ALBANY, N.Y. June 25, 2007 - Children with disabilities are making "great progress" meeting the same rigorous Regents' requirements as their non-disabled peers - a sign that New York's focus on educating all children to high standards is beginning to pay dividends, New York State United Teachers said.
Still, NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said, the state must redouble its efforts to help special education students succeed, particularly children in the Big 5 cities and those who are English language learners.
"We see that with the right resources - including small classes and extra help from caring adults - we can raise the bar for children with disabilities and see them clear that bar," Iannuzzi said. "These improved test scores show that high expectations for children with disabilities are achievable, as long as we continue to devote the resources and research-proven strategies to helping these students succeed."
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said a tenfold increase in special education students earning Regents diplomas is a "remarkable achievement," especially since it comes on top of higher overall English language arts and math scores for children with disabilities, and fewer numbers of special education students scoring at the lowest levels on state tests.
"Children with disabilities are making great progress, but we still have much more work to do to close the achievement gap," Neira said, noting that dropout rates for disabled students are still far too high, particularly in the Big 5 cities. She added that a greater investment is needed to help newly arrived Americans with disabilities master math and English language arts skills.
"Children with special needs who are new to this country face enormous challenges," Neira said. "Clearly, they need additional, intensive support. Providing the right resources to helping immigrant children with special needs is a measure of our humanity and our commitment to the future of every child in our public schools."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 585,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges; State University of New York and City University of New York; and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association and AFL-CIO.