which is required by law to be developed for each student with a disability. The 1997 amendments provide that:
- As a condition of eligibility, states must have policies and procedures to ensure that students with disabilities are included in general state- and district-wide assessment programs, with appropriate accommodations when necessary.
- Effective July 1, 1998, IEPs must include a statement of any individual modifications in the administration of state- or district-wide assessments of student achievement that are needed in order for the student to participate in such assessments. If the IEP team—which includes parents, the teacher, and others concerned with the child's education—determines that the child will not participate in a particular state-wide or district-wide assessment of student achievement (or part thereof), then the IEP must include a statement of why that assessment is not appropriate for the student and how the student will be assessed.
- For the students whose IEPs specify that they should be excluded from regular assessments, the state must ensure development of guidelines for their participation in alternate assessments, developing and conducting alternate assessments no later than July 1, 2000.
- States must have recording policies and procedures in place that ensure proper reporting of information regarding the performance of students with disabilities on large-scale assessments.
These changes in the law were designed to benefit children with disabilities by promoting high expectations commensurate with their needs and providing a means of holding school systems accountable for attending to those needs. Because about 50 percent of students with disabilities have been excluded from state- and district-wide assessments in the past, there has been a shortage of key indicators of success for many of these children, including performance on assessments, dropout rates, graduation rates, and regular reports to the public on progress toward meeting goals for their educational improvement. Many school systems have therefore not established meaningful educational goals for children who, it is now clear, can achieve at higher levels than society has historically assumed. Changes in the new law also aim to improve reporting to parents and teachers of students with disabilities (and the students themselves) with respect to the progress they are making toward achievement of these goals. The 1997 IDEA amendments also contemplate that state