LRP ran an interesting story on line about these scores and students with disabilities (SWD). Among its findings are that SWD continue to perform poorly and the gaps between student groups are pretty much as they were in 2007.

Another issue was highlighted, however. That is the fact that different states exclude different numbers of students from the NAEP testing–the range is wide. For example, on the 8th grade math tests, the range was reported to be from 9% in Arkansas to 56% in Maryland.

How are we supposed to make any sense of these numbers and how are comparisons to be drawn. The article cited my concerns about this, and I quote a small portion for you.

“This, not the gap in scores, is the real problem, according to Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, a special ed attorney and consultant. After all, she said, many students with disabilities have academic problems, which is why they’re in special ed in the first place. “If we now are supposed to close [achievement] gaps, I don’t think that’s realistic…..” she said. On the other hand, “we want this thermometer [theNAEP] to work. . . . But if we have exclusions all over the place, we have a broken thermometer.”

The July 22 report by the National Assessment Governing Board’s Expert Panel on Testing Students with Disabilities, on which I sat, urged states to have a 95 percent participation in NAEP by students with disabilities. You can find the report at There is also a PowerPoint presentation at the NAGB website.

Finally, note the upcoming hearings in Los Angeles and Washington DC about the reports by the Expert Panels (for students with disabilities and English language learners). Information is at
Written comments due on November 10.

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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