Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Achieving Testing Fairness for Students with Disabilities

Right now the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, the HELP Committee, is working on a new education bill Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 (ECRCCA), amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
It deals with all the education programs that the federal government supports for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the media standardized tests and their consequences have received much attention. I think one thing that would help is making effective accommodations available to students with disabilities when they take these tests. Of course, educators need to know about them.  Why not a web-based repository where educators could find out about effective accommodations? Here's text I drafted. I shared it with the HELP Committee and disability advocates.

Section (    )  Web-Based Repository for Accommodations in Testing Situations for Students with Disabilities

a. Purpose. Through a grant, contract, or other means the Secretary of Education is authorized to award funds on a competitive basis to an entity for the design, development, implementation and maintenance of a website that contains policies and procedures that prevent a student’s disability from being a barrier to his or her demonstration of knowledge or its application through a test.
b. Scope. The website will provide information about how to provide accommodation to students with disabilities in K-12 in testing situations.
c. Nature of data maintained on the website. Information on the website will be gathered from LEAs and SEAs that have promoted and implemented robust testing accommodation programs for students with disabilities. At a minimum these data will provide information about the following–
1. Policies and procedures about how testing accommodation for the individual student with a disability were –
i. allowed (e.g., any test, standardized tests only)
ii. determined,
iii. approved,
iiii. provided
v. evaluated, and
vi. reported;
2. Examples of the procedures used in testing accommodation situations for students with the full range of accommodation needs – 
i. Environmental adjustments, such as – 
I. change in location of testing,
II. change in lighting,
III. change in testing table,
IIII. use of low tech aides (e.g., taping of test to desk),
V. allow another individual to turn pages;
ii. Format modifications, such as – 
I. change print,
II. allow reader,
III. allow recorder,
IIII. allow cueing;
iii. Performance adjustments, such as – 
I. allow student to show how rather than write how he or she would do something,
II. allow the student to use a writer or dictation to record the student’s answer;
iiii. Pacing  flexibility, such as – 
I. change in length of time to take a test,
II. allow multi-day completion
III. allow break(s) when taking test,
IIII. provide prompts related to test segments.  
3. Notification. How are teachers, parents, and students made aware of the availability of accommodation during testing?
4. Stakeholder involvement. How were educators, other relevant professionals, parents, and students involved in the design, development,  implementation, and evaluation of the accommodation in testing program?
d.    Authorization of appropriations.  Such sums as necessary shall be authorized appropriated for fiscal years 2016, ....

Feel free to share my suggestion with your friends and Senators.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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