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A Think Twice Review of:

ESEA Reauthorization: How Can We Build upon No Child Left Behind’s Progress for Students with Disabilities in a Reauthorized ESEA

Think Twice - Jun 08, 2015

Publisher/Think Tank - Center for American Progress (CAP)

Author(s) - Chelsea Straus

A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) links benchmarks for inclusion in state testing and stringent accountability with improved educational outcomes for students with disabilities. While noting that causal claims could not be made, the report then proceeded to try to convince readers of exactly such claims. The report compared 2000 to 2013 NAEP test scores along with NCES national-level data and found increased test scores, decreased dropout rates, and increased graduation rates for students with disabilities, as well as improved outcomes for Black and Hispanic students with disabilities.

Reviewer(s) - Edward Fierros & Katherine Cosner, Villanova University

An academic review by Edward Fierros & Katherine Cosner, Villanova University, explains that the causal arguments made in the report are nowhere near possible given the relatively weak data and analyses used in the report. Despite the report’s suggestions that tougher accountability and higher expectations produced these better educational outcomes, the reviewers found little to justify the claims. “While these student outcomes did indeed improve for students with disabilities during this time period,” the reviewers note “the report is wrong to assert that improvements were caused by NCLB or NCLB-type reforms.”