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Many states are leaning into assessment options, other than the state summative test. Some have noted that students with disabilities do not have access to some commercial products. However, a recent article concluded that results from informal and formal student assessments can help determine effective instructional strategies and individualized supports. Not to mention, formally assessing students with disabilities is also a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. See best practices below for assessing students with disabilities, given recent challenges:

  1. Review each student’s IEP 
  • Attention should be given also to the student’s goals and to whether related services, supports for personnel, and instructional and testing accommodations are considered. IEP teams may discover a student now needs accessibility features or that an accommodation is no longer needed, Lazarus said. 
  • Informal assessments do not need to be delayed until after the IEP review.

2. Put efforts into both formative and summative assessments

  • Year-end summative tests are valuable for gauging year-to-year growth, but interim assessments, diagnostic assessments, and even classroom-based testing and observations are also beneficial to educators and students. They provide timely information to guide effective day-to-day instruction and learning.
  • Use of interim assessments for all students has been on the rise over the past few years, but there is an overall lack of interim assessment options for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
  • This may inspire states, districts and stakeholders to develop their own tests. 

3. Be transparent in planning for testing, reporting results 

  • Schools should explain the purpose of testing to students to increase engagement and understanding of benefit.
  • Before testing, students should have practice using accessibility features and accommodations.
  • Non-personally identifiable test data for students with disabilities should be shared with the public, same as the general student population.
  • In presenting testing results to the public, parents and IEP members, schools should describe data limitations if any.

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