Statement on Final Rule to Improve the Academic Achievement of Students with Disabilities

August 24, 2015

Children in the Classroom, Courtesy Department of Education on Flickr
Children in the Classroom, Courtesy Department of Education on Flickr

On August 21, the U.S. Department of Education published a final Rule (see Federal Register Vol. 80, No. 162) eliminating the use of the Alternate Assessment based on Modified Academic Achievement Standards (AA-MAS), or the so-called "2% Rule." AUCD applauds the Secretary for finalizing this policy that will ultimately lead to many more students graduating from high school prepared for college and careers. AUCD believes that this policy change will go a long way to raising expectations of all students and ensuring that schools are held accountable for providing appropriate services, accommodations, and instruction that may be needed to provide the opportunities for students with disabilities to achieve grade-level standards. Multiple research studies and best practice show that most students with disabilities can successfully learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress when they receive systematic explicit instruction, learning strategies, and other evidence-based services and supports. In addition, nearly all states have now developed and are administering new high-quality general assessments that are universally designed to include students with disabilities. This has reinforced that the vast majority of students with disabilities do not need to work toward so-called modified achievement standards and can be assessed on the general achievement standards.

AUCD urges the Administration to further work with Congress as it moves toward a conference committee to work out the difference between House and Senate bills (H.R. 5/S. 1177) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Neither of the bills goes far enough to ensure that schools are held accountable to all students. When groups of students are not meeting the academic indicators, there must be a trigger for intervention and supports for those students. Without criteria to trigger interventions, student groups could be permitted to languish for years in situations that provide inadequate instruction and support. In addition, the Secretary of Education must have authority to oversee the state accountability systems and to be able to intervene when groups of students are falling behind.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, non-profit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practice through research, education and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families and communities. For more information and a directory of member centers, please see the AUCD website at