Saturday, October 02, 2010

UPDATE: TRUESCORES blog post: Trends in Alternative Assessments (with links and resources about/for the "2-percent" group)

I recently discovered an interesting post, Trends in Alternative Assessments, written by Natasha J. Williams, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Psychometric and Research Services at Pearson. The post was published in the TRUESCORES blog, and raises some very good points regarding the assessment of students who are assessed using the "2 % test", a term used in educational circles that describes alternative assessments that are given to students who have cognitive disabilities. One of the goals behind this is to measure AYP (adequate yearly progress.) for this group of students.

At the high school level in my state, North Carolina, the "2-percent test" refers to the OCS Extend 2 exam. Many of the students within this category are classified as Intellectually Disabled, Mild,  and function cognitively  below the 3rd percentile for their age -  at or below two standard deviations from the mean.  The OCS Extend 2 exams were recently eliminated in North Carolina.  Current 9th grade students in the OCS program will be required to take Algebra I, Biology, and English 9 exams at the end of the 10th grade.  A cohort of students will take these exams at the end of the current school year. 

How will these changes impact they way we conceptualize and measure transition outcomes for these students?  In the US, in many high school,  students who receive special education services have a much higher drop-out rate when compared with their peers.   We haven't solved this problem!   Those within the "2 percent" range need a high degree of support to develop the skills needed join the workforce and participate more independently within the community.

Here are some quotes from the  blog.  I encourage you to read the original post!

"There are differences in opinion about how students should be performing on the 2% test. If students perform poorly is that to be expected because they shouldn’t be able to perform well on grade level material or does that indicate that the test has not been modified enough for these students to be able to show what they know? If students perform well on the assessment does that mean that the modifications have been done well or that the wrong students are taking the test? We would like to think that the intent of the legislation was for states to develop a test that assesses grade-level content in such a way that students could be successful. Even so, we have heard the argument that if students taking the 2% test are not doing well they are still performing better than they would have if they had taken the general test."

"Growth models for both the 1% and 2% assessments are also being developed. Again, the type of growth expected from the students taking these assessments is questionable, especially for the 1%. The question is how to capture the types of growth these students do show. Models are being implemented now, and we are curious to see what the evaluation of these models will show. Are we able to capture growth for these students?"

One of my concerns is that no-one is exactly sure how to appropriately measure AYP for students with cognitive disabilities:

The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Act: A Progress Report (2007)
Scott Swail, Educational Policy Institute, Betsy Brand, American Youth Policy Forum  (National Council on Disabilities).
This 2007 progress reports includes a discussion about  issues related to the assessment of students with disabilities who fall within the lowest 1% and 2% of the population.

"Most interviewees voiced these two concerns: first, education policy needs to recognize that some students will need more time to meet grade-level proficiency standards, and second, we are too bound by the traditional structure of education and the requirement to complete high school in four years."  Recommendations begin on page 97.

Additional reading:
NCLB and Special Populations, Selected Readings (Pearson)
NASSP President Testifies Before Congress (2007)

Although some of the resources below focus on K-8 students, they may be appropriate for assisting high school students with cognitive disabilities:

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines
Video Series:  Universal Design for Learning
On-line Planning for All Learners Template
National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials
CAST: Center for Applied Special Technology
Curriculum Access for Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities pdf (Richard Jackson, National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum
Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for K-8 Students pdf
IES Practice Guide, What Works Clearinghouse
National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities
Special Education Resources, Grades 7-12
What Works Transition Research Synthesis
Evidence-Based Secondary Transition Practices
Resources for Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions Across Transition-Related Indicators
Transition Assessment Toolkit
Predictors of Post-School Success


lhl said...

Hi Lynn - Wanted to respond to your question about how to prepare students. The process I have found the most useful is student progress monitoring because it forces the skill to be broken down into much smaller increments and requires more frequent monitoring. We worked with one student this summer and he met his annual goals in core academic areas in 8 weeks. I am a firm believer in this approach and it is considered evidence based by the US Dept of Ed. You probably already know about this but if not, I have more info, sample forms and info on my website under the special education page. Thanks for all that you do. Lucile Lynch,

Lynn Marentette said...

@Lucile I'm a firm believer in progress monitoring- I plan to devote a few upcoming posts in the near future on the topic of progress monitoring at the high school level.

As you know, many more students will be required to take four years of "college-prep" mathematics than ever before, which presents some exciting challenges. We'll need highly qualified high school math teachers and special educators who can support large numbers of students who previously were not required to past Algebra I or Geometry in order to graduate from high school.