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Kentucky Backpedals On Changes Testing Reading Comprehension

The Kentucky Board of Education is resubmitting changes to the way students with learning disabilities take reading comprehension tests.Last year, the board approved a regulatory change that would prevent certain students from having teachers read them portions of reading comprehension tests. Now, the state is allowing some students in special circumstances to bypass that regulation.“Most states do not allow readers for students with disabilities on reading comprehension tests," said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.Critics say Kentucky’s reading comprehension scores are higher than the national average because the state allows the use of readers. While its still unclear how much allowing readers might affect state test scores, experts in the field have said having readers help students negates test results, said Gross.

Advocates and parents of children with disabilities opposed the move, and the board has now tweaked the regulatory change. The changes would allow parents to exempt their child from the rule so they could continue receiving help with reading tests.A parent would have to request their child be exempt at least four weeks in advance to the department of education, and would also have to provide proof of why their child should be exempt. Students with learning disabilities have individualized educational programs (IEP) set forth by educators. If the board deemed it appropriate they would grant exemption under the proposed changes.The only tests this might affect are the annual state tests given in Spring, and any national tests that don't permit use of readers, like the National Assessment for Educational Progress. But the idea previously approved by the board would allow Kentucky to compare where students stand in reading comprehension on a more evenly based assessement.The new proposals will be voted on later this year and would not be implemented until at least August; but any changes would likely be in place when spring 2013 testing begins.