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2010-2011 APR Snapshot #4: 

State Assessment Participation and Performance of Students Receiving Special Education Services

Miong Vang • Martha Thurlow

March 2013

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. (2013). 2010-2011 APR snapshot #4: State assessment participation and performance of students receiving special education services. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


Table of Contents


Background

This brief provides a snapshot of the participation and performance of students receiving special education services in statewide assessments used for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) accountability. Using federally submitted data from the 2010-2011 school year, we present information on participation and performance in reading and mathematics statewide assessments administered to grade 8 students. Links to figures displaying statewide assessment data for other grades are provided in this report following Figures 1, 2, 3, and 4. 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.

Throughout this report, we use the term “students with disabilities” to refer to students receiving special education services. Thus, students on 504 plans are not included in these analyses.


Findings

Participation in Reading

Overall participation of students with disabilities in statewide grade 8 reading assessments in all states is presented in Figure 1. Students with disabilities may participate in the regular assessment or in assessments designated for students receiving special education services only, which include the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS), the alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS), and the alternate assessment based on grade-level achievement standards (AA-GLAS). Total participation rates of students with disabilities were typically 95% or higher across all states, with the average participation rate being 97.8%. The percentages of students with disabilities participating in other statewide assessments varied dramatically, resulting in different rates of participation in the regular assessment.

Those states with an active AA-MAS generally reported testing far fewer students with disabilities on the regular assessment. In those states with an AA-MAS, between 14.0% and 55.6% of students with disabilities participated in the AA-MAS.

Two states reported testing students on an AA-GLAS. The percentages of students in this assessment were relatively small, with one state having a participation rate of 0.1%, and the other a rate of 11.1% of all grade 8 students with disabilities.

The AA-AAS is available in all 50 states for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The participation rate in the AA-AAS varied from 1.2% to 18.5% of students with disabilities. The average rate across states was 8.5 percent.

In most states, the test that is taken by the majority of students with disabilities is the regular assessment. Still, with their participation in other assessments, the participation rates of these students in the regular assessment varied from 37.0% to 94.0%. An average of 84.0% of students with disabilities participated in this assessment in 2010-2011 grade 8 assessments. The average participation rate was higher at lower grade levels and lower at higher grade levels.

Participation rates in unique states that reported data varied from 87.7% to 100.0% overall (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates for the AA-AAS ranged from 1.2% to 12.8%. There were no unique states that reported data for the AA-GLAS or the AA-MAS assessments. Regular assessment participation made up the bulk of the assessment activity for students with disabilities in the unique states as well. States reported a range of 82.0% to 95.0% participation on the regular assessment. 

Figure 1. Participation Rates for Eighth Grade Students with Disabilities on Reading Assessments

Participation Rates for Eighth Grade Students with Disabilities on Reading Assessments


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


Participation in Mathematics

Overall participation of students with disabilities in statewide grade 8 mathematics assessments in all states is presented in Figure 2. Total participation rates were typically 95% or higher across all states, with the average participation rate being 97.8%. The percentages of students with disabilities participating in other statewide assessments varied dramatically, resulting in different rates of participation in the regular assessment.

Those states with an active alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS) reported testing between 10.5% and 50.0% of students with disabilities on the AA-MAS. These states tended to have fewer students with disabilities participating in the regular assessment.

Two states reported testing students on an AA-GLAS. Participation in this assessment was relatively small, with one state having a participation rate of 0.3% and the other 13.0% of all grade 8 students with disabilities.

States tested an average of 8.6% of students with disabilities on an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS). The range across states was from 3.7% to 18.0%.

In most states, the test taken by the majority of students with disabilities was the regular assessment. An average of 81.3% of these students across all 50 states for 2010-2011 participated in this assessment. The range in participation was from 37.5% to 97.5%.

Participation rates in unique states that reported data varied from 94.2% to 100.0% overall (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates for the AA-AAS ranged from 1.2% to 12.8%. There were no unique states that reported data for the AA-GLAS or the AA-MAS assessments. Regular assessment participation made up the bulk of the assessment activity for students with disabilities in the unique states. States reported a range of 84.0% to 97.5% participation on the regular assessment.

Figure 2. Participation Rates for Eighth Grade Students with Disabilities on Mathematics Assessments

 

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

Proficiency in Reading

The percentage of students with disabilities who scored at a proficient or above level was much more variable than participation rates across the 50 states. Proficiency rates for students with disabilities in grade 8 in 2010-2011 ranged from 15.0% to 78.1% (see Figure 3, with states ordered according to the percentage proficient or above on the regular assessment). The average grade 8 proficiency rate across all reading assessments was 38.1%.

Twenty states reported total proficiency rates of more than 40% and thirteen states reported total proficiency rates of more than 50%. Nine of these states reported proficient scores for either an AA-MAS or AA-GLAS.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-AAS, between 0.0% and 16.1% were proficient on the AA-AAS across the 50 states (based on the all special education students, not just those participating in the AA-AAS). The average percentage of students with disabilities who were proficient or above was 6.0%.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-MAS (in those states that offered this assessment), between 4.7% and 36.0% (based on all students receiving special education services) were proficient. The average proficiency rate for students with disabilities in these states was 15.1%.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-GLAS (in those states that offered this assessment), the average percentage of students proficient and above (based on all students receiving special education services) was 4.8%. One state had a proficiency rate of 0.0%, while the other had a proficiency rate of 9.7%.

Proficiency rates in unique states that reported assessment data varied from 0.6% to 23.7% overall (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates for the AA-AAS ranged from 0.0% to 6.7%. There were no unique states that reported data for the AA-GLAS or the AA-MAS assessments. Proficiency on a regular assessment made up the bulk of the overall proficiency rate for students with disabilities in the unique states. States reported a range of 0.6% to 22.5% proficiency on the regular assessment.

Figure 3. Performance Trends for Eighth Grade Students with Disabilities on Reading Assessments


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

 

Proficiency in Mathematics

The percentage of students with disabilities who scored at a proficient or above level in mathematics was more variable than participation rates for mathematics. Proficiency rates for mathematics were generally lower than proficiency rates for reading. Figure 4 shows these rates for the 50 states, ordered by the percentage of students with disabilities proficient and above on the regular assessment. Proficiency rates ranged from 2.0% to 45.7%, with the average across all states being 22.0%. Fourteen states reported total proficiency rates of more than 40% and six states reported total proficiency rates of more than 50 percent. Ten of these states had reported proficient scores for either an AA-MAS or an AA-GLAS.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-AAS, between 0.0% and 14.1% were proficient or above (based on all students receiving special education services, not just those participating in the AA-AAS). The average percentage of students proficient and above was 5.9%.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-MAS across the 50 states (in those states that offered this assessment), between 1.0% and 36.1% (based on all students receiving special education services) were proficient. The average student proficiency rate on this assessment was 11.1%.

For students with disabilities participating in the AA-GLAS (in states that offered this assessment), the average percentage of students proficient and above was 5.9% (based on all students receiving special education services). One state had a proficiency rate of 0.0% and the other a proficiency rate of 9.7%.

Proficiency rates in unique states that reported assessment data varied from 0.0% to 27.7% overall (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). Rates for the AA-AAS ranged from 0.0% to 8.5%. There were no unique states that reported data for the AA-GLAS or the AA-MAS assessments. Proficiency on a regular assessment made up the bulk of the overall proficiency rate for students with disabilities in the unique states. States reported a range of 4.1% to 19.2% proficiency on the regular assessment.

Figure 4. Performance Trends for Eighth Grade Students with Disabilities on Mathematics Assessments


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


Conclusions

The data presented in this report represent a snapshot of the participation and performance of students receiving special education services on their states' reading and math assessments. Variability identified in participation and performance rates reflects the differences in the state assessment systems themselves, including where the proficient cuts were set and whether alternate assessment options such as the AA-MAS and AA-GLAS were available for special education students.

It is also evident that special education students generally are showing higher rates of proficiency on state reading assessment as compared to state mathematics assessments. This finding is similar to previous analyses of state data (Altman, Rogers, Bremer, & Thurlow, 2010; Altman, Vang, & Thurlow, 2012; Chudowsky, Chudowsky, & Kober, 2009); and data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (Dee & Jacob, 2009).

It is also apparent from this snapshot of the participation and performance of students with disabilities that examining their performance levels is more complicated than it is for students not receiving special education services. Students with disabilities are proficient in varying rates across the different assessments offered within states. As one isolates the regular assessment, it becomes apparent that the scores on this assessment are likely a major reason for that discrepancy (whereas performance on alternate assessments may be steadier between content areas).


Resources

Altman, J., Rogers, C., Bremer, C., & Thurlow, M. (2010). States challenged to meet special education targets for assessment indicator (Technical Report 55). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

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.

Chudowsky N., Chudowsky V., & Kober, N. (2009) State test score trends through 2007-08, part 4: Has progress been made in raising achievement for students with disabilities? Washington D. C.: Center on Education Policy.

Dee, T., & Jacob, B. (2009). The impact of No Child Left Behind on student achievement (NBER Working Paper No. 15531). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research (see www.nber.org/papers/W15531/a>).

 

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