State accommodates disabled students

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2004

It is not my practice to comment on lawsuits. However, news coverage of the lawsuit filed against the state on behalf of students with disabilities implied that state law does not provide accommodations that would allow them to demonstrate their knowledge fairly. This issue is too important for Alaskans to get incomplete information.

State law does allow students with disabilities to take the exit exam "with or without accommodations" such as frequent breaks, additional time, separate locations, Braille and signing for blind and deaf students, assistive devices, and response formats such as large-print and allowing the student to tape record answers, use a word processor, and dictate answers to a teacher.

If the student fails the exam with accommodations, he may take the optional assessment, which allows students to have modifications like using a calculator, spell and grammar check, and having a teacher clarify the questions.

This is a fair system developed by the Legislature, Department of Education, and two Boards of Education after much thought, public input, and research into best practices. I hope the media will provide more comprehensive information in the future.

Sen. Con Bunde


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