vary from one place to the next. Individual scores also provide important information to students, their parents, and their teachers. In addition, education reforms and the allocation of resources and extra services are increasingly driven by these test results; if students with disabilities were not included, then the resulting reforms would be less likely to meet their needs. Finally, recent federal legislation has mandated that students with disabilities be included in large-scale assessments and that accommodations and alternate assessments be provided when necessary.

Surveys have indicated that the participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments has generally been minimal, but with extreme variation from one state to another—from 0 to 100 percent (Erickson et al., 1995; Gronna et al., 1998; McGrew et al., 1992; Shriner and Thurlow, 1992). Forty-three states had written guidelines for participation at the time that Educating One and All was written. IEP teams helped make the decision in most states, but only about half of those with guidelines required that participation decisions be documented in the IEP (Erickson and Thurlow, 1996). Research suggests that the criteria for making decisions about participation have also varied widely from district to district, even in states with written guidelines (DeStefano, 1998).

One of the ways to increase the participation of students with disabilities in large-scale assessments is to offer accommodations. Four broad categories of accommodations are currently in use (Thurlow et al., 1993):

  • (1)  

    Changes in presentation: for example, braille forms for visually impaired students, taped versions for students with reading disabilities.

  • (2)  

    Changes in response mode: use of a scribe or amanuensis (someone who writes answers for the examinee), computer assistance on tests not otherwise administered by computer.

  • (3)  

    Changes in timing: extra time within a given test session, the division of a session into smaller time blocks.

  • (4)  

    Changes in setting: administration in small groups or alone, in a separate room. Some students with disabilities may take the test in a standard setting with some form of physical accommodation (e.g., a special desk) but with no other change (National Research Council, 1997:159).

Written guidelines on the use of accommodations vary considerably from state to state. States take different approaches regarding what accommodations they allow or prohibit. A change that is explicitly permitted

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