Study 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. In addition, although a substantial amount of research exists about the characteristics of students with disabilities and about 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 objective of this project is 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 to be used 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 to lead to improved student outcomes.
Focused Program of Research: 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. The team will also complete supplemental studies, including 4) Multiple Measures Validation Study, and 5) Alternate Assessments Study.
Cornerstone Study (Years 1-2 & 5)
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 1100 schools and approximately the same number of middle schools students with and without disabilities across 550 schools. The team 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) and calculating grade-level growth, achievement gaps between students with disabilities and their peers using an effect size approach, and growth of students with disabilities with a growth percentiles approach. The team will also test the generalizability of the findings across time, cohorts, and editions of the North Carolina test by replicating key analysis from the first year. The team 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 (Years 2 & 5)
The 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 using 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. Data collection will continue during the period 2011-2015 and analyzed during years 4 and 5 using each state’s growth model and promising models identified in earlier analyses.
Interim Assessments Study (Years 1-2)
The Status, Residual Gain Score, and multilevel growth models will be used to examine achievement growth within and across school using interim assessments administered by the four partner states. The growth results will cover grades 1-8, be based on three or four measures of achievement per year, and compared to the growth results based on statewide summative assessment. 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 also examine how well growth on the state summative assessments can be predicted using interim assessments and other school context and characteristics variables.
Multiple Measures Validation Study (Years 2-4)
The purpose of this study is to explore use of other measures that supplement or complement statewide assessment. The team will collect opportunity to learn and interim assessments (e.g., curriculum-based measures) 3 to 4 times per year in approximately 200 classrooms in Oregon and Pennsylvania.
Alternate Assessments Study (Years 3-5)
This strand will document status and growth for students with the most significant disabilities who are participating in the alternate assessments for alternate achievement standards. Data sets from Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania will be used to investigate the different types of assessment approaches from the four states. Three models will be considered: NCLB Status, residual gain scores, and transition matrix. In addition, the team will examine multi-level growth models.
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
IES Program Contact: Dr. Jacquelyn Buckley
Telephone: (202) 219-2130