NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 8, 2004

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to report the success rate of their public schools, based on student test scores, including those of disabled students. However, many of the nation's 6 million disabled children are being excluded from the reporting system, creating obstacles for parents who want information on the performance of special education programs.

According to the New York Times:

  • Currently 10 states have not fully disclosed how disabled students are performing on achievement tests designed specifically for them.
  • About 12 states have raised the minimum number of disabled children that must be enrolled before the school reports their progress separately.
  • Some states are posting school report cards on the Internet, but are not breaking down the results for specific groups, such as disabled students.
  • New York City's District 75, which educates some 20,000 disabled students, gives only bits and pieces of information on their performance, rating their program as "in good standing," although results have shown otherwise.

One reason for the lack of reporting, say observers, is that schools are reluctant to reveal how well they are educating disabled students because of their perception that such students will never drastically improve, thus dragging down the school performance record as a whole. However, some disabilities, such as blindness and deafness, do not necessarily translate into less-intelligent children.

Moreover, parents of disabled children are frustrated by the lack of information they receive on their school's performance. In one case, a woman in San Diego had to file a formal request to receive her child's test scores, which were then informally written down and handed to her on a slip of paper.

Federal law requires schools to report test scores separately for certain disadvantaged groups: minorities, the disabled, immigrants and low-income children.

Source: Diana Jean Schemo, "School Achievement Reports Often Exclude the Disabled," New York Times, August 30, 2004.


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