Tennessee´s Children with Disabilities Narrow Achievement Gap

Sunday, March 05, 2006 | 6:00pm

Nashville, TN- Tennessee was recently recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings as one of five states leading the nation in closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities. The number of K-8 students with special needs meeting academic standards in reading/language arts jumped 27 percent, from 54 percent to 69 percent, in 2004-05. The number meeting math performance standards increased 22 percent.”I am proud to represent a state that has made raising the academic success of students who receive special education services a priority,” Education Commissioner Lana Seivers said.

The department charged a group of professionals in 2004 with presenting transformational recommendations to improve special education in Tennessee. The three resulting values have served as touchstones for educators striving for a higher level of excellence in working with students with disabilities.

  • Create a system inclusive of students with special needs in the mainstream school environment and with an emphasis on early intervention
  • Ensure a qualified, stable workforce for all students
  • Equip educators to recognize and implement proven, research-based strategies

“Inclusion of students with disabilities in the general curriculum has made a significant difference in their academic achievement,” said Joseph Fisher, assistant commissioner for special education.

Aiding in the achievement of these goals are grants specifically to enhance the skills and achievement level of students with disabilities in Tennessee schools. They are allowing the state to create an information system for students receiving special education services, improve the literacy skills of struggling readers and eliminate disproportional representation of minorities in special education.

“Working with any student is like solving a puzzle that reveals how he or she learns best,” Seivers said. “We are fortunate in Tennessee to have educators enthusiastic about the tackling that challenge with skill and compassion.”

Education