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Properly assessing the educational accomplishments of all students
by Sen. Lyda Green


March 19, 2004

Since the beginning of the conversation about the exit exam, I have been concerned about protecting the needs of the learning disabled student.

The legislative intent and the language in the Exit Exam bill clearly addressed testing of students who have an Individual Education Plan. I am very disappointed with the regulations enacted because they do not contain the same accommodations and plans for alternative testing mechanisms to address the needs of these students. Is it possible that some learning disabled students will not receive a diploma for the simple reason that the bureaucratic educational community has not implemented regulations correctly?

After many meetings with the Department of Education and Early Development and the Attorney General's Office over the past months, through the Senate HESS Committee today I have introduced legislation to address the concerns of the community. My proposed legislation:

1. Allows learning disabled students (who do not achieve a passing score on the exit exam) to receive a diploma if the student successfully completes an individualized assessment which demonstrates proficiency on the performance standards established and required by the student's individualized education plan.

2. Allows for students with severe cognitive disability to participate in an assessment based on alternate academic standards and to receive a diploma without taking the exit exam if the student meets graduation requirements and successfully completes the assessment.

3. Delays for one year the cut-off period for a student's IEP to provide for an individualized assessment mechanism.

I will continue to insist that changes be made systematically so that our exit exam system properly assesses the educational accomplishments of all students. I sincerely hope that this legislation finds support on both sides of the aisle and quickly is signed into law.



Note: Senator Lyda Green (R) is a member of the Alaska State Legislature representing District G - Wasilla.


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