Education Week reports the nationwide fight continues hot and heavy about whether or not the Common Core State Standards testing consortia should allow their “reading tests” to be read to learning disabled students.
A map included with the EdWeek report, makes it clear that Kentucky currently stands out with the very loosest policies on allowing this highly questionable practice on its state tests. Only one other state, Iowa, has such extremely loose policies.
Reading kids the reading tests can have very adverse consequences.
Professor of Education Richard Allington from the University of Tennessee lays the issue out succinctly for EdWeek:
“What special education does best is create illiterates. I know why they don’t want their kids tested on reading activity. It’s because they’ve done a terrible job of providing those kids with high-quality reading instruction.”
On the other hand, EdWeek says:
“Special educators believe just as strongly that for some children, a read-aloud accommodation is the tool they need to demonstrate what they know.”
So, the fight drags on, though after stunning revelations that students who were carried for years in Kentucky as non-readers were successfully taught to read much better later on in some Northern Kentucky school districts, I tend to think Professor Allington has this one right.
Back in 2012 Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday tried very hard to get a more rational reading policy for Kentucky’s own testing programs. His effort was brutally shut down by special interests.
Now, the state’s lack of action may be coming home to roost, again, with tomorrow’s release of the 2013 results in reading from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP never bought into the nonsense of allowing reading tests to be read to students, so students with such an accommodation in their education plans have always been excluded from NAEP testing. The problem is that Kentucky winds up excluding nation-leading percentages of its learning disabled students on the NAEP, so the resulting reading scores for Kentucky, as the commissioner has admitted, are always in question.
With no change in Kentucky’s policy in 2013, EdWeek’s map makes it look very likely that Kentucky is going to be a national leader yet again for NAEP exclusion rates, a “leading” situation we’d like to not be in.