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Appropriate Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in State Accountability Systems MS Word - Passage of several recent federal laws requires that all students with disabilities participate in general assessments at the state and local level. The performance of students with disabilities can be assessed through the general assessment, with or without accommodations, or through an alternate assessment. Regardless of the assessment used, results must be reported to determine if students with disabilities are making adequate progress toward proficiency on state standards. This paper describes the policy and technical issues that states must consider when deciding how to combine general and alternate assessments. (Edward Roeber, ECS Issue Brief, Education Commission of the States, November 2002)...

Inclusion of English Language Learners in State Accountability Systems MS Word - This paper frames the issues for adequately including English-language learners (ELL) in assessments. Issues to consider include: strengthening the research; the role of native-language assessments; test development; determining reasonable expectations around gains, assignment of accountability and reporting systems. (Delia Pompa, National Association for Bilingual Education, December 2002)...

Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities: The Promise of Universal Design for Learning - A major premise of this report is that access to the curriculum for students with low-incidence disabilities is greatly enhanced by universal design. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a particular framework that applies to education. More specifically, UDL is an approach that can guide curriculum reform. A universally-designed curriculum includes multiple means of representation (to allow various ways of acquiring information and knowledge), multiple means of expression (to allow alternatives for demonstrating knowledge) and multiple means of engagement (to challenge appropriately, to motivate and to allow learners to express and participate in their interests). A number of current contrasting approaches to universal design are described. (Richard Jackson, National Center on Assessing the General Curriculum, 2007)...

A State Guide to the Development of Universally Designed Assessments - Universal design for assessments is an approach to educational assessment based on principles of accessibility for a wide variety of end users. Elements of universal design include inclusive test population; precisely defined constructs; accessible, non-biased items; tests that are amenable to accommodations; simple, clear and intuitive instructions and procedures; maximum readability and comprehensibility; and maximum legibility. The purpose of this guide is to provide states with strategies for designing tests from the very beginning, through conceptualization and item construction, field-testing, item reviews, statewide operationalization and evaluation. The objective is to create tests that present an accurate measure of the knowledge and skills of the diverse population of students enrolled in today’s public schools. (Christopher Johnstone, Jason Altman and Martha Thurlow, National Center on Educational Outcomes, September 2006) ...

Graduation Exam Participation and Performance (2000-2001) of English Language Learners with Disabilities - This report is one of the first publicly released analyses of participation and performance of English language learners with a disability (SLEPD) on a high stakes assessment. Examining students’ performance on Minnesota’s exit exams in reading and math in 1999-2000, the researchers found that the 91% participation rate for SLEPD was lower than the participation rate for all students, but high at that time. The researchers also disaggregated scores by SLEPDs’ disability category, discovering that students differed on participation rates and performance depending upon their disability. Reviewing participation of students by language group, the authors revealed that Hmong SLEPDs participated at lower rates than the Hmong population as a whole, while the reverse was found for Somali- and Spanish-speaking students with disabilities. The study also reports students’ performance on these assessments and discusses implications and proposes areas for future research. (Kristi Liu, Manuel Barrera, Martha Thurlow, Kamil Guven and Vitaliy Shyyan, National Center on Educational Outcomes, June 2005)...

Alternative Routes to the Standard Diploma - Of the 27 states that have or will have exit exams by the end of the decade, 16 say they have or will develop an alternate route to the standard diploma, according to the authors. This report examines numerous aspects of these alternate routes, including which students are eligible for it, the nature of the alternate route and the comparability of the alternate route and the standard diploma route. Policies are separated into those for all students and those for students with disabilities. Recommendations for states are provided, as are individual profiles of alternative route policies in most of the 27 states. Among the recommendations: (1) States with alternative routes to their standard diplomas must provide clear, easy-to-find information about the alternate route; (2) The alternative route must be based on the same beliefs and premises as the standard route to the diploma; and (3) The same route or routes should be available to all students. In many states, the authors note, the alternative route for students with disabilities is not comparable to the standard diploma route. (Jane Krentz, Martha Thurlow, Vitaliy Shyyan and Dorene Scott, National Center on Educational Outcomes, March 2005)...

Confronting the Unique Challenges of Including English Language Learners with Disabilities in Statewide Assessments - With the increasing number of students who are English language learners (ELLs), the number of ELLs who also are special education students also is increasing, and these students pose unique challenges to educators. To determine what challenges state education agencies face when including ELL students with disabilities in statewide assessments, the authors of this report conducted telephone interviews with state education department personnel in the areas of assessment, ELL programs and special education in 14 states. Commonly reported challenges were the language barrier itself and the difficulties it then caused in assessing a student's skills. (Michael E. Anderson, Jane E. Minnema, Martha L. Thurlow and Jennifer Hall-Lande, National Center on Educational Outcomes, June 2005)...

Policymaker Perspectives on the Inclusion of English Language Learners with Disabilities in Statewide Assessments - This paper presents results from interviews with state policymakers from the assessment, special education and English language learner (ELL) divisions of 14 state departments of education. The interviews were intended to gather perceptions of how ELL students with disabilities are being included and accommodated for in-state testing. (Martha L. Thurlow, Michael E. Anderson, Jane E. Minnema and Jennifer Hall-Lande, National Center on Educational Outcomes, August 2005)...

Including Special-Needs Students in the NAEP 1998 Reading Assessment, Part I, Comparison of Overall Results With and Without Accommodations - The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 1998 reading assessment was recalculated to include results from students with disabilities and limited-English-proficient students who were tested with accommodations. The relationship between reading performance and varying state exclusion rates for special needs students also is examined. (Anthony D. Lutkus and John Mazzeo, National Center for Education Statistics, February 2003)...

Expectations for Students with Special Needs MS Word - The new Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires that schools serve not only the easy-to-educate students but all students, regardless of the language they speak, ethnicity or race, family income or disability. This article discusses how states can accomplish this goal, especially in light of the fact that 80% or more of students labeled as disabled are considered to have mild disabilities. (Kathy Christie, "Stateline", Phi Delta Kappan, May 2002)...

A Summary of Research on the Effects of Test Accommodations: 1999 through 2001 - The authors base their summary of the effects of test accommodations on 46 empirical research studies conducted between 1999-2001. The primary purpose of the 46 studies was to determine the effects accommodations had on the large-scale test scores of students with disabilities. While four studies showed that computer administration, oral presentation and extended time had positive effects on student test scores, additional studies found no significant effect on scores. (Sandra Thompson, Amanda Blount and Martha Thurlow, National Center on Educational Outcomes, December 2002)...

Empirical Support for Accommodations Most Often Allowed in State Policy - The National Center for Educational Outcomes (NCEO) launched a searchable database of research on accommodations in September 2001, with plans to update the research included in the accommodations database every three months. This report is a compilation of information collected from the searchable database on the accommodations that are most often allowed in state policies: Braille editions, computer/machine response, dictate response to scribe, extended time, interpreter for instructions, large print edition, mark answers in test booklet, read aloud, test direction clarifications and test breaks. The summary of research reveals that there are not yet simple or conclusive answers to questions about the effects of specific accommodations. It is important to continue to document what the research tells us, and to analyze the specific contexts of the studies, their methodologies and their findings. (Martha Thurlow and Sara Bolt, NCEO Synthesis Report 41, University of Minnesota, NCEO, 2001)...


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