U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan established a new rule under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that bars states from offering alternative standards and tests for almost all students with disabilities.
This rule change will go into effect on September 21st. You can read the rule here. The summary is below:
The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities. In order to make conforming changes to ensure coordinated administration of programs under title I of the ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Secretary is also amending the regulations for Part B of the IDEA. Note: Nothing in these regulations changes the ability of States to develop and administer alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities or alternate assessments based on grade-level academic achievement standards for other eligible students with disabilities in accordance with the ESEA and the IDEA, or changes the authority of IEP teams to select among these alternate assessments for eligible students.
The Federal Register website further explains the rule:
In addition, nearly all States have developed new college- and career-ready standards and new assessments aligned with those standards. These new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards. For these reasons, we believe that the removal of the authority for States to define modified academic achievement standards and to administer assessments based on those standards is necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are held to the same high standards as their nondisabled peers, and that they benefit from high expectations, access to the general education curriculum based on a State’s academic content standards, and instruction that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
So Common Core-aligned assessments such as Smarter Balanced and PARCC will be foisted on most students with disabilities moving forward.