- Transitioning special populations
- Transitioning accountability systems
The transition from the 2% option to new assessment systems will affect students in 17 states (NCEO Synthesis #85). Three states will discuss the challenges of expiring modified achievement standards and share what they know about students currently taking tests specifically tailored to their needs. Research compiled by a national center on low performing SWD and 2% assessment will be shared, shedding light on important critical issues for states using the 2% option, consortia developing new assessments, and the creation of future research agendas. Perspectives from the USED will be presented and discussed by a national expert and session participants.
This presentation will reveal what 14 projects involving 26 states involved in 2% research learned since 2007 about instruction and assessment of this population of students. The perspectives of three states are highlighted. They will address the implications of those lessons for the imminent transition from their AA-MAS assessments and achievement standards to grade level assessments and performance standards based on rigorous college-focused academic standards.
Understanding how to best assess persistently low performing students with disabilities who do not qualify for the 1% AA-AAS remains a challenge for PARCC and SBAC consortia. Both are committed to providing students with access and enhanced computer-based accommodations. They are developing items and tasks using Evidence Centered Design and principles of Universal Design. Both groups understand how to use plain language to avoid design features that are irrelevant to the content being assessed. What else needs to be considered in tests designed to measure gains in achievement for all participating students?
One important consideration from the lessons learned from 2% research involves the characteristics of students eligible for the 2% option. Four projects in the research report looked at the disability categories of students who qualified for an AA-MAS. All found that the majority of students had specific learning disabilities, with a significant number of students in other categories including other health impairments, speech and language impairments, and intellectual disabilities. Various studies found that these students had limited working memory capacity, limited meta-cognition, difficulties with focused attention, sustained attention, self-monitoring skills, and executive function, specific challenges related to some components of reading including poor reading fluency, difficulty solving problems, and limited opportunity to learn the tested content due to a relatively slow pace of instruction.
Another consideration came from research that investigated assessment strategies that support students with these characteristics. While many argue that universal design principles have been applied to their general assessments, the work on item modifications taught us that more could be done. Operational 2% assessments often include strategies beyond those typically used to develop grade level assessments, such as innovations that allow adjusting format characteristics or content and thinking through the cognitive load of items and how that load might be reduced. Scaffolding, prompts, and supports for content (i.e., graphic organizers and supports for vocabulary, recall, inference, and complex questions) and format (i.e., visuals, definitions, bolding, boxing, and highlighting) were evaluated.
New assessment development should draw heavily on the lessons learned since the 2% option was introduced in 2007. Assessment consortia should be collecting rigorous evaluation of outcomes for students with and without disabilities in the initial phases of test design and development and investigate the types of professional development needed. Specifically, states recommended the following: 1). Develop systems that support student achievement, 2) Mine the data to learn more about what is happening with low performing students, 3) Develop clear participation guidelines that seamlessly include all students in the assessment system, 4) Develop assessments that incorporate expanded principles of universal design, and 5) Provide high-quality professional development.