NCLB hurts students with disabilities

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This past week, many discussions have begun to crop up at my workplace concerning NCLB. This stands for The No Child Left Behind Act. Many people know that the law exists and the basic requirements it makes for our schools. However, most don’t know that NCLB has a hugely negative effect on students, specifically, students with disabilities.

Under the law, schools are required to make what’s called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This means that in order for a school to continue the way it is, a certain percentage of students need to be at the required learning levels or above. In order to show progress, students are required to take standardized tests in areas like reading and math. This is where things get difficult for students with special needs. There is only a limited number of “alternative tests” that these students can take and many students are forced to take a test that is way above their learning abilities. It just isn’t fair.

I work as a Special Education para at an elementary school. In our school people have started talking about the changes that will need to be made if we do not meet AYP again. Unfortunately, most people are pointing the finger of blame at students who are receiving special education. They say that it is our students who are holding the school back and creating stress for the other educators. I have to ask myself, “Are these accusations justified and do the people making these accusations really understand the struggle that our students go through in order to complete these tests?”

With the accusations flying, the whole issue is bound to have a negative impact on our community. The most important thing is to get the correct information out to the public and for them to understand just how challenging this law is. Our State and Federal Governments need to realize that expecting schools to achieve perfect passing scores is impossible and something needs to be changed.

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