The Upside of NCLB (page 2)

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Updated on Mar 17, 2010

Another domino effect of testing, according to Gould, is increased access to high quality teachers in order to make this mainstream content learnable for students with special needs. “This was a real plus and long overdue,” he says.

However, not everyone in the field of special education is in love with the idea of testing students with disabilities. In its report, NCD admits that IDEA and NCLB aren't perfect systems. Many of the stakeholders interviewed for this report stated that an unfortunate side-effect to NCLB is too much testing. They also complained that the act needed to widen the definition of “high school graduate”—as NCLB stands now, only students who earn a diploma in four years are considered graduates. “They need to change the graduation requirement to give students a longer period of time,” Gould says.

Pulling these concerns together, the report offers several recommendations. It suggests that the law make a greater effort to recruit and retain quality teachers, and to give those teachers the resources they need to do the job. It says that NCLB and IDEA should be pulled into alignment so that “schools aren't duplicating reporting efforts,” Gould says. NCD also warns that assessments should measure more than just academics: life skills and employability skills should also be evaluated.

It's hard to say how this report will effect the decisions of policy-makers when it comes time to reauthorize NCLB. For Browder's part, she says, “If NCLB goes away tomorrow, I think parents have seen enough change in their children with these new opportunities that they won't go back to days when they didn't have access to the curriculum,” she says.

Gould says a copy of this report was sent to the President and every member of Congress. So at the very least they got the memo.

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