Dr. Gary Jones, former Superintendent of Rapides Parish schools and current Assistant Superintendent with the Louisiana Department of Education explains in the letter that follows that districts should carefully consider whether they reclassify their students as disabled but currently classified as able to take the state mandated ACT tests and graduate as suddenly too severely disabled to take state mandated tests and unable to complete graduation requirements. Most true educators would probably agree that placements of SPED students should be made in the best interest of the child and at the sole discretion of the SLBC (School Level Building Committee) trained to make such evaluations and currently in charge of making placement decisions. However a recent e-mail, which also alludes to a conference call from Superintendent White, implies that schools and districts should re-examine all of their students and consider changing their placements from LAA2 tested, to LAA1, untested. It’s easy to understand why this might be a good idea for superintendents and schools to do, but what is less clear is why the State Department of Education would encourage this change, this massive statewide lowering of expectations for disabled students.
I had thought that the idea of the Reform movement and LDOE was raising the bar, raising expectations and children and teachers will strive to meet that higher target?
I thought that was what the “Louisiana Believes” campaign is all about?
This would appear to be a vast philosophical departure from previous guidance given by John White and other reformers – namely to lower expectations for students who are already performing at a very low level. This would appear to be a violation of these students civil rights, encouraging schools and school districts to make placement decisions based on what will be best for a schools performance score, and not what is in the best interest of the students they serve.
From: Gary Jones [mailto:Gary.Jones@LA.GOV]
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 8:50 AM
Subject: ACT testing for LAA1/LAA2 students
In his conference call today, Superintendent White talked about ACT testing and LAA1 versus LAA2. Superintendents are encouraged to make realistic decisions about who should be taking the ACT. We realize the likelihood that some students who are currently assessed as LAA2 (and thus required to take the ACT) might be better placed as LAA1. In the past, the impression was that among the criteria for students to be eligible for LAA1, students had to be at 3 standard deviations below the mean in both cognitive and adaptive skills. However, that is not the case. They can meet that requirement by scoring 3 standard deviations below the mean in cognitive skills only.
Please note that the deadline for placing students in LAA1 has been extended from January 25th to February 25th. Students who are placed in LAA1 will be tested by mid-March.
The last two newsletters have contained a link to FAQ’s on this issue, but I have included it again below for your use. Please encourage your special education administrators and high school principals to join the webinars that will be hosted on Thursday of this week and Wednesday of next week (will be in newsletter today).
Dr. Gary L. Jones
LA Department of Education
Am I wrong thinking this is wrong?