NEPC Review: ESEA Reauthorization: How We Can Build Upon No Child Left Behind's Progress for Students with Disabilities in a Reauthorized ESEA
This report asserts that more stringent accountability measures for schools (i.e., high academic standards for public school students) along with benchmarks for inclusion in state testing have improved the quality of education for students with disabilities. It compares 2000 to 2013 NAEP and NCES national-level data and finds increased test scores, decreased dropout rates, and increased graduation rates for students with disabilities, as well as improved outcomes for Black and Hispanic students with disabilities. While student outcomes have improved for students with disabilities, they cannot be causally connected with NCLB or NCLB-type reforms. This report is based on simple descriptive comparisons and assumes its interpretations and conclusions without any foundation. While an expansive research literature is available, none was used in this report. Further, aggregating data across the nation over 14 years obscures a multitude of possible other interpretations as well as hides regional, temporal, governmental and state variations. Consequently, the report does little to advance public policy for students with disabilities.