Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Officials Want To Remove Students With Severe Disabilities From School Grading System

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Should students with the most severe disabilities have to take the FCAT writing exam and other tests?

Florida education officials are working to strip out a controversial change to the state’s grading system which requires students with severe disabilities to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, according to Education Week.

State education officials and lawmakers approved the change this year in order to receive a federal waiver from portions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The change has divided disabilities advocates.

Some argue it’s unreasonable to require students with the most severe disabilities to take the timed FCAT exam. But others argue that students with severe disabilities might be placed into separate, specialized schools if school leaders know that means their test results won’t count.

But will the federal Department of Education allow the change? Here’s Ed Week:

Florida was in the first round of states to get an NCLB waiver. And Florida was one of three states given a waiver with a condition: Its accountability system had to change so that all students with disabilities and those learning English are included. If the state doesn’t comply, its waiver will expire at the end of the next school year.

UPDATE: The Department of Education just told me that if a state wants to make changes to its approved waiver request, it would need to come in for an amendment that would be reviewed by the department to make sure its revised request still meets the NCLB waiver flexibility principles. Because Florida’s waiver is conditional, “we’d look closely at any amendments in this area,” an agency spokesman said.


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