Monday, February 04, 2013

URGENT Request: Do the Right Thing TODAY

If you care about kids please read this. This is an urgent request. The deadline for public comment is today, February 4, by 5:00 PM EST.

Today is the last day for Public Comment on Reading Accommodations on the PARCC. Click here to access the accommodations and here to answer the survey. (if you agree with me that this is an important issue, please consider voting NO on the three questions). 

The Promise - "When the Race to the Top (RTTT) Assessment applications were announced, all applicants were asked to describe how they would use the principles of universal design for learning (UDL). In the application that won them the grant, PARCC made a commitment to universally design its assessment at every stage." (1) Many educators who work with students who have learning disabilities were excited when we heard the new assessments would be delivered using digital text. The playing field would be leveled using principles of Universal Design. Tools like Text to Speech would be embedded, not an add-in. Students would finally have access to the tools which bypass their challenges, so essential on a high-stakes test. 

The Reality - A review of the Proposed Reading Accommodations reveals principles of Universal Design are ignored. Eligibility is very narrowly defined and ignores IEP (Individualized Education Program) team decisions altogether. 

The Outcome - Students with disabilities will be set up for failure, especially at the middle and high school levels. 

Why Should You Care?Because your students' futures are at stake. Because we are adding new burdens students need to overcome and ensuring they are unable to achieve a standard diploma. 
(The most recent data shows that about 57% of all students on IEP's do NOT graduate from high school with a standard diploma. We will ensure that number remains unchanged if we remove the tools students use to help them bypass their reading challenges and perform successfully on high stakes tests)

Rick Lavoie says, "Fair doesn't mean giving students the same thing; fair means giving students what they NEED." (emphasis mine)

High-stakes tests are a runaway freight train. I can't stop that. But I can implore anyone reading this blog post to do what is right and force PARCC to embed Universal Design principles into their tests. 

I envision a day when all students get what they need. Please help this to be more than a pipe dream. This is the right thing to do.

Additional Posts from others:
1. No Walk in the PARCC
2. Under Attack: Your Child's Testing Accommodations (written by the National Center for Learning Disabilities)

(1) - passage from a letter to PARRC from the National UDL Task Force Co-Chairs. 

1 comment:

Eliza Anderson said...

Hi Karen.. It's horrible if IEPs are ignored, but one issue I've heard discussed is the disadvantage of embedding tools vs. students having access to the AT tools/software they are accustomed to using... Probably water under the bridge to bring up now. Sigh