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Institute of Education Sciences


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IES Grant

Title: Development of Computer-based Testing Accommodations for Students with Visual Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Laitusis, Cara Cahalan Grantee: Educational Testing Service
Program: Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/11–2/28/14 Award Amount: $1,171,289
Goal: Measurement Award Number: R324A110088
Description:

Purpose: Computer-based testing holds promise for increasing accessibility of state assessments for children with disabilities. However, providing appropriate accommodations presents a challenge for this testing method. There have been particular challenges with making computer-based test items accessible to students who are Braille readers. The purpose of this project is to add enhancements in testing accommodations for students who are blind or have low vision to an existing platform that delivers a Grade 8 reading assessment. This project will provide a fully functional computer-based test delivery platform designed to increase accessibility and meet the needs of these students.

Project Activities: The researchers will enhance a computer-based testing platform called NimbleTools. During the first two years, enhancements will be developed and revisions will be made to the NimbleTools platform based on alpha and beta testing. This will provide information on its usability. During the final project year, a pilot test will be completed to determine the extent to which use of the updated platform improves test performance for students who read Braille. The psychometric characteristics of the reading assessment for these students will also be investigated.

Products: The products include an updated NimbleTools platform, presentations, and published reports.

STRUCTURED ABSTRACT

Intervention: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no intervention.

Setting: The development and testing of the platform will take place in a variety of settings, including schools for the blind and public schools.

Population: This project focuses on students who are blind or have low vision and are in middle and high school. The students will be Braille readers and deemed by their teachers to be proficient users of assistive technology to access text.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will enhance a computer-based testing platform called NimbleTools. During the first two years, enhancements will be developed and revisions will be made to the NimbleTools platform based on alpha and beta testing. This will provide information on its usability. During the final project year, a pilot test will be completed to determine the extent to which use of the updated platform improves test performance for students who read Braille. The psychometric characteristics of the reading assessment for these students will also be investigated. For the pilot test, students will be randomly assigned to one of four groups. The groups will vary by equated forms of a reading assessment and by the format of the assessment (i.e., paper or computer). The paper format will include hard copy Braille with a human reader and scribe (as needed), an approach consistent with most state assessments. The computer format will be administered using the complete NimbleTools platform.

Control Condition: The paper format of the assessment will serve as a control condition in the pilot study.

Key Measures: In addition to student performance on the assessments, data will be collected on student demographic information, instructional and assessment accommodations typically received by participating students, and teacher ratings of student performance.

Data Analytic Strategy: A repeated-measures analysis of variance will be used to compare test scores from the NimbleTools administration with those from the paper format. In addition, a series of correlational analyses will be used to examine the reliability and predictive validity of the reading measure using NimbleTools and the paper format.


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