Monday, June 30, 2008

Louisiana state educators denounce autism amendment

From the Baton Rouge, La., Advocate:

A bid by a Baton Rouge father to help his autistic son pass a key state test could also affect thousands of other exceptional students, state educators said.

Aidan Reynolds, a lawyer and the father of the child at the center of the controversy, says he would get relief for his 12-year-old son, Liam — or head to court.

“And it will not be pretty,” Reynolds warned.

However, any such change would have to win approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, whose president sharply criticized the change.

A new policy means the door could be opened for thousands of students statewide with autism, dyslexia and brain injuries who fail the high-stakes test to be promoted anyway, said Scott Norton, assistant superintendent for student and school performance.

In addition, other top state education officials June 27 took the unusual step of denouncing the new policy in a three-page prepared statement.

The dispute combines two highly charged issues.

One involves the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program test, which fourth- and eighth-graders have to pass for promotion.

The other is how much aid autistic and other exceptional students should get when they fail the exam.