Good Performance of Disabled Student in K-12 Assessments
Good Performance of Disabled Student in K-12 Assessments
Not so long ago the inclusion of disabled student in large scale assessments wasn’t possible. Children with disabilities were often excluded and even educators could receive incentives for excluding such children whom they thought might lower the grades of their schools (Erickson &Thurlow, 1996). But with the reforms introduced at both the state and federal level the inclusion of disabled children in the assessment has now become compulsory. This has been made possible by the standards based reforms that have made it possible for students with disabilities to take part in regular state assessment or those unable to participate in such assessments perhaps due to disability are allowed to have alternate assessment.
We shouldn’t rest on our laurels now that inclusion has been achieved but we need to look beyond on exclusion and think of how disabled students can do well in this k-12 assessments. According to Messick (1989) the goal of k-12 assessment should into be limited to inclusion of disabled of in assessment should focus on delivering high quality performance and that can have a great impact on the education of students .To do this there will be need to have there will be need to determine if disabled students have the capacity to take part in regular assessment and if not what alternative arrangements can be made for them.
To decide on accommodations to give to students with disabilities will require that they are properly identified and classified. This can be done by allowing some accommodation to disabled students such as such as giving them extra time when having assessment, allowing the use of braille for the visually impaired or testing students with forms normally used by lower grades. All these efforts will contribute towards the better performance of students with disabilities and this will enhance the education system and learning of students. Having said that it is important to underscore that good performance and not just inclusion of disabled student in the K-12 assessment is equally important in in order to meet the goals of assessments by making schools more accountable and responsive to the needs of students with disabilities.
Some of the current issue issues that may affect the performance of disabled students include: test design and disabilities based on measured constructs. Construct relevant disabilities are those that hinder a student to perform well in assessments especially if that student is being tested in a proficiency that he may not have. For instance administering a reading test to dyslexic student. Providing accommodation to such a student may help to determine how proficient that student is.
Test design has to do with how evaluation tests are constructed, designed. This concern is seen mainly when administering test to students with disabilities who may be disadvantaged by test bias and the trouble is that it is not easy to dictate test bias even by using common technique. As Camill and Shepard (1994) puts it there are two methods to test bias; external and external methods. The external method employs a criteria is independent of the test in question, for instance one can observe how someone performs in a job to determine if there was test bias in the employment test while on the other hand the internal method use part or the whole test in question to determine if there was bias. For instance to find out if there was test bias one may decide to analyze and match the performance of students in the rest of the test then compare the performance in the test of the item in question.
However, it must be noted that is extremely difficult to find out test bias by one single item and nothing more. Therefore because of the increased inclusion of the students with disabilities in statewide assessments it will be prudent to have two methods and types of assessing item bias. In the short term it will be important to maintain the routine screening to determine if there is item bias but in the long run there is need to have additional research to determine how this biasness may affect the performance of students and even how it might impact on life after school.
Some of the strategies that are used to assess the students include; goal setting, self-assessment and regular descriptive feedback. Goal setting strategy is where students have a clear goal target in mind about what is required of them. As Shepard (2000) put it teachers should not be under pressure to teach to test but students should be allowed to play a key role in their own learning by being allowed to set targets that they can work towards .No single test should be the only one that measures a student’s learning they should be a multiple of way to ascertain this and that is mainly allowing the students to take part in assessment. Large-scale assessments are not only geared towards measuring student performance and report on it but they also indicate the society’s expectations of academic excellence and hence students know what targets to aim at and pursue.
Another assessment strategy that can be used by educators is to offer regular descriptive feedback to students. An idea assessment system should be one where student are given regular feedback by their teachers to analyses and reflect on their performance and not the areas of improvement. This will ensure that there is continuity by providing progressive reports to students about their performance on a broad range of competencies such as contribution to group problem solving, framing and presenting arguments, and participatory activities. This are proficiencies that students are not really being assessed in to determine how well they are understanding but with a shift to regular descriptive feedback as a way to assess students teachers can inform students in what proficiency they think students should do better in rather than being obsessed with ranking them.
There have been some happenings both at politically and legally that have breathed a new impetus into the education sector and one of such far and wide reaching decision is that of the US department of education to grant states more freedom and flexibility in the implementation of No Child Left Behind (Pace, Moyer & Williams, 2015).The shift that has widened decision to a many actors in the education sector at the grassroots where there is shared accountability and responsibility. People at state, district and community level have taken on more responsibility and can define and measure their own success without necessarily agreeing with the federal government emphasis on No child left behind. This has ensured that more ideas are coming forward on how to turn around the education sector without sacrificing education Excellency and competence.
The federal and local policy makers have not been left behind but have equally responded to the synergy by making polices that support shared accountability to ensure that students are well prepared for career and college. Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is one such example of where states are asked to states to set indicators and conditions can ensure that America remains competitive.
The law also allowed some flexibility on the part of the states to be able to add additional essential goals, indicators and conditions that will ensure that will support this vision for reform in the education sector. This reform is driven right from the classroom where teachers and other local leaders are able to get feedback on the results of the students. The accountability system has ensured that emphasis is on deeper level learning whereby the emphasis is on the performance of individual groups for instance; disabled students to ensure that they are being prepared for the rigors off career and college.
Some of the needs of students in school districts is to have a good school climate to ensure that students are learning in an environment that is safe and healthy and one that can encourage them to work in even harder. School climate plays an important to ensure that students are performing well and there is an environment that encourages them to explore and learn.
Another need of the students is to have productive assessment not merely end of year evaluation of the students’ performance. There is a serious for the role of assessment in the education sector to shift and change from being preoccupied by how students is doing and being ranked in class to how well he is being prepared for college and career. This shift will ensure that the quality and experience of classroom learning is improved because there will be no assessment related anxiety for both teachers and students (Pace, et al,.2015).A balanced from of assessment that blends both elements of summative and formative assessment is what can get the best out of students.
Formative assessment focuses on classroom-embedded where teachers can customize and tailor assessment tools and instruction according to the ability of every student and this will enable student. This enables the student to challenge themselves and to be able to advance. On the other hand summative assessment focuses on giving the students opportunity to exploit as of competencies once they are ready so that they can demonstrate the mastery and advance to a higher level.
In conclusion, the high performance of disabled student not only ensures that they are ready for college and career and but also ensures that the goals of k-12 assessment are met. We should never be satisfied that the disabled students are included in large-scale assessment our question should be how well are they are doing and are they well prepared to advance to a higher level?
Camilli, G., & Shepard, L. A. (1994). Methods for identifying biased test items. Newbury Park,
Erickson, R. N., & Thurlow, M. L. (1996). State special education outcomes 1995. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes
Messick, S. (1989). Validity. In R. L. Linn (Ed.), Educational measurement, (3rd ed). New York:
American Council on Education/Macmillan.
Pace, L., Williams, M., & Moyer, J. (2015). Building Consensus and Momentum: A Policy and
Political Landscape for K-12 Competency Education.