A.S.K. v. Oregon
As a result of a lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Oregon undertook extensive steps to modify its high stakes testing system to ensure that the tests do not discriminate against students with learning disabilities. The settlement is based on the findings of an expert panel that was convened by the parties to examine the impact of Oregon’s high stakes testing on students with learning disabilities. Both the expert report and the settlement are the first of its kind and have national implications. Under the settlement, Oregon undertook extensive steps to modify its testing system so that students with learning disabilities will not be tested on their disabilities and instead will be able to demonstrate their abilities. These steps include:
- Broadening the list of accommodations available to students with learning disabilities,
- Providing an alternative to the standard assessment for those learning disabled students who are disadvantaged by the regular assessment,
- Instituting an appeals process,
- Conducting further research to ensure the validity of the tests with respect to students with disabilities, and
- Providing greater training and information about the assessment to students, teachers, and parents.
The neutral panel of experts were appointed to study Oregon’s assessment. The panel consisted of four prominent educators and researchers from across the country and a retired Oregon Supreme Court justice who acted as the facilitator. The panel was charged with reviewing Oregon’s testing system as it relates to students with learning disabilities, and to make recommendations on policies and procedures needed to ensure that learning disabled students have an equal opportunity to participate in the assessment system. The panel received extensive amounts of information from the State and the plaintiffs and studied the assessment system for approximately one year before issuing their recommendations. This was the first time an expert panel had been convened to analyze a testing system specifically with regard to the impact on students with learning disabilities. The panel’s work has been an invaluable resource not only in Oregon but across the country as well for its outline for all states to follow to ensure that assessment systems are fair to learning disabled students.