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Disabled Children Included In Reports on Skills Goals

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All children--disabled and nondisabled--should be able by age 3 to participate in group activities and follow directions, and by age 6 to demonstrate some basic mathematical concepts and listening skills, a federally funded research center has recommended.

The skills goals were outlined by the National Center on Educational Outcomes in the latest of a series of reports describing what all students should achieve at specific points in their educational careers.

Researchers from the center, which is based at the University of Minnesota, and other special educators have long contended that disabled students have been largely neglected in the nationwide push to measure the results of schooling for all students.

National assessment efforts, for example, often vary widely in the degree to which they include students with disabilities. Curriculum frameworks being developed by some states and at the national levels also tend to focus on specific academic skills that may be unrealistic for such children.

Even special educators have only limited data on how well disabled students are doing.

To fill that gap, the center solicited input from hundreds of special educators, regular educators, parents, and policymakers.

Focus on Early Years

Its first report outlined the academic and life skills that all students should achieve by the time they leave high school and suggested some means of measuring those outcomes. A second report, published this past summer, set down post-school outcomes for older students.

The two new reports, released last month, are aimed at the early-childhood years. The first sets down 21 educational outcomes for children at age 3; the second outlines 25 goals for 6-year-olds.

The outcomes state, for example, that 3-year-olds should be able to begin to demonstrate an understanding of cause and effect. By age 6, that skill should be more finely honed, and students should be able to generate, test, and evaluate solutions to concrete problems.

The new reports also emphasize the role of families in their children's education. States and school districts could measure that involvement, the reports suggest, by determining the percentage of families that participate in the school or community-based programs in which their children are enrolled, or the number of families that are knowledgeable about community resources for their children.

Whether regular educators will readily accept such outcomes, however, remains an open question. Of the states and school districts considering adopting the center's earlier reports, most are looking to use them with special-education students.

The center plans later this year to issue reports aimed at students in grades 4 and 8.

Copies of "Educational Outcomes and Indicators for Early Childhood (Age 3)'' and "Educational Outcomes and Indicators for Early Childhood (Age 6)'' are available from the Publications Office, National Center on Educational Outcomes, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Rd., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn. 55455.

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