U.S. Education Department to Hold Public Meeting on Lessons Learned for Improving Accessibility in Assessments by Students with Disabilities

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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Implementation and Support Unit (ISU), in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), will host a public meeting to discuss best practices with former federal grantees that have worked to improve assessment accessibility for students with disabilities.

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, at the Education Department in Washington, D.C., a panel of experts who have conducted research under OSERS’s General Supervision Enhancement Grants (GSEG) will discuss strategies for assessing students with disabilities through mainstream testing models. Their input will help inform work underway by four consortia of states currently building next-generation assessment systems with support from awarded grants under the Race to the Top Assessment (RTTA) and General Supervision Enhancement Grants (GSEG) programs to create the innovative, comprehensive English language arts and mathematics assessment systems.

Through RTTA, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) are working across 45 states and D.C. to develop comprehensive assessment systems in English language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and high school. At the same time, the National State and State Collaborative (NCSC) and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) have also partnered with states to develop complementary assessment systems for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities through grants awarded under GSEG.

Research discussed during the meeting will include former grantees’ work to ensure access to and improve innovation in assessment systems for low-performing students with disabilities; efforts to incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles; and inclusion of students with disabilities in small-scale studies and item tryouts to inform item design.

All four consortia are developing assessment systems that will be administered by member states beginning in the 2014-15 school year. For more information on the RTTA program, including the text of approved applications, please see www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/applicant.htm. For additional information about the GSEG grants, please see www.dynamiclearningmaps.org and www.cehd.umn.edu/nceo/projects/NCSC/NCSC.html.

On Aug. 10, 2011, the Department held a public meeting to discuss strategies for creating valid, reliable, and fair assessments for students with disabilities and English learners. The ISU anticipates organizing future public meetings on the RTTA program, which may focus on technology transitions to support instruction and assessment; setting achievement standards and performance levels; defining college and career readiness; and creating a uniform growth model. Funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation supports these meetings.

Members of the public and the media interested in attending must [email protected] to register