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On Friday, Dropout Nation revealed how Maryland effectively inflated its results on the reading portion of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress by excluding at least 60 percent of fourth- and eighth graders in its special education and English Language Learner ghettos. But as it was noted last week, the Old Line State wasn’t the only one which excluded high numbers of special ed and ELL students from reading portion of the federal exam of student achievement. The U.S. Department of Defense Education Authority, the federal school system serving children of the nation’s military, was one offender. An even more-prominent offender was Tennessee, which excluded 27 percent of eighth-grade special ed students and 18 percent of fourth-graders condemned to special ed ghettos from the exam. This shocking information came even as the Volunteer State was being hailed by reformers for strong improvements in average scale score performance between 2011 and this year.

statelogoBut some asked your editor about the states that excluded high percentages of their students from the math portion of exam. This data was initially ignored because state excluded 20 percent or more of kids labeled special ed and ELL from NAEP’s math exams. But when Dropout Nation took a closer look at the numbers, it notice that there were some egregious offenders, states that excluded between 11 percent and 19 percent of kids stuck in special ed and ELL programs, levels higher than the 10 percent national average.

Maryland is certainly on the list of the worst offenders. The Old Line State excluded 17 percent of eighth-grade ELL students from NAEP math participation, the worst offender among the eight states (along with Department of Defense and the District of Columbia) that excluded more than 10 percent of students from the exam; it behaved more-honorably with its fourth-grade special ed and ELL students, excluding, respectively, just six percent and three percent of students in each category.

Tennessee was also another offender. As Dropout Nation noted last week, it excluded 14 percent of eighth-grade special ed kids from NAEP’s math exam. Given that Tennessee’s average scale score for eighth-graders on NAEP increased by four points (or nearly half a grade level) between 2011 and 2013, and its average score for fourth-graders in reading increased by six points (or half a grade level) in that same period, the high levels of exclusions by the state in both reading and math raises questions about whether the gains are real or result from the gamesmanship that has helped Maryland appear to better in improving student achievement than it really is.

The worst offender of all in excluding special ed and ELL students from NAEP math is North Dakota. It excluded 17 percent of fourth-graders in special ed ghettos from NAEP math, the highest levels in that category. It was the also the biggest offender in excluding eighth-grade special ed students, with an exclusion rate of 19 percent or nearly a fifth of kids mired in special ed misery whose performance could have been measured by the federal exam. The high exclusion levels apparently didn’t do much to cover up the Roughrider’s failures to embrace systemic reform: The average scale score declined by one point (from 269 points to 268) between 2011 and 2013.

Altogether, 10 states excluded 11 percent or more of fourth-graders in special ed from the math portion of the 2013 NAEP. Besides North North Dakota, there was also California, Montana, Washington State, Delaware, Oregon, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, and Wisconsin. California and Texas deserves special mention because traditionalists in both states have succeeded in rolling back or eviscerating the very accountability measures that exposed how poorly districts in those states were serving our most-vulnerable children. The high levels of exclusion for both states portends the educational neglect and malpractice that will be borne upon kids in special ed ghettos in each state in the coming decade. Delaware also gets special mention because it has been touted for embracing systemic reform, especially in overhauling its teacher evaluation systems as part of the Race to the Top grant it received a few years ago.

Fourth Grade NAEP Math 2013 Special Ed Exclusion Rate

STATE

% EXCLUDED

North Dakota

17

California

16

Montana

14

Washington State

14

Delaware

13

Oregon

13

Michigan

12

Georgia

11

Texas

11

Wisconsin

11

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Another 19 states excluded more than 11 percent of eighth-graders in special ed from NAEP 2013. Besides North Dakota and Tennessee, another major offender is Kentucky, which excluded 17 percent of eighth-graders in special ed from the math portion of the exam. The Bluegrass State garnered a bad reputation two years ago when it was found that it excluded high levels of its most-vulnerable kids from the federal exam. And again, California and Texas are also on the list of worst offenders.

Eighth Grade NAEP Math 2013 Special Ed Exclusion Rate

STATE

% EXCLUDED

North Dakota

19

Kentucky

17

Michigan

15

Arkansas

14

Tennessee

14

Washington State

14

West Virginia

13

California

12

Connecticut

12

Idaho

12

Kansas

12

Minnesota

12

Montana

12

Nebraska

12

Texas

12

Utah

12

Georgia

11

Indiana

11

New Mexico

11

Source: U.S. Department of Education

As for fourth-grade ELL students? Tops on the list of worst offenders were the Department of Defense and Maine, both of which excluded 12 percent of kids struggling with English language proficiency. North Dakota is also on the list.

Fourth Grade NAEP Math 2013 ELL Exclusion Rate

STATE

% EXCLUDED

Department of Defense

12

Maine

12

North Dakota

11

Source: U.S. Department of Education

And among the worst offenders in excluding eighth-grade ELL students from NAEP? The list includes the usual suspects (including top-ranked Maryland, North Dakota, and Department of Defense) and one state that should know better: Florida. Along with the District of Columbia, the Sunshine State, has been at the forefront of aggressive systemic reform was among the eight states with an exclusion rate greater than 11 percent. Shameful.

Eighth Grade NAEP Math 2013 ELL Exclusion Rate

STATE

% EXCLUDED

Maryland

17

Michigan

16

North Dakota

15

Department of Defense

13

Florida

13

Massachusetts

13

Georgia

12

Kentucky

11

Pennsylvania

11

District of Columbia

11

Source: U.S. Department of Education

When states excludes the performance of large numbers of its most-vulnerable kids from being measured, they are essentially admitting that they are doing poorly by these children. More importantly, because exclusion levels can hide educational malpractice, excluding the performance of large numbers of kids is no different than any other form of test fraud. No one should find these exclusion rates to be acceptable. Period.

Photo courtesy of District Administration.

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