The following are discussions on procedures to follow when including students with special needs in a common assessment program. It may be helpful for other schools and districts within the LYS Nation 1) From a Special Education Director, the initial answer to the question regarding common assessment grading practices for special education students: There has been discussion to NOT modify the three and six week common assessments, in order to get full information about the skills of special education students. However, IF TEACHERS ARE COUNTING EITHER OF THESE ASSESSMENTS FOR A GRADE, then you must provide the accommodations that are specified in the student’s ARD. Please ensure that your teachers understand this requirement of the law. 2) Because some parties in the discussion were using LYS as justification for their opinion and actions, we clarified the LYS position: For the record, our recommendation has always been that for the common assessments, the student receives the same modifications / accommodations that he or she receives on the state accountability test. If you do otherwise, as some campuses do, then the purpose must be for information only and there must be a grade modification, if a grade is taken. 3) The Special Education Director then provided even better clarification to make sure the needs of students remained at the forefront, and to remind us all that short cuts are not acceptable. We need to be clear to instructional staff that there are modifications and there are accommodations. They are not the same thing. If the assessment is used for determining progress only and not for a grade, then you can (but don’t have to) allow the student to take the assessment without accommodation or modification to determine the student’s current skill level without supports. This can help in determining whether those modifications or accommodations are indeed necessary for student success. If however, the assignment will be used for accountability purposes, the modifications and accommodations must be used as specified in the ARD. Now for the tricky part. Modifications include verdana font, larger point, more white space, horizontal item layout, reduced blueprint, plus 19 other item modifications. As you can see, to provide this level of modification to an assessment each three weeks and six weeks, in every subject would be a voluminous task. Certainly, if the campus staff is willing to learn how to do it and then dedicate the time, they could provide this. I don’t really see this as realistic. As you can see, modified does not mean reduce one answer choice for everyone and then call it modified. Accommodations are student specific and should be used daily in class and do not require altering the test in any way. They include things like colored overlays, calculators, addition charts, oral administration etc. These are easy to provide but they must be included in the ARD and they must be specific to the student. Once again, there is no “one size fits all.” For example, the classic “reduce the answer choice for every student” and call that accommodated. The issue is much more complicated than first meets the eye (as are most things in special education). Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…

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