Providing Accessible Assessments in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Friday, June 21, 2013: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
  • NCSA 2013_Accessibility in NGAS_061713_FINAL.pdf (2.4 MB)
  • Content Strands:
    1. Transitioning assessment systems
    2. Transitioning special populations
    Significant innovations are needed to develop next-generation assessment systems, including methods and tools to make assessment items and tasks accessible for a broad spectrum of students. New accessibility guidelines can inform the transition of current assessments to those with increased accessibility.  This presentation will describe procedures for supporting this transition in a large multi-state summative assessment by developing policy consensus, refining item development procedures, implementing item accessibility reviews, and defining innovations in item delivery. Presenters will share specific examples from the development and administration of the Smarter Balanced 2013 Pilot Test.

    Developing common policies for accessibility and accommodations by analyzing state policies and working with states to build consensus on a common accessibility accommodations framework can be challenging. However, it also provides an opportunity to implement new policies and practices on a large scale. We will describe this process and the framework that resulted from cross-state collaboration in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  This framework informs item development and includes additional considerations for item writers that have been traditionally implemented after the fact.  We will also address new technology-enhanced item types and the different accessibility review guidelines and criteria that the items require.  All of these considerations must work together as components of an accessible assessment system.  Presenters will describe how policy, item development and review, and delivery considerations were coordinated for the Smarter Balanced Pilot Assessment administered in the spring of 2013. 

    The Smarter Balanced Accessibility and Accommodation Framework integrates current best practices with recent advances in assessment enabled by digital technologies. The Framework also integrates recent developments in valid measurement of students who are English Language Learners, students who have defined disabilities, and students who have access needs but have not been defined with a disability. In addition, the Framework addresses valid measurement of students in a digital environment as well as a paper-based environment. With broad agreement on Common Core Standards and the development of a common assessment program designed to measure achievement against those standards, we are positioned to develop a single common accommodation policy across states.

    Item development in a digital environment must be adapted to provide items that allow students to provide evidence of learning in a variety of ways.  New item types that leverage online capabilities to provide more robust ways for students to respond were developed to provide access to a broad range of students.  Traditional paper-based universal design practices were evaluated and adapted for items that were developed to be delivered in a computer adaptive environment. 

    The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium developed over 9000 items for its pilot test scheduled for administration during the spring of 2013. The computer-administered assessment followed the new Common Core State Standards (CCSSO) while using technology to create a pool of items with increased accessibility over traditional assessments. We will describe how item review processes were implemented during the development of this next-generation item pool. 

    New item review processes were implemented that treated accessibility separately from bias and sensitivity. The review process included teacher educators, content experts, and state representatives with expertise in challenges traditionally facing English language learners and students with disabilities. This specific focus on accessibility reviews provided targeted information about both item types and individual items.

    Information gathered from the policy discussion, item development and accessibility reviews can inform the identification of tools and accommodations needed for online delivery systems.  A variety of special forms were developed and administered to inform decisions on using translations, glossaries, read-alouds, and other online embedded supports for students.  We will share preliminary information from the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test that can inform continued item development for future administrations.