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Assessing “Students in the Gap” in Colorado. Report from the HB 05-1246 Study Committee December, 2005. Members. Tri-Chairs: Mary Sires, St Vrain Valley Schools Representative Judy Solano Senator Suzanne Williams Representative Matt Knoedler, Senator Ed Jones

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Assessing “Students in the Gap” in Colorado

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Assessing “Students in the Gap” in Colorado

Report from the HB 05-1246 Study Committee

December, 2005


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Members

  • Tri-Chairs:

    Mary Sires, St Vrain Valley Schools

    Representative Judy Solano

    Senator Suzanne Williams

  • Representative Matt Knoedler, Senator Ed Jones

  • Terri Rayburn Davis, parent

  • Menda Warne, parent and executive director, Access and Ability

  • Lindy Crawford, University of Colorado, Colorado springs

  • Mary McGlone, President, Littleton Public School Board

  • Linda Murray, Assistant superintendent and former Director of Special Education

  • Janet Filbin, Assessment & Research, Jeffco Public Schools

  • Mary West, High School Special Education Teacher, Montrose RE-1J School District

  • Alyssa Pearson, Consolidated Federal Programs, CDE

  • Facilitators:

    Terri Rogers Connolly, Jason Glass, Exceptional Student Services, CDE


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Rationale

  • Federal and state statute require all students to participate in statewide assessment and that students including those with disabilities (SWD) are provided access to the general education curriculum and meet state standards.

  • In Colorado, SWD participate in the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) or through the CSAP Alternate.

  • Some students known as “Students in the Gap” are not served well by Colorado’s current assessment system in that they score poorly and fail to demonstrate longitudinal growth, and thus these tests may not be the best way to measure their knowledge of state content standards.

  • The passage of HB 05-1246 created a committee to examine and evaluate the impact of the assessments on these “Students in the Gap”.


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Charge: The Department in Conjunction with a Study Committee will study:

  • The effects of assessments on “students in the gap”;

  • The appropriateness of off-level testing;

  • Accountability for state content standards;

  • The effect of including or excluding the scores of “students in the gap” in accountability calculations;

  • Assessments for “students in the gap” in other states; and

  • The legal, regulatory, and constitutional issues related to testing “students in the gap”.


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Guiding Principals

  • Make data-driven decisions;

  • Keep the focus of the recommendations specific to “students in the gap”;

  • Maintain high content standards and expectations for “students in the gap”;

  • Focus on best practices and assessments for “students in the gap”;

  • Consider the parameters of what is permitted by state and federal law; and

  • Consider state and federal funding implications.


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Who are the Students in the Gap?

  • Initially, the group reviewed the scores of students with IEPs who score in the lowest one-third of scale scores on the CSAP; the definition of “Students in the Gap” was further refined to include students in this group who do not make growth over time.

  • Students who make a perfect score (5s on every indicator) on the CSAPA

  • There were 1637 students with IEPs who scored in the lowest 1/3 of Unsatisfactory in Reading and 4332 in Math; there were 117 students who made perfect scores on CSAPA in Reading/Writing and 16 in Math.

  • However….


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Only a Small Number of Students with IEPs Do Not Make Longitudinal Growth on the CSAP

  • On the CSAP Reading Test, there were 250 students (of 444,407) across grade levels that were determined to be “Students in the Gap”.

  • On the CSAP Math Test, there were 658 students (of 444,910) that were determined to be “Students in the Gap”.

  • In total, this group represents fewer than 1000 students and the group felt that CSAP as currently administered may not reflect their academic achievements; however, if appropriate accommodations and more intensive instruction were provided, these students too may make more gains.


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Not All Students Who Score in the Bottom 1/3 of Scale Scores are Students with IEPs


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Other Findings:

  • Students who score in the bottom one third of scale scores on CSAP are almost twice as likely to be Black or Hispanic as students scoring higher of other ethnicities.

  • Only 60% of students with IEPs scoring at lowest possible scale scores were able to be matched with a test the following year (Reading, 2004-2005); thus, they may be more mobile than their counterparts who score at higher levels.

  • For those students scoring in the bottom one-third of scale scores, and where a match the following year was able to be made, it was found that these students did make substantial longitudinal growth.


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Considerations Not Recommended:

  • Administer off-grade level testing-while there are some benefits, they are outweighed by the concerns and additionally would not be permitted under recent guidance established in NCLB.

  • Create an additional assessment-for such a small number of students, committee felt it would be an excessive and inefficient use of resources.

  • Adopt a modified assessment from a different state-the ability to find another state’s assessment which aligns with Colorado Standards is unlikely at this time.

  • Remove students with disabilities from accountability calculations-the committee felt this would not be in the best interest of these students and additionally would violate state and federal laws.


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RECOMMENDATIONS Endorsed by the Entire Committee:

  • Expand the eligibility for and the difficulty of the current CSAPA. Given that Colorado currently has .85% of students taking the CSAPA, there may be more students who could participate if items are added to increase it’s difficulty (in progress) as long as they meet the criteria of having a significant cognitive disability.

  • Increase the use of standardized accommodations. The lack of accommodations provided in administration, particularly at higher grade levels, impacts the achievement of many students.

  • Provide an allowable non-standard accommodation/modification process for the CSAP for “Students in the Gap”. If a student uses a non-standard accommodation when taking the test, the scores are currently invalidated; if scores were used in SAR and AYP calculations for the 2% of students currently allowed under federal guidance, these calculations could improve.

  • Promote intensive, targeted, research-based instruction for all students, using approaches proven highly effective for literacy and math improvement.


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RECOMMENDATIONS Endorsed by the Entire Committee (continued):

  • Investigate accountability measurements that could account for longitudinal growth. Current performance categories do not recognize longitudinal growth, particularly for those students in Unsatisfactory. Growth and reporting systems needs further study to find ways to appropriately recognize growth.

  • Investigate the effect of presenting the CSAP in its entirety to students in smaller sections over a longer period of days. This may allow these students to better demonstrate their abilities.

  • The state should investigate abbreviating the CSAP, while preserving validity and reliability. If the test could be reduced in total number of items, thus also reducing the length of time required to take the test, students may demonstrate improved achievement.


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