For years, special education students in Texas public schools have been taking an alternative to the state standardized test issued to other students. Now that's changing. The U.S. Department of Education has decided that even special ed students, be required to take the same test, which is called TAKS.
The result will almost certainly mean a dramatic decrease in the average passing rate for students.
“According to the No Child Left Behind Act, all kids, special ed or other wise, have to take an on-grade TAKS test," said Eddie Coulson with College Station ISD.
The problem is that many special education students have their curriculum especially designed to the grade level they are learning at. For example, a 6th grade special education student may only be at a 3rd grade level and would be able to take an alternative test for the state. But on a federal level, that will count as a failing grade for the district.
"They're use to having a program administered individually and we're expecting them to take a test that's made for the general population of their age group and that's very difficult because they're not prepared for that," said Helen Carstens, a special education teacher in Bryan.
The federal law states that school districts can only exempt 1 percent of their students from taking the TAKS test, but almost all Texas school districts have more than 1 percent of special education students.
About 10 percent of College Station's students are in special education programs. If 9 percent of those students fail the TAKS test, it will affect the district's adequate yearly progress report which is issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
"The last thing I think any school district wants to do is to have a kid take a test that they're not prepared to do, so schools are in a funny position right now," said Coulson.