(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
The No Child Left Behind Act required student testing and reporting of data in return for continuing receipt of federal education dollars. The law however left granular details to the states, most of whom happily went about abusing them.
This chart is from a new study about the inclusion of special needs children in state testing regimes. As you can see from the third column, states held a glorious 35.4% of schools accountable for the academic performance of special needs children during the 2009-10 school year. This ranged from a glorious 100% in Connecticut and Utah to a sickening 7% in Arizona.
I have heard through the grapevine that addressing this national scandal has been a major point of emphasis in Arne Duncan’s waiver process. As someone who views this process skeptically overall and suspects that it is creating a mess that will be difficult to unwind, let me say bully for Duncan on this score.
Those of us who have a preference for state and local control over K-12 policy need to recognize data like this and shamefully low cut scores as a major problem. I’m not an enthusiast for Washington by any means. You won’t however be hearing me sing the glories of devolving K-12 power to Arizona as long as the Wall Street stock picking chicken can pass the AIMS test on a good day and 93% percent of the schools are not held accountable for the academic progress of special needs children.