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How Massachusetts Uses Large-Scale Assessment Results to Influence Instructional Practices for Students with Disabilities How Massachusetts Uses Large-Scale Assessment Results to Influence Instructional Practices for Students with Disabilities Dan Wiener Assessment Coordinator for Special Populations Massachusetts Department of Education

Fully-inclusive Assessment: What it means Three partners agree to cooperate… ¨ Special education: l Fully-inclusive Assessment: What it means Three partners agree to cooperate… ¨ Special education: l l ¨ All students assessed on academic achievement Schools/districts held accountable for these students Curriculum & Instruction: l Standards adapted for a range of complexity − Ramps, not hurdles ¨ Assessment: l Expanded flexibility − Accommodations, Alternate Assessments − Test formats, Technology, Bias

Explaining it to the Public… ¨ Understanding the probable benefits of: l l l Explaining it to the Public… ¨ Understanding the probable benefits of: l l l ¨ ¨ Inclusive assessments and accountability Access to academic instruction Graduation requirement Buy-in: stakeholders at the table Changing the culture of: l l l Self-esteem Social, behavioral, and life skills Low expectations …To a focus on academic goals and expectations

Questions from Parents (guaranteed verbatim) “Couldn’t you just design an assessment my child can Questions from Parents (guaranteed verbatim) “Couldn’t you just design an assessment my child can pass? ” ¨ “Can I help her take the test? ” ¨ “You‘re setting him up to fail! Why punish my child? ” And more… ¨ “He can’t learn math and science!” ¨ “She doesn’t need academics, she needs life skills!” ¨ “She’ll never meet the graduation requirement, so why bother assessing her? ” ¨ THE DILEMMA: ¨ Special Education: What is the purpose? ¨ Education Reform: A better education, but must earn diploma

What Are We Measuring Do assessment results reflect… l l Student’s knowledge of academic What Are We Measuring Do assessment results reflect… l l Student’s knowledge of academic skills and concepts OR The degree to which instruction has been provided OR Appropriateness of the assessment OR Severity of the student’s disability

Fix instruction and assessments (the system), before results will be valid and useful ¨ Fix instruction and assessments (the system), before results will be valid and useful ¨ ¨ Teach academic learning standards Provide ALL necessary accommodations Provide rigorous alternate assessments linked to grade-level academic instruction Expand participation in alternate assessments

Finding Partners to Support States Those who went before ¨ Those who collect national Finding Partners to Support States Those who went before ¨ Those who collect national data ¨ Counterparts in other states ¨ A good contractor ¨ Diverse stakeholders in state And, ¨ Coordinated state leadership ¨ l “How will we respond to our critics? ”

How Do Statewide Assessments Help States? ¨ Determine how students with disabilities participate l How Do Statewide Assessments Help States? ¨ Determine how students with disabilities participate l l ¨ Are students receiving necessary accommodations? Are the right students taking alternate assessments? Ensure students receive standards-based instruction l l ¨ All content areas Grade-appropriate knowledge, skills, concepts, materials Identify areas in need of support, clarification, review, or monitoring

From a school’s perspective: Assessment = A searchlight, a big mirror… t Do all From a school’s perspective: Assessment = A searchlight, a big mirror… t Do all students miss the same test questions? l What are we teaching? l Are we missing something? l Do some, not others, get instruction? - e. g. , geometry, chemistry, algebra, poetry AND t Do particular students need support?

Not-so-subtle message: “All means ALL” Standards are for ALL students. Schools are accountable for Not-so-subtle message: “All means ALL” Standards are for ALL students. Schools are accountable for ALL students. Since ALL results count, Schools and Districts must allocate resources equitably. Therefore, t t Include special ed faculty in curriculum discussions Provide materials, resources, access, and opportunities to even the most disabled students

Public Release of Test Items t Scores alone don’t tell enough t Analysis leads Public Release of Test Items t Scores alone don’t tell enough t Analysis leads to improvement t Schools must know: · How did each student answer test item? · Which standard is aligned with each test item? t Test Item Analysis: every student, every question t Test-Wiz: free software for schools to plug-in test results and show strengths and weakness

Use Results to Guide IEP Teams to Identify Accommodations t t t How does Use Results to Guide IEP Teams to Identify Accommodations t t t How does student participate in routine instruction? What worked on previous assessments? Overcome factors unique to testing: l t Stress, anxiety, recall, staying on task, testing inexperience Should state promote use of certain accommodations? l Text-readers, graphic organizers, math reference sheets, ASL on video

How Assessment Results Inform State Policy Assessment results can: t Improve state’s understanding of How Assessment Results Inform State Policy Assessment results can: t Improve state’s understanding of how accommodations are used for routine instruction t Improve state’s process to guide IEP teams to identify appropriate and necessary accommodations t Lead to expanded use of accommodations

Alternate Assessment t For whom is this intended? l l t Does the process Alternate Assessment t For whom is this intended? l l t Does the process guide instruction? l l l t t Do state policies “drive” students to take Alt Are students prevented from taking Alt (disability type) Required standards are assessed Progress over time is documented Progression of skills is described (continuum of learning) Does it help teachers become more systematic? Does it expand approaches to teaching & learning? l “Best day-best way”

State Graduation Requirement t Value of a “competency standard” l l t Focus instruction State Graduation Requirement t Value of a “competency standard” l l t Focus instruction precisely where it’s needed Incentive to continue learning beyond grade 10 Equitable and fair? What the advocates say: “Despite early misgivings, the MCAS and graduation requirement have been some of the most beneficial things ever for special education students in Massachusetts. ” --Federation for Children with Special Needs

Percent of Students who earned a Competency Determination - Class of 2004 32 %pts Percent of Students who earned a Competency Determination - Class of 2004 32 %pts 45 %pts 27 %pts 21 %pts 14 %pts

Appeals Process (www. doe. mass. edu/mcasappeals) ¨ “Cohort Appeal” l ¨ Compare GPA with Appeals Process (www. doe. mass. edu/mcasappeals) ¨ “Cohort Appeal” l ¨ Compare GPA with 6+ students who took same courses and passed the test “Competency Portfolio” l When no cohort, submit work samples in ELA and Math Academic Support ¨ Tutoring for students who failed the test ¨ MCAS support at community colleges ¨ Financial support for schools from state legislature

Contact Information MA Department of Education (781 -338 -3625) n Dan Wiener – dwiener@doe. Contact Information MA Department of Education (781 -338 -3625) n Dan Wiener – [email protected] mass. edu n DOE Website – www. doe. mass. edu/mcas