For those who have not yet taken part in the creation of an IEP (Individualized Educational Program), or read through the details of the IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act), you have something to look forward to.
No matter how old your child is, though, you'll be interested to see the results of the Department of Education's "report card" on Special Education across the United States. What was surprising to me was the discovery that each state put together its own system for meeting federal requirements - and each letter of determination is available online. Less surprisingly, very few states have actually earned the coveted "meets requirements" rating.
To be honest, I really think it's impossible to succeed in meeting both the requirements of the IDEA and the requirements of No Child Left Behind. After all, the IDEA in essence insists that every child with special needs be given a unique educational program tailored to his or her needs. No Child Left Behind requires that every child be able to pass a single test based upon a shared educational program.
If a state actually follows both laws (and our state mostly does), children with special needs are required to take and pass a test for which they are never appropriately prepared! That's because, while typically developing kids are being drilled in test-taking, our kids are getting social skills training or occupational therapy. While typically developing kids are getting the standard curriculum, our kids are ... not.
Even if all of our kids were little geniuses, the likelihood that they'd do well on a state test for which they're unprepared is ... slight. How much tougher is it for kids who have learning disabilities, ADHD and autism - even when the test is provided with "accomodations?"
What's your opinion of our present special education system? How would you change it? Or...would you leave it alone?