Gerry Thiers - Executive Director ASAHFinding a Balanced Approach to Testing of Students with Disabilities

Spring is just around the corner and we all know what that means: flowers…longer days…baseball…and of course, standardized testing.

“Policy makers and educators must understand what is being tested, and why.”

While it is important for students with disabilities to be held to high standards, it is equally important that policy makers and educators understand what is being tested, and why.

ASAH believes that the nation needs a smart and balanced approach to testing, and multiple measures of assessment. We hope the new federal law, ESSA, will put us on the right path.

Testing needs to be relevant. We need to be measuring progress in skills that matter – those that will make a difference in the lives our students. Does it matter if a student with disabilities can identify a right angle or a noun in a sentence, or, if he/she cannot make change at a cash register or communicate basic needs? How do we measure progress in life skills, like mobility, self-care, employment readiness or social skills? What about students who spend months, or even years, working to say a single word. How do our tests measure that?

In the coming years, there will be opportunities for stakeholders to have input on state-controlled issues, such as standardized testing. Special education leaders MUST be at the table. Now, more than ever, parent and advocate engagement is vital as New Jersey shapes the next generation of student testing.

Gerry Thiers
ASAH Executive Director