Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Secretary Posny Speaks at CEC Conference

Alexa Posny speaks to audience members after t...Image by Medill DC via Flickr
The annual conference of the Council for Exceptional Children is underway.  I appreciate the good wishes I have received here at the beautiful National Harbor from a number of readers.

Alexa Posny, the Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,  spoke this morning.  I really admire Secretary  Posny.

She gave a list of six points she feels are important in the reauthorization of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the "general education" law.  The six fundamental concepts she outlined were:

  • ensuring that students are college or career ready. She described the critical  crossroads faced by students with disabilities at high school graduation. At this point, about 16% of students with disabilities complete post-secondary programs.
  • having the best teachers
  • meeting the needs of diverse learners (according to a recent poll students say that they learn best when doing hands on tasks, and next best by watching a hands on demonstration.  Last on the list was by receiving feedback from peers)
  • a complete education (including the fine arts; not just reading and math)
  • school as a safe and successful environment
  • fostering innovation and excellence( social and emotional as well as academic)(look for an increased role for positive behavior interventions and supports)

She also cited two other studies: of third graders who scored in the bottom 1/3 in reading, 63% of that group did not graduate from high school.  In other words, we lose kids if we don't have them reading at a fairly early age.

Another study Secretary Posny cited involved one of my pet projects- the role of poverty in education.  The 500 pound elephant in the room.  22% of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school.  Only 6% of children who were never poor fail to graduate from high school.  We have to fix the problem of poverty or education reform is hopeless.  (The last point is mine- not the Assistant secretary's)

One other important point made by Secretary Posny in response to a question from the audience.was that the AYP calculation will be totally different in the reauthorized ESEA.  She predicted that an individual growth standard will be incorporated into the law.  The over reliance of NCLB upon tests will be reduced.
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