Today the U.S. Department of Education is reopening the comment period on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) they issued in the late summer that would end the use of the 2% standards and assessments for students with disabilities by the end of this school year. The comment period on these regulations previously closed during the Federal Government shutdown and the U.S. Department has reopened the comment period for 7 days to ensure all interested parties have a chance to comment on these regulations. If you have not had a chance to comment on these proposed regulations, this new 7 day period, ending 11/26, is an excellent chance to weigh in on ending the use of the 2% standards and assessments for students with disabilities. You can access the document which provides information on the NPRM as well as this new comment period by clicking here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-19/html/2013-27699.htm
Background: Presently, U.S. Department of Education regulations permit States to assess students with disabilities against modified academic achievement standards using alternate assessments. Only students with disabilities may be assessed using these alternate assessments and the number of such students assessed must be limited to the number that would constitute 2% of all students (This works out to about 20% of students with disabilities). These regulations are commonly referred to as the 2% regulations. The 2% regulations are different from the regulations which permit assessment of students with disabilities who have significant cognitive disabilities. In the States that use these 2% standards and assessments, students are generally assessed on less challenging academic content and very often not considered on a path to graduation with a regular high school diploma. This places the ability of these students to get post secondary education and training as well as employment after high school at risk.
States which have waivers of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act from the U.S. Department of Education (presently 42 States, DC and Puerto Rico have these waivers) have, as a condition of these waivers, to end the use of 2% standards and assessments by the end of this school year (2013-2014). The NPRM published by the Department would permanently end the use of the 2% standards and assessments by States, regardless of whether a State has received an ESEA waiver. This would put the students who are assessed against these 2% standards on a track to obtain a regular high school diploma.