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Sandra J. Thompson, Amanda B. Morse, Michael Sharpe, and Sharon Hall

Second Edition
August 2005

Developed by the CCSSO State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students

Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. The CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses those views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

Division of State Services and Technical Assistance

The Council's Division of State Services and Technical Assistance supports state education agencies in developing standards-based systems that enable all children to succeed. Initiatives of the division support improved methods for collecting, analyzing, and using information for decision making; development of assessment resources; creation of high-quality professional preparation and development programs; emphasis on instruction suited for diverse learners; and the removal of barriers to academic success.

State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards

The State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) project was created in 1991 to encourage and assist states in working collaboratively on assessment design and development for a variety of topics and subject areas. The Division of State Services and Technical Assistance of the Council of Chief State School Officers are the organizer, facilitator, and administrator of the projects.

SCASS projects accomplish a wide variety of tasks identified by each of the groups, including examining the needs and issues surrounding the area(s) of focus; determining the products and goals of the project; developing assessment materials and professional development materials on assessment; summarizing current research; analyzing best practice; examining technical issues; and/or providing guidance on federal legislation. A total of 46 states and one extra-state jurisdiction participated in one or more of the 11 projects offered during the project year 2004-05. The mission of the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS) is to provide leadership, advocacy and service in creating and supporting effective collaborative partnerships through the collective experience and knowledge of state education personnel to develop and implement high standards and valid assessment systems that maximize educational achievement for all children.

State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards
Assessing Special Education Students

The State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students (SCASS ASES) addresses the inclusion of students with disabilities in large-scale standards, assessments and accountability systems and the effects of these systems on related educational reform efforts. SCASS ASES capitalizes on the synergy of the shared efforts of state education personnel, associate members, and partners to improve educational performance of students with disabilities through shared understanding, policy guidance, professional development, and research activities.

COUNCIL OF CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS
David P. Driscoll ( Massachusetts), President
Valerie Woodruff ( Delaware), President-Elect
Douglas Christensen (Nebraska), Vice President

Julia L. Lara, Deputy Executive Director
Division of State Services and Technical Assistance

Sandra Hopfengardner Warren, Project Coordinator

Council of Chief State School Officers
One Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington , DC 20001
Phone (202) 336-7000
www.ccsso.org

ISBN:1-884037-96-8
©2005 Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.

Acknowledgements

The Accommodations Manual: How To Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities and Professional Development Guide were developed in collaboration with members of the Professional Development and Communications Study Group of the Assessing Special Education Students (ASES) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS). Members of this study group during 2003-04 and 2004-05 include:

Kim Carson, Rhode Island
Janice Craft, Associate Member, BETA, Inc.
Peggy Dutcher, Michigan
Mary Pat Farrell, West Virginia
Sharon Hall, Maryland (2003-05 Co-Chair)
Jeanne Johnson, Louisiana
Kay Johnston, West Virginia
Sarah Kennedy, Associate Member, Inclusive Large-Scale Standards and Assessment
Charlotte Marvel, Arkansas
Sandra McQuain, West Virginia
Ken Olsen, Partner Member, Regional Resource Centers
Janell Rosenberg, Nevada (2003-04 Co-Chair)
Karen Sato, Hawaii
Tom Stinard, Iowa
Leola Sueoka, Hawaii
Brian Touchette , Delaware (2004-05 Co-Chair)
Noah Wartelle, Louisiana
Cari Wieland, Texas
Penelope Zago, Michigan

Recognition is given to the study group's co-chair, Sharon Hall, who collaborated with the authors in the development of many sections of this manual and guide. Arthur Halbrook, Mary E. Yakimowski-Srebnick, and Sandra Hopfengardner Warren provided important contributions by offering editorial guidance for the manual and guide. Ruth C. Kilburn made initial layout revisions.  Final editing, layout and design were completed by Priscilla Nemeth, Noemi Almirez-Ramirez, and Kara Schlosser.

Drafts of this manual were shared with members of the SCASS groups and with special educators and testing coordinators in local school districts. This final document reflects their valuable comments and recommendations. However, any misinformation or errors are the sole responsibility of the authors.

Members of other SCASS collaboratives who provided comments are:

Jan Barth, West Virginia
Janet Haas, West Virginia
Beth Judy, West Virginia
Tom Lombard, Minnesota
Michael Muenks, Missouri
Gretchen Ridgeway, Department of Defense Educational Activity
Ronda Townsend, Oklahoma
Brenda West, West Virginia
Phoebe Winter, TILSA Coordinator

Accommodations Manual: How To Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instructionand Assessment of Students with Disabilities and Professional Development Guide represent the best thinking of 2005. We are learning more about the effective education of students with disabilities every day, and we expect these materials to evolve and improve every year.

Introduction

The Accommodations Manual: How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodation for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities presents a five-step process for Individualized Educational Program (IEP) teams, 504 plan committees, general and special education teachers, administrators, and district level assessment staff to use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations by students with disabilities. A companion Professional Development Guide has been developed to support the use of this manual.

The guidance in the manual pertains to students with disabilities who participate in large-scale assessments and the instruction they receive.1 The five steps include the following:

  • Expect students with disabilities to achieve grade-level academic content standards.
  • Learn about accommodations for instruction and assessment.
  • Select accommodations for instruction and assessment for individual students.
  • Administer accommodations during instruction and assessment.
  • Evaluate and improve accommodation use

Figure 1
Policy Framework Flowchart [D]

Image of the Policy Framework Flowchart

IMPORTANT NOTE TO STATES

The Accommodations Manual: How To Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities was developed to establish guidelines for states to use for the selection, administration, and evaluation of accommodations for instruction and assessment of students with disabilities. The Professional Development Guide and PowerPoint presentation are companion materials for facilitators to use to support the implementation of the information in this manual. This manual was designed so personnel could insert state-specific information and policies related to content standards, assessments, and accommodations. In this way states can assure the information in this manual is consistent with state policies. Although federal laws requiring the provision of accommodations have been codified through such legislative initiatives as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the No Child Left behind Act (NCLB), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is some variability among states with implementation practices.

Prior to disseminating this manual, state personnel must customize this manual to be consistent with state regulations and policies. A "Policy Framework Flowchart" has been included to assist with this process.

Please, review each element presented in the Policy Framework Flowchart (Figure 1) and determine how the information in the manual "fits" with your policies and procedures.

Places in the manual where state-specific information and policies can be inserted are indicated by boxed text stating, "Insert current state information or policy related to…" states should insert the following information:

  • current policy about participation of students with disabilities in state assessments;
  • website for alternate assessment information;
  • requirements for students to meet grade-level academic content standards;
  • website for all content standards; and
  • policies on test security.

Check the following against your own state's guidelines:

  • (Fact Sheets 1-4)—accommodations that are "standard (allowed); nonstandard (not allowed or have reporting implications); for "instructional use only"
  • (Fact Sheet 7)—Rules for Administering Specific Accommodations
  • (Teacher Tool 5)—Logistics Planning Checklist

The Professional Development Guide may be used by state and district-level staff to plan professional development related to this manual.


1 The information does not pertain to students with significant cognitive disabilities who are assessed according to alternate achievement standards.

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Step 1. Expect Students with Disabilities to Achieve Grade Level Academic Content Standards

Federal and State Laws Requiring Participation by Students with Disabilities

Several important laws require the participation of students with disabilities in standards-based instruction and assessment initiatives. These include federal laws such as No Child Left Behind 2001 (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA).

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Stronger accountability for results is one of the four basic education reform principles contained in NCLB. This law complements the provisions in providing public accountability at the school, district, and state levels for all students with disabilities. NCLB explicitly calls for

…the participation in such assessments of all students [Sec. 1111 (3) (C) (i)]. (The term ‘such assessments' refers to a set of high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.) The reasonable adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities—as defined under Section 602(3) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—necessary to measure the academic achievement of such students relative to state academic content and state student academic achievement standards [Sec. 1111 (3) (C)(ii)].

One of the basic reform principles of NCLB is stronger accountability for results for all students. Through this federal legislation, in addition to other state and local district initiatives, assessments aimed at increasing accountability provide important information with regard to

  • how successful schools are including all students in standards-based education,
  • how well students are achieving standards, and
  • what needs to be improved upon for specific groups of students.

There are several critical elements in NCLB that hold schools accountable for educational results. Academic content standards (what students should learn) and academic achievement standards (how well they should learn) in reading/language arts and mathematics (with science added in 2007-08) form the basis of state accountability systems. State assessments are the mechanism for checking whether schools have been successful in students attaining the knowledge and skills defined by the content standards. By 2005-06, states must provide assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics for all students, including students with disabilities, in grades 3-8 and once in high school. By 2007-08, states must provide science assessments in at least one grade in each of three grade spans (3-5, 6-9, 10-12) each year. School, district, and state accountability is based on measuring success in educating all of its students and determining what needs to be improved for specific groups of students. The accountability system is defined in terms of adequate yearly progress (AYP), a way to measure the improvement in achieving standards for all students and designated subgroups each year. Schools, districts, and states are held accountable for improvements on an annual basis by public reporting2 and ultimately through consequences if AYP is not achieved.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004

IDEA specifically governs services provided to students with disabilities. Accountability at the individual level is provided through IEPs developed on the basis of each child's unique needs. IDEA requires the participation of students with disabilities in state and district-wide assessments. Specific IDEA requirements include:

Children with disabilities are included in general state and district-wide assessment programs, with appropriate accommodations, where necessary [Sec. 612 (a) (16) (A)]. The term ‘individualized education program' or ‘IEP' means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with this section and that includes…a statement of any individual modifications in the administration of state or district-wide assessments of student achievement that are needed in order for the child to participate in such assessment; and if the IEP team determines that the child will not participate in a particular state or district-wide assessment of student achievement (or part of such an assessment), a statement of why that assessment is not appropriate for the child; and how the child will be assessed [Sec. 614 (d) (1) (A) (V) and VI)].

Based on current trends, the use of assessments for accountability purposes will likely increase in the future, supported by other legislative initiatives passed by states in their efforts to implement educational reform.

Including All Students with Disabilities in State Accountability Assessments

Both federal and state laws require that all students with disabilities be administered assessments intended to hold schools accountable for the academic performance of students. Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members must actively engage in a planning process that addresses:

  • assurance of the provision of accommodations to facilitate student access to grade-level instruction and state assessments, and
  • use of alternate assessments to assess the achievement of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

INSERT CURRENT STATE-SPECIFIC POLICIES ABOUT THE PARTICIPATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN STATE ASSESSTMENT.

INSERT CURRENT STATE WEBSITE FOR ALTERNATE ASSESSMENT INFORMATION.

Equal Access to Grade-level Content

With the focus of legislation aimed at accountability and the inclusion of all students comes the drive to ensure equal access to grade-level content standards. Academic content standards are educational targets for students to learn at each grade level. Teachers ensure that students work toward grade-level content standards by using a range of instructional strategies based on the varied strengths and needs of students. Providing accommodations during instruction and assessments may also promote equal access to grade-level content. To accomplish this goal of equal access,

  • every IEP team member must be familiar with content standards and accountability systems at the state and district level;
  • every IEP team member must know where to locate standards and updates; and
  • collaboration between general and special educators must occur for successful student access.

All students with disabilities can work toward grade-level academic content standards and most of these students will be able to achieve these standards when the following three conditions are met:

  1. Instruction is provided by teachers who are qualified to teach in the content areas addressed by state standards and who know how to differentiate instruction for diverse learners.
  2. IEPs for students with disabilities are developed to ensure the provision of specialized instruction (e.g., specific reading skills, strategies for "learning how to learn").
  3. Appropriate accommodations are provided to help students access grade-level content.

The selection, administration, and evaluation of accommodations for instruction and assessment are the focus of the Accommodations Manual:How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities. Since assessment and instructional accommodations must be the same for individual students, guidelines for selecting accommodations for instruction and assessment are the same. However, the Accommodations Manual: How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities will provide complete guidelines only for administering and evaluating the effectiveness of assessment accommodations.

INSERT CURRENT STATE WEBSITE FOR ALL CONTENT STANDARDS.

INSERT CURRENT STATE REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDENTS TO MEET GRADE-LEVEL ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS.


2 Each parent/guardian receives a report of their child's reading and mathematics assessment results. Also included in this report are district and state results.