If These Students Don’t Count, Will They Be Taught?
Legislation up for a vote next week in the Louisiana state Senate would reverse years of progress for Louisiana’s students with disabilities. The two bills (H.B 993 and H.B. 1015), which passed the Louisiana House earlier this month, would allow schools to give high school diplomas to students with disabilities even if they haven’t met minimum standards on statewide assessments. The bills would also prohibit the state from including the performance of students with disabilities in school or district accountability determinations. This would exclude nearly 13 percent (about 40,000) of Louisiana’s black students.
In simpler terms, these bills would give the state permission to pass along students with disabilities — with no requirement to actually teach them or hold them to the same expectations as other students.
Louisiana legislators are missing one important point: Since fourth-graders with disabilities were included in Louisiana’s accountability system, the percentage reading at grade level has increased threefold. It is imperative Louisiana maintain that kind of progress, not reverse course. Schools must be held accountable for educating all students — including students with disabilities.