Standards-Based Reform and Students with Disabilities

Authored by: Martha L. Thurlow , Rachel F. Quenemoen

Handbook of Special Education

Print publication date:  April  2011
Online publication date:  May  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415800716
eBook ISBN: 9780203837306
Adobe ISBN: 9781136869624


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In the last quarter of the 20th century, school reform ideas came and went with remarkable speed. One reform came and stayed. Standards-based reform, which grew out of the work of a bi-partisan group of governors in the mid-1980s (National Governors’ Association, 1986), remains the dominant reform in place across the country today (Shepard, Hannaway, & Baker, 2009). Its staying power is related, in part, to the fact that it has been accompanied by federal laws and policies that require that all students— those with disabilities, poor students, and students of all ethnic groups—be included in the implementation of academic standards. Unlike most previous reform efforts, the emphasis was on measuring outcomes to improve the results of public education systems, rather than to sort students for promotion or placement (Goertz, 2007). This shift in accountability from the student to schools and school districts forced a rethinking of commonly held assumptions about what special education was meant to do.

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