Purpose: The increased demand for accountability in education focused on improved student academic performance has led to many questions about the most accurate method for capturing individual student progress, particularly for students with disabilities. Although there is a substantial amount of existing research on the characteristics of students with disabilities and assessment of their abilities and skills for purposes of classification and intervention, far less is known about the natural developmental progress in achievement for students with disabilities. The primary aims of this project are to identify academic growth trajectories of students with disabilities and develop and test practical and relevant methods of accurately measuring academic growth for students with disabilities for use in accountability systems. The ultimate objective of the Center is to develop assessment methods that schools can use to (1) accurately assess the academic progress of students with disabilities and (2) improve the quality of education provided to students with disabilities, leading to improved student outcomes.
Projects: The Center's primary research will involve three simultaneous strands of research across Years 1–5: (1) Cornerstone Study; (2) Multi-State Extension Study; and (3) Interim Assessments Study.
Focused Program of Research
The research team will use North Carolina statewide achievement data with approximately 90,000 elementary students without disabilities and 13,000 students with disabilities across 1,100 schools. The team will also examine approximately the same number of middle schools students with and without disabilities across 550 schools. They will compare strategies for characterizing students' achievement growth. The strategies will include multilevel modeling to model student growth and proficiency (2- and 3-level models); calculating grade-level growth and achievement gaps between students with disabilities and their peers using an effect size approach; and characterizing growth of students with disabilities with a growth percentiles approach. The team will test the generalizability of the findings across time, cohorts, and editions of the North Carolina test by replicating key analyses from the first year. They will also analyze the degree to which the reliability and validity of inferences about school effectiveness are affected by missing data or attrition.
Multi-State Extension Study
The research team will repeat the same overall analysis strategy in the Cornerstone Study to examine student growth and the validity and applicability of different options for measuring student growth and school effects. They will use datasets from Arizona, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—states that vary in terms of demographic characteristics, educational systems, content standards, assessments, and procedures related to identifying and serving students with disabilities.
Interim Assessments Study
The status, residual gain score, and multilevel growth models will be used to examine achievement growth within and across schools using interim assessments administered by the four partner states. The growth results will cover grades 1–8, be based on several measures of achievement per year, and be compared to the growth results based on statewide summative assessments. The team will also estimate the out-of-school changes in student achievement during the summer and examine whether changes are different for students with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities. Finally, the team will examine how well growth on the state summative assessments can be predicted using interim assessments and other school context and characteristics variables.
Key Personnel: University of Oregon: Gerald Tindal, Joe Stephens, Gina Biancarose, Paul Yovanoff, Keith Zvoch; University of Arizona: Stephen Elliott, Joanna Gorin, Roy Levy, Alexander Kurz; North Carolina State University: Anne Schulte
Center Website: http://www.ncaase.com/
IES Program Contact: Dr. Jacquelyn Buckley
Telephone: (202) 219-2130