Ed. Week is having a live chat this Thursday afternoon, 3 to 4 ET, to discuss PARCC and Smarter Balanced accommodations for students with disabilities. They say this assessment will “offer the promise of more inclusion and self-sufficiency for students with special needs and English-language learners.”
How any assessment is going to do all that for any child is beyond me, but here is their idea of something new and innovative. Now they are going to permit “critical accommodations” quite differently. They claim they will allow read-aloud modifications which they call “text-to-speech” accommodations.
I presume they are actually saying the teacher or volunteer will be permitted to read parts of the test to the student with disabilities. I think I am getting pretty good at deciphering Common Core speak.
The Ed. Week experts presenting on this are not from special education that I can tell, but from systems assessment design, designated to address the underrepresented populations.
Most of you won’t be fooled any more than me. I mean really—they are just re-mashing potatoes. Teachers have been accommodating students with disabilities like this since standardized testing became a reality for children. This is nothing unique no matter what fancy pansy terms they use.
But the issue of reading parts of the test is contentious. Some claim it is a cop out. You either teach students with disabilities how to read or not. Others say it is ridiculous to not consider disabilities like dyslexia. That argument surrounds the fact that you should be able to determine what a child knows and understands even if they have a reading disability.
But the big question is—are they backtracking? Arne Duncan has been spouting off for years implying that all students with disabilities must take the test the same way, implying it is an insult to them to do otherwise.
So are they leaning away from that idea and back towards real accommodations? Do they suddenly realize that students learn differently and that it is outrageous to think otherwise?
Or are those kidders just fooling with us? Stay tuned.