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2008-2009 APR Snapshot #2:
Assessment Accommodations Use by Special Education Students

Miong Vang Martha Thurlow Jason Altman

January 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:

Vang, M., Thurlow, M., & Altman, J. (2012). 2008-2009 APR snapshot #2: Assessment accommodations use by special education students. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


Table of Contents


Background

Assessment accommodations are changes in testing materials or procedures that allow students to show their knowledge and skills rather than the effects of their disabilities. This brief provides information on the number of special education students using accommodations and the performance of special education students on the general statewide assessment used for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) accountability. Using federally submitted data from the 2008-2009 school year, we present information on accommodations for reading and mathematics statewide assessments administered to grade 8 students (and grade 4 to show a comparison to grade 8 data). Figures displaying statewide accommodations data for other grades are provided in this report via links following Figures 1, 2, and 3.  Data tables for all grade levels are available from NCEO at http://nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data.


Findings

Accommodations Use for Reading and Mathematics Assessment

Figure 1 shows the percentage of special education students using accommodations during statewide reading and mathematics assessments in grade 8. The states are ordered from those that have the highest percentages of students using accommodations for the regular mathematics assessment to those that have the lowest percentages of students using accommodations for this assessment. The figure indicates that visible differences between the percentage of special education students using accommodations for mathematics and reading assessments were evident in ten states. Seven states reported a difference in accommodation rates between content areas of more than 10 percentage points, and in all cases smaller percentages of special education students used reading accommodations than mathematics accommodations. The figure also shows that in 10 states, more than 80 percent of special education students used accommodations during both the statewide reading and mathematics assessments; in 4 states, fewer than one in four students used accommodations during testing  (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRbriefs/data).

Differences between grades 4 and 8 in rates of special education students using accommodations in unique states that reported data (n = 7) were as much as 8 percentage points. These states are not included in Figure 2, but are included in data tables available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates of special education students using accommodations on the reading assessment ranged from 36.4 percent to 100.0 percent across grade 4 and grade 8 in unique states.


Figure 1. Percentage of Grade 8 Special Education Students Using Accommodations in 2008-2009 Reading and Mathematics Assessment


Click here for graphs for Grades 3-7 and High School

 

Accommodations Use in Grades 4 and 8

Figure 2 shows the percentage of special education students using accommodations during statewide reading assessments in grade 4 and grade 8. The figure shows states ordered by their grade 4 rates of students using accommodations for the regular reading assessment. The figure indicates visible differences between the percentages of special education students using accommodations in the two grade levels. In the 13 states with differences greater than 10 percentage points, 9 had lower percentages of special education students using reading accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. The figure also shows that in 9 states, more than 75 percent of special education students used accommodations during the statewide reading assessment in both grade 4 and grade 8; in 5 states, fewer than one in four students used accommodations during reading assessment in grade 4 and grade 8 (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data).

Differences in accommodation rates in unique states that reported data were as much as 8 percentage points of difference between grade 4 and grade 8 data. These states are not included in Figure 2, but are included in data tables available at http://nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates for accommodations on the reading assessment ranged from 36.4 percent to 100.0 percent across grade 4 and grade 8 in unique states.

Figure 2. Percentage of Grade 8 and Grade 4 Special Education Students Using Accommodations in 2008-2009 Reading Assessments



Use of Accommodations and Special Education Proficiency Rates

Figure 3 shows performance of special education students on grade 8 statewide reading regular assessments (in terms of the percentage of students performing at a proficient or above level) along with the percentage of students using accommodations. This figure indicates that there is no evident relationship between the percentage of students using accommodations and performance. This conclusion should be interpreted with caution because it refers only to overall relationships. It does not speak to the performance of individual students who used accommodations.

The same finding was true in unique states, though they are not included in Figure 3. State data for unique states (n = 7) are available in data tables available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Unique state regular assessment proficiency rates ranged from as low as 2.0 percent to as high as 83.5 percent while accommodation rates varied. For example the unique state with the highest proficiency rate had the lowest rate of special education students using accommodations (41.3 percent).


Figure 3. Percentage of Grade 8 Special Education students Scoring Proficient or Above and Percentage of Grade 8 Special Education Students Using Accommodations in 2008-2009 Reading Regular Assessments



Click here for graphs for Grades 3-7 and High School


Conclusions

The information presented in this report summarized the accommodations data submitted by states to the U.S. Department of Education for the year 2008-2009. Considerable variability among states was evident in the percentage of special education students using accommodations on the grade 8 reading and mathematics statewide assessments. Further, in most states more special education students received accommodations for the mathematics assessment than received them for the reading assessment. Also evident were differences in many states between the percentages of students using accommodations in grade 8 compared to grade 4, with a slight trend toward a high percentage of special education students using one or more accommodations at the grade 8 level. Finally, there appeared to be no relation between the percentage of special education students using accommodations and the percentage proficient on the grade 8 regular reading assessment.



Resources

Bottsford-Miller, N.A. (2008). A cross-sectional study of reported inconsistency in accommodation use in the classroom and standardized test setting for elementary and middle school students with disabilities. Dissertations Abstracts International, University of Minnesota.

Elliott, S. N., Kratochwill, T. R., McKevitt, B. C., & Malecki, C. K. (2009). The effects and perceived consequences of testing accommodations on math and science performance assessments. School Psychology Quarterly, 24(4), 224-239.

Finch, H., Barton, K., & Meyer, P. (2009). Differential item functioning analysis for accommodated versus nonaccommodated students. Educational Assessment, 14(1), 38-56.

Cormier, D. C., Altman, J., Shyyan, V., & Thurlow, M. L. (2010). A summary of the research on the effects of test accommodations; 2007-2008 (Technical Report 56). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Fletcher, J. M., Francis, D. J., O'Malley, K. Copeland, K., Mehta, P., Caldwell, C. J., Kalinowski, S., Young, V., & Vaughn, S. (2009). Effects of a bundled accommodations package on high-stakes testing for middle school students with reading disabilities. Exceptional Children, 75(4), 447-463.

Lazarus, S. S., Thurlow, M. L., Lail, K. E., & Christensen, L. (2009). A longitudinal analysis of state accommodations policies: Twelve years of change, 1993-2005. Journal of Special Education, 43(2), 67-80.

Lindstrom, J. H. (2010). Mathematics assessment accommodations: Implications of differential boost for students with learning disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 46(1), 5-12

 

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