Improving the Validity of Assessment Results for English Language Learners with Disabilities

Thursday, June 20, 2013: 4:05 PM-5:00 PM
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
Content Strands:
  1. Transitioning special populations
The validity of large-scale assessment results for English Language Leaners (ELLs) with disabilities is questionable because there is limited information about how to most accurately assess this population of students. This session will discuss key findings from a project designed to better understand ELLs with disabilities and improve the validity of their participation in state assessments. In addition to discussing the key findings from this Enhanced Assessment Grant, presenters from states will address the applicability of these findings in their assessment systems.

                English Language Learners (ELLs) with disability are a growing portion of the K-12 school population in nearly every state; however, their state-level content assessment results are among those of the lowest achieving students (Liu, Barrera, Thurlow, Guven, & Shyyan, 2005). For an education system that strives to enable all students to succeed, a large population of student who are not succeeding is a significant problem. In today’s era of accountability, this could result in restructuring of schools, dismissal of administration, or district control. With the high-stakes decisions that are based upon these assessment results, it is essential that these results are a valid measure of what the students know. However, there is limited guidance on how to assess ELLs with disabilities in order to yield valid results when making school and district wide accountability decisions. Before acting upon these results, development of a valid assessment system that includes this population of students is essential.  

Large-scale accountability assessments may not be appropriate for ELLs with disabilities because the characteristics of these students might not be considered when constructing or administering the assessment.  In response to this challenge, this project sought to improve the participation of ELLs with disabilities in assessments by understanding educator decision-making, developing principles and guidelines for inclusion, and creating and piloting a professional development module for educators in the consortium of states involved in the project.

                Presenters in this section will discuss briefly the results of the educator decision-making study, provide an overview of the principles and guidelines, and a short demonstration of the professional development module. Department of Education representatives from Minnesota and Washington will present how they apply these principles and guidelines in their states and the unique challenges with which they are struggling. The state representatives will discuss the applicability of the project findings for common core state standards as well as for states that have not adopted all of the standards. We hope that participants will leave this section with a better understanding about how to better assess ELLs with disabilities.