting a message I received from the National Council for Learning Disabilities in my inbox this morning. I have already submitted a letter to my representative and urge others to do the same. There are no easy solutions to the current crisis in education we have in our nation, but this is definitely not the answer for effective change - only to increase misconceptions about quality education for students with learning disabilities. 

Don't Take Students Off the Path to a Regular Diploma.

Stop H.R.5This is big. The Student Success Act (H.R.5) is up for a full vote this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and if the bill passes, it will be a disaster for students with disabilities.

Why? H.R.5 allows unlimited alternate assessments on alternate standards for students with disabilities — this practice could force millions of students off the path to a regular high school diploma. 

Here are the top five reasons we have to stop this:
  1. H.R.5 lowers expectations for students with disabilities.
  2. H.R.5 turns the clock back to a time when students with disabilities were not expected to graduate from high school or attend college.
  3. H.R.5 allows tracking of students as early as third grade.
  4. H.R.5 will lower the amount of early intervention, targeted instruction and support for struggling students.
  5. H.R.5 is the first education bill to make it to the floor since 2001 — 12 years ago! — and will set the stage for how students with LD are treated for years to come.
Now is the time to act. Tell your Representative to vote against H.R.5. 

(Note: You can act on this alert even if you did so before, because H.R.5 is now headed for a full vote in Congress.)

Write Your Representatives!
NCLD has a letter which can be personalized (follow the links above). This is from that template but I did add my own statements as well. 

As a nation we must have an expectation that all students will graduate college and career ready and this won't happen unless ESEA sets academic performance targets and graduation goals, requires improved instruction in struggling schools and limits the use of alternate assessments.
 Unlimited alternate assessments can be positive for specific groups of students, but for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities it can be catastrophic. In an effort to save money, schools already deny simple accommodations such as a reader or extended time for students who have a right to them. When it is allowable to stop reporting the scores of these students when improperly assessed rather than properly taught and supported AND assessed, we are not only opening the door to return to bad practice, but we are sending a message to those 2.2. million American students that while the adults are working hard with Responses to Intervention and wanting to get all students to success after graduation and they're just not worth the whole effort anymore. There are the 2.2 million American students with learning disabilities and many thousands more who struggle in school which are completely separate from physical and cognitive impairments. Over the past decade, as a result of the ESEA's focus on accountability and support, education results have improved for these students.These are certainly not perfect and can be challenging for schools to follow through upon, but they are necessary! Congress can continue this progress by reauthorizing ESEA using three core principles:
  1. Students with disabilities must be fully and equitably included;
  2. All students with learning disabilities must stay on track to graduate with a regular high school diploma;
  3. The law must increase access to early intervention and effective instruction.
 I urge you to vote against H.R.5 because this bill, if enacted, could take millions of students with disabilities off the path to a regular high school diploma.

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