Most recommended!

How great is that. “Have SAT accommodations gone too far?” is the MOST RECOMMENDED piece in today’s Education Week. It has garnered 13 comments! Thank you all. Check it out and keep reading, sharing, writing. Thanks so much.

The comments are fascinating. I wrote the piece because I’m concerned that we are losing the purpose of the test. Why do we have an SAT? What is the WHAT of the SAT: What is being measured. I hope the College Board finally clarifies this. Once we know what the WHAT is, we can figure out how it should be administered. I was glad to see that several commenters focused on the WHAT. Thank you.

Now to the WHO. We need to know the WHAT before we can decide how to test the WHO. My piece was not about the WHO. Yet, several commenters wrote about that.

Clearly there’s more work to be done to clarify the WHAT and the WHO so we can get back to valid testing.

I invite you to read this piece. It’s excellent–and tracks several ideas and proposals in my book. Marc Tucker comes at the issue from a data perspective and international comparisons. He asks if we are really helping kids learn or just labeling them with a disability and setting up systems that, sadly, don’t get the job done. He’s the executive director of NCEE and a blogger at Education Week. Check out

I come at the issue–as some of you, my loyal readers know–from the legal perspective. The issue is the legal system we’ve set up that ultimately, gets in the way of helping all students learn. That is my view. It’s been successful in getting all students to school and we now need a second generation law for all students.

These two pieces go hand in hand and lead me to believe that the times they are a’changin!

Here’s an excellent piece by my friend, Mike Petrilli. He’s right to be concerned. It’s been picked up by Diane Ravitch’s blog. I urge you to read both.

I agree with the concerns expressed by both Mike and Diane. To which I’d like to add the following.

My question is about the motives we have and those of providers of computers. Why are we pushing for so-called “personalized” learning?
As for high tech companies–the huge education market and competition among them for a share of that market, I get that.

But why are schools buying into it? Has it ever been proven to be the best way to teach and learn? I haven’t seen that evidence.
I am concerned that we are pushing “personalized” learning as a way to make today’s classroom focused on inclusion work–that is, to have all sorts of learners in the same classrooms with teachers “differentiating” among all students at all performance levels in today’s classrooms. An overwhelming and often impossible task.

Voila–computers offer the way!

But, do they really? And don’t they ignore evidence we have for what actually works–for example, LIN–least intervention necessary; not LRE–Least restrictive environment. That is, we need to focus on the students–and their current performance and interests, not on their location, location, location– a standard that works in real estate but not here.

Bottom line, The motive for this push may not be what’s best for our students. Rather, it may be what authorities believe will make our current notions and fads of equity and all-in-together-now “work.” But will it? Will it be real education? Will it enhance lives?

Watch the back door of vouchers and choice on this one.

I share Mike’s and Diane’s concerns. And you?

If you want to know more about my new book, Special Education 2.0, here is Dr. Green’s very detailed review. It helps his readers decide whether they want to go out and get the book.

It’s great to see Dr. Green’s positive review. I appreciate it very much, especially as he was a school principal for many years and knows what is happening in schools and where of he speaks.

If you missed the event at Fordham Institute in Washington on May 4, it’s not too late! You can now watch it on line.

The event went well. Many questions and answers and still-to-be determined answers. We had a large audience–both at Fordham and streaming live.

It’s on Twitter at #specialed2pt0. Join the conversation! And let’s hope events like this get us talking and rebuilding the law.

This is the unanimous Supreme Court decision about what standard for services schools need to provide to students with disabilities under the federal law, the IDEA.

Here are some of my musings…..

First, many headlines about this decision seemed to highlight a “win” for students with disabilities. For example,

I’m not so sure. As a school attorney, I did not see it that way. I saw it as a workable restatement of current practice. That practice—defining a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities—was determined more than 30 years ago by the Supremes in Rowley v. Board of Education (1982). In short, a student’s program needs to “be reasonably calculated to provide educational benefits.” Here, the Court upheld that standard. In fact, the Court highlighted the fact that Rowley applies and that Congress, even after more than 30 years, has not amended or raised it.

Second, this decision was NOT about the 6 1/2 million students who receive special education under federal law, the IDEA. By far, most of these students study the general education standards. For them, Rowley applies. Indeed, while plaintiffs sought a higher standard, it’s important to note that the Court did NOT overrule Rowley and did not change the standard. This decision focused on students like Endrew F. whose progress is not being measured by grade level or similar standardized benchmarks.

Third, let’s remember that the Supreme Court took this dispute in an effort to resolve differences among the Circuit Courts of Appeals in the nation. Because many states, such as Massachusetts where I practiced law, already have a higher ‘meaningful benefit’ standard for a FAPE, it’s hard to see how this decision will make a difference and many of my fellow school attorneys don’t believe it will. Some states, as described in the 10th Circuit decision about a Colorado school district had a lower ‘de minimis’ standard. The Supreme Court struck down that standard. For students like Endrew F., a school’s program needs to be “reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstances.”

Fourth, the Court gave great deference to the expertise of school personnel. I see this as vital–since undoubtedly this decision will not settle the matter. Various groups are now reading what they want into it—like a Rorschach test! Unfortunately, we’ll have disputes and lawsuits about all the words the Court used for years to come. Having great deference where it belongs–in school personnel expertise—is a plus and should help resolve disputes.

Fifth, the Court rejected the parents’ high standard of an ideal, maximizing, or equal program. In short, it followed Rowley and clarified it for a subset of students with disabilities.

Much more can be said about this decision, but I’ll stop here. As I see it, the decision was reasonable and workable for schools and parents alike, not a one-sided parent victory, as so many media reports seemed to imply.

In upcoming next blog I will explore two fascinating issues that I see in this decision. First, whether it’s time, finally, to divide the community of students served by this law into two groups—those served under the Rowley standard and those under Endrew F.

And second, let’s explore if, in emphasizing that a student like Endrew F’s progress needs to be based on his circumstances, does this decision lead us to question standardized testing and accountability (with all the imperfections of those tests and administration, including complex accommodation policies) for these students.

Stay tuned!

It’ll be a conversation between Chester Finn and myself about my book, opening the long-overdue national conversation, dreaming big, and building a new second-generation special education law. Here’s the notice!