Dealing with Flexibility in Assessments for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Synthesis Report 60Reportar como inadecuado

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National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota

Dealing with flexibility--or its converse, the extent of standardization--is fundamental to alignment, assessment design, and interpretation of results in fully inclusive assessment systems. Highly standardized tests make it easier to compare (performances, students, and schools) across time and to common standards because certain conditions are met that (ostensibly) reduce the irrelevant variation and support stronger inferences for interpretation. Alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards--and the corresponding instruction for these students--have come from a highly individualized tradition in which comparisons among students and data aggregation have not been the focus. Alternate assessment and instruction is moving more firmly into a standards-based accountability world, due in large part to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997, the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This document presents an analysis, by assessment system component, of where flexibility is typically allowed and where it tends to be controlled (standardized) in alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. One of the greatest challenges in either aggregating data or evaluating technical quality for many forms of alternate assessments results from the intended flexibility allowed in student learning (and assessment) goals. On the other hand, the present analysis indicates that there are many choice points for state policymakers and assessment leaders regarding the degree of flexibility or standardization they might choose to design into their alternate assessment systems. Of course, these choices are contingent on the values of the state regarding the primary purposes of the alternate assessment system. This report provides a useful framework to inform discussion about flexibility in assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities that will: (1) permit clarification of values and goals so fundamental policy decisions can be made regarding desired comparability; (2) support research and development work to improve assessment for this population of students, with the long-term goal that such assessment will support improved achievement; (3) help the discussion of alternate assessment approaches move beyond simply using nominal labels of familiar assessment formats (e.g., portfolio, performance, checklist or rating scales) and recognize that most alternate assessments are a blend of multiple formats with varying degrees of flexibility for different components of the system; and (4) assist in the evaluation of the technical quality of alternate assessment systems. Appended are: (1) Information excerpted from Quenemoen, Thompson, and Thurlow (2003) to help provide additional background material regarding the various types of alternate assessment; and (2) Inclusive Assessment System Options by Degree of Standardization/Flexibility. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)

Descriptors: Federal Legislation, Research and Development, Inferences, Disabilities, Standardized Tests, Rating Scales, Alternative Assessment, Accountability, Student Evaluation

National Center on Educational Outcomes. University of Minnesota, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Tel: 612-626-1530; Fax: 612-624-0879; e-mail: nceo[at]; Web site:

Autor: Gong, Brian; Marion, Scott


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