California test results need an *–to indicate that the scores are not valid–and do not reflect what they purport to reflect.  A troubling situation, indeed.

Here’s the next wave–California is one of two states, apparently, that developed modified tests for students with disabilities (SWD), the California Modified Test (CMT). These tests, by definition, fundamentally alter the California Standardized Tests.  Simply stated, they lower the standard.  And generally speaking, students do better on the modified test than the standard test.

While federal law allows states to test some SWD on modified tests, the limit on these students was 2%–that is, of all students tested on modified tests, only 2% could be counted in state results toward AYP (adequate yearly progress). Apparently, in California the percent counted is upward of 4.4%.  By doing this, the state scores have gone up.

An easy fix for this runaway use of the CMT is for California to count only 2% of these results and inform schools that  for all the rest of the students, they are marked ‘not participating’ which lowers the state’s AYP and the district’s AYP rating. In fact, if fewer than 95% of students are tested, then the scores for the district do not count.  Following that (legal) path will end the runaway use of CMTs, I suspect.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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