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IES Grant

Title: TAGG-MS: Development and Validation of the Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG) for Middle School Students with Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Williams-Diehm, Kendra Awardee: University of Oklahoma
Program: Transition to Postsecondary Education, Career, and/or Independent Living      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (8/1/2021 – 7/31/2025) Award Amount: $1,998,806
Type: Measurement Award Number: R324A210143

Co-Principal Investigator: Hennessey, Maeghan; Deardorff, Malarie; Sanford, Christopher; Lombardi, Allison; Sinclair, Tracy

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop the web-based transition assessment,Transition Assessment and Goal Generator-Middle School (TAGG-MS). Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that transition planning for students with disabilities begin by the age of 16 years, most states begin transition planning earlier than the federally required age. However, no existing transition assessment for middle school students with disabilities measures behaviors associated with early transition skills and high school and postschool success. Thus, a middle school transition assessment with ample validity and reliability evidence supporting its use in transition planning is needed. The TAGG-MS will assess skills and experiences related to high school readiness and postschool success and be designed for middle school students with a disability who ultimately desire to be competitively employed and/or attend further education following high school.

Project Activities: The research team will create a new transition assessment consisting of three versions: TAGG-MS (Student), TAGG-MS (Family), and TAGG-MS (Professional). The assessment development will include (1) an extensive literature review to identify research-identified behaviors to develop TAGG-MS constructs, items, and scoring system, (2) two nationwide field tests to establish validity, and (3) a high school follow-up study to determine alignment between TAGG-MS and an existing high school version of TAGG.

Products: The products from this project include the TAGG-MS assessment, which will be available on the fully accessible TAGG website along with the TAGG-MS technical manual, user's guide, and other supporting materials. The project will also result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Data collection will occur in middle school classrooms across the country and in family homes of participating students. In the final year, data collection will occur in high school classrooms.

Sample: A total of 1,000 middle school students with disabilities (estimated ages ranging from 11 to 15 years old across grades 6 to 8), 1,000 corresponding family members, and an estimated 70 special educators will participate in the TAGG-MS validity studies.

Assessment: The TAGG-MS will provide educators of middle school students with disabilities the first appropriate and user-friendly transition assessment with suggested annual transition goals for postsecondary employment and education. Upon completion of the assessment, a report will be generated that includes student strengths and needs based upon resulting constructs, suggested annual transition goals, and present levels of educational performance in transition for IEP development.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will develop the TAGG-MS assessment by systematically replicating the process used to create the Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG-HS) and Transition Assessment and Goal Generator-Alternate (TAGG-A).The assessment development will begin with a literature review to include research-identified behaviors, and theory where appropriate, to build and define TAGG-MS constructs, items, and scoring system. Two nationwide field tests will be conducted to inform the development and refinement of TAGG-MS constructs, items, and scoring system, as well as to confirm the reliability and validity of the TAGG-A. To obtain initial user comments and make revisions, the research team will conduct item try outs and social validity checks with all users (professionals/teachers, families, and students). Universal Design for Learning principles will be used to create items accessible to students with varied disabilities and skill levels. In addition, the research team will develop suggested annual transition goals and coordinated activities corresponding with the final TAGG-MS constructs. During the final year of the project, researchers will follow students into high school to determine the relationship between TAGG-MS and TAGG-HS.

Control Condition: Due to the nature of this study, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: In addition to the TAGG-MS assessment data, student data will be collected including age, gender, ethnicity, disability category, time in general education, grades, number of absences, and other demographic information. In the final year, a high school follow-up study will be conducted using the TAGG-HS. Additional content and concurrent validity for TAGG-MS will be tested using the TAGG-HS, Self-Determination Inventory (a validated self-determination instrument normed for transition age), and College and Career Readiness for Transition (a validated college and career readiness assessment for individuals with and without disabilities).

Data Analytic Strategy: Psychometric tests and Item Response Theory (IRT) scaling will be conducted with the data combined from field tests. Content (constructs from research), response processes, internal structure (exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, differential item functioning, IRT scaling), and relations to other tools (concurrent and discriminant validity) will be analyzed to establish and confirm validity evidence. Survey results will be used to create usable and meaningful profiles for the students. Researchers will use correlational analyses to assess relationships between TAGG-MS results and demographic variables (education, SES, age, family structure), placement, family living arrangement, and postschool outcomes.

Cost Analysis: After validation, the research team will conduct a cost analysis to determine the resources needed for the TAGG-MS to be successfully administered. The analysis will include national costs informed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics and will standardize the total cost by student served to make this figure more interpretable to interested parties.

Related IES Projects: Transition Success Assessment(R324A100246); TAGG-A: Developing, validating, and disseminating a new secondary transition assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities (R324A160160)