The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has introduced a new standardized test that has been widely criticized by parents and critics who believe it unfairly penalizes students with learning disabilities.
The test is designed to help students succeed in school and in their professional careers, but some parents have complained that it does not provide enough information to make a clear distinction between learning disabilities and other disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, which can lead to serious psychological, emotional and behavioral problems.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 22 percent of Americans have a learning disability.
About 20 percent of those children have autism spectrum disorder, which is characterized by difficulties with social communication, communication and repetitive behaviors.
About one in five children have some form of learning disability, according to the report.
The new test is the latest addition to a series of educational reforms in recent years that have focused on helping students succeed academically, while protecting the public from harm.
The Office of the Secretary of Education, which oversees the tests, announced in June that it would overhaul the test.
The changes were made in the wake of the National School Lunch Program crisis that killed more than 200,000 children in the United States, and the deaths of more than 3,500 children who were diagnosed with autism in 2015, according the Education Department.
The administration said that while many schools will continue to offer the old test to all students, the new test will be more widely available, easier to use, and more cost-effective.
The testing will be administered by the National Board for Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting, or NASER, which has been conducting assessments on children’s learning disabilities for several years.
The NASER test was created in 2015 and the department said it was designed to provide a better assessment of students’ learning outcomes.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a statement that the test’s requirements are designed to ensure the safety of students, while also allowing students with disabilities to participate in educational programs.NASER is also a testing provider for the National Student Health Survey.
NASER said in 2016 that the study results indicate that more than 40 percent of students in low-income families have learning disabilities, including autism spectrum, attention deficit, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities that can lead them to difficulties in school, work and other aspects of life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.