AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes that special education services provided to students with special needs shall be determined by Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams made up of educators, clinicians and parents of students receiving services; and

WHEREAS, in many cases standardized assessments do not accurately measure the progress of students with special needs because these students are often not performing at grade level or have disabilities that inhibit their ability to complete standardized assessments in the same manner as their non-disabled peers; and

WHEREAS, standardized testing has a particularly harmful impact on the frustration level and emotional state of students with special needs, which can result in negative views of school and learning for students who are already struggling; and

WHEREAS, the misuse and overuse of standardized testing undermines educational quality ("teaching to the test") and quantity (multiple weeks/months per school year devoted to testing); and

WHEREAS, most standardized assessments do not provide the accommodations and modifications provided for students with special needs in their IEPs, including, but not limited to:

  • Tests given on the students' functionally and academically appropriate grade level;
  • Most online assessments do not allow for test questions to be read aloud for those students who need them;
  • Standardized assessments do not allow teachers to reduce the number of questions for those students for which it is prescribed in their IEPs;
  • Standardized assessments do not assess one concept at a time;
  • Standardized assessments do not necessarily assess the educational goals laid out in students' IEP goals; and

WHEREAS, the majority of students with special needs require extra time to complete assessments, pulling both students and educators from the classroom and reducing the amount of instructional time students receive during the year, in many cases reducing the number of service minutes students receive; and

WHEREAS, many state boards of education only require students with IEPs to take state-mandated standardized assessments, and not all assessments are mandated in each state:

RESOLVED, that special education teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals working with students with IEPs shall continue to fight for using multiple methods to assess students in order to capture a full picture of the learning process and outcomes by using portfolios, performance assessments and observations; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to apply pressure using various means to encourage public schools to eliminate non-state-mandated standardized assessments for students with special needs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage school districts to change their assessment policies to allow students with special needs to be assessed according to their IEPs and according to the judgment of the IEP teams as to which assessments are appropriate for individual students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will publicize the specific concerns about excessive standardized testing on students with special needs.