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IES Grant

Title: Methods to Improve Accessibility of Tests for Persistently Low-Performing Students with Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Danielson, Louis Awardee: Ohio Department of Education
Program: Systems, Policy, and Finance      [Program Details]
Award Period: 07/01/2010 6/30/2013 Award Amount: $1,247,994
Type: Measurement Award Number: R324A100344
Description:

Purpose: Students with disabilities pursuing grade-level academic content standards and attending general education classes can be hindered by their disabilities and other cognitive limitations in demonstrating what they know in regular grade-level state assessments. For these students, the regular grade-level state assessments may not provide reliable and valid information about their academic achievements. This project will identify specific cognitive barriers in grade-level reading and mathematics state assessment items that may impede the performances of persistently low-performing students with disabilities, and will then develop methods to remove these barriers.

Project Activities: The project has three general phases: (a) identify potential cognitive barriers in grade-level reading and mathematics state assessment items for persistently low-performing students with disabilities; (b) revise test items to remove access barriers; and (c) evaluate the effectiveness of the revised items in removing the access barriers for persistently low-performing students with disabilities.

Products: The project will produce a set of modified reading and mathematics assessment items based on grade-level achievement standards and technical information on methods for improving accessibility of tests for persistently low-performing students with disabilities.

STRUCTURED ABSTRACT

Setting: The research will take place in school districts in Ohio.

Population: Persistently low-performing students with disabilities are defined as students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who scored in the lowest performing performance level on the two previous years' state reading and mathematics assessments. The research team will sample 1,000 persistently low-performing fifth-grade students with disabilities in reading, 1,000 persistently low-performing fifth-grade students with disabilities in mathematics, and 1,000 fifth-grade students without disabilities from the same schools to participate in the study.

Research Design and Methods: During Year 1 of the study, researchers will identify item features hypothesized to present cognitive barriers for persistently low-performing students with disabilities and then revise these items to remove the barriers. During Year 2 of the study, test forms containing both revised and unrevised items will be constructed and administered to both persistently low-performing students with disabilities and general education students. Cognitive traits of both groups of students will also be assessed. Researchers will examine whether the proposed item revisions are effective in removing access barriers for persistently low-performing students with disabilities using two different methods. First, they will examine whether revised items became easier for the group of persistently low-performing students with disabilities. They will then contrast that with the effects the revised items had for the group of general education students. Second, they will examine whether the relationship between students' cognitive traits and their test performances on revised items decreases for the group of persistently low-performing students with disabilities but not for general education students. In both analyses, students' performances on the unrevised items serve as the baseline in evaluating the effectiveness of the revised items in removing access barriers for persistently low-performing students with disabilities.

Key Measures: This project will use the following instruments: (1) Ohio State fifth-grade reading and mathematics state assessments; (2) Woodcock Johnson III; (3) Stroop Test; (4) d2 Test of Attentions; and (5) Tower of London-Drexel.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data analytic methods will include classical item analysis, differential item functioning analysis, and Rasch modeling.

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

Control Condition: Due to the nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Publications

Book chapter

Cohen, D. J., Danielson, L., Stoica, W., Wothke, W., and Zhang, J. (2013). Test Development: Item Modifications. Lessons Learned in Federally Funded Projects That Can Improve the Instruction and Assessment of Low Performing Students with Disabilities (pp. 205–245). National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), Institute on Community Integration. Retrieved from https://ici.umn.edu/index.php?products/view/495.


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