According to a recent EdSource report, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is proposing to eliminate an alternative test for students with disabilities, arguing it undercuts their academic potential. The value of the California Modified Assessment (CMA) has divided the education and disability rights communities, with some advocates agreeing with Duncan and others saying the test accurately captures what students have learned.
ADAMS ESQ has found that the CMA is of little value in determining how special needs students are progressing from year to year as it is not standards-based. It also has been used to give parents a false sense that their child is progressing. While it may have initially been intended to include a small subset of children with disabilities, it has not been consistently restricted to those students. Instead, it has been administered to students with fairly routine specific learning disabilities. This has resulted in inflated API scores which make the particular school and school district appear to have higher academic performance than what is actually the case.
Governor Brown recently eliminated the STAR test in California as it was not aligned with the new “common core” standards. It is unclear which tests (if any) will now be administered to children with special needs. All annual IEPs should indicate which state-wide tests that students have permission to take and what modifications will be allowed. Now more than ever, parents should be vigilant and ask questions about when, where, how and to whom these tests will be administered and how it will effect their child’s placement and program.
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