As part of a proposal to overhaul America’s education system, the Obama administration is calling for students with disabilities to “graduate from high school ready for college and a career” just like their typically developing peers.
Under a blueprint sent to Congress Monday, there would be less emphasis on test scores and more of a focus on students attaining a broad base of knowledge, increasing high school graduation rates and ensuring that such graduates are prepared for college and work.
The plan places special emphasis on inclusion of students with disabilities. Further, administration officials want teachers to be better prepared to address the needs of special education students and tests that more accurately assess student abilities.
A group representing special educators expressed cautious optimism about the plan Monday. Bruce A. Ramirez, executive director of the Council for Exceptional Children, said he is encouraged that the blueprint “enhances inclusion of students with disabilities,” but he said details on implementation are lacking.
Under the Obama administration initiative, standards would largely be developed at the state level, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters Monday.
The plan complements an ambitious effort unveiled last week by state leaders from across the country to establish national academic standards. Both plans put a premium on high expectations.
Schools that excel would be rewarded under the blueprint from the Obama administration, while struggling schools would be pressured to try new strategies, though much control over a particular school’s approach would be left to local officials.
“We have to raise the bar for all students,” Duncan said. “The one thing that isn’t going to work is doing nothing.”
The blueprint comes as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. Duncan called the current law “punitive” and said the system needs to highlight more rewards for success.