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Intersections of Accountability and Special Education: The Social Justice Implications of Policy and Practice


by Felicia Castro-Villarreal & Sharon L. Nichols — 2016

High-stakes testing accountability has wreaked havoc on America’s public schools. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001, virtually every public school student has experienced the pressures of preparing for, practicing, and taking standardized state exams, the results of which have had significant consequences for their schools, teachers, and themselves. These test-based pressures have altered educational practices in significant ways for all students, but especially for students with disabilities. The goal of this article is to briefly describe the educational climate for students with disabilities, focusing on emergent federal policies that have had the contradictory effect of expanding and narrowing learning opportunities for students. This article provides the backdrop for the volume by introducing the reader to the general characteristics of our special education population, discussing the past and current federal policies guiding their education, and offering implications for policy and practice.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 14, 2016, p. 1-24
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21540, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 6:54:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Felicia Castro-Villarreal
    University of Texas at San Antonio
    E-mail Author
    FELICIA CASTRO-VILLARREAL is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology. Her current work focuses on teacher consultation in culturally and linguistically diverse multi-tiered systems of support and intervention programming for students with learning, behavioral, and socio-emotional needs.
  • Sharon Nichols
    University of Texas at San Antonio
    E-mail Author
    SHARON L. NICHOLS is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is coauthor of Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools (with D. C. Berliner, Harvard Education Press, 2007). Her current work focuses on the impact of test-based accountability on teachers, their instructional practices, and adolescent motivation and development.
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