The Beacon
Journal of Special Education Law & Practice
ISSN: 1536-7193                               

Fall 2004 (V. 2, N. 3)

In This Issue

The Next Wave of Special Education by Peter Wright

High-Stakes Testing: Barometer for Success or Prognosticator for Failure by Torin Togut, Esq.

NCLB & Inclusion of Students with Disabilities by Dr. Martha Thurlow

Exit Exams Can Be Optional, If You Plan Ahead by Suzanne Heath

Prepublication Offer: Surviving Due Process: When Parents & the School Board Disagree (DVD/Video)

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Special education law is an exciting, rapidly developing area of law.

The Beacon
is a multi-disciplinary electronic journal of special education law and practice from Harbor House Law Press. The Beacon publishes articles and essays for attorneys and advocates who represent children with disabilities and others who are interested in education legal topics. Each issue of The Beacon focuses on a theme and includes practical and theoretical articles. In this issue, we look at high-stakes testing.

The Beacon seeks to ensure that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997, and that children with disabilities are free from discrimination. We believe the dialogue in this journal will help to shape the future.

Our goal is to publish useful, readable content. If you are interested in special education law and practice, we think you will enjoy The Beacon. If you are interested in submitting an article to The Beacon, we would like to hear from you. Please review our our Submissions Policy. We welcome your ideas about topics for future issues of this journal.

Theme: High-Stakes Testing

This issue of The Beacon focuses on high-stakes testing and exit exams. The issue includes articles by attorneys and an advocate, and testimony from an expert about including students with disabilities in high-stakes testing. This issue also includes a prepublication offer for our new DVD video, Surviving Due Process: When Parents & the School Board Disagree - Stephen Jeffers v. School Board.
Download this issue of The Beacon.

Feature Articles

In The Next Wave of Special Education Litigation, Peter Wright writes, "Special education law and litigation are on the verge of a major shift in direction. Within the next five years, I believe the educational landscape will begin to change for all children."

"As more states require students to pass high-stakes tests before they can receive high school diplomas, we are seeing a new kind of case." Mr. Wright describes new issues that are fueling litigation: the failure to teach children the information and skills they need to pass high-stakes tests, and the refusal to provide children with the accommodations to which they are legally entitled. Read The Next Wave of Special Education Litigation.

In High-Stakes Testing: Educational Barometer for Success, or False Prognosticator for Failure?, attorney Torin Togut examines the historical background of high-stakes testing; grade retention and social promotion; accommodations and modifications; and risks of high-stakes testing for children who have often been excluded from accountability systems. Mr. Togut's article includes a discussion of the interrelationships between statutes, regulations, policy letters, and caselaw; a comprehensive list of past and present legal challenges to high-stakes testing; an appendix, resources, and extensive endnotes.

Mr. Togut asks, "While the verdict is still out on high-stakes tests, a growing number of states are jumping on the testing bandwagon to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. What does this mean for minorities and students with disabilities who lag far behind their nondisabled peers in test scores and graduation rates?" Read High-Stakes Testing: Educational Barometer or False Prognosticator.

No Child Left Behind and the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Accountability and Assessment Systems. Dr. Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes, testified before the House of Representatives about the benefits of including students with disabilities in assessments. Dr. Thurlow explained that having a disability does not mean students cannot learn and meet high academic standards: "We know how to educate all children, including those with disabilities, if we have the will to do so."

Dr. Thurlow asserts that including students with disabilities in assessments and accountability systems will improve educational outcomes for these children. She urged Congress to "stay the course," explaining that "Complaints and controversy are a natural reaction to the increased pressure of the racheting-up of accountability. This does not mean that it is bad . . . " Read Dr. Thurlow's testimony about the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Accountability and Assessment.

In Exit Exams Can Be Optional If You Plan Ahead, Sue Heath, co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind writes: "Each year, thousands of high school students will not graduate with a high school diploma, even though they took the required courses and received passing grades."

Ms. Heath describes a creative strategy for removing the exit exam obstacle. Read Exit Exams Can Be Optional If You Plan Ahead by Sue Heath.

Prepublication Offer on Surviving Due Process: When Parents & the School Board Disagree

Surviving Due Process: When Parents & the School Board Disagree - Stephen Jeffers v. School Board takes you through a special education due process hearing, from initial preparations to testimony by the final witness. You learn how parent and school attorneys prepare for due process hearings. You see different witnesses testify on direct and cross-examination, watch objections and arguments between counsel, and hear rulings by the hearing officer.

Surviving Due Process has scene markers (chapters) so it is easy to use the DVD video in training programs or classes. Learn more about Surviving Due Process. Special Prepublication Offer (Ends 9/28/04)

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From the Editor

Download this issue of The Beacon. Future issues will focus on preparing for due process hearings, damages, and class action litigation. We welcome articles by new contributors. If you have an idea or wish to contribute an article, please review our submissions policy.


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