will immerged special education students being tested
in their actual grade level perform in high-stakes
reading and writing tests?
a first grader take a test written for a third grader?
Would a seventh grader take the SAT? The preceding
questions are reflective of many parents and professionals
whose special education students are being asked
to take high-stakes tests that are at times three
full grade levels above a child’s functioning level.
Can immerging these special education students in
their actual grade level curriculum for reading/writing
affect testing achievement?
it or not, the answer is a resounding yes! I will
be the first to admit that I fully intended to fight
to have functional level tests given. Prior to doing
this project, I believed that it was very unfair
to these students. However, I wonder if I was more
concerned about the rating they were causing my
school to have or worried about the actual curriculum
that was being taught.
Chipman is a typical middle school in rural Delaware.We
have both a large number of special education students
and a 41% poverty rate.We are a school that definitely
has enough students to fill the special education
cell. There are, however, schools within our state
that have so few special education students that
they do not have to count their scores. Due to this
large number of special education students, our
school is currently “under review.” We have met
every target except for the one dealing with special
education. This has many teachers in the building
distraught because we could be seen as a model school
in so many other areas.
suggest that in our building special education teachers
when compared to regular education teachers seem
to have lower expectations for their students. Furthermore,
this belief affects instruction and the learning
process of both special education and regular education
students. By looking at GATES testing, the DSTP,
student surveys, teacher surveys, and attendance/referral
records, one will see that immerging students in
grade-level materials will positively affect achievement.
testing showed improvement in both “pullout” and
“inclusion” special education students. However,
the inclusion students did much better on the DSTP.
Some may argue that this is because inclusion students
have higher reading levels. This is not the case
with these students. Their testing scores on the
GATES were very similar. In fact, you would not
be able to tell the two groups apart based on GATES
testing scores. The major differences occur when
looking at the DSTP scores.
styles also came into play. If “pullout” teachers
followed the eighth-grade curriculum being taught
in class, their students did better on the test.
The inclusion students, who were fully immerged
in the curriculum, did the best. Again, the results
of this study were surprising. I certainly expected
to go to battle for these special education students.
The bottom line is that if high expectations are
set from the beginning, students will reach their
goals or at least come close to meeting them. This
is obvious when test scores are reviewed.
at a combination of functional-level and grade-level
material for special education students.
makers should become aware of the statistics regarding
and staff should be trained to work with inclusion
students, and existing biases should be redirected
for higher expectations from special education