High expectations and testing can cure disabilities

I am sorry friends I don’t have the energy to tackle any more of Arne “I never taught a day in my life but somehow I am the secretary of education” Duncan’s ridiculous and complete misunderstanding of education and teachers but here are a few pieces about him believing high expectations and testing can cure disabilities,  from a couple people that did.

From Curmudgucation

Arne Duncan announced that, shockingly, students with disabilities do poorly in school. They perform below level in both English and math. No, there aren’t any qualifiers attached to that. Arne is bothered that students with very low IQs, students with low function, students who have processing problems, students who have any number of impairments– these students are performing below grade level.

“We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel,” Duncan said. (per NPR coverage)

And I’m pretty sure we don’t know any such thing. I’m pretty sure that the special needs students in schools across the country are special needs precisely because they have trouble meeting the usual expectations.


From NPR

And yet, Duncan said, most states are doing exactly what the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has required until now. School districts are required to create an “individualized education plan,” or IEP, tailored to a student’s needs. 

School officials must show that these children are getting instructional support in a timely manner and that they have full access to the curriculum and everything else that goes on in school. 

Under the new guidelines, Duncan says he’ll require proof that these kids aren’t just being served but are actually making academic progress. 


Um aren”t just being served but are actually making academic progress, I guess my magic wand and fairy dust will be arriving any moment now.

4 Replies to “High expectations and testing can cure disabilities”

  1. So — students with disabilities can't make academic progress…. . It might be helpful if you read up a little on the subject before you put your self on the record in such an ignorant (and offensive) way — Had you done so, you might have have learned how low teacher expectations impact progress for all students — including students with disabilities. You could have talked to parents and students and find out why they are so angry when "good" teachers determine that their best efforts aren't necessary because after all, it's not instruction that students with disabilities need, but "fairy dust."

    Mandated state assessments for students with disabilities are debateable, but Arne and his friends are putting it out there to solve a problem. That problem, I am sorry to say, is you, and teachers, schools and districts like you. Disability rights groups, parents and students see access to quality academic instruction as issue of equity. You and your friend see it as a joke – and can't even conceive that a student with a disability could learn and make progress. By requiring assessments and holding schools and teachers accountable, it is more likely that students with disabilities will get access to the general curriculum – real textbooks and reading materials instead of crayons, puzzles and videos. It is that simple.

  2. I am a long time ESE teacher and i have never shown up and gone I am going to mail it in because these kids can't learn and I don't know anybody else who has either. Arne's solution is ignorant, yes disabled kids can learn, yes there should be accountability but an individualized education plan and proper resources is the way to go.

  3. Chris — without any kind of accountability in the ESE system, when you say you're a good teacher, we'll have to take your word for it. I am not doubting you, but in the ESE accountability system, anyone who "cares" is considered a good teacher. They are not the same thing. And please, please…. — stop with the "these kids" and the "disabled kids" and recognize that each are your students who deserve better than your sweeping generalizations / labels. As far as IEP's go, as a ESE teacher and a parent of a kid with a low -incidence disability, I know better, and with your experience, I am sure you do too. IEP's are a formality – a duty – a once a year ceremony. There's no real accountability there.

    Will standardized adminstration of the alt. assessment / mandated participation in state standardized testing result in higher quality instruction from elementary school and beyond? Not sure but I am hopeful…… What else do we have?

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