Common core and students with special needs

MALTA, N.Y.—All week, NEWS10 ABC has been bringing you stories on the common core: What it is, what parents and teachers think about it and reaction to the state assessments.

Friday, News10 ABC took a look at the new education standards from the perspective of a parent of a child with special needs.

The state education department has made it clear that all students, including students with disabilities, are expected to learn and achieve high standards.

However, we've heard from many concerned parents and teachers that when it comes to the state assessments, there is no variation between the work an average student and a student with special needs is expected to do.

Homework time for Shanita Flores is not always a breeze, according to her mother Christina.

Flores' daughter is in 4th grade, but is on a second grade level for english, language arts and math and has an I.E.P., an individualized education program.

“This was my daughter's homework last night that she had brought home and it took almost two and a half hours to do,” says Christina Flores. “Now if you see all the red marks, she didn't even get it correct and they did it together and had she had not added these two pieces of paper where she had shown her work, she wouldn't even had gotten full credit for it.”

Flores says classwork and homework are not the only struggles students with special needs face.

The content of New York State assessments, which are based off the common core standards are the same for every student.

The New York State Education Department states accommodations for extended time, such as time-and-a-half or double time can be allotted for students with special needs.

“Yeah, she has more time to complete the stuff, but it also gives her more time to get frustrated,” says Flores. “She gets very frustrated easily with her disability with the ADHD, the ADD and the learning disability. Whether she has more time or less time, if she gets it she gets it.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the NYS Education Department writes,”Federal (not state) law requires students with disabilities to be taught and tested on the same standards as their non-disabled peers. However, a district's committee on special education may permit a student with a severe disability to take an alternate assessment in place of the assessment administered to general education students.”

But Flores says that doesn't make the gap go away.

“When the state looks at these tests and looks at the curriculum, they really need to measure in all children,” says Flores.

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