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State-Wide Assessment Programs
Research Connections
Spring 1998

State-Wide Efforts

Kentucky: Studying the Impact of Accommodations
Maryland: Developing an Inclusive Assessment
Hawaii: Establishing a Norm Group

Permissible Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (number of states that permit the accommodation is in parentheses)
  • Large Print (34)
  • Braille or Sign Language (33)
  • Small Group Administration (33)
  • Flexible Scheduling (31)
  • Separate Testing Session (31)
  • Extra Time (30)
  • Audiotaped Instructions/Questions (27)
  • Multiple/Extra Testing Sessions (25)
  • Word Processor (21)
  • Simplification of Directions (15)
  • Audiotaped Responses (12)
  • Use of Dictionaries (9)
  • Alternate Test (6)
  • Other languages (2)


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Prior to the 1997 Reauthorization of IDEA, most states had taken some steps toward including all children in large-scale assessments.
Kentucky: Studying the Impact of Accommodations

With support from OSEP, Kentucky has studied the impact of accommodations on performance data, in its Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (KIRIS) assessment system. Kentucky allows accommodations for students with disabilities that are consistent with the appropriate delivery of instructional service for that individual student. Accommodations may include changes in the administration of the assessment and/or recording of student responses that are consistent with the normal instructional strategies and assistive devices and services identified on the student's IEP or 504 plan.

A recent research report by Daniel Koretz of the CRESST/RAND Institute on Education and Training found that the majority of students with disabilities who participated in the KIRIS assessment required at least one accommodation. As policymakers and educators look at regulating the use of accommodations, Koretz suggests they consider the following steps:

  • Clarify the intended purposes.
  • Clarify guidelines for use.
  • Monitor use.
  • Undertake periodic audits.

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Maryland: Developing an Inclusive Assessment

At 99%, Maryland has one of the highest participation rates for students in its state-wide assessment system. Students with disabilities are expected to participate unless they fit exemption criteria (e.g., second semester senior transfer from out-of-state; first-time, limited English proficient student). Currently in the pilot stage, the Independence Mastery Assessment Program (IMAP), an alternate assessment, measures outcomes that are life-skills oriented. OSEP supported the initial development of IMAP.

John Haigh, of the Maryland State Department of Education, oversees the effort to include all children in Maryland state-wide assessments. He offers these insights:

  • Highlight the rationale for including all children in the assessment.
  • Include all stakeholders in implementation.
  • Involve parents when developing alternate assessments.
  • Link discussions about assessment to student outcomes.
  • Use a local district accountability coordinator to monitor exemptions and accommodations.
  • Build in significant professional development for teachers and administrators.
  • Remember that change takes time-so go slowly.

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Hawaii: Establishing a Norm Group

Unlike other states, Hawaii is a single unified school district with a diverse school population. Approximately 12.9% of the students receive special education services. The Hawaii Department of Special Education mandates annual testing for public school students in grades 3, 6, 8, and 10. The Stanford Achievement Test (8th Edition), is used for large-scale assessment.

Amelia Jenkins, professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has been conducting research on participation rates. A study of the 1995 data revealed that an average of 64% of students with disabilities were tested. "One of the major issues was establishing a norm group for students with disabilities that truly reflected the demographics--including culture, language, and ethnicity--of Hawaii." Whereas students in Hawaii were found to represent some of the national norms, there were areas where students performed differently. Jenkins recommends that other states that use standardized measurements establish norms for their own state, rather than rely exclusively on national norms.

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