NICHCY Connections to...Including Students with Disabilities in State & District Assessments (page 2)
NICHCY is pleased to connect you with sources of information on including children with disabilities in state and district-wide assessments. This is an area of considerable concern and endeavor for state and local education agencies, educators, and families alike. Federal law--specifically, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)--requires that students with disabilities be included in large state or district assessment programs. In order to enable children with disabilities to participate in such general assessments, appropriate accommodations may be made, as necessary, as well as modifications in how the assessments are administered (including individual modifications, as appropriate). The decision as to whether a particular child will participate in a particular assessment belongs to the IEP team. The IEP team also specifies what accommodations or modifications that child will need in order to participate.
However, a student's IEP team may also determine that the student cannot participate in a particular State or district-wide assessment of student achievement or part of such an assessment, even with modifications. If this is the case, the team must include a statement in the IEP as to why the assessment is not appropriate for the student and how he or she will be assessed. Under the law, the state or local education agency (SEA / LEA) must then assess the child using an alternate assessment.
It's complicated---and yet very important. There is enormous pressure for accountability, and states routinely use high stakes testing programs that require students to reach a specified competency level in order to graduate. Thus, how these tests affect students with disabilities is an area of continuing concern. We hope the resources we've listed below will be useful to parents and professionals alike. They focus upon discussions of what high stakes testing means for students, what types of accommodations and modifications states are using to enable their participation, and what alternate assessments are being designed for students whose IEP teams determine that they cannot participate in a particular state or district test.
The list below isn't intended to be exhaustive of the resources available on including children with disabilities in state and district assessments---it's ever-growing. We'll be adding to this page throughout the year, so check back now and again to see what's new!
What's Required---and Why?
- Frequently asked questions--and answers.
The participation of students with disabilities in state and district assessments is a special topic area of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO). If this topic is new to you, you'll want to start your investigation with NCEO's FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). What do you want to know? NCEO tries to answer the questions most people start with.
- Education reform: What does it mean for students with disabilities?
This brief will tell you why there's such a fuss about assessments, how students with disabilities participated in the past, and how they'll participate now.
- All Kids Count: Including students with disabilities in statewide assessment programs.
The guide you'll find at the link above is a product of the PEER Project, a technical assistance project formerly funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. All Kids Count is intended as a basic primer on the participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessment systems. Its purpose is to give parents, parent leaders, professionals, and other interested parties basic guidelines and points of reference for participating in discussions around policies and practices related to the inclusion of students with disabilities in large-scale assessment programs.
- Assessing students with disabilities: Issues and evidence.
This 2003 report discusses major issues raised by the inclusion of students with disabilities in large-scale assessments and summarizes pertinent research.
- Any guidance from the feds?
Guidance on Including Students with Disabilities in Assessment Programs is available from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education. Find the family-free version at the link above. The same information, prepared for state directors of special education, is available at:
- What are the positive aspects of including students with disabilities in assessment programs?
When investigators document the consequences of high stakes assessments for students with disabilities, many negative consequences are cited. The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) examined both empirical and anecdotal evidence for positive consequences of large-scale high-stakes assessments for students with disabilities. This report synthesizes their findings.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Dissemination Center.
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