Federal

Test Groups Weigh Unified Accommodations Policies

By Lesli A. Maxwell — April 02, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A patchwork of testing accommodations is used in the nation’s public schools to help students with disabilities and those still learning English show their command of academic content, just as their general education peers do.

The list of accommodations—providing extra time, allowing the use of dictionaries, and reading test directions aloud, to name a few—has ballooned in the No Child Left Behind Act era. Schools have been under pressure to demonstrate how well they are educating all students, including those with special needs. Some researchers estimate as many as 100 different accommodations are used for students with disabilities and English-language learners in states and local districts.

But that may be changing as two groups of states labor to design new assessments for the Common Core State Standards to replace the wide variety of standardized reading and mathematics tests used now. With a rollout of the new assessments expected in 2014-15, test developers are aiming not only to streamline the types of testing supports offered to special education students and English-language learners, but also to make sure the tests are designed to be as broadly accessible as possible to all students, regardless of their profiles.

Opening Doors

“We are in deep conversations about what we can do to increase accessibility in a way that benefits any student, including English-language learners and students with disabilities,” said Danielle Griswold, a program associate for policy, research, and design at the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the consortium of 22 states known as PARCC.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, composed of 24 states, is striving to do the same.

This is no lightweight undertaking.

States do not have widely consistent rules on testing accommodations. Some states allow test items to be read aloud, particularly for certain students with disabilities, while others do not. Some allow for test directions and even test items to be translated into other languages for English-learners, while others forbid it.

Officials with PARCC and Smarter Balanced agree that building consensus among the member states is a challenge.

Federal education officials who oversee policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress have been wrestling with similar issues as they seek to include more students with disabilities and ELL students in the “nation’s report card” and more accurately allow for state-by-state comparisons of student achievement.

Exactly what the new landscape of testing accommodations looks like will start to become clearer to educators and the public in the coming weeks and months when PARCC and Smarter Balanced release more details about their policies. In navigating this vexing territory, both groups are zeroing in on what research has found about the impacts of accommodations on students and identifying where more research is needed.

Coverage of the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the common assessments is supported in part by a grant from the GE Foundation, at www.ge.com/foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Access to Common Exams Probed

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion 'Jargon' and 'Fads': Departing IES Chief on State of Ed. Research
Better writing, timelier publication, and more focused research centers can help improve the field, Mark Schneider says.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Electric School Buses Get a Boost From New State and Federal Policies
New federal standards for emissions could accelerate the push to produce buses that run on clean energy.
3 min read
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet reduces over 120,000 pounds of carbon emissions and leverages The Mobility House's smart charging and energy management system.
A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency sets higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. By 2032, it projects, 40 percent of new medium heavy-duty vehicles, including school buses, will be electric.
Business Wire via AP
Federal What Would Happen to K-12 in a 2nd Trump Term? A Detailed Policy Agenda Offers Clues
A conservative policy agenda could offer the clearest view yet of K-12 education in a second Trump term.
8 min read
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. Allies of the former president have assembled a detailed policy agenda for every corner of the federal government with the idea that it would be ready for a conservative president to use at the start of a new term next year.
Mike Stewart/AP
Federal Opinion Student Literacy Rates Are Concerning. How Can We Turn This Around?
The ranking Republican senator on the education committee wants to hear from educators and families about making improvements.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty