Special Needs Students and Standardized Graduation Test

While many people believe that special needs students are discriminated against, there are many who do not agree so the controversial debate continues “should special needs students be exempt from graduation test” as stated in (Johnson & Musial & Hall, 2005. Many parents and advocates of special needs students have been working for “inclusion in the classroom and fair education opportunities for years” as stated in Johnson & Musial & Hall, 2005. Some people would argue that exemption from taking the standardized graduation test goes against what the parents and advocates have been working for.

Whether or not the special needs students must pass the test is still up for debate. Parents, special needs students, and advocates want to know if special needs students will ever have fairness when taking a graduation standardized test. Timothy Bush a special education teacher in Delaware states in Johnson & Musial & Hall, 2005 “If special needs students are lumped together with nondisabled peers and required to take high-stakes tests without procedural safeguards, I have grave concerns about fairness. Ed Amundson a special education teacher in California stated in Johnson & Musial & Hall 2005 “Many states and locals currently acknowledge the different learning needs of all students and make accommodations through the IEP process. Schools recognize student strengths and weaknesses and allow for measures of what a student knows and not what they do not. Should a standard exit exam do the same? ” Ed Amundson asked some of his students what they think about not having the proper accommodations when taking a standardized test one student response entered in Jonson & Musial & hall. 006 states “All potential employers are going to think is that I did not make the grade,” The same student continued to respond in Johnson & Musial & Hall, 2005 states” “They won’t know how hard I worked, what I did learn, or what I can still learn. For the rest of my life, my application will say I couldn’t do it. That just isn’t fair. ” School officials suspect special needs students learn more because of the Graduation standardized test. Advocates for the standardized graduation test think that every student should be held to the” highest reasonable standards” stated in Ring, 2011.

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The advocates for the Standardized graduation test also think that it is a goal that special needs students can accomplish (Ring, 2011). Opponents of the standardized graduation test believe that it is unfair to have special needs students stress out about having to pass the test to graduate (Ring, 2011). The opponents of the standardized graduation test also think that the special needs students should have to pass their classes to graduate from high school (Ring, 2011). Through much research the overwhelming results show that preparing for the standardized test do push special needs students to learn more.

Unfortunately, the majority of special needs students are not able to pass the standardized graduation test because the test was made for typical students. Currently there are not the proper accommodations for the test and the structure of the test makes it difficult for special needs students to achieve a passing grade (Poggio & Seok & Smith, 2006). The Edutopia poll asks: “Should special-needs students have to take a standardized test in order to graduate high school? ” Figure1.

The chart above depicts the results as of April 10, 2011 the ongoing Edutopia poll This poll show that majority of people do not think that special needs students should have to take the standardized test as is to graduate from high school. The Edutopia poll shows 22% say “Yes” as of April 10, 2011. They agreed with the following statement by Ring, 2011“This will best prepare special-needs students for the future, and those who do not pass should receive a certificate of completion rather than a high school diploma. ” The Edutopia poll shows 38% choose “Maybe” as of April 10, 2011.

They agreed with the following statement by Ring, 2011 “Although we should require special-needs students to take these tests, we should give them every reasonable accommodation, and we should not deny them a diploma if they cannot pass. ” The Edutopia poll shows 40% choose “No” as of April 10, 2011. They agreed with the following statement by Ring 2011, “It is unfair to hold special-needs students to the same standard as their typically developing peers. They should only need to successfully complete their schoolwork in order to receive their diploma. Some people argue that the demands of excellence in the United States school systems are pushing away the special needs students strive for equality. That issue is being addressed and just like with anything it talks time to make monumental changes and luckily the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is addressing this issue (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). The NAEP is working on making changes so that all special needs students can be accommodated properly when taking standardized test (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011).

The NAEP have a long list of guidelines they believe that should be followed currently for accommodating students with special needs during testing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). The NAEP is continuing conducting research and adding to the current list of acceptable accommodations when testing special needs students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). This is a step in a forward direction for special needs students. They should be accommodated if they are required to take the standardized graduation test.

The No Child left Behind act is putting pressure on schools because of the strong mandates that have been put into effect (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006). The good news is that there is a “technology based” solution for giving standardized test to special needs students (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006). Computerized adaptive testing (CAT) is a computerized program that, unlike the typical state standardized test does have the capability to be aligned with the student curriculum the CAT can do that.

Another important and necessary difference is that CAT lets the special needs students show what they have learned in the same “context of standards for all learners” as stated in Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006, p2. Not all People agree with using the CAT for testing students with special needs. The Nay Sayers worry that the accommodations like CAT would stop special needs students from showing their competence. Fortunately the accommodations such as CAT would increase testing scores and stop the burden; schools would not have to work as hard to improve the learning for special need students (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006).

The current accommodations allowed for state standardized test listed by Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006, p. 2 are “presentation, response, setting, and timing/scheduling. ” Presentation allows for the test to be given orally, making the test easier to understand by changing the wording (Meyen & Poggio & Seaok, 2006). They can alter the format to brail or large print (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006). Response allows students to write straight on the test instead of using an answer sheet or allows students to speak their answers into an electronic device (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006).

Setting allows students to take their test in small group outside of the classroom, or go to a room alone (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006). Timing/scheduling allows more time or unlimited time to take a test, or divide the test into two days rather than one (Meyen & Poggio & Seok, 2006). This is a great start for accommodating special needs students in standardized testing but there are many more accommodations needed for special needs students. As of today there is no continuity with graduation requirements, they are different from state to state and from district to district (Johnson & Thurlow & Cosio, 2005).

All students have to take the graduation test if their state or district requires the test for students to graduate per order of the Disabilities Education act (IDEA) (Johnson & Thurlow & Cosio, 2005) Fortunately for special needs students Inclusion in the classroom and for accommodations for testing is strongly recommended by the NAEP (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). Thankfully the NAEP is still conducting tests and working on making guidelines for standardized test (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011).

Unfortunately special needs students who do not pass the standardized graduation test in some high schools may earn only a certificate of completion not a diploma from High school (Johnson & Thurlow & Cosio, 2005). In closing standardized graduation test is an ongoing controversial subject and proper accommodations are needed for special needs students as well as other students that have challenges such as the English language learners (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011).

So far the NAEP is in favor for making more accommodations for the special need students that need them (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). Some public schools do not allow special needs students to attend the graduation ceremony and only give them a certificate of completion. This is wrong, cruel, and hurtful to the special needs students and their parents. It is unfair to special need students who have passed all their classes and have earned enough credits to complete high school. Then denied a graduation ceremony in which all the students who they went to school with for at least 12 years ave the opportunity to attend. State officals, federal officials, and school districts that decide on requirements needed for graduation for special needs students need to look at the issue in a different light than they have been. Everyone that has a hand in making the decisions for the requirements should think about how they would feel if they had a special needs child and their child was being denied a high school diploma. Would they want their special needs child to not have the option to go to college or gain adequate employment just because they could not pass the standardized graduation test?

Even though their special needs child passed all their classes in high school and has the potential be successful in college, then have a successful career. How would the state and federal officials or school districts explain to their special needs child that they cannot go to graduation, college, or have the job they were dreaming of just because of one standardized graduation test? Does anyone think the state or federal official or school districts would view the rules for graduation with a diploma for special needs students the same?

The above questions should be asked when standards and requirements are being made for special needs students and standardized graduation test. The officials that make the standards should look at the issue from the perspective of the people they are making the stands for.


ies National Center for Education Statistics, Inclusion of special needs, National assessment of educational progress (NAEP), 2011 students. http://nces. ed. gov/nationsreportcard/about/inclusion. asp Johnson David R. & Thurlow Martha L. Cosio Anna & Bremer Christine, 2005 High School Graduation Requirements and Students with Disabilities LD online http://www. ldonline. org/article/High_School_Graduation_Requirements_and_Students_with_Disabi lit es Johnson, J & Musial, D & Hall, G & Gollnick, D & Dupuis, V. (2005). Introduction to the foundations of American Education, thirteenth edition, Person Education, Inc. Meyen, E & Poggio, J & Seok, S & Smith, S. (2006). Focus on Exceptional Children, March 2006, vol. 38 issues 7, P. 1-8. Ring Sara, The Edutopia poll, The George Lucas Educational Foundation, 2011 http://www. edutopia. org/poll-special-needs-assessment-exams

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