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IEP Teams and Assessment Accommodation Decisions: Recommended vs. Implemented. Jane L. Ewing, Ed.D. Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College. What is the relationship between. Instructional accommodations Recommended assessment accommodations (IEPs)

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Iep teams and assessment accommodation decisions recommended vs implemented

IEP Teams and Assessment Accommodation Decisions:Recommended vs. Implemented

Jane L. Ewing, Ed.D.

Paul V. Sherlock Center

on Disabilities

at Rhode Island College

What is the relationship between
What is the relationship between

  • Instructional accommodations

  • Recommended assessment

    accommodations (IEPs)

  • Accommodations used during

    state assessments?


  • Observed 66 students in 9 schools during classroom instruction and state assessments.

  • Gathered data from 107 IEPs, including those of observed students.

  • Interviewed assessment proctors, monitors, administrators.

Major findings
Major Findings

  • Location was the better predictor of accommodations during tests, rather than IEPs.

  • Students testing together received same “package” of accommodations, regardless of IEPs.

Major findings1
Major Findings

  • Test accommodations were not individualized or developed from students’ instructional accommodations.

  • Seeming lack of awareness how to tailor assessment accommodations to individual students’ testing needs.

Institutional capacity a zero sum game
Institutional Capacity: a zero-sum game?

  • Condensed testing schedule (March to May in 2002; March only in 2003)

  • Growing numbers of students needing accommodations

  • Increased number of high-stakes assessments added to the schedule (ex., NAEP added to RI in 2003)

  • No additional resources

Decision making resources
Decision Making Resources

  • State assessment guidance 40%

  • Feedback of students’ teachers 11%

  • Students’ IEPs 7%

  • Individual student need 4%

  • Supervisor’s guidelines 3%

  • Classroom accommodations 2%

General educators not full partners
General Educators: Not Full Partners

  • I have very little involvement as an IEP team member. My input is rarely sought.

  • I am asked to sit in on IEP meetings infrequently. To be honest, most decisions on accommodations are made without my input.

  • I do not have a part in this process. I don’t have the training or the knowledge. I don’t make decisions.

  • I have never been given information on how to assess a special education student, but I have requested it.

Special educators
Special Educators

  • Accommodations were determined by students’ prior teachers and staff.

  • Follow-through on assessment accommodations was almost always the job of the Special Education department.

  • State trainings: test facilitation only

Special educators1
Special Educators

  • Elementary special educators preferred to proctor/implement for their own students.

  • High school students could decline their accommodations; often proctored by staff who did not know the students at all.

Instruction and assessment
Instruction and Assessment

  • Significant difference between the level of support received during instruction and assessment

  • Students may benefit from instructional accommodations but do not receive assessment accommodations in any way comparable.

  • Respondents reported basing all accommodations on “individual need of student” yet few had individualized accommodations during tests (e.g., scribing, readers, flexible schedule).

2002 assessments
2002 Assessments

  • Alternative settings – anywhere from 7 to 15 students, each with different IEPs but all receiving the same accommodations

  • Regular setting – students on IEPs in cafeteria but none of the monitors could identify

  • Proctor with one or two students – settings were not quiet (e.g., library where class is being held)

2003 follow up
2003 Follow Up

  • Greater agreement between recommended and implemented assessment accommodations for this year’s smaller sample of students (N=39)

  • Similar to 2002, 2003’s 5 most commonly recommended assessment accommodations were also the most frequently implemented and most generic.

  • Students had on average more instructional accommodations (5), compared to test accommodations (3).

  • Instructional accommodations were more specific and based on individual student needs.

High school students
High school students

  • 2003 sample had fewer assessment supports both recommended and implemented than lower grades.

  • Consistently had 2 recommended accommodations, alternate location and extended time.

  • Often given oral administration of directions, though rarely recommended on their IEPs.

  • Students rarely took extended time.

11 students oral administration of math tests 28 of the 2003 sample
11 STUDENTS oral administration of math tests (28% of the 2003 sample)

  • Teacher reading math test to student if needed (3 middle school students)

  • Oral administration of math assessment (3 elementary students)

  • Key words highlighted in math directions (1 elementary student)

11 students oral administration of math tests
11 STUDENTS Oral administration of math tests

  • Reader (2 high school students)

  • Tests read orally (1 high school student)

  • Should be read to (1 high school student)

But was it implemented
But was it implemented …?

  • Few proctors had the math read-aloud listed on their accommodations sheets.

  • Proctors occasionally re-read problems to students during the math assessments in the middle and elementary grades.

But was it implemented1
But was it implemented …?

  • IF the proctor/aide was familiar with the student’s needs or IEP, the student was more likely to receive an IEP recommended accommodation.

  • In most cases, proctors did not know the students.

Other unusual accommodations
Other “Unusual” Accommodations

  • Check for comprehension

  • Use of calculator

  • Access to computer

  • Flexible schedule for testing

  • “Keywords highlighted in directions”

  • Preferential seating

  • Alternative setting free of distractions

And the implementation
And the implementation

  • Monitors did not noticeably check more frequently.

  • Many students allowed calculators.

  • Student decided not to use a computer.

  • Classroom teacher/proctor decided “flexible scheduling” was not necessary.

And the implementation1
And the implementation

  • Keywords highlighted – translated as “read-aloud.”

  • Preferential seating – students choose their own seats.

  • Alternative settings were too full to be quiet.


Student-centered assessment accommodations – scribing, reading assistance, 1-on-1 support – required resources and preparation that schools did not produce.


  • Proctors not sure how to implement accommodations such as scribing or support.

  • Assessment accommodations that parallel instructional accommodations not available to students during state assessments.

School level basics
School-level basics …

  • Proper training for proctors

  • Clear guidelines on individualized accommodations to increase confidence in discretionary decision making

  • Appropriate rooms for testing

  • Use of computers and other AT

Other possible changes in practice
Other Possible Changes in Practice

  • Provide additional state-sponsored training for proctoring staff, not just administration (test security, etc.)

  • Hold school-based sessions with leadership personnel to clarify “what is permitted.”

Other possible changes in practice1
Other Possible Changes in Practice

  • Develop IEPs during same school year in which student will participate in state assessments.

  • Insure that both classroom and assessment personnel participate.

  • Promote individualized accommodations that approximate instructional support during assessments.