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RE: No Child Left Behind Testing

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RE: No Child Left Behind Testing

WHEREAS, the federal legislation known as "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) revised the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and, among other provisions, required periodic testing of K-12 students to assess progress of students and progress of schools as a whole; and

WHEREAS, re-authorization of NCLB is now before Congress, which will undoubtedly make changes throughout existing law; and

WHEREAS, under current NCLB, states have significant flexibility in the development of tests used to measure student progress; and

WHEREAS, a primary goal of NCLB was to improve the educational progress of historically disadvantaged populations, a focus that should include blind students as a population, a goal this organization fully supports because we are acutely aware of the devastating consequences of denying real educational progress in limiting opportunities in adult life; and

WHEREAS, though test administrators and educators will say that the requirement for reasonable accommodations be provided to blind students for these assessments, reality in the testing room denies opportunity to blind students to demonstrate their true ability since current tests often rely upon purely visual input and output by students for successful completion of all too many test questions such as requiring one to draw a picture or express a point of view based only on a picture, questions to which blind students cannot successfully respond using accommodations; and

WHEREAS, attempts to transcribe visual information into Braille or tactile format is all too often mediocre at best; and,

WHEREAS, the NFB wholeheartedly supports participation in assessment tests and demands that blind children fully participate in all assessments just as their sighted peers since these tests are intended to measure the progress of the child or the school, but no NCLB requirement exists to assure that test questions can be answered using nonvisual means, leading to exclusion of blind children from some tests and artificially lowered scores on others; and

WHEREAS, unfortunately, some education professionals, in fear that their schools will score poorly on these assessments if they include children with disabilities in the measures, all too often use a provision in NCLB allowing them to sideline some students or weight scores differently, leading to lessened inclusion of blind students and the consequent postponing of discovery that a particular student is not progressing; and

WHEREAS, if an administrator opts, as he should, to include the blind students' test scores in the general pool his school will be classified as a failing school due to lowered test results due to improper and inaccurate means of tests for the blind students; and

WHEREAS, educators too often excuse the poor performance of blind students as inherent to blindness instead of working to include them in education and personal progress, and the NCLB emphasis on assessments encourages exclusion of scores, creation of tests that discriminate against blind test subjects, and tolerance of low scores rather than creating pressure to teach blind students to excel; and

WHEREAS, when freed from prejudice and educated in the skills of blindness, blind students can and do compete successfully among their sighted peers for top honors and pride of place, but NCLB's emphasis on testing and allowance of false testing based on vision undermine the opportunity that education should be providing to blind children: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this 9th day of September, 2007, in the city of Tempe, Arizona, that this organization call upon Congress and the Arizona Department of Education to require developers of assessments under NCLB to design all test questions so they can be accurately completed without reliance on vision; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Congress and the Arizona Department of Education to make unequivocally clear that blindness cannot be a factor used by educational professionals to provide alternate assessments or alternate measures of their educational progress; however, this shall not be interpreted to preclude the provision of tests in alternate formats, such as in Braille, large print, and audio media; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the developers of these assessments consult the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona for guidance in developing test questions that fairly assess the aptitudes of blind students.

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