Special Education Report Roundup

Research Report: Special Education

By Christina A. Samuels — August 31, 2010 1 min read
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A “read aloud” reading test may be a valid accommodation for younger students with disabilities, but for older students, it may provide an unfair advantage, according to a study published in the August edition of The Journal of Special Education.

Researchers Jennifer Randall of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and George Engelhard Jr. of Emory University, in Atlanta, measured whether the accommodations provided a “differential boost” to students with disabilities. To find out, test accommodations were given to students both with and without disabilities.

A valid accommodation provides a boost in the scores of students with disabilities, while students without disabilities have scores that remain about the same with accommodations.

The researchers studied 945 students in the 3rd and 4th grades, and 995 students in the 6th and 7th grades. The study shows there was a differential boost for students with disabilities in the 4th grade, but not for those in the 7th grade.

In contrast, the study shows that reading scores of students with disabilities in both those grades went down when they were provided a “resource guide” intended to give them information they could use to answer questions on the test, but not the answers themselves. That meant the guides were not found to be valid.

The researchers hypothesized that the guides were a distraction, as well as providing another item that students had to read.

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Special Education


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