We have made major strides over the past decades in improving educational levels of students with disabilities.
Nationally, nearly 70 percent of students with disabilities obtain a high school diploma and only 20 percent drop out. Ten years ago, only half graduated from high school and 40 percent dropped out. In Massachusetts, these improvements are not limited to graduation, but have also resulted in higher post-secondary education and employment for these students.
Unfortunately, recent congressional action on the No Child Left Behind Act threatens this progress.
For all of No Child Left Behind’s faults, the law focused schools, educators and parents on the destructive achievement gaps for students with disabilities and other disadvantaged students. After 10 years, no one doubts the law is in need of reform. However, when fixing the law’s shortcomings, its emphasis on accountability for all students in all schools, including students with disabilities, should not be sacrificed. Unfortunately, a recently approved proposal by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee jeopardizes this critical aspect of the law. Absent changes, this legislation should not receive Senate support.