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No Child Left Behind: Determining Appropriate Assessment In Education

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the primary federal legislation governing education in grades pre-kindergarten through high school in the United States. ESEA was renamed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 after its most recent Congressional renewal. Under NCLB, public school children throughout the nation, including kids with disabilities, are required to engage in yearly testing in particular academic areas and grades stated in the legislation. Including all children with disabilities in state and district-wide examinations helps guarantee that schools, school districts, and states are held responsible for these kids’ progress.

Students with disabilities (those protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) must be given the proper accommodations to participate in these assessments, according to NCLB. Making decisions regarding the necessary accommodations that students with disabilities need to engage completely and fairly in large-scale testing is an important aspect of designing a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Members of the IEP/504 team, including parents, must participate in a deliberate process to establish the appropriate accommodations to support the student’s access to grade-level teaching and full participation in state/district assessments. This parent advocacy brief focuses on the selection of acceptable accommodations.

Recognizing accommodations
Accommodations are tools and processes that provide students with disabilities equitable access to teaching and assessment. They exist to “level the playing field.” Students with disabilities may be unable to access grade-level teaching and engage completely in examinations if accommodations are not provided.

Accommodations are classified into the following categories:

Modification vs. accommodation
Modifications are not the same as accommodations. Accommodations are designed to mitigate the impact of a student’s impairment, not to lower learning expectations. A modification or adjustment is when you change, lessen, or reduce your learning expectations. In contrast to accommodations, frequent usage of modifications may widen the performance gap between children with impairments and grade-level expectations. This may have a detrimental influence on the student’s educational career since the student may not be able to proceed and acquire a conventional diploma as a result.

Assessment vs. instructional flexibility
Accommodations should ideally be consistent or comparable throughout classroom teaching, classroom assessments, and state/district examinations. It should be noted, however, that certain modifications are exclusively for teaching and cannot be utilized on state/district exams.

Standard vs. non-standard lodging
Standard accommodations are those that are permitted for both testing and training and do not alter the ability to be tested. A non-standard accommodation alters the character of the job or target skill. Reading a reading test aloud to a student when the reading test is assessing decoding, for example, is called a non-standard accommodation since it does not provide a realistic evaluation of the student’s decoding abilities. Reading the exam, on the other hand, would not affect the target skill and would enable the student to exhibit comprehension capability without the interference of a reading handicap.

State policies on standard and non-standard testing accommodations differ. All members of the IEP/504 team must be aware of state regulations and procedures governing the use of assessment accommodations. To make appropriate judgments on testing accommodations, all team members must be aware of the following:

Accommodation Selection
All students with disabilities (those with active IEPs or 504 Plans) have the right to reasonable accommodations that enable them to participate fully in state and district-wide testing.

Who makes the decision?
The adjustments for teaching and assessments are chosen by the student’s IEP/504 team. Accommodations should be selected based on the requirements of the individual student, not on the disability category, grade level, or instructional context. Accommodations should be utilized regularly for teaching and evaluation after they have been chosen. The particular adjustments that must be offered must be communicated to each instructor and anyone else responsible for implementing the modifications.

Choosing Accommodations
Each IEP or 504 Plan should include a section on determining appropriate modifications. In the selection process, the following questions should be considered:

Then, go through and explain the accommodations that the student has previously used. Pose the following questions:

Plan how and when the student will learn to utilize each new accommodation when deciding on additional accommodations. Make certain that there is enough time to learn how to utilize an accommodation before it is used in the administration of a state- and district-wide evaluation.

Facts for evaluation
Many states have opted to include “stakes” in their standards and evaluation systems for pupils. Some states require students to complete one or more high school examinations to get a diploma.

Some states require students to achieve certain levels on assessments in advance to the next grade level. parents must grasp the significance of their children’s performance on state-mandated assessments.

Considering Accommodations
Evaluating the effectiveness of accommodations should be a continuous process; only by closely scrutinizing the impact of accommodation can improvements be made. Accommodation selection should not be assumed to carry over from year to year by IEP or 504 teams. Every year, the team should go over:

Important terms to understand
Accommodation Buying Guide
Parents should inquire about assessment accommodations.
Make certain that accommodations do not result in improper testing techniques, such as:

Is my kid utilizing accommodations in class that will not be permitted while completing a state or district-wide assessments?
Certain accommodations are only permitted for the rain, not testing, due to their nature. If a student is used to utilizing such accommodations, the IEP team must ensure that the student knows that the accommodation(s) will not be accessible during testing and seek to locate suitable accommodations that can similarly assist the student

Are my child’s assessment accommodations considered “standard” or “non-standard”?
When it comes to exam accommodations laws, states vary greatly. Obtain a copy of your state’s assessment accommodations guidelines and policies. These guidelines should specify whether accommodations are considered “standard” or “non-standard,” as well as any accommodations that may invalidate a test score.

Is my child’s documented need for all of the accommodations listed?
According to research, IEP or 504 Plan teams frequently choose accommodations in a package, such as extended time and a different setting. However, the student may only require one of these modifications. The IEP team is responsible for ensuring that the student is not ooveror under-accommodated.

Are all accommodations chosen documented in my child’s IEP or 504 Plan?
The student’s active IEP or 504 Plan should include documentation for all accommodations chosen for instruction and testing. Accommodations must be provided once they have been documented in the IEP or 504 Plan. Those in charge of implementing accommodations must understand that they are mandatory, not optional.

Is my child aware of how to use the assessment accommodations that have been chosen?
Students should be given enough time to learn how to use the testing accommodations that are available to them. Ascertain that the student is willing to use the accommodation and has used it before test day.

Is there a planning mechanism in place at the school to guarantee that the testing accommodations specified and recorded in my child’s IEP or 504 Plan are properly implemented?
Accommodations are only as good as their execution. Unfortunately, when school staff is stretched, administering individual student accommodations can become difficult. planning for accommodations such as quiet space, readers, and alternative test formats is critical for ethical assessment administration.

Did you enjoy it? Spread the word!
The National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing every opportunity for the nation’s 15 million children and adults with learning disabilities to succeed in school, work, and life. Schwab Learning is a charitable program of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation dedicated to assisting children with learning and attention issues in school and life. Candace Cortiella is the Executive Director of The Advocacy Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with learning disabilities through public policy and other initiatives. The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation provided funding for this publication. C. Cortiella Determining Appropriate Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Learning Disabilities National Center


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