Assessment of educational results for students with disabilities has been an element of nearly all recent reform, policy, and legislative activities. IDEA '97 includes specific provisions regarding the participation of students with disabilities in general education assessment of student progress at both the district and state levels. Historically, when legal issues regarding the relationship between students with disabilities and outcomes assessments have arisen, courts have said such assessments (e.g., minimum competency, exit exams) are allowable provided the student is provided (a) appropriate accommodations to demonstrate his or her skills and (b) adequate opportunity to learn the subject matter measured by such tests. As newer assessments of progress toward higher learning standards are adopted by districts and states, these issues are likely to be revisited. Additionally, IDEA '97 creates both opportunities and challenges regarding students with disabilities' partial participation in general state assessments, as well as alternate assessments of educational outcomes when appropriate. Policies regarding assessment of students with disabilities, seemingly, have outpaced practices and, perhaps, legal interpretations of their appropriateness when stakes are attached to student participation and performance.
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