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2008-2009 APR Snapshot #3:
AA-AAS Participation and Performance

Martha Thurlow • Jason Altman • Miong Vang

December 2012

All rights reserved. Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced and distributed without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

Thurlow, M., Altman, J., & Vang, M. (2012). 2008-2009 APR snapshot #3: AA-AAS participation and performance. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


Table of Contents


Background

An Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Achievement Standards (AA-AAS) has been developed by each state to measure the academic achievement of students with significant cognitive disabilities. This brief summarizes AA-AAS data used for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) accountability. Using federally submitted data from the 2008-2009 school year, we present information on the number of students participating in the AA-AAS and the performance of those students. Figures displaying statewide AA-AAS assessment data for other grades are provided in this report following Figures 1-2 and 4-5. Data tables for all grade levels are available from NCEO at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data. Data for the unique states are not shown in the figures of this report but are available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data.

 


Findings

Participation

Overall statewide participation in the grade 8 AA-AAS for reading, based on the number of students with IEPs, in all 50 states is presented in Figure 1. For the majority of states (n=42), less than 10% of all special education students took the AA-AAS in 2008-2009. Similar participation rates existed for grade 8 AA-AAS for mathematics.

Figure 1. Participation Rates for Grade 8 Reading AA-AAS (Based on Students with Disabilties)


Participation rates in unique states that reported data for AA-AAS (n = 6) varied from 3.6% to 12.5% of students with disabilities; four unique states did not report participation data. The unique states are not included in Figure 1, but are included in data tables available at www.nceo/info/APRbriefs/data.                                           

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School Mathematics

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School Reading

 

States varied in their rates of students receiving special education services, from 10% to 19% of the total student population, so it is important to look at participation rates based on the total student population as well. These rates for the grade 8 AA-AAS for reading in all 50 states are presented in Figure 2.  States typically assessed less than two percent of their total student population (including both special education students and non-special education students) using the AA-AAS for reading. Similar participation rates existed for grade 8 AA-AAS for mathematics when viewed in terms of the total student population.

Figure 2. Participation Rates for Grade 8 Reading AA-AAS (Based on All Grade 8 Students)


The majority of unique states (n = 6) reported participation rates (based on total population of students), ranging from as high as 1.8% to as low as 0.4%. The unique states are not included in Figure 2, but are included in data tables available at www.nceo/info/APRbriefs/data.

 

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School in Mathematics

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School in Reading


Figure 3 shows reading AA-AAS participation rates (based on the total population of all students) for grade 4 and grade 8. Across all the states, an average of one percent of the total population of students participated in the AA-AAS in each grade. Differences between the two grades did not show any consistent trends. Fewer than one-half of the states (n = 19) reported higher rates in grade 8 than in grade 4, whereas more than one-half (n = 29) reported higher rates in grade 4 than in grade 8. Two states showed no difference between grades 4 and 8.  Similar results were found for the Mathematics AA-AAS.

Figure 3. Participation Rates for Reading AA-AAS (Based on All Students) in Grades 4 and 8

 

The six unique states that reported reading AA-AAS data also showed no differences between the two grades. Half (n = 3) showed a slightly higher participation rate in grade 4 than in grade 8. Although the unique states are not shown in Figure 3, their data is available at www.nceo/info/APRbriefs/data.

Click here for graphs in Mathematics

Click here for graphs in Reading

 

 

Proficiency

The data here indicate that students have slightly higher proficiency rates on the reading AA-AAS (64%) than the mathematics AA-AAS (61%). As would be expected with this finding, in addition to a higher average proficiency rate across states, the majority of individual states (n=31) reported higher proficiency rates in their reading AA-AAS when compared to that same state's math AA-AAS. Twenty-three states had higher rates of proficiency on the math assessment, and three states did not report proficiency levels for their alternative assessment.

Figure 4. Proficiency Rates for Grade 8 AA-AAS Reading



Five of the unique states reported proficiency rates for students in grade 8 for reading and math. In reading, rates of students proficient or above varied from 17.7% to 67.4%, while the rates of students proficient or above in math varied from 22.2% to 61.6%. Proficiency data for the unique states are available at www.nceo/info/APRbriefs/data.


Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School in Mathematics

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School in Reading

Figure 5 provides a comparison of the percentage of students proficient on the AA-AAS in grade 8 for reading and mathematics. A majority of states (n=29) reported higher proficiency rates for the reading AA-AAS compared to the math AA-AAS; 20 states had higher rates of proficiency on the math AA-AAS. One state did not report proficiency data for its AA-AAS.

Figure 5. Proficiency Rates for Grade 8 AA-AAS Reading and Math

 

Half of the unique states (n = 5) reported proficiency rates for both reading and math in grade 8. The majority of the unique states (n = 3) showed a higher proficiency rate for math compared to reading. The unique states are not included in Figure 5, but their data are available at www.nceo/info/APRbriefs/data.

Click here for graphs for Grades 3-8 and High School  

Conclusions

The data presented in this report represent a snapshot of the participation and performance of students receiving special education services who participate in the Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Achievement Standards (AA-AAS). To some extent, variability in the participation and performance rates reflects the differences in the states’ AA-AAS themselves, including where the proficient cuts were set.                             

The participation rates described in this report are fairly consistent across states, with a few exceptions. This is generally true regardless of the grade level or whether the content area is reading or mathematics. Participation rates for the AA-AAS tend to be slightly higher than one percent of the total population of students (or ten percent of all students with disabilities). In addition, the proficiency rate does not appear to be influenced by the percentage of students participating in the AA-AAS. The percentages of students deemed proficient or above on the AA-AAS are extremely variable across states, with a preponderance of states having quite high rates of students considered proficient or above. This is true regardless of grade or content area assessed, although rates were slightly higher for reading compared to mathematics.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (2007), holding students who qualify for the AA-AAS to high expectations greatly increases the learning opportunities provided to those students. It is important to keep these expectations in mind when examining proficiency rates of students with significant cognitive disabilities. The fact that the rates of students proficient or above on the AA-AAS were considerably higher than for students with disabilities in the regular assessment (see Altman, Vang, & Thurlow, 2012) is a concern, and suggests that the achievement standards to which students with significant cognitive disabilities are held may not be rigorous enough.



Resources

Altman, J., Vang, M., & Thurlow, M. (2012). 2008-2009 APR snapshot #1: State assessment participation and performance of special education students. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Quenemoen, R. (2008). A brief history of alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (Synthesis Report 68). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Quenemoen, R., & Thurlow, M. (2007). Learning opportunities for your child through alternate assessments. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Wakeman, S., Flowers, C., & Browder, D. (2007). Aligning alternate assessments to grade level content standards: Issues and considerations for alternates based on alternate achievement standards (NCEO Policy Directions 19). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

 


 

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