No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Autism

Definition: According to the U.S. Department of Education Website:

  • President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act on January 8, 2002. The law helps schools improve by focusing on accountability for results, freedom for states and communities, proven education methods, and choices for parents.
In practice, what this means is that the vast majority of American school children are expected to take state-mandated achievement tests.
These tests are supposed to measure the ability of the school to teach specific, federally mandated content.

While a very small percentage of special needs children may take an adapted test, the vast majority of children with autism do take the usual state tests. Children with autism may take the tests with accomodations such as extra time, or support from an aide.

While NCLB specifically tests content that is to be taught to ALL students, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that each child with a disability is taught according to his or her specific needs and abilities. Because special needs teachers are adhering to the IDEA, it is almost unheard of for a child in an autism support class to be taught how to take a standardized achievement test (although most typical students actually practice the tests in their classes).

Obviously, these two acts contradict one another.

Often, the outcome is that children with autism do take standardized tests - but are not prepared for them. As a result, they tend to do poorly even when they are academically competent.

Also Known As: NCLB

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