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Meeting Adequate Yearly Progress for Children with Disabilities. Jane Minnema National Center on Educational Outcomes Michael Burdge University of Kentucky. No Child Left Behind.

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meeting adequate yearly progress for children with disabilities
Meeting Adequate Yearly Progress for Children with Disabilities

Jane Minnema

National Center on Educational Outcomes

Michael Burdge

University of Kentucky


No Child Left Behind

. . . a reauthorization of ESEA continuing in the context of the standards-based reform movement . . .with an emphasis on system accountability


NCLB does NOT require student accountability

(e.g., graduation

exams to get diploma)

NCLB does require SYSTEM level accountability to ensure all students learn to high levels.



State standards for what a child should know in math and reading now, and in science by 2005-06.

Test every student's progress toward the standards. Beginning in the 2005-06, test in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school in math and reading. Beginning in 2007-08, science achievement must also be tested.



  • Each state, school district, and school is expected to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for all students, including students with disabilities.
  • School and district performance publicly reported in district and state report cards.
  • A district or school that continually fails to make adequate progress will be held accountable.

Consequences for Schools that Fail to Make AYP for:

2 consecutive years: parents notified and give option to transfer their children; priority needs to be given to the lowest achieving low-income students in the school; schools must identify specific areas that need improvement

Another consecutive year: Tutoring and other supplemental services must be made available to low-income students at the school


Consequences - continued:

4 years of not AYP – Corrective action (e.g., replace school staff, new curriculum, decrease management authority, appoint outside expert, extend school year or school day, etc.)

5 years of not AYP – Plan for restructuring (e.g., reopen as charter school, replace all or most of the staff, enter into a contract with private company, etc.)

6 years of not AYP – Restructuring (implement plan developed in previous year)


Participation is a part of accountability

95% participation required to meet AYP, in each subgroup and overall***

***Average participation rate is now acceptable, based on two or three year average using data from previous one or two years.


Students who participate in an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards can be counted as proficient for accountability purposes, but only up to 1% of the total student population may count as proficient in this way.

Alternate assessments also may be based on grade level achievement standards. See December 9 Regulations for all details.



Ways to Participate in Assessments

  • Same way as other students
  • With accommodations
  • In an Alternate Assessment


Accommodations are changes in instructional and assessment materials or procedures that allow the student’s knowledge and skills to be developed and assessed.

Accommodations provide students with disabilities access to instruction and assessments, so that ALL can have access, participate, and make progress . . .




Study carrel

Repeat directions

Small group

Large print edition


Braille edition



Extended time

Mark test booklet

Frequent breaks

Word processor

Unlimited time

Use references

Types of Accommodations



Specific time of day

Test preparation

Subtests in different order

Motivational cues

Across multiple days


Good Accommodations Decisions

  • Starts with good instructional decisions
  • Systematic questions about accommodations for individual students
  • Collection of data to aid decision making

What helps student learn or perform better?

What has student or parents told you?

What gets in the way of the student showing skills?

What has the student been taught to use?


Summary of Research on the Effects of Test Accommodations

  • 1999 through 2001
  • 46 Research Studies
  • Most Studied State Tests in Math and Reading
  • Presentation Accommodations Studied Most Often

Across at least 4 studies …

Accommodations that showed a positive effect on student test scores:

  • Computer administration
  • Oral presentation
  • Extended time


  • Unknown variations among students included in study
  • Sample size too small for adequate statistical support
  • Nonstandard administration of accommodations across proctors and schools

Stay on top of the literature at: AccomStudies.htm

[NCEO’s online accommodations bibliography with search features]


Is the choice of accommodations appropriate?

  • Aligned with instructional accommodations, but not an excuse not to teach
  • Student needs it to demonstrate knowledge and skills – or to participate in assessment
  • Implications of using this accommodation have been identified and carefully considered
  • Not determined by test publisher, but by student need, what is being measured (construct), and the purpose of the test

Recommendations for IEP Teams

  • Develop a process for making decisions about accommodation use
  • Choose accommodations based on individual student needs and preferences
  • Teach students to use selected accommodations routinely in the classroom, at home, and in the community – evaluate effectiveness

Recommendations for IEP Teams

  • Know state/district accommodations policies
  • Students should use selected accommodations on practice tests
  • Make sure test administrators know about accommodations a student will use
  • Record accommodations use accurately on test booklet (or other form)

Universally-Designed Assessments

Universally Designed Assessmentsare designed from the beginning to be accessible and valid for the widest range of students


Think about universal design in architecture and tool design

  • Curb cuts and ramps
  • Elevators that talk to you
  • Door handles rather than

door knobs

  • Special pen shapes that are easier to hold

Elements of Universally Designed (UD) Assessments

  • Inclusive assessment population
  • Precisely defined constructs
  • Accessible, non-biased items
  • Amenable to accommodations

Elements of UD - continued

  • Simple, clear, and intuitive instructions and procedures
  • Maximum readability and comprehensibility
  • Maximum legibility

The main idea …

… is to provide optimal standard assessment conditions

but what does that really mean
But, what does that really mean?
  • Do we want to change the standard of performance? NO
  • Can we forget about accommodations if we do this? NO
  • Is this all figured out – for now and forever? NO
  • Is this something that will benefit only students with disabilities? NO

Student Characteristics

Just one of many reasons that we need to be talking about universally designed assessments!


Finish these well-known phrases for me:

  • A penny saved is . . .
  • Don’t bite the hand that . . .
  • It’s always darkest before . . .
  • Strike while the . . .
  • If at first you don’t succeed, . . .
what seems obvious and clear to test developers may not be all that obvious and clear to students
What seems obvious and clear to test developers -- may not be all that obvious and clear to students.

It takes consistent effort and guidelines to make sure that test items and tests really are accessible to all students.

one example
One example . . .

of why we need to be thinking about universally designed assessments

when an item is developed
When an item is developed:
  • Start with the standard, and maybe a test blueprint or test specification
  • Generate an item that is the correct content for the grade level that matches the standard

For example, a simple item might ask for a demonstration that the student understands the meaning of a fraction, such as ¾.


Remember this?


teacher concerns solutions and successes

Teacher Concerns, Solutions, and Successes

Presented as part of OSEP strand

CEC Conference, New Orleans, LA

April, 2004

Mike Burdge

Inclusive Large Scale Standards and Assessment

Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute

University of KY

All teacher stories and successes are from Moore, L. and Olsen, K. (in press). Alternate Assessments: Why Bother?. Lexington, KY: Alliance for Systems Change/Mid-South Regional Resource Center, Interdisciplinary Human Development Institute , University of Kentucky

it s different concerns
“It’s Different” Concerns
  • Curriculum: functional vs. general
    • IDEA 97: “access to the general curriculum”; IEPs must “enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum”
    • NCLB: “academic content standards”; “academic achievement standards”; “promote access to the general curriculum”
  • School structure
    • Separate but equal really isn’t
    • Collaboration is not facilitated
  • Content delivery
    • Special education teachers are experts in lots of things but usually not content
it s different solutions
“It’s Different” Solutions
  • Develop and use a common and rigorous curriculum for all students
    • Houston Indp. Schools study, ’94-95: text books, off-the-shelf programs, teachers’ heads
    • Fallacies: cooking, cbi, student expectations, etc.
  • Don’t stretch the standards in terms of content
    • Signing “more drink” isn’t math
    • Shopping for food items isn’t science
    • Pointing to the urinalisn’t reading

General Educator

Special Educator








it s different successes
“It’s Different” Successes
  • The student that I had the pleasure to work with has gotten more out of it (working in general education classrooms on grade level content as encouraged by alternate assessment) than most dedicated believers would believe possible.  The student has become a more responsible young lady who is the first in her family to go to high school.  She is proof that all the work is worth every minute of it.  Just ask her or anyone who has observed her.  -NH teacher
  • I don't know what the special education teachers in my school are doing but those kids could learn some of this.  When I get home, I'm going down the hall and invite those kids into my class. -Wyoming general education math teacher (after a collaborative work session between general and special education teachers re: alternate assessment)
  • Working on the same standards as all the other teachers in my school has made me feel like more of a teacher.  Now I have something to talk about in the staff lounge! -NH teacher
it s different successes41
“It’s Different” Successes
  • Encouraged teachers to set higher standards in the areas of reading and math resulting in students with significant cognitive disabilities being taught skills that may have not previously been a priority for this population. –NC principal
  • Encouraged collaborative partnerships between teachers, therapists, parents and other caregivers for the purpose of ensuring instruction across a variety of settings and people. –NC principal
  • These requirements have given my students greater and more meaningful access to the general curriculum. –VA teacher
it s different successes42
“It’s Different” Successes
  • I have a student that has not had any success with sight words, but since Cyrano de Bergerac in 11th grade English, he has learned to read eight words.  Can read them at home too! Hmmmm, something is working!  -TN teacher
  • My principal and assistant principal walked by the door when we were practicing a play in English class.  All students were to recite the first 17 lines of Julius Ceasar’s monologue.  My students, along with peer tutors, learned to say one line each in sequence.  The first student said her line, "Friends, Romans, country men lend me your ears."  Each student continued with the last student reciting, "And Brutus is an honorable man."  The assistant principal said, "They did a really good job!"  The principal clarified, "No, that wasn’t a ‘good job’ - that was Shakespeare! -KY teacher
it takes away from teaching concerns
“It Takes Away From Teaching” Concerns
  • Not related to what is currently being taught
    • Only academic content standards are required to be assessed
  • Takes a whole different set of teaching skills
    • Progress and independence on academic content (data)
    • Participation in general education
    • Generalization
    • Age appropriateness
    • Self determination
    • Social relationships

(taken from 2003 State Special Education Outcomes: Marching On, Sandra Thompson & Martha Thurlow. NCEO: December, 2003)

it takes away from teaching solutions
“It Takes Away From Teaching” Solutions
  • Provide professional development opportunities
  • Restructure preservice training
  • Make assessment frequent and generative of useable and accessible results
  • Understand what the assessment is about
it takes away successes
“It Takes Away…” Successes
  • My own experience with alternate assessment has been very positive. Working with a very low functioning student with Angelman's Syndrome, who was fully included in his 3rd grade classroom definitely led me to some creative ways of assessing his progress. It also made me focus on all the things this child actually could do, which turned out to be a much longer list than I thought. His inclusive setting also made me explore more ways to modify curriculum and activities to make them appropriate to the student, and still include him with his peers. Through my work on his alternate assessment, I became an even firmer believer in the efficacy and appropriateness of inclusion, even for our moderate to severe populations. Throughout the NORMAL school day, there are many opportunities and different settings in which to work on functional, communication and motor skills in ways that can easily include peers and other natural supports. I really feel the Alternate Assessment is a very positive and necessary aspect of our work with children who cannot take traditional standardized testing. -DoDEA teacher
it takes away successes46
“It Takes Away…” Successes
  • I came to KY 10 years ago, a couple years after the alternate assessment was developed.  The first Health and P.E. entry I saw was a student belted into a Rifton chair watching a P.E. class, rarely allowed out of the chair due to aggression.  That student benefited greatly from improved instruction guided by the alternate assessment and he has since graduated - walked across the stage with his peers, wore a tux and attended the prom.  We have come a long way.  -KY teacher
  • Because of the alternate assessment, I have started doing at least one general education curriculum activity a day with my students.  They constantly surprise me with what they learn and some have even started to anticipate what the activity is going to be next.  It's become their favorite part of the day. -Iowa teacher
  • I didn't believe in it at first but did it because I was required to.  I have to admit it made me a better, more reflective teacher and my kids learned stuff I never ever would have expected or given them the opportunity to learn. -KY teacher
it takes away successes47
“It Takes Away…” Successes
  • I would say that for many students in the Commonwealth, the alternate assessment program has changed the level of service and instruction in profound ways.  Many of these students were not following student schedules, not attending general educational classes, and not involved in the greater community at large.  Many students in these classrooms were still relegated to self contained rooms with limited interaction with their general education peers.  Because of Virginia's alternate assessment program and the demands of our specific alternate assessment rubric, teachers and students have been encouraged to provide a "wholeschool/community" experience for our students with more significantdisabilities. –VA AA coordinator
it counts concerns
“It Counts” Concerns
  • AYP
    • Unrealistic but a target
    • Alternate achievement standards
      • “expectation of performance that differs in complexity from a grade level achievement standard” (Federal Register, Part II, 34 CRF, Part 200, Title I. December 12, 2003)
      • Has to do with proficiency levels specified w/in AA
      • Must reflect challenging curriculum based upon academic content standards
  • Program vs. student accountability
    • History of lack of effective teaching practices
    • Measure of student achievement in order to improve instruction
it counts solutions
“It Counts” Solutions
  • Put focus on what needs to change in order for the student to learn/make progress
  • Use assessment data for instructional improvement
it counts successes
“It Counts” Successes
  • Everyone at our school is responsible for every student and the criteria in our state's alternate assessment looks at that.  Because we have a good program for those students with special needs specifically, our school scores have risen dramatically with the inclusion of those students' scores in our accountability index. -KY principal
  • Has increased the credibility of parental concerns regarding the quality of instruction for their child. –NC principal
  • Provided parents with an annual progress report on their child’s achievement that is more objective than what has previously been provided through IEP progress notes. –NC principal
it counts successes51
“It Counts” Successes
  • It seems to me that alternate assessment systemshave brought certain populations and classrooms of special education students and teachers "to the table" in this grand concept of school reform and accountability.  After all, the heart of accountability is improving the level and quality of instruction provided to America'sstudents.–VA AA coordinator