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Keeping Score for All: The Effects of Inclusion and Accommodation Policies on Large-Scale Educational Assessments
The committee’s report addresses three broad areas related to the committee’s charge:
The policies and practices for the inclusion and provision of accommodations provided for students with disabilities and English language learners that are followed in the National Assessment of Educational Progress and other large-scale assessments conducted by states.
The research that has been conducted to date on the effects of accommodations on test performance and the comparability of results from accommodated and standard administrations.
The validity of inferences that are made from the results of accommodated assessments.
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR INCLUSION AND ACCOMMODATION
States’ policies and procedures for including students with disabilities and English language learners in large-scale assessments have evolved in recent years, and these policies remain in flux as officials strive to refine their procedures for inclusion and accommodation to comply with legislative mandates. These policies and procedures vary widely from state to state, in part because of differences among assessments and assessment systems, and state policies are different from those used for NAEP assessments.
While NAEP’s policies are in many cases different from those in place for state assessments, NAEP results are nevertheless affected by state guidelines in two ways. First, NAEP sampling is based on information from the states regarding the characteristics of all of their students. Thus, the samples used to ensure that the population assessed in NAEP is representative of the nation’s student population as a whole are dependent on state policies for classifying students as having a disability or being an English language learner, both because states’ classification policies and practices vary and because samples from different states may differ in ways that are not explicitly recognized. Second, once NAEP officials identify the sample of students to be included in the assessment, they provide the schools in which those students are enrolled with guidance as to how to administer the assessment. NAEP officials rely on school-level coordinators, who organize the administration of NAEP at schools, to make consistent and logical decisions about which of the students selected in the original sample can meaningfully participate in the assessment. NAEP officials also rely on school coordinators to make decisions about how participating students will be accommodated, on the basis of their individual needs, NAEP’s policies, and the accommodations available in that school.
This variability in policies and procedures is important for several reasons. First, NAEP results are reported separately for states so that comparisons can be