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New 'Double-Testing' Flexibility and Students With Disabilities

My colleague Catherine Gewertz blogged earlier today that states have been given the option by the Education Department of suspending for one year their own state exams for the 2013-14 school year, if they are administering the Common Core field tests being designed by the two common-assessment consortia in math and English/language arts.

Digging further into the guidance from the department released Tuesday, this one-year flexibility waiver—intended to help states avoid "double-testing" their students—has some particular points relevant for students with disabilities. Among them:

  • The flexibility applies not only to the two large consortia creating assessments for the general population, but also to the consortia that are developing tests for students with severe cognitive disabilities, Dynamic Learning Maps and the National Center and State Collaborative.
  • States and districts are not require to report on the results of field tests. This also applies to students with disabilities taking the field tests.
  • States and districts are, however, required to report on how many students with disabilities participated in testing "with the same frequency and level of detail" that they would report on the participation rate of the general population.
  • A school administering field tests can't just skip testing a student if that assessment does not have accommodations called for in a student's individualized education program or Section 504 plan. In that case, the student would have take the current state assessment. (The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers voted this summer on its accommodations policy; the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium released its usability and accessibility guidelines Sept. 10.)
  • Students who were taking "alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards" need a revised IEP in order to take part in field tests of the common core general assessment. Those alternate assessments—which are different from the tests giving to students with significant cognitive disabilities—are on the way to being eliminated.
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