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Education Department Official Reaffirms Commitment to Grade-Level Testing

Students with disabilities should be taught to rigorous academic standards, said Deborah S. Delisle, the education department's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, in a press conference with reporters on Thursday. 

Delisle's comments came in response to a question from Joy Resmovits of the Huffington Post, who asked department officials about a proposal in New York to test certain students with disabilities up to two grades below their chronological grade level. This request is part of the state's renewal of its waiver from No Child Left Behind standards. 

Delisle said that the department hasn't received anything from New York yet; the comment period for the waiver proposal ended on Monday. But, she said, the department has deliberately moved away from testing students with disabilities on modified standards. In previous years, the Education Department has allowed 2 percent of all students—about 20 percent of students with disabilities—to be tested on modified achievement standards and be counted as proficient under NCLB. The department has said it is no longer going to allow such tests.

(A separate regulation allows 1 percent of all students—about 10 percent of students with disabilities—to be tested on "alternate achievement standards." That regulation, which is intended for students with severe cognitive disabilities, remains unchanged.)

"We have heard from many support groups around special education students that they want their children to have access to high-quality standards and not have their education diminished in some regard by teaching to lower standards," Delisle said. Listen to all she had to say on the topic here:

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