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IES Grant

Title: Assessments Aligned with Grade Level Content Standards and Scaled to Reflect Growth for Students with Disabilities (SWD) and Persistent Learning Problems (PLP)
Center: NCSER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Tindal, Gerald Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5/1/2007 to 4/30/2011 Award Amount: $1,523,562
Type: Measurement Award Number: R324A070188

Funded under the Assessment for Accountability topic prior to the establishment of the Systemic Interventions and Policies for Special Education topic.

Purpose: The No Child Left Behind Act requires that students with disabilities be included in state assessments and accountability. Federal regulations issued in April 2007 have given states new flexibility by allowing them to develop "modified academic achievement standards" that are challenging for eligible students, measure mastery of grade-level content, but are less difficult than grade-level achievement standards. Modified achievement standards are intended for a small group of students whose disability has prevented them from achieving grade-level proficiency and who likely will not reach grade-level achievement in the same timeframe as other students. For these students, grade-level assessments are often too difficult but alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities are often too easy. This project will address the challenges related to modified academic achievement standards by developing and validating an assessment based on modified academic achievement standards that extends from general education assessments and can relate to growth within and across elementary and middle school on grade-level content standards.

Project Activities: The project has three general phases: (a) developing items and tasks, (b) testing proficiency and performance, and (c) monitoring growth over time (across and within grades). The researchers will focus first on reading and then on mathematics.

Products: The project will produce a set of items and tasks for use in a statewide assessment based on modified academic achievement standards. The researchers will also develop technical information on the reliability of the assessment and criterion-related validity evidence reflecting classroom relevance and growth within and across grades.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Project activities will take in Oregon.

Population: The project's target population consists of students needing special education services who have persistent learning problems, are far behind grade-level peers, and are not likely to achieve proficiency on grade-level standards with the same level of breadth, depth, or complexity as their peers. This is the population of students for whom assessments based on modified academic achievement standards may be appropriate, and the project estimates that approximately 10,000 students with disabilities may eventually qualify for these assessments. The project will collect data throughout the State of Oregon with hundreds of students in grades 3 through 8 (a total of 3,000 in the test development phase). During item development, the project will sample 250 students in each grade both with and without disabilities for scaling purposes.

Intervention: n/a

Research Design and Methods: The project will develop items and tasks in reading and math. The project will conduct the following sequence of activities first with reading and then with mathematics. Grade-level content standards will be vertically aligned, and standards that are common or closely related across grade levels will be identified so that items can be developed with maximum coverage. A structured item writing process will be followed to ensure that items and tasks are developed systematically. Principles of universal design will be applied to ensure the broadest access to the widest range of students. Items and tasks will be examined for bias and sensitivity, aligned with Oregon's grade-level content standards using Tindal's adaptation of Webb's alignment system, and will be revised as needed. Administration guidelines and training materials will be developed, and the items and tasks will be field tested and ultimately made available for state use.

The project will study growth within and across grades by administering alternate forms of the test over 7 months.

Control Condition: n/a

Key Measures: In addition to the items and tasks discussed above, this project will use the following instruments: (1) a linguistic complexity rubric for universal design item-task development, (2) a bias and sensitivity review checklist, (3) a reliability of administration instrument, and (4) and instruction observation work sample schedule. This final instrument will be used as a criterion measure with a subsample of students. It focuses on the content of instruction, the comparability of classroom work samples to the alternate assessment, and ratings of student understanding, independence, effort, persistence, quality, and accuracy.

Data Analytic Strategy: The data analysis will include item response modeling, analysis of unidimensionality, vertical scaling across grades, and growth modeling. Methods will include Rasch modeling, factor analysis, item analysis, and hierarchical linear modeling of growth trajectories.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Anderson, D., Farley, D., and Tindal, G. (2015). Test Design Considerations for Students With Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Journal of Special Education, 49(1): 3–15. doi:10.1177/0022466913491834

Anderson, D., Lai, C. F., Alonzo, J., and Tindal, G. (2011). Examining a Grade-Level Math CBM Designed for Persistently Low-Performing Students. Educational Assessment, 16(1): 15–34. doi:10.1080/10627197.2011.551084

Bradshaw, C.P., Pas, E., Barrett, S., Bloom, J., Hershfeldt, P., Alexander, A., McKenna, M., and Leaf, P. (2012). A State-Wide Partnership to Promote Safe and Supportive Schools: The PBIS Maryland Initiative. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 39(4): 225–237. doi:10.1007/s10488–011–0384–6

Waugh, R.E., Alberto, P.A., and Fredrick, L.D. (2011). Simultaneous Prompting: An Instructional Strategy for Skill Acquisition. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46(4): 528–543. Full text