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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform 2 The Policy Frameworks Twenty years of research on the implementation of federal and state education policies have demonstrated both the limits and the potential of policy as a tool for changing how students are educated. The major limitation is well known: change ultimately depends on the willingness and capacity of local communities. As a result, considerable variation in policy effects is the norm, and policy makers cannot simply mandate the outcomes they desire (McLaughlin, 1987). Yet, despite constraints on its influence, policy does have the potential to shape educational practice in significant ways. At its most concrete level, policy determines what level of resources will be provided, how those resources will be allocated, who will have authority to deliver educational services, and how policy makers and educators will be held accountable. At a more abstract level, policy also communicates ideas about what constitutes a good education and how that education can best be achieved. It signals what expectations political decision makers and their constituents hold for the education system, and it specifies a set of assumptions about the steps needed to achieve those aspirations. Included in those assumptions are judgments about the incentives most likely to change teaching and learning, the preferred institutional arrangements to promote desired outcomes, and the resources and technical skills most needed. For 20 years, policies based on individual rights and procedural requirements have been the primary tool for effecting sweeping changes in the education of students with disabilities. Now standards-based reform has introduced a fundamentally different set of policies, based on uniform student learning standards rather than individual rights, and on outcomes rather than process. This new
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform standards-based policy framework has the potential to alter significantly the education of students with disabilities. In this chapter, we analyze the two sets of federal and state policies that support standards-based reform and special education. We first consider policies enacted by the federal government and the states to promote education reform through the use of student standards, and then we examine policies specifically designed to ensure that students with disabilities receive an appropriate education. We focus on the major ideas and assumptions that characterize each policy framework and then compare their prescriptions for serving students with disabilities. Our analysis of the two policy frameworks illustrates the wide variation across states in policy choices, the considerable latitude that local school districts have in interpreting and implementing federal and state policies, and the limits of policy in shaping what happens in individual homes, schools, and classrooms. It also demonstrates that these two policy frameworks represent powerful ideas about how to educate children. Standards-based reform affirms common standards as the catalyst for improved educational outcomes—serving as the basis for what should be taught, measuring what students should be expected to know, and determining whether all students have been given equal learning opportunities. The special education framework defines the rights of students with disabilities to a free and appropriate education and specifies the responsibilities of school systems to accommodate their individual needs. Meeting common standards and accommodating individual needs are the two ideas that animate these frameworks and, as such, they articulate the overarching goal of each policy strategy. Schooling based on common standards and the right of students with disabilities to an individually appropriate education are not inherently inconsistent as policy ideals. Those advocating standards-based reforms assume that students with disabilities will participate in a common schooling experience; special education law assumes that, if states establish outcome standards, they should apply to all students, including those with disabilities. Nevertheless, despite strong presumptions of compatibility between the two frameworks, they embody very different ideas, policy instruments, and institutional arrangements. One emphasizes the commonality of the educational experience, the other accommodation of individual differences. One promotes its policy goals through an appeal to shared curricular values; the other invests individual students with rights enforced through a set of procedural safeguards. One seeks to ensure accountability through public reporting of aggregate data on student performance; the other relies on an essentially private process—the individualized education program—centered on the individual student. For both policy frameworks, there is also a wide gap between espousing a desired goal or establishing that a right exists and then implementing it for individual children. Translating a legal or philosophical ideal into practice requires
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform that policy makers, educators, parents, and the public agree on what the ideal means and how it should be applied in classrooms; that resources, technology, and expertise exist to implement the goal; and that variation—a natural part of the federalist system and of professional norms for meeting unique client needs—does not diminish the intent of the original idea. Our analysis of the two policy frameworks and their implementation thus far suggests that these conditions have not yet been met, and achieving them in the near future is problematic. Public opinion data indicate that those advocating standards-based reform have garnered support for the general idea, but that consensus is thin and does not yet extend to the specifics of curriculum and assessment. Nor is there yet sufficient mastery of the technical requirements of standards-based reform. Similarly, those working within the special education framework assert the right of and the need for students with disabilities to be integrated into the standards reforms, but there is little concrete understanding or consensus within that community of how the goal is to be accomplished for individual students. This chapter illustrates both the hope and the challenge of standards-based reform by discussing the ideas behind the policy and outlining the conditions that need to be operative if students with disabilities are to be integrated successfully into the standards movement. Subsequent chapters elaborate this theme of promise and pitfalls by analyzing the barriers to be overcome before teaching and testing consistent with standards can be achieved, and by identifying practices that can move the effort in the right direction. STANDARDS-BASED REFORM Federal Initiatives At the federal level, two major pieces of legislation embody the goals of standards-based reform. Goals 2000 Enacted by Congress in 1994 at the behest of the Clinton administration, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act codifies a set of national education goals and seeks to encourage the states to adopt two types of voluntary standards: Content standards, defined as ''broad descriptions of the knowledge and skills students should acquire in a particular subject area" (P.L. No. 103–227, sec 3, ) and Performance standards, defined as "concrete examples and explicit definitions of what student have to know and be able to do to demonstrate that such students are proficient in the skills and knowledge framed by the content standards" (103–227, sec 3 ).
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform Goals 2000 authorizes modest federal grants to states on the condition that they develop education improvement plans outlining strategies for strengthening teaching and learning and ensuring "students' mastery of basic and advanced skills in core content areas" (103–227, sec 306 b ). These strategies must include both a process for developing state content and student performance standards and one for assessing achievement on those standards. Several provisions of Goals 2000 recognize the relevance of parental involvement and family partnerships to education reform. The last of the eight National Education Goals enumerated in the law directly addresses parent involvement: "By the year 2000, every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional and academic growth of children." The act also requires states to involve parents in planning, designing, and implementing Goals 2000 programs and provides funding to local education agencies and nonprofit organizations to establish parent assistance centers that will strengthen the relationship between schools and families. In fiscal 1997, an estimated $491 million will be allocated under Goals 2000 to the states, which in turn will allocate at least 90 percent of those funds to local districts on a competitive basis. As of April 1996, 40 states had received second-year funding and 20 had submitted comprehensive state improvement plans. Despite its popularity among many state policy makers, Goals 2000 has become controversial at the national level, with most of the differences falling along party lines. From its inception, Goals 2000 was intended to embody an ideal of high-quality, equitable schooling based on voluntary standards and to offer states a small amount of funding to help them implement their own approaches to that vision, 1 but without imposing significant federal mandates on them. Goals 2000, for example, has never had any regulations of the type common to all other federal programs. Nevertheless, opponents have portrayed Goals 2000 as a threat to state and local autonomy, and several parts of the original legislation became focal points for dispute. A particularly controversial provision of the original law would have encouraged states to develop what were called opportunity-to-learn standards (OTL). These were defined as "the criteria for, and the basis of assessing the sufficiency or quality of the resources, practices, and conditions necessary at each level of the education system (schools, local agencies, and States) to provide all students with an opportunity to learn the material in the voluntary national content standards or State content standards" (103–227, sec 3 ). The OTL standards were included in the Goals 2000 legislation at the behest of some Democratic members of Congress who did not want disadvantaged students to be harmed by content standards and testing when they had not been provided the curricular resources to do well 1 In fiscal 1996, all but eight states received less than $10 million in Goals 2000 funding. The largest allocation—to California—was slightly less than $40 million.
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform on those standards (e.g., appropriate course offerings, rigorous content, and experienced teachers). OTL standards became the most controversial part of the Goals 2000 legislative debate. Opponents argued not only that they would compromise state and local autonomy, but also that they might serve as the basis on which students could sue states to spend more on schooling inputs. As a result, the initial legislation specifically stated that participation in Goals 2000 would be voluntary and that the law should not be construed to mandate either school finance equalization or school-building standards. The first group of states to submit improvement plans defined their approach to OTL standards in a variety of ways, ranging from general student support programs such as preprimary education and after-school tutoring, to more specific curricular initiatives focusing on teacher professional development, classroom technology, and instructional materials. For the most part, states simply classified existing programs that support and enhance student learning as constituting their OTL strategies, rather than promulgating specific resource or instructional standards as benchmarks for gauging whether local communities have provided students with an adequate opportunity to learn. Despite variation in how states chose to interpret the OTL concept and their intent to apply it in nonbinding ways, all references to opportunity-to-learn standards and strategies have been deleted from the Goals 2000 legislation as a result of recent amendments. These same amendments, enacted as part of the fiscal 1996 appropriations, also eliminated the requirement that states submit a plan to the U.S. secretary of education as a condition for receiving funding. In lieu of submitting a plan to the federal government, a state may submit assurances from its governor or chief state school officer indicating that it has a plan that meets the Goals 2000 requirements and that information on student performance and implementation benchmarks will be publicly available. States that choose this option also do not need to submit annual reports to the federal government; instead they are required to report publicly on their use of Goals 2000 funds. The Goals 2000 legislation declares that: [A]ll children can learn and achieve to high standards and must realize their potential if the United States is to prosper (103–227, sec 301 ). [A]ll students are entitled to participate in a broad and challenging curriculum and to have access to resources sufficient to address other education needs (103–227, sec 301 ). The legislation is also clear in stating that "all students" and "all children" include those with disabilities (103–227, sec 3 ). With regard to state assessments, the Goals 2000 legislation specifically declares that state assessments should "provide for the participation in such assessments of all students with diverse learning needs; and the adaptations and accommodations necessary to permit such participation" (103–227, sec 301 [9cBIIIaa-bb]). The legislation is not as specific with regard to how the integra-
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform tion of students with disabilities into state content and performance standards should be accomplished or what expectations are appropriate for them. An analysis of the legal issues surrounding students with disabilities and standards-based reform prepared for the committee argues that the omission may reflect a recognition of the problems inherent in singling out particular groups of students for differential treatment (Ordover et al., 1996:22). They conclude, however, that "the absence of any express exceptions for children with severe cognitive impairments, coupled with Goals 2000's repeated emphasis on 'all children,' suggests that states participating in Title III [the state grants program] should design their content and performance standards in such a way as to reflect outcomes desirable for this population, too."2 Improving America's Schools Act Even though direct federal influence is limited under Goals 2000, the Clinton administration and congressional supporters of standards-based reform have attempted to reinforce that policy direction by making challenging content standards a centerpiece of other federal programs. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA), the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. IASA contains a major new focus and an explicit set of requirements that states and local districts must meet as a condition for obtaining funds under Title I, the largest federal school aid program, which serves poor, underachieving students. The purpose of the new legislation is "to enable schools to provide opportunities for children served to acquire the knowledge and skills contained in challenging State content standards and to meet the challenging State performance standards developed for all children" (P.L. No. 103–328, sec 1001 [d]). To receive Title I grants, states are required to submit state plans that provide for challenging content and performance standards, state assessments and yearly reports on meeting standards, and provisions for teacher support and learning aligned with the new curriculum standards and assessments. Each section of the Title I law details specific requirements. For example, the assessments and reports must be aligned with the content standards; test at three separate grade levels; be based on "multiple, up-to-date … measures that assess higher order thinking skills and understanding"; and "provide individual student interpretive and descriptive reports" as well as aggregated results down to the school level 2 This paper analyzes the implications of federal and state special education statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions for the participation of students with disabilities in standards-based reform. Although the broad parameters of their participation can be clearly inferred from the legal history of special education and related laws, the nature of that participation for any specific student or group of students is less clear because the law has not yet been tested across the full range of issues raised by the standards movement. Where no legal interpretations yet exist, the authors have made a judgment based on their reading of the potentially applicable law.
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform that are broken down by race, gender, English proficiency, migrant status, disability, and economic status (103–328, sec 1111). In addition, for local agencies to receive subgrants, they must have on file with the state education agency a local plan "that is coordinated with other programs under this Act, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, and other Acts, as appropriate." Among other requirements, the local plans must address how students are assessed in accord with the state plan and how well they perform relative to state standards. Title I also requires that parents be involved in local planning, including the preparation of comprehensive school reform plans. Because Title I provides well over $7 billion a year in federal funding and includes a detailed set of mandates that local districts must meet as a condition for funding, most observers believe that the federal government's influence over the standards and assessment process in individual states will be considerably greater through Title I than through Goals 2000, even though the former is targeted on only a subset of students. As with Goals 2000, Title I acknowledges students with disabilities and specifies that they are to be included in the teaching and assessment of state content standards. The legislation also indicates that all children are to participate in annual assessments and that reasonable accommodations and adaptations are to be provided students with diverse learning needs. Because of two changes in the reauthorized Title I program, more students with disabilities are likely to be among the program's beneficiaries. First, the reauthorization relaxed the poverty threshold that schools must meet to operate school-wide programs that allow Title I funds to be used for reform activities throughout the school, rather than just be targeted at the lowest-achieving students. Previously, at least 75 percent of the students in a school were required to be low income before a school-wide program was permitted. Now the threshold has dropped to 50 percent. Second, in schools without school-wide programs, the reauthorization made it easier for students with disabilities to receive Title I services. Previously, these students could be served under Title I only if it were shown that the educational need to be addressed resulted from educational disadvantage and not from a disability. The reauthorization dropped this requirement, stipulating instead that "children with disabilities … are eligible for services under this part on the same basis as other children selected to receive services under this part." Eligible students are those identified by school personnel as failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the state's challenging student performance standards. Schools may not use Title I funds to provide special education and related services required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but they may use Title I funds to coordinate or supplement such services. State Initiatives Because the states have primary responsibility for education, the move to set content standards and develop new forms of assessment largely depends on state-
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform level level action, particularly the extent to which state governments encourage or mandate local districts, schools, and individual teachers to change their instructional approaches. Although a few states had already begun a standards-setting process prior to the federal initiatives, 48 were engaged in establishing academic standards by 1996 (Gandal, 1996). Not only are the states at very different stages in that development process,3 but also the resulting standards vary in their specificity and their use. In some states, content standards are no more than broad, rhetorical goals that local districts are urged to follow. In others, they are considerably more precise, with textbooks and assessments linked directly to the standards and efforts made to train teachers in a pedagogy consistent with the curricular philosophy underlying the standards. (See Chapter 4 for a fuller discussion of the substantive and curricular implications of content standards.) According to a report recently issued by the American Federation of Teachers, only 15 states have developed standards in at least 4 subject areas that are specific enough to permit development of a common core curriculum (Gandal, 1996). The states also differ in how they use the standards as part of their accountability systems. Some states impose no direct consequences on either schools or students for mastery of the standards. Others reward or sanction schools based on their students' performance, and a few states currently require that students meet the content standards as a condition for high school graduation. Along with content and performance standards, student testing is typically a central component of state reform initiatives. Large-scale assessments, administered by the states, are designed to measure the extent to which students' mastery of content standards is at a level specified in state performance standards. Coincidental with the implementation of standards-based reform has been a move to diversify the format of these assessments and to expand beyond a sole reliance on multiple-choice items. The most typical pattern has been to combine multiple-choice items with open-ended responses and writing samples. 4 About five states are including performance tasks in their assessments, and an equal number have student portfolios as part of their assessment process.5 However, in their analysis of state mathematics and science curriculum frameworks, Blank and Pechman 3 Professional associations representing those who teach in the different subject-matter disciplines have influenced the pace with which the states have developed content standards. Largely because the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics was the first professional group to develop a set of academic standards, mathematics standards are the most well developed among state content standards. In contrast, for standards in disciplines in which the national development process undertaken by the subject-matter groups has been slower or more problematic (e.g., language arts, history), states tend not to be as far along in their implementation. 4 A total of 17 states have assessments that consist of multiple-choice items and a writing sample, and 16 others include open-response items of some type, in addition to the multiple-choice items and the writing sample (Bond et al., 1996). 5 Of the five states with portfolios, however, two are voluntary, one is locally determined, and one is not scored (Bond et al., 1996).
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform (1995) found that only 10 of 40 recent frameworks show a clear linkage between the framework and the state assessment. The states also vary in their scoring systems and units of accountability. In keeping with the standards-based notion of performance levels, more than half the states with assessments report results using either the percentage of students reaching each of three or more performance levels or the proportion attaining a state goal (National Education Goals Panel, 1996). Kentucky, for example, has four performance levels, with the second-highest representing the proficient level that the state expects all students to attain within 20 years. The proficient level is meant to indicate that a student understands the major concepts embodied in the state standards or "academic expectations," and that he or she can perform almost all of a task that requires application of those concepts and can communicate the concepts clearly. Other states, for example Delaware and Illinois, report assessment results in terms of the proportion of students who exceed state goals, who meet them, and who do not meet them. In most states, the unit of accountability is the school, the individual student, or both. Assessment results are used as school accountability measures in 40 states, and in 27 of them results may have consequences for schools, including potential rewards in the form of additional funding and recognition or sanctions such as funding losses, probation, reduced autonomy, and loss of accreditation. In all, 30 states have made students accountable: 18 require that they receive a passing score on a state assessment as a condition for high school graduation; 6 5 base student promotion decisions on the state assessment; and 12 use their assessment system to provide students with awards or recognition (National Education Goals Panels, 1996; Bond et al., 1996). Despite the innovations in state assessments over the past decade, there is some indication that even these changes do not sufficiently address the expectations in federal policy or the requirement to include students with disabilities in state assessments. A recent survey of state assessment programs conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the North Central Educational Laboratory (Bond et. al., 1996) found that, as of 1995, only seven states had plans for testing Title I students' mastery of state standards.7 Although they have until 2000 to implement the required Title I standards and assessments, many states reported having difficulty in complying because of what they perceive to be a lack of firm guidelines on how to set performance standards or assess students who may require accommodations. Consistent with this lack of clear guidance, 6 Until recently, most of the assessments that states have used to test students for high school graduation measure their mastery of basic literacy and numeracy skills, with the tests often calibrated to measure the skill levels expected of eighth graders. However, some states, for example Maryland and New York, are now in the process of implementing high school graduation assessments tied to the state standards and requiring higher mastery levels of more complex skills. 7 The states were Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform the survey found that states vary in whether they permit testing accommodations for students with disabilities and in the types of accommodations afforded them.8 As this brief overview of state policies illustrates, the notion of standards-based reform is likely to have a wide range of meanings and to be implemented in very different ways across the 50 states.9 How standards policies function in each state depends on the historical level of state direction over local districts, its current fiscal capacity, and the extent to which key state officials view standards-based reform as an effective strategy for educational improvement. Rationale Behind Standards Policies As with most education policies, arguments in favor of standards reforms rest on a combination of value appeals, inferences derived from research, and lessons learned from the implementation of prior reform initiatives. The policy framework for standards-based reform is at once a straightforward and a complicated one. The major idea animating it is a simple belief that all students can meet high standards if those standards are clearly articulated and if teachers teach to them. The tangible inducements for change are modest. Although the refocusing of Title I funds represents a sizable financial incentive for states and localities, the Goals 2000 funding represents only a small catalyst. With a few notable exceptions, for example Kentucky, most states have not accompanied their foray into standards-based reform with either significant new funding or a redirection of existing monies. As a result, the capacity-building costs associated with a major new initiative, such as staff retraining and planning time, have been largely pushed down to local districts and schools. In some sense, the major incentive to buy into standards-based reform may not be the financial resources provided by higher levels of government, but rather the intangible one represented by a vision of teachers teaching to and students learning to common standards. Behind that vision are a host of other values that include the quest for a new "common school," a belief that American students should be the equal of or better than those around the world, a hope that opportu- 8 As examples of the variation among states, two states (Connecticut and Georgia) require students with disabilities to take tests without accommodations; 41 states currently allow students with IEPs to be excluded from state assessments; and 39 permit some type of accommodations. The most common adaptations permitted for students with disabilities are large print (34 states) and braille or sign language (33 states) (Bond et al., 1996). 9 Goertz and Friedman (1996) summarize the different ways that the content of state standards differs as one illustration of the extent of state variation. Some states have chosen to concentrate on a set of generic skills, such as listening actively, organizing information, and applying knowledge in new situations. Other states emphasize student outcomes in specific disciplines, such as mathematics and language arts, whereas others have included both generic and disciplinary-specific outcomes in their standards. Still others have also included outcomes that are not strictly academic, such as physical fitness and a sense of personal competence.
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform nity to learn embodies a more effective strategy for achieving equity, and a conviction that schools should be held publicly accountable for their performance. Any or all of these values may serve as a stronger incentive for standards-based change than the nominal resources that have been offered as incentives. But the power of values to shape policy outcomes depends not on their veracity, but on how widely they are accepted by educators, parents, students, and the public. In addition to a call on shared values, standards-based reforms have also been justified by evidence from both research and practice. The empirical basis for assuming that a focus on content standards will improve student outcomes is an indirect one. Yet there is a widespread belief among standards advocates that this strategy is consistent with research documenting a relationship between student achievement and the types, content, and level of courses taken. In their view, some of the most compelling evidence about the link between achievement and curricular content comes from the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS), which documented national differences in the intensity of curricula and content coverage and its relationship to student achievement. One finding that helped explain the poor showing of U.S. students was the superficiality of topic coverage in the U.S. curriculum, compared with Japan, France, and Belgium. The U.S. curriculum is characterized by extensive repetition and review and little intensity of coverage. Low-intensity coverage means that individual topics are treated in only a few class periods, and concepts and topics are quite fragmented (McKnight et al., 1987). 10 Research focused solely on U.S. students seems to reinforce the international findings. These studies show a correlation between the number and level of mathematics courses taken and student achievement, even when background variables such as home and community environment and previous mathematics learning are taken into account (Hoffer et al., 1995; Raizen and Jones, 1985; Jones et al., 1986). For advocates of content standards, the implication of this research is that a set of curricular standards that applies to all students will increase their opportunity to learn and hence their achievement. Although this evidence is suggestive, the inferences that can be drawn from it are limited by significant data constraints. With few exceptions, studies of content coverage are confined to samples of high school students; most of the research focuses on mathematics courses and primarily considers content coverage. It does not focus on the type or quality of instruction or the effects of different curriculum requirements on students' achievement, and it does not look specifically at students with disabilities. 10 Although analyses of the relationship between content coverage and student achievement are not yet available from the recently released Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the initial findings indicate that the eighth grade mathematics curriculum in the United States is less focused that that of other countries. U.S. schools are still teaching a greater number of topics at a lower level of intensity than their counterparts internationally, and the U.S. mathematics curriculum is not as advanced as that of Japan and Germany. The U.S. science curriculum, however, more closely resembles that of other countries (U.S. Department of Education, 1996c).
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform implementation of the IDEA. Evaluation, placement, and programming decisions for students with disabilities are intended to be idiosyncratic. And, although bureaucratic efficiency promotes standardization, individualization and parental input exert counterpressures. The state and federal courts have played a role in refining the IDEA's statutory and regulatory requirements for appropriate and individualized education for students with disabilities. Several cases are particularly important in the context of standards-based reform. The first case under the IDEA considered by the U.S. Supreme Court was Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley (458 U.S. 176, 1982). The case involved Amy Rowley, a deaf elementary school student with excellent lip-reading skills who performed above average educationally and advanced easily from grade to grade; the focus of the dispute was a conflict over the extent of related services required. The Supreme Court held that, in order to be "appropriate," the package of special education and related services provided to a child with disabilities must be designed in conformity with the IDEA's procedural requirements and must be reasonably calculated to enable her to receive educational benefits. The Court also held that, to assess appropriateness of education (458 U.S. at 188-89, emphasis added): Almost as a checklist for adequacy under the Act, the definition requires that such [specially designed] instruction and services be provided at public expense and under public supervision, meet the State's educational standards, approximate the grade levels used in the State's regular education, and comport with the child's IEP…. Thus, if personalized instruction is being provided with sufficient support services to permit the child to benefit from instruction, and the other items on the definitional checklist are satisfied, the child is receiving a "free appropriate education" as defined by the Act. The Court expressly declined to establish any one test for appropriateness, but since Amy Rowley was receiving substantial special services and was performing above average in a regular classroom, it limited its analysis to that situation and concluded that she was receiving an appropriate education. The Rowley case received considerable attention, but it was in many ways a poor case to guide educators and judges in future disputes since it involved a student who, despite her parent's requests for more special education services, was doing quite well. However, for several years the case was the only Supreme Court precedent to provide guidance in interpreting and applying the IDEA. When lower courts have applied the Rowley test to the facts in individual cases, they have had no difficulty judging the procedural due process portion of the test. The issue of what constitutes a beneficial education has been more difficult, but the lower courts have followed the Supreme Court standard and have not substituted their judgment for that of educators on pedagogical or methodological questions; school districts have generally been successful in court if they could demonstrate that they made an earnest attempt to do all they could for a student (Broadwell and Walden, 1988).
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform The biggest problem for parents, educators, hearing officers, and judges trying to implement the Rowley standards is that the case was simply unclear on how to deal with much more difficult issues, such as the meaning of the IDEA's requirement for education in the least restrictive environment, access to year-round schooling, and the provision of services to students who, unlike Amy Rowley, were not in general education and performing above average compared with their peers. Initially, lower courts reacted in most cases to Rowley by holding that the IEP, and the educational programs called for in the IEP, were appropriate if they resulted in at least some educational benefit for the student, even if the benefit was minimal (Osborne, 1996). Eventually, the lower courts began to expand their interpretations of the "educational benefit" criteria, as did the U.S. Supreme Court in a subsequent decision (Irving Independent School District v. Tatro, 468 U.S. 883, 1984, relying heavily on an equality of opportunity approach in giving a broad definition to the term related services ; see Wegner, 1985; Gallegos, 1989). However, all the federal courts were uniform in determining that maximization of educational benefit for a student with disabilities was not required unless this higher standard of service had been adopted by a state legislature (Osborne, 1996; Rothstein, 1990; Strope and Broadwell, 1990; Wegner, 1985). Some commentators have asserted that the lower federal courts have not been uniform in following the Rowley standard (Neal and Kirp, 1985; Wegner, 1985; Melnick, 1994; Weber, 1990). Others have argued that the courts have utilized the Rowley standard and applied it to the disputes about individualized appropriateness before them (Broadwell and Walden, 1988; Gallegos, 1989; Rothstein, 1990; Strope and Broadwell, 1990; Turnbull, 1993; Osborne, 1996). At least one prominent commentator, assessing the impact of the post-Rowley cases, has noted that the lower courts have widely applied the essence of that decision, the standard of requiring that a student be provided educational benefit, but not a benefit that would maximize the student's potential. These courts apply the educational benefit standard on a case-by-case basis, with the student's present placement, diagnosis, disability, and capability all taken into account to make an individualized determination of what is appropriate for the student. In the inevitable determinations that courts must make in choosing between at least two different proposed placements or programs, the courts have tended to follow a "balancing of benefits" approach. In this approach, the courts consider the student's capability to make educational progress; appropriate education and educational benefits requirements are met whenever one placement is likely to result in higher outcomes for a student than another and the program uses appropriate curricula to meet the student's needs. Only a minority of cases, most of them less recent, reject the balancing of benefits approach (Turnbull, 1993). Despite some disagreement among commentators on the impact of the Rowley decision on the lower courts, a legal analysis prepared for the committee indicates that the Rowley criteria provide clear guidance for defining an appropri-
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform ate education for students with disabilities under standards-based reform. Under the Rowley standards, an appropriate education should include elementary and secondary education as defined by state standards and should be designed to provide educational benefit. In a standards-based system, then, a free and appropriate education includes the special education and related services necessary to allow students to attain the outcomes set forth for them, as well as any programming needed to address their supplemental, individualized educational needs (Ordover et al., 1996). Students with Disabilities Should Be Educated in the Least Restrictive Educational Environment In addition to decreasing the number of students with disabilities who are excluded from education, federal laws also sought to ensure that, whenever possible, participation in special education classes would be reduced in favor of placement in the regular classroom (Benveniste, 1986). The requirement for educating students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment is rooted in the belief that the approach will remove stigma from these students, enhance and normalize their social status (e.g., Nirge, 1970; Wolfensberger, 1970), facilitate modeling of appropriate behavior, provide a richer educational environment, be more flexible and cost-effective, and enhance broader public acceptance of people with disabilities (Weatherley, 1979; Minow, 1990). The issue of what constitutes education in the least restrictive environment is one of the more controversial issues currently confronting special education, particularly among educators, some parents, and more than a few public officials. State and federal statutes specify that, in determining what constitutes the least restrictive environment, the IEP team is to begin with the general education classroom and consider which supports or accommodations can be made; only after determining that this environment would not afford appropriate education should more restrictive placements be considered. School districts must maintain or make available a continuum of placements, including special classrooms, schools, and even residential or other instruction. Students with disabilities should be removed from general settings only to the extent essential to meet their individual needs. Many students with disabilities are currently being educated in general education classrooms for a large part of their school day. Recent data indicate that more than 70 percent of students with disabilities spend at least 40 percent of the school day in the regular classroom (U.S. Department of Education, 1996a; see also Chapter 3). The issue of least restrictive environment for these students is not whether they can access the general education classroom, but whether appropriate types and levels of support will be provided entirely in the general education classroom or partially in a specialized environment such as a resource room, pullout program, special classroom, or separate school. In the past 10 years, there
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform have been many calls to include students with disabilities more fully in general education (Will, 1986; Gartner and Lipsky, 1987; Stainback and Stainback, 1984; Wang et al., 1986). Nevertheless, some parents and advocates, as well as students themselves, view separate and specialized support services as necessary for students with disabilities to meet the demands of the general education curriculum or to attain adequate levels of essential skills. They maintain that a continuum of placement options should be available, and one should be selected only after educational appropriateness is determined (Bateman, 1994; Learning Disabilities Association of America, 1993; Kauffman and Lloyd, 1995). The educational goals defined for many students with disabilities include increased academic competence and emotional well-being or positive social behaviors. Since research has yet to demonstrate that these important outcomes can always be obtained in general education classrooms (e.g., Fuchs et al., 1993; Jenkins et al., 1991), the resulting tension between those advocating inclusion and those wanting to maintain a continuum of placements is strong (Fuchs and Fuchs, 1994; Kauffman and Hallahan, 1993; Shanker, 1994). From the perspective of standards-based reform, however, the issue is not where students with disabilities receive their education, but whether they have access to a challenging curriculum and high-quality instruction consistent with state and local standards. Most disability advocates seek the participation of students with disabilities in key reform initiatives, such as high common standards, large-scale assessments, and curricular reforms, regardless of what stance they take on the general inclusion issue. These advocates endorse higher standards and higher expectations for all students and seek to give students access to a broad and balanced curriculum. Generally, the courts have held that the least restrictive environment mandate is secondary to provision of an appropriate program and services, and that both program and placement decisions should be individualized. Thus, the degree of integration into general education is intertwined with determinations of what the educational goals should be and whether specialized services can be effectively provided in general education environments. A number of recent law-suits have focused on the standards and criteria for assessing whether the least restrictive environment requirement has been met for a particular child (e.g., Board of Education, Sacramento City Unified School District v. Holland, 14 F. 3d 1398, 9th Cir. 1994; Oberti v. Board of Education of Borough of Clementon , 995 F. 2d 1204, 3rd Cir. 1993; Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Education , 874 F. 2d 1036 [5th Cir. 1984]). These cases support the right to full participation of students with disabilities in the general education environment. Another related issue of increasing concern is the large number of students with disabilities who are exempted from local and statewide accountability systems used to evaluate school and district effectiveness in helping students meet desired educational outcomes (Brauen et al., 1994). These systems employ a
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform variety of accountability measures related to student participation (e.g., attendance, promotion/retention, suspension/expulsion, and graduation) and student performance (e.g., attainment of minimum competency or common standards). Excluding large numbers of students with disabilities from these systems has resulted in a lack of accountability for the success of their educational programs. In conjunction with the requirement for the least restrictive environment, the IDEA's definition of an appropriate education requires that the goals and content of specially designed instruction and related services be designed with reference to public education, as defined by state law and practice. The IDEA and its implementing regulations require states and local school systems to adopt and implement a goal of providing "full educational opportunity" to all children with disabilities (20 U.S.C. 1412[a], 1414[a][c]; 34 C.F.R. 300.304). When states adopt content and student performance standards and aligned curricula, these define "an appropriate … elementary or secondary education in the State involved," pursuant to the IDEA requirements. Accommodations Should Be Provided In order to afford students with disabilities a fair and even playing field, the laws specify that accommodations in educational services should take into account students' needs stemming from their disabilities. These accommodations, however, must be reasonable and are required only for students who are otherwise qualified to participate in an educational program or activity. Courts have held that the provisions of Section 504 do not require states or schools to alter the content of a minimum competency test used to award high school diplomas, in that a substantial modification would unreasonably alter the graduation requirement, but they do require the implementation of IEPs that facilitate successful participation by students with disabilities (Brookhart v. Illinois State Board of Education, 697 F. 2d; see also Board of Education of Northport-East Northport Union Free School District v. Ambach, 60 N.Y. 2d 758). Although states or school districts using assessments for high-stakes purposes, such as the awarding of high school diplomas, are not required to modify the educational content they measure, they can be required to provide accommodations in administering a test or assessment. For example, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has required, under Section 504, that Hawaii provide a reader for a student with a learning disability during a high school graduation examination, as it has provided readers for blind students. It ruled that the state discriminated against the student in violation of Section 504 because it failed to provide him adjustments necessary to offer him an equal opportunity to pass the test; the Office for Civil Rights noted that "equal opportunity to obtain the same result" on the test, required under Section 504 regulations, necessitates that the tests be administered so as to measure the student's proficiency in the subject tested, rather than his or her unrelated disability.
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform Parental Participation Should Be Encouraged Consistent with Procedural Protections Parental involvement in the education of children with disabilities is a key principle of the IDEA. The legislation gives parents many procedural rights, responsibilities, and opportunities to shape the education of their children with disabilities. Both the state and federal laws include procedural protections for families during the special education evaluation and placement processes to ensure a mechanism for family participation in decision making and for impartial review of disputes that may arise between a family and educators about the education of a student with a disability. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in the Rowley case, educators' compliance with procedural protections is a crucial element for ensuring that the appropriateness requirements of the IDEA are met. The IDEA requires parents to be notified before their child is evaluated for special education services and requires their consent prior to an initial evaluation for placement in a special education program. Parents have the right to participate in planning their children's instructional program, to review educational records, and to obtain independent educational evaluations. They also have the right to receive prior written notice of significant school decisions and to file a complaint regarding decisions or actions with which they disagree. Parents are entitled to have an administrative due process hearing on all such complaints and to file a lawsuit if they do not prevail (Ordover et al., 1996:109). Many special educators believe the parents' role in developing the educational program, particularly the IEP, is the cornerstone of parental involvement in special education. The IEP creates opportunities for parents and professionals to develop individualized approaches for every student's education, including setting long-term goals and short-term objectives, specifying evaluation measures, determining the related services to be provided and accommodations required, and deciding on student placement and involvement in the general curriculum. The IDEA parental provisions have multiple objectives. First, the law recognizes and seeks to reinforce the positive effects that parents can have on learning and school success for children with disabilities, just as all parents can do for their children. (See Chapter 3 for further discussion of parental involvement and the educational experiences of children with disabilities.) Second, the IDEA acknowledges the critical caretaking responsibilities, support functions, and strong concerns about their children's futures assumed by parents of children with disabilities. Third, the legislation recognizes that parents, above all others, have a deep, abiding interest in the quality of their children's education and their general well-being; therefore, the law places the major burden of enforcement and accountability on parents. This advocacy role for parents is the culmination of an evolutionary process. Public Law 94–142 broke new ground in 1975 by granting active decision-making rights to parents of children with disabilities. In doing so, Congress accepted
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform the basic premise that public schools may not always, of their own accord, provide an appropriate education for children with disabilities and may need prodding from parents, who have the strongest incentives to ensure that their children receive the services and rights to which they are entitled. No longer were parents expected to be passive recipients of professional decisions about their children, but instead they were to become decision makers and monitors of their children's education (Turnbull and Turnbull, in press). One of the most significant factors in the implementation of state and federal special education policy is that the burden of enforcement largely rests on parents and advocacy groups. Yet parents have generally been reluctant to pursue procedural protections (Weatherley, 1979; Engel, 1991). With a few exceptions when advocacy groups have become involved, most of those who have pursued procedural remedies have been more affluent families. Standards-based reform may trigger disagreements between individual parents and educators about appropriate IEP goals and objectives, the content of instruction, and the use of alternate performance standards or assessments. Some parents may also invoke their procedural rights when such disputes arise—whether through participation on the IEP team or the filing of a complaint. Parents invoking these rights will do so within the substantive framework of the child's right to receive a free, appropriate public education as defined by the IDEA, with maximum appropriate integration with nondisabled peers. The use of procedural protections to ensure students with disabilities access to appropriate education has resulted in the ''legalization" of special education (Neal and Kirp, 1985; Yudof, 1984). By 1982, there had been nearly 300 federal and state court cases bearing on the meaning of Public Law 94-142, mostly concerning disputes over IEPs (Yudof, 1984). One study estimated that, during the 1980s, there were 342 reported federal cases and 99 reported state cases under the predecessor legislation to the IDEA (Zirkel and Richardson, 1989). Although several commentators have decried what they perceive as a frightening increase in litigiousness on special education issues (Melnick, 1994; Zirkel and Richardson, 1989), the total number of administrative hearings and court cases seems quite small given the millions of students receiving special education under the IDEA and the detailed substantive and procedural protections built into this law. Concerns about the volume of hearings and court activity are also offset by the fact that the majority of the cases have been won by school districts (Kuriloff, 1985; Winnick, 1987). Several studies have indicated that parents win only a minority of the hearings; according to one study of four years of hearings in Pennsylvania, parents achieved some form of victory in only 35 percent of the hearings, a percentage paralleled in a Massachusetts study and in a nationwide survey of 42 states (Kuriloff, 1985). A more pertinent question is what effect legalization has had on the daily activities of educators, the relationships between educators and families, and the educational opportunities of students with disabilities. Studies of the implemen-
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform tation of the 1972 Massachusetts legislation, one of the first state statutes designed to ensure the provision of equality of educational opportunity for students with disabilities and a prototype for Public Law 94-142, concluded that teachers and administrators incorporated the new legal requirements into their daily practice, in effect making new policies consistent with, and easily accommodated into, their existing practices and procedures (Weatherley and Lipsky, 1977; Weatherley, 1979; see also Wise, 1979). However, the efforts of well-meaning educators to cope with the added demands of the new policy requirements when resources are limited has resulted in priorities that have often benefited the affluent and penalized the poor (Budoff and Orenstein, 1982; Weatherley, 1979; Singer and Butler, 1987; Neal and Kirp, 1985). It has been easier for educators to comply with the procedural rather than substantive components of IEP requirements (Smith and Brownell, 1995; see also Clune and Van Pelt, 1985; Neal and Kirp, 1985). The combination of detailed legal requirements and insufficient resources has forced local educators to ration resources, sometimes by "slotting" or mass processing students into categories for diagnosis and service to promote administrative efficiency and keep down the cost of services (Weatherley, 1979; Handler, 1986). In these situations, the IEP process often becomes one of political bargaining, with enormous pressures on parents to comply with educators' recommendations. The collective result is considerable momentum against the high level of individualization required by state and federal laws (Weatherley, 1979; Handler, 1986). CONCLUSIONS The two policy frameworks that define standards-based reform and the education of students with disabilities embody potentially compatible goals. However, before those ideals can be melded into effective classroom practice, two major barriers must be overcome. First, the expectations of those advocating standards-based reforms currently exceed the limits of existing professional practice and expert knowledge. Standards-based reform assumes that rigorous curriculum content, conveyed through sophisticated pedagogy, can be provided to students with diverse needs and abilities by teachers of varied experience and training. Yet research on the implementation of past education reforms and the experience of early implementers of standards-based policies indicate that translating these initiatives into widespread practice will require considerably more time and a greater investment in professional training than many states have been willing to expend. Similarly, one of the key assumptions of standards-based reform is that student performance can be accurately measured by new forms of assessment that will serve as both credible accountability mechanisms and strong instructional guides. Yet the transition away from a sole reliance on multiple-choice assessments has posed a host of technical challenges. Considerable progress has been made in addressing those
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform problems, but technical solutions have come more slowly than the deadlines imposed by policy makers anxious to implement alternative assessments. The professional and technical problems associated with standards-based reform are compounded when it is melded with special education. Some of these challenges, such as the curricular ones discussed in Chapter 4, stem partly from the historical separation between general and special education, each with its own research base and norms of professional practice. Other challenges are due to the different institutional arrangements that flow from the centrality of the IEP in special education and the emphasis on a common curriculum and public, aggregated forms of accountability in standards-based reform. Still other challenges flow from a lack of experience with the practices necessary for students with disabilities to participate in the standards movement. One example is the design of valid testing accommodations discussed in Chapter 5. All these challenges are further complicated because they must be addressed within the rights-based framework of special education, which also has professional and technical limitations. For example, substantive decisions about the participation of students with disabilities in content standards must be made within an IEP process that has become increasingly routinized and procedural in its emphasis. Similarly, assessment accommodations for some students, such as those with cognitive disabilities, will be determined on the basis of a taxonomy of disability that lacks clear and objective identification criteria. Above all, standards-based reform brings into sharp focus the major challenge of special education: ensuring that students with disabilities have access to an appropriate education, with the particular content of that education specified not in law but individually through the IEP process. The challenge is to preserve the rights of individual students within the framework of common standards, with only general guidance from legal precedents and professional practices that have not yet been tested in the evolving context of standards policy. Unfortunately, there are no quick or simple solutions to these professional and technical challenges. Most of them are likely to be solved or at least made more tractable over time. But progress will not occur without a continued investment in professional capacity-building and in clinical and psychometric research. In its articulation of curricular standards and the design of new forms of assessment, the standards framework emphasizes the professional judgment of classroom teachers as well as that of subject-matter and testing experts. The special education framework has a set of legal entitlements at its core, but it too relies heavily on professional judgment to determine which educational services are appropriate to meet the needs of individual children. But politics, broadly defined, also shapes both policy frameworks, primarily through public values about what constitutes a good education, who is entitled to that education, and what kinds of resources should be devoted to it. Consequently, the second barrier is a perceptual and political one that must also be overcome if students with disabilities are to participate in standards-based
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform reform. The broad range of people involved in the educational enterprise need to understand and to agree on what the phrase "all students can learn to high standards" really means. Survey data from teachers and the public suggest that, at a symbolic level, the idea is accepted. But there is considerably less agreement about its operational meaning—how the idea should be applied to individual students and implemented in classrooms, and what consequences should be imposed for nonattainment of the standards. The thorny issues of defining and operationalizing "all students" and "high standards" constitute one dimension of the political challenges facing standards-based reform. Reaching consensus on what the specific standards should be—whether or not they are truly high or apply in the same way to all students—is an equally critical dimension. The events of the past few years have demonstrated that the schools remain a major focal point for debates over the cultural values that divide Americans. Yet by definition the standards movement rests on the notion of common standards reflecting what the broader community wants its children to know and be able to do. Debates over the purposes of public schooling are a healthy part of the democratic process if they do not disrupt or impede children's education. Consequently, ways must be found to have those debates while still seeking consensus. One lesson that emerges quite clearly from the experience of the states that implemented standards reforms early is that the development of new curriculum standards and assessments cannot be solely a technical process with participation limited to experts. Decisions as significant as what knowledge is most important for students to learn and how they should be tested on their mastery of it require open, public deliberation. That participation can be organized in any number of ways, including state-level review committees, forums in local communities sponsored by the Parent-Teachers Association or the League of Women Voters, informal gatherings in people's homes, and op-ed exchanges in local newspapers and on radio and television programs. Widespread participation should be encouraged from those representing the general and special education communities, from those with school-age children and those without, and from supporters and opponents of standards-based reform. Because deliberation depends on the primacy of talk, it requires time and the willingness of participants to be open to viewpoints different from their own.23 23 Clearly, deliberation alone does not ensure either consensual or productive decisions. Nevertheless, a variety of empirical evidence from social psychology, political science, and public opinion research indicates that individuals are more likely to approve of the decision-making process, understand outcomes better, and support them—even if they initially disagreed—if the decisional process is one that allows for all sides to speak and be considered (e.g., Tyler et al., 1989; Gamson, 1992). Perhaps the best-known recent demonstration of the impact of deliberation was the National Issues Convention, a gathering of 600 randomly selected, nationally representative citizens who discussed key issues with each other and with candidates running in the 1996 presidential primary elections. Opinion data were collected from participants before and after their deliberations, and the results
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Educating One & All: Students with Disabilities and Standards-Based Reform Such openness to new approaches may be especially difficult in special education, because the policy framework and professional practice are well established. Similarly, those outside special education have not really had to confront exactly what their exhortation for common standards really means for students with unique educational needs. Just as standards advocates have had to listen to and accommodate the preferences of those with different cultural values, so they must be open to students whose educational needs do not completely conform to their prior assumptions. Deliberation is difficult, but not to talk constructively across interests and communities is to mock the notion of common standards for public schools. show that many changed their views on the interpretation of social and economic problems and on their preferences for government action. Participants' level of information about national issues increased and they reported feeling more politically efficacious. (Information about the National Issues Convention is available on the Internet at http://www1.pbs.org/nic_background.html. Results of the pre- and post-deliberative polls are available at http://www1.pbs.org/nic/poll_results.html.)
Representative terms from entire chapter: