New Accommodations on the Way for Testing Students with Disabilities

No more readers, no more scribes.  The days of dedicating staff and preparing homemade resources for assessments may be over when it comes to students with disabilities.  For years, teachers and parents have prepared an Individual Education Program for students who meet evaluation criteria for a disability category under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Part of that IEP includes testing accommodations when necessary.

Now the two groups selected to develop tests for the new common core state standards in English language arts and mathematics are considering how you can build in the accommodations right on the computer screen.  The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are working to ensure consistency and ease for all students who might need specialized accommodations, even going so far as to create on-screen avatars to serve as an interpreter for deaf students. 

“We’re not even thinking about accommodations anymore” in the traditional sense, said Michael Hock, director of educational assessment for the Vermont Department of Education and co-chair of the accessibility and accommodations work group for SMARTER Balanced.  PARCC will soon launch an accessibility-and-fairness technical working group, said Laura M. Slover, the senior vice president of Achieve and the project manager for the Washington-based nonprofit organization’s work with the consortium.

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