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Walter Woodhouse
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction March 2012

THE IMPACT OF EDUCATION POLICY ON STUDENT TESTING

We are in a time of rapid transition regarding educational policy as it affects student testing and its relationship to teacher evaluation. The following is intended to clarify the ways in which existing educational policy at the federal and state levels impose testing mandates on local school districts.
At the federal level educational policy is primarily driven by two laws: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is federal legislation that provides funding and establishes regulations for Special Education. When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004, it established Response to Intervention (RTI) as the preferred method for identifying students with learning disabilities. There has been an over identification of students with learning disabilities nationwide, with a disproportionate classification of minority students. One reason for these problems has been a failure to distinguish learning deficits from learning disabilities, especially in reading. A student who is reading below grade level does not necessarily have a cognitive processing disorder.
The discrepancy model was the method used to identify students with learning disabilities in New York State. A wide discrepancy between aptitude and achievement would indicate evidence of a learning disability. The federal law requires the adoption of the Response to Intervention model beginning in 2012 for literacy in grades K-4. New York State regulations expand this requirement to include mathematics and social/emotional behavior. Response to Intervention requires universal screening three times a year. Students identified as a result are given research based interventions with frequent progress monitoring. Students who do not respond to these interventions may be referred to the CSE (Committee on Special Education) for classification. Because Nyack’s elementary schools include grades K-5, we plan to give universal screening in ELA and mathematics to all elementary students.

Response to Intervention is a three-tiered model, which is depicted by the following pyramid.

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