On Friday, December 10th, 2015 Barack Obama Signed the Every Students Succeeds Act. This new law now rewrites the No Child Left Behind Act and offers a number of changes that could have both positive and negative ramifications for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. As with any new law, the true pros and cons will be revealed over time, but here is a list of considerations.
Pros of ESSA
Cons of ESSA
The Common Core curriculum can be adopted by states, but it is no longer required.
Annually, 3rd through 8th grade students will still have to be tested in Math and English. In addition, high school students will be tested once.
School accountability has shifted from the federal to the state level. Now, states will be responsible for setting academic goals and evaluating their schools.
Now advocates will have to focus their attention on both federal and state mandates.
There is more flexibility in how accountability tests are administered as well as the testing format.
Only 1% of students (10% or students with disabilities) will qualify for alternate testing. With this cap, the testing needs of many students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities will likely be ignored.
Federal proficiency goals for schools and the penalties for the failure to reach them have been eliminated.
If alternative testing is granted, these students will likely receive “special diplomas” or no diplomas upon graduation.
The creation of a Comprehensive Literacy Center will focus on reading difficulties for kids with disabilities like dyslexia. The center will offer information for parents and teachers as well as professional development in the areas of screening and educational tools.
If students with learning disabilities don’t receive the needed testing accommodations this could limit their accessibility to higher education.
ESSA will provide up to $160 million in grants on reading skills such as decoding and phonological awareness.
There are no opt-out options proposed in the law. Each state will be deciding this matter.
States are now required to create a plan that reduces bullying, restraints, seclusions, suspensions and expulsions. This should be helpful as this often
impacts students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
The true test of this law lies in the specifics that will soon be defined by each state. Clearly, it will be important for advocates to speak with state representatives and be involved with the creative process so that the needs of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities are addressed and supported.
Here is an image of the table that can be pinned.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY. To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz