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Participation in District-wide Assessment

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Explanation

All students must be included in the district’s accountability system. Each student’s IEP team is required to decide if that student will participate and be included in the same district-wide assessments as his/her peers or use an alternate assessment.

Accountability System

No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and state laws require that all students with disabilities participate in assessments.

NCLB defines a state’s accountability system in terms of adequate yearly progress (AYP). This is a way to measure the improvement in achieving district standards and benchmarks for all students and designated subgroups each year.

The Iowa Department of Education (DE) holds nonpublic school, districts, and area education agencies accountable on an annual basis for making AYP. The United States Department of Education (USDOE) holds Iowa accountable for making AYP.

District-wide Assessment

A district-wide assessment can be a test that is given to all students within the district. An example is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED), but these are not the only district-wide assessments.

A district-wide assessment can also be an assessment that is given to all students within a grade level. For example, if all 1st graders are given DIBELS that would be considered a district-wide assessment. If all 3rd graders are given a writing test that would be considered a district-wide assessment. If all 8th graders must take a career aptitude test, that would be considered a district-wide assessment.

Alternate Assessments

The alternate assessment provides a mechanism for students, including those with the most significant cognitive disabilities, to be assessed on the same content standards as all students.

Alternate Assessments tests grade level concepts that align with district standards but are reduced in complexity. For example, the fifth graders are being tested about the solar system, a student taking an alternate assessment may be asked to label or identify sun, earth and moon when presented with a model of the solar system while his classmates have to identify all the planets and list characteristics of each one.

IEP Team Members

This decision has to be made at every IEP meeting by the IEP Team.

The IEP Team

Determine District-wide Assessment Participation

The decision regarding how a student participates in district-wide assessment should be based on whether:

  • the child has a significant cognitive disability.
  • the student can not generalize knowledge and skills across educational settings.
  • the grade level content and complexity has been adjusted significantly.
  • the instructional methodology for the student is significantly different from that used with grade level peers.

The participation in district-wide assessment decision should not be based on such things as:

  • Expectations and poor performance;
  • Low achievement in general education;
  • Poor attendance; or
  • Location where the child receives services.

Iowa Alternate Assessment Guidelines

Documentation on the IEP

The IEP Team should start with the assumption that the student will participate in the district-wide assessment.

Discuss the following:

  1. Can the student take the district-wide assessment with no accommodations?
    • If yes, on page G check the box next to “without accommodations”
    • If no, go to #2
  2. Can the student take the district-wide assessment with accommodations?”
    • If yes, on page G check the box next to “with accommodations” and describe the accommodations necessary to measure academic achievement and functional performance.
    • If no, go to #3
  3. On Page G check the box next to “through the state alternate assessment” and address the following questions
    • Why can’t the individual participate in the general assessment?
    • Why is this alternate assessment appropriate for this student?

Accommodations

Accommodations do not change the kind of achievement being measured, but they change how the achievement is measured. If chosen appropriately, an accommodation will neither provide too much or too little help to the student who receives it." (Test Coordinator Guide for The Iowa Tests)

Accommodations provided to a student during districtwide assessments must be the same as the accommodations provided for classroom assessment; a new accommodation is not to be introduced solely for use during districtwide assessments.

Accommodations are intended to reduce or even eliminate the effects of a student's disabilities and level the playing field for the student.

The IEP should use Steps Two (Learn about accommodations for instruction and assessment) and Three (Select accommodations for instruction and assessment for individual students.) in the Iowa Guidelines for the Use of Accommodations during Instruction and District Wide Assessments for Students with Disabilities to determine the appropriate accommodations for the student.

Iowa Accommodations Guidelines Steps Two and Three

Alternate Assessment Questions

Why can't the individual participate in the general assessment? Examples:

  • Shane is unable to demonstrate his knowledge and skills with the general assessment.
  • Barbara is being educated using alternate achievement standards, the general district wide assessment does not assess the skills Barbara is being taught.

Why is this alternate assessment appropriate for this student? Examples:

  • Bill will be able to best demonstrate his knowledge and skills using the portfolio process of Iowa’s Alternate Assessment.
  • The Iowa Alternate Assessment process will more accurately assess the specific skills that Abby is being taught.

Followup or Implementation of the IEP

The educators should use Steps Four (Administer accommodations during instruction and assessment) and Five (Evaluate and Improve Accommodations Use) of the Iowa Guidelines for the Use of Accommodations during Instruction and District Wide Assessments for Students with Disabilities to assure that the selected accommodations are used appropriately and effectively.

Iowa Accommodations Guidelines Steps Four and Five

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 17, 2014 at 9:01am.