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Queens Chronicle

Disabled students can take alternate state test

Substitute exam available for some

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:52 am, Thu May 2, 2013.

Elementary students all over the borough are currently in the midst of one of the most stressful times of their young years — standardized testing.

But for some students with disabilities, the test is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to take.

Though it is too late to take advantage of them this year, there is another option for students with disabilities. And if you have a child with a disability, you might keep it in mind for next year.

The Committees on Special Education — city Department of Education bodies responsible for evaluating any of their students who have been identified as possibly having a disability — decide for each student with a disability, on a case-by-case basis, whether he or she can take the general state test.

If their disability is deemed too severe to take the test, they can take the New York State Alternate Assessment. The NYSAA is a specially designed test for students with severe disabilities. The CSE’s decision must be documented in the student’s individual education program. There are two CSEs in Queens: CSE 3, dealing with districts 25, 26, 28 and 29; and CSE 4, dealing with districts 24, 27 and 30 in the western and southern parts of the borough.

Some parents, teachers and even school officials protest against standardized tests, saying the state is wrong for basing so much of a student’s education on one general test and blaming the tests for causing teachers to put less emphasis on art and music programs. Some have also blamed the tests for cases of cheating by school officials, and for high teacher turnover.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens’ representative on the city Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy, said the state’s focus on the general test is unfair.

“I would agree that assessments need to be conducted on all students but the emphasis and weight put on standardized test scores is unacceptable,” he said. “One test score does not fairly measure a child’s ability as a student.”

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