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National Center for Special Education Research


National Profile on Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Achievement Standards:

NCSER 2009-3014
August 2009

Introduction

The National Study on Alternate Assessments (NSAA) was mandated by Section 664(c) of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA). Specifically, the law called for a "Study on Ensuring Accountability for Students Who Are Held to Alternative Achievement Standards" to examine the following:

  1. "the criteria that States use to determine—
    1. eligibility for alternate assessments; and
    2. the number and type of children who take those assessments and are held accountable to alternative achievement standards;
  2. the validity and reliability of alternate assessment instruments and procedures;
  3. the alignment of alternate assessments and alternative achievement standards to State academic content standards in reading, mathematics, and science; and
  4. the use and effectiveness of alternate assessments in appropriately measuring student progress and outcomes specific to individualized instructional need." (P.L. 108–446,118 Stat. 2784, 2004)

SRI International and its partners Policy Studies Associates (PSA) and the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) were selected by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) to conduct the NSAA.

The alternate assessment arena is rapidly evolving across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, reflecting the states’ responses to legislative, regulatory, technical, and methodological developments in the assessment of students with significant cognitive disabilities for federal, state, and local accountability purposes. NSAA is examining alternate assessment systems during this period of rapid evolution using two primary data collection methods: document analysis and data verification activities in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and teacher surveys in selected states.

Two reports have been produced to document NSAA findings for the 2006–07 school year. The two reports present findings of the document analysis and data verification activities. National Profile on Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Achievement Standards. A Report From the National Study on Alternate Assessments (NSAA National Profile) summarizes national level findings from the document analysis and data verification activities for the 2006–07 school year across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NSAA National Profile also contains data tables with individual state responses for each item of the data collection instrument. A companion report, State Profiles on Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Achievement Standards. A Report From the National Study on Alternate Assessments (NSAA State Profiles), presents individual state profiles for the 2006–07 school year for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NSAA State Profiles describe individual state approaches to designing and administering alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards, key features of individual state alternate assessments, and student participation and performance data for each state.

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