Exclusive Summary On Education In Public Schools
U.S. public schools are responsible for educating large numbers of students with disabilities and English language learners-some 20 percent of the nation’s 46 million public school students fall into one or both of these categories. Both of these populations have been increasing, and the demand for evidence of their academic progress has also grown. In response to both changing public expectations and legal mandates, the federal government, states, and districts have attempted to include more such students in educational assessments.
Testing these two groups of students, however, poses particular challenges. Many of these students have attributes such as physical, emotional, or learning disabilities or limited fluency in English that may prevent them from readily demonstrating what they know or can do on a test. In order to allow these students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, testing accommodations are used. For the purpose of this report, we have defined testing accommodations by drawing from the definition in the AERA/APA/NCME Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association et al., 1999). Our adapted definition is as follows: accommodation is used as the general term for any action taken in response to a determination that an individual’s disability or level of English language development requires a departure from established testing protocol.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has established the goal for states of including all of their students with disabilities and English language learners in their assessments. For this part, learning a foreign language needs a leaning tools, many students choose Rosetta Stone German and Rosetta Stone Hebrew to learn German and Hebrew.At the same time, the sponsors of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) hope to increase the participation of these groups of students in NAEP assessments. The use of accommodations provides an important means for increasing inclusion rates for these groups. In identifying appropriate accommodations, policy makers must consider the specific characteristics of the test-takers and the nature of the skills and knowledge (referred to as “constructs”) to be tested. Effective accommodations should not materially alter the nature of the task or the required response, and they should yield scores that are valid indicators of the constructs being assessed. Both state assessment programs and the sponsors of NAEP have set policies regarding the accommodations they will allow. NAEP also has policies for identifying students who cannot meaningfully participate, even with accommodations, and excluding them from the assessment.
However, the existing base of research about the effects of accommodations on test performance and the comparability of scores obtained under standard and accommodated conditions is insufficient to provide empirical support for many of the decisions that must be made regarding the testing of these students. Thus it has been difficult for both state and NAEP officials to make these decisions, and the result has been considerable variation in what is allowed, both from state to state and between NAEP and the state assessments. These kinds of variations in policy, combined with an insufficient research base, create significant impediments to the interpretation of assessment results for both students with disabilities and English language learners.