The Challenge of Getting It Right for Special Populations Pairing Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners with Appropriate Technology Supports During the Transition to Common Core Testing Programs.

Friday, June 21, 2013: 10:00 AM-10:55 AM
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
Content Strands:
  1. Transitioning special populations
Summary (95 Words)

Today’s classrooms are filled with diverse learners.  Students with disabilities, students who speak English as a second language, or even students on an advanced learning track, each of their needs are unique.  For many of these students, assistive technology (AT) has been the difference between success and failure. 

Unfortunately, the range of AT software applications commonly found in classrooms during instruction is severely limited on testing day.    How to provide these tools to the students, who need them most during testing, is a challenge facing every state as they make transitions in their assessment programs. 

Abstract (458 words)

Students today have a variety of abilities and disabilities.  According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) there are several categories a student’s disability may fall under.  These categories include anything from Autism and Deafness to Traumatic Brain Injury and Specific Learning Disability.   The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that over 6.4 million students are identified as having a disability.  This makes up approximately 13% of the student population, the vast majority of which spend most or all of their day in the general education classroom.

Students with disabilities are not the only students who have diverse learning needs however.  Consider that the Nations Report Card shows that over 60% of ALL students scored below proficiency in reading.  In addition, the number of school aged children who spoke a language other than English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009 (NCES). 

These numbers strongly suggest that students need a variety of supports to help them become successful learners and to demonstrate their achievement of more demanding performance standards under CCSS.  For many of these students, assistive and instructional technology has been critical in assisting them overcome the many barriers they face.  Unfortunately, many educators who work with these students during state testing programs do not know what technologies currently exist, or how these technologies can help the students they work with demonstrate mastery of key curriculum standards. 

As we strive for greater student inclusion in new summative CCSS General Assessments, this session will aim to help these educators and those professionals who provide training and support to them.  Using AT toolbar software as an example, participants will have the opportunity to hear how many common assistive technology tools that are available today are used successfully in state testing programs. 

In addition, time will be spent on describing many of the types of students that AT tools may benefit the most.  Using case studies, research data, and real life implementation examples, the panel members will walk participants through understanding how some supports are more appropriate than others for students with diverse needs.  


  • Identify common assistive technology applications available in schools today, as states maintain existing test programs and look to future requirements of the Common Core assessments.


  • Understand how some supports may be more appropriate than others for students with diverse needs, as states transition to CCSS testing.


  • Look at the ways a common set of supports can be used across General Assessment, Alternate Assessment and English Language Proficiency Assessments.


  • Hear real life examples of successful AT use in state testing programs.


  • Discuss how states can manage the diverse needs represented by SWD and ELL for supports that are familiar, consistent across hardware platforms, flexible and appropriate for CCSS testing.