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IES Contract

Title: The Universal Assessment System (UAS)
Center: NCSER Year: 2008
Principal Investigator: Russell, Michael Awardee: Nimble Assessments
Program: Small Business Innovation Research in Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2.5 years Award Amount: $849,777
Type: Fast Track Award Number: ED08CO0056

Purpose: In this project, researchers developed NimbleTools, a universally designed test delivery platform that provides accessibility for students with disabilities. This project expanded the accessibility features that were in an initial beta version. For deaf and hearing-impaired students, the new features provided additional access to tests for through the use of signing. For blind students, the features included interactivity with electronic Braille displays. For students with language processing challenges, the additions included embedded writing supports.

Project Activities: Technology development included the creation of new interface features that enable interoperability with signed video, electronic Braille displays, and writing supports. Research activities included a series of usability studies and large-scale stress testing of the system when the new features were employed. Results from studies with 2,600 students demonstrated the feasibility and validity of the tools as a method to meet the identified access needs of the students being assessed

Intervention: NimbleTools is a universally designed system that delivers educational tests via the Internet or a local CD. The system enables up to 20 different accessibility and accommodation tools to be activated based on a student's need and to monitor the use of these tools during testing.

Related IES Projects: Bridging the Gap: Applying Algebra Cognition Research to Develop and Validate Diagnostic Classroom Algebra Testlet (R305H040099), The Diagnostic Geometry Assessment Project (R305A080698)

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations:  Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications:


Russell, M. & Airasian, P. W. (2011). Classroom Assessment: Concepts and Applications, 7th Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Russell, M. & Kavanaugh, M. (2011). Assessing Students in the Margins: Challenges, Strategies, and Techniques.

Journal articles

Russell, M., Hoffmann, T., & Higgins, J. (2009). NimbleTools: A universally designed test delivery system. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2), 6–12.