October 03, 2017

Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Fully Including Students who Experience Disabilities in Order to Improve Outcomes for All Students

WASHINGTON – In a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today, Senator Hassan highlighted the more than 30 years of educational research showing that all students perform better when students who experience disabilities are fully included in the classroom, and asked how states should apply these insights in their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Senator Hassan noted that when students with disabilities are educated in the same classroom as their peers, both students with disabilities and those without do better academically, socially, and behaviorally. The Senator asked Dr. David Steiner, Executive Director of Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, how should states be using this research in their state plans. Dr. Steiner said “It is extremely important. In response to an earlier Senator’s question, I focused on this critical of issue of not placing students into that alternative assessment who do not need to be there… only those who truly need to be in that group, should be in that group and states need to monitor that percent, which Congress wisely restricted to one percent.”

Senator Hassan also questioned Dr. Steiner about alternate certificates that some states use to report graduation rates, and noted that ESSA requires states to only include cohort graduation rates and not lesser credentials. Asked if he thinks that the use of these alternative certificates undermines ESSA’s intent for states to measure accurate high school completion rates, Dr. Steiner said “Yes, I do, and I worry about this very much across the country.” Dr. Steiner added, “This is the kind of thing we mean when we say scrutiny of a state plan matters, right. It’s not just words on a page, it’s about the lives of children.”

Click here for a video of the hearing.