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What Impacts Alternate Assessment Scores. Presented by Diane M. Browder, PhD UNC Charlotte Ginevra Courtade-Little Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Authors: Diane M. Browder Meagan Karvonen Stephanie Davis University of North Carolina at Charlotte Kathy Fallin Ginevra Courtade-Little

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what impacts alternate assessment scores

What Impacts Alternate Assessment Scores

Presented by

Diane M. Browder, PhD

UNC Charlotte

Ginevra Courtade-Little

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools



Diane M. Browder

Meagan Karvonen

Stephanie Davis

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Kathy Fallin

Ginevra Courtade-Little

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

  • IDEA 1997, NCLB
  • Alternate assessment process may be used to improve educational programs (Browder, Spooner, Algozzine, et. al., 2003)
  • Limited research that focuses on the relationship between educational programs and alternate assessment outcomes
  • Teachers of students with significant disabilities may feel pressure to improve alternate assessment scores without knowing how to do so
  • The need exists to develop training that relates directly to the requirements of AA and to evaluate this training in the context of real school programs
  • To determine if training teachers would improve students’ outcome scores on alternate assessments
  • Training teachers on three instructional variables that influence outcomes (curriculum access, data collection, and instructional effectiveness) would increase the alternate assessment scores
  • A manual was developed and used for teacher training that summarized current research on:
    • how to select skills for students with significant disabilities
    • how to develop data collection systems
    • how to improve instruction if students do not make adequate progress
research questions
Research Questions
  • Does training in curriculum, data collection, and data-based decisions increase alternate assessment scores?
    • Is there evidence the teachers used the instructional skills trained?
    • Is there evidence the students learned new skills?
    • How did the teachers and parents perceive gains made?
method setting
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
    • Large urban consolidated city-county district
    • served 112,500 students (grades pK-12)
    • 75% of those students were in grades that required testing
    • 294 students participated in the NCAAP (.3% of the assessed population)

27 initially nominated by a school system administrator

93% female

81% Caucasian, 19% African American

Experience (0-24ys, M=10yrs)

5 lateral entry teachers

Pool was comparable to district as a whole


Initially 29 selected by teacher and parent nominations

24% female

60% Caucasian, 34% African American, 3% Hispanic, 3% Asian

21% with severe/profound disabilities, 36% with autism, 39% with moderate mental disabilities, 4% with multiple disabilities

method intervention
  • North Carolina Alternate Assessment Portfolio
    • Portfolio of evidence collected to demonstrate mastery and generalization of 5 teacher selected IEP goals related to state standard
    • Instructional implications addressed in training
      • Selecting appropriate objectives consistent with state standards
      • Creating data sheets that met state requirements for baseline data and ongoing student performance data
      • Developing instruction that would promote generalization and mastery of the objectives by the turn in deadline
method intervention1
  • Instructional Components Training
    • Curriculum-Guidelines for reviewing IEP to determine if it provided access to the curricular domains required by the state
    • Data collection-how to develop data collection systems (models provided)
    • Guidelines for making data based decisions
method intervention2
  • Method of teacher training
    • Teacher training manual
    • Five group inservice days
      • Introduction of project
      • One day devoted to each instructional component
      • Evaluation of the project
    • 3 site visits by project staff to answer questions and model data based decision making process
method instrumentation
  • Primary DV-score on the NCAAP assigned by NCDPI
    • Student scores obtained for year prior to intervention and intervention year
    • Scores obtained for comparison group of students in CMS and state
    • To obtain a proficient score
      • Below mastery during baseline
      • At criteria for mastery by the end of the year
      • Maintained criteria for most of the last days of the school year
      • Generalized across people and settings
      • Initiated (unprompted correct or used skill in response to natural cues)
method instrumentation1
  • Additional variables measured
    • NCAAP portfolio quality score
    • Teacher use of instructional components
      • Data collected on curriculum, data sheets, data based decisions
      • Teacher survey to identify resources used
    • Behavioral data on IEP goals
      • Reliability of teacher data
      • Percentage of growth on skills to determine if criteria was set at an appropriate level
    • Stakeholder Perception Surveys
      • To determine if teachers and parents considered gains made on portfolio objectives important
method design
  • Quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design
    • Pretest-scores from year prior to the intervention
    • Post-test scores from intervention year
  • Scores from the students in the school system whose teachers did not participate in the project were used as comparison group to apply a pretest-posttest control group design

Did teacher training positively influence the state alternate assessment scores?

results teachers use of instructional components
Results-Teachers’ Use of Instructional Components
  • 92% of teachers mastered the curriculum component
  • 96% mastered the data sheets component
  • 84% mastered the data based decisions component
  • All teachers reported using the training manual and data collection sheets
results portfolio quality score
Results-Portfolio quality score
  • Students with teachers in the model
    • 2001-67% adequate or superior
    • 2002-96% adequate or superior
  • Comparison group
    • 2001-42% adequate or superior
    • 2002-71% adequate or superior
results meaningful growth on iep objectives
Results-Meaningful Growth on IEP objectives
  • Median average growth 68.7%
  • Range from 16%-171%
results teacher and parent perceptions of gains
Results-Teacher and Parent Perceptions of Gains
  • 84% of teacher respondents reported students made more progress as a result of being in the project
  • 80% of teacher respondents thought that their students had better IEPs because of the project
  • Parents had overall strong, positive impressions of their students’ participating in the project
  • Provides evidence that AA scores can be improved by training teachers in instructional variables
  • Students in the project had significantly higher scores than the previous year
  • High rates of proficiency were supported by behavioral data
Generalizability of Findings
    • Generalizable to a wide range of students with severe disabilities due to teacher training overriding the influence of student characteristics
    • Generalizable to any AA system with a primary focus on student acquisition of skills
Limitation of findings
    • Use of quasiexperimental design with all students in the Charlotte region not in the project serving as the control group
    • Possible selection bias
    • Instrumentation used to document student progress and performance (changes in way portfolios were scored from year to year)
recommendations for future research
Recommendations for Future Research
  • Teacher training to meet changing curricular demands (assessment of students on specific LA and math standards)
  • Teacher buy in to AA process
  • Validation that AA outcomes reflect educationally significant student learning
recommendations for practice
Recommendations for Practice
  • Use of collected data to make instructional decisions
  • Training in :
    • Data collection
    • How to enhance student gains
    • How to teach and assess language arts, math, and science