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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and ESEA Title I require inclusion of all students with disabilities in a State assessment system (US DOE, 2003). In addition, the IDEA Amendments of 1997 stipulate that students with disabilities must be included in state and district assessments. This further challenges the 26 states that have implemented these tests to develop policy options to allow participation of these students (Johnson, et al, 2007). However, not all research views these policies as completely negative for students receiving special education services. Thurlow and Johnson (2000) reported the benefit of special education student participation in high-stakes testing as the assurance of access to general education curriculum. Therefore, students with disabilities are a more-integrated part of the classroom and are no longer left behind. However, the authors state that students with disabilities may also be negatively impacted by high-stakes exams when compared to their non-disabled peers. This sentiment is echoed by researchers who studied the impact of these tests on low-income students and students of color.


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