Federal policy implementation: A study of the implementation of the *assessment provisions of IDEA 1997 and NCLB in state and local school districts

Thomas J Ryan, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 1997) and the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) have had significant impact on state and district accountability for results, and the way these agencies implement changes in special education standards and assessment. The purposes of this study are to understand local district implementation of assessment provisions of these laws within the context of policy implementation theory, and to identify changes in state and local school district special education policy implementation practices resulting from IDEA 1997 and NCLB. The study posed three research questions: (1) How has the state changed its special education assessment policies and practices to comply with IDEA 1997? (2) How have local School districts changed their special education assessment policies and practices to comply with IDEA 1997? (3) Can policy implementation theories explain the implementation of IDEA 1997 and NCLB in the state and local districts? Research methods included in-depth interviews with district directors of special education and state DOE officials in a northeastern state and document review. The study found that both the state and districts effectively implemented the policy, with the exception of the Alternate Proficiency Assessment. The state and districts did change their policy implementation strategies and plans in several areas. Local districts supported the need for accountability, standards, and assessment, but were concerned that the state was using policy to influence instruction. Policy implementation theory explained some aspects of the state and district implementation. Finally, the study raised the following questions: Does a standards-based educational system have to include all students? Is it appropriate to include students with severe disabilities in common standards when these standards do not reflect their unique needs? Are the assessment scores of these students relevant to the scores of non-disabled peers? This study suggests that there may be controversy surrounding this issue that may seriously affect future policy decisions. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Special

Recommended Citation

Thomas J Ryan, "Federal policy implementation: A study of the implementation of the *assessment provisions of IDEA 1997 and NCLB in state and local school districts" (January 1, 2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3261021.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3261021

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