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More Students Left Out Of Accountability Ratings

More special education students are being excluded from federal accountability provisions, driving up the number of public schools able to make adequate yearly progress and raising questions about the pledge to "leave no child behind."

To make adequate progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public schools and districts need to meet annual targets for the percent of students scoring at least at the proficient level on state tests. That goes both for their student populations as a whole and for certain subgroups, including students who are poor, speak limited English, are members of racial or ethnic minorities, or have disabilities.

"It defeats the whole point of No Child Left Behind not to have and report data on students with disabilities because states have defined sample size in such a way that most schools don't show up on the radar screen," said Jay P. Heubert, a professor of Law and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. "The underlying problem, though," he added, "is that for kids who have serious disabilities, it may take a full 12 or 13 years of high-quality instruction to be able to meet the kinds of standards states are increasingly adopting. And that's simply not the political timetable."

This article, written by Lynn Olson, appeared in the September 21st, 2005 edition of Education Week.previous page