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Florida mom takes testing concerns to the federal level

Orlando mom Andrea Rediske continues her fight to end Florida's testing requirements for its most profoundly disabled students, even after her son Ethan has passed away.

Having heard concerns that waiving the tests could violate federal law, Rediske turned her attention to the U.S. Department of Education. She penned a letter, reprinted in the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, to Michael Yudin, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In it, she urged better recognition of the "individual" piece of student individual education plans:

"I don't disagree that there should be assessment and accountability when it comes to educating special needs children, but these assessments need to be appropriate. State- and federally-mandated standardized tests, even those adapted to the disabled, completely run counter to an individual education plan and ignore other tenets of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including parent and student participation and shared decision making. As Ethan's mother, I had no say in whether the FAA was appropriate or necessary for him, and indeed, I have been attacked by the Florida Commissioner of Education for requesting a waiver for this inappropriate test and speaking out against it.

"I implore you to consider the needs of the severely disabled and medically fragile children of this country. Please allow the requirements for standardized testing to be waived and allow these children to be appropriately assessed according to their IEPs."

So far, Florida hasn't changed its rules, and the feds haven't yet responded.

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