Special Education

U.S., California Tussle Over Test Modifications

By Christina A. Samuels — December 13, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Department of Education has told California that if students with disabilities use certain modifications on state tests, such as calculators on mathematics assessments, those students cannot be counted as participating in the test for the purposes of calculating adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The issue arose during an on-site review of the state’s assessment procedures, said William L. Padia, the director of policy and evaluation for the California Department of Education.

The state had allowed students with disabilities to use assistive devices like calculators on the tests required under the federal education law, and to be counted as having taken the test, said Mr. Padia. Students who used assistive devices would be graded as “below proficient,” he said.

During the September site visit, Education Department representatives said that California could not continue to count those students as having taken the test, Mr. Padia said.

See Also

Chad Colby, a spokesman for the federal department, referred to August nonregulatory guidance on the topic of alternate assessments for children with disabilities.

The guidance indicates that certain accommodations can be used as long as they do not “invalidate” the test.

But, “if a student uses an accommodation that results in an invalid score, the student is considered to be a nonparticipant when calculating the participation rate for AYP purposes,” the guidance reads.

‘Appropriate Modifications’

Mr. Padia said he understands that students who use assistive devices shouldn’t have their scores be considered proficient. “But, they did take the test,” he said. “We just allowed them to have appropriate modifications.”

He did not know how many students might use such modifications, which could include calculators on math tests, dictated test questions, or the use of a dictionary. The decisions are made at the school level, he said.

But the change, which is effective for this school year’s tests, could result in some schools not making adequate yearly progress because their participation rates will change, he said. The No Child Left Behind law requires that 95 percent of a school’s population take the state assessments for a school to make AYP.

Mr. Padia said the department is brainstorming on potential solutions, “but there’s no guarantee any of them can be acceptable.”


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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

Special Education Q&A Schools Should Boost Inclusion of Students With Disabilities, Special Olympics Leader Says
Schools have work to do to ensure students with intellectual and developmental disabilities feel a sense of belonging, Tim Shriver said.
6 min read
Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver greets a child at one of the organization’s events.
Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver greets a child at one of the organization’s events.
Courtesy of Special Olympics
Special Education Spotlight Spotlight on the Science of Reading for Students with Disabilities
This Spotlight will empower you with strategies to apply the science of reading to support students with learning differences and more.
Special Education Video A Student Wrote a Book About Her Learning Disability. Now, She Has Advice for Teachers
Zoe Kozina, 17, is the author of Your Beautiful Mind, a children’s book published this year.
Special Education Disability or 'Superpower'? The Push to Change Mindsets About Students With Learning Differences
Advocates are calling for a paradigm shift in how adults perceive, and educate, students with learning differences.
5 min read
Conceptual artwork, imagination dream and hope concept, Superhero boy
Jorm Sangsorn/iStock/Getty