To the Editor:
The hotly contested No Child Left Behind Act has brought sweeping changes to education across the nation. Since taking effect in 2002, the law has altered classroom content and teaching methods.
NCLB includes many flaws that undermine its effectiveness and threaten to negatively impact students, particularly those with special needs, such as autism.
Too often, students with special needs are forgotten in education policy decisionmaking. Under NCLB, these students are required to achieve the same standards while overcoming additional obstacles. That has to change.
Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, impacts one in 68 Americans. It is thought that more than 3.5 million people are currently living with ASD in the United States. The rate of diagnoses is on the rise, with prevalence having jumped nearly 120 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Over nearly five decades of experience, I’ve seen the principles of broad-spectrum applied-behavior analysis, which is focused on functional outcomes, produce successful results for countless individuals. And the research confirms the effectiveness of this analysis, especially for building crucial life skills—the skills needed for independent living and employment.
To better meet the needs of students with learning difficulties, we need interventions that prepare them for success after schooling ends. Standardized testing and purely academic coursework will not impart the crucial life skills they need in order to succeed. NCLB should begin planning for improving community and vocational skills at all stages of education, for all students.
As Congress negotiates revisions to NCLB, our lawmakers must engage in serious, responsible conversation about applied-behavior analysis and other evidence-based approaches that have the potential to improve opportunities for all students to learn meaningful skills that result in success in real-world settings and independent living.
President and Co-founder
Pyramid Educational Consultants Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the August 05, 2015 edition of Education Week as NCLB Should Include the Needs of Those on the Autism Spectrum