WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, introduced the Every Child Counts Act to ensure that students with disabilities are given the support and resources they need to reach their full potential and be college- and career-ready.
The legislation would ensure students with disabilities are not pushed off track by guaranteeing that they are included in the general education curriculum, while allowing a certain population of students with the most severe disabilities to continue taking alternate academic assessments. The legislation would also improve transparency for parents by requiring states to establish and report on metrics of student growth for students with disabilities, and would require that alternate academic achievement standards continue to be aligned with regular state standards.
“Students with disabilities have the right to be included in the same classes, measure up to the same standards, and graduate at the same time as their peers,” said Murphy. “Too often in the past, students with learning disabilities were cordoned off from the classroom, with no one responsible for their educational development and growth. We can’t go back to an outdated system that essentially gives up on these kids. That’s why the Every Child Counts Act is a logical step in ensuring that all of our students receive the high-quality education they deserve.”
“All students should have access to a high quality public education, ” Murray said. “The Every Child Counts Act will break down barriers that students with disabilities face by giving parents better information about how schools are serving their children and holding states accountable for their progress, bringing us closer to the critical goal of ensuring that every student graduates from high school college and career ready.”
“The National Center for Learning Disabilities applauds Senator Murphy on the introduction of the Every Child Counts Act, legislation that sets high expectations and fosters the inclusion of students with disabilities in schools across the nation. All students – including the one in five with learning and attention issues – must be prepared to meet their college and career goals. This legislation helps students reach their potential,” stated James H. Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Andy Imparato, Executive Director at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities said: “The Every Child Counts Act is great for students with disabilities. It keeps high expectations in place and makes sure students have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need for graduation, post-secondary education, and careers. It also acknowledges that those students with the most significant cognitive disabilities need support to be successful and to continue progress as they benefit from their educational experiences. Thank you to Senator Murphy for championing the needs of all students with disabilities!”
In support of the introduction of the Every Child Counts Act, Denise Marshall, executive director of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates stated: "Ensuring every student with a disability has the same opportunity to learn and achieve a regular diploma is essential to the future of the six million students with disabilities attending public school. We applaud Senator Murphy for helping protect these students from lowered expectations and lowered standards. Participation in alternate assessments on alternate achievement standards is only appropriate for a very small number of children with the most significant cognitive disabilities and every child should learn and grow in the regular classroom even when an alternate assessment may be appropriate."
The Every Child Counts Act is supported by the following national organizations: the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, the Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc, the National Disability Rights Network, the Autism National Committee, ACCSES, Easter Seals Inc., and the Association for People Supporting Employment First.