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Dan Wiener Assessment Coordinator for Special Populations Massachusetts Department of Education PowerPoint Presentation
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Dan Wiener Assessment Coordinator for Special Populations Massachusetts Department of Education

Dan Wiener Assessment Coordinator for Special Populations Massachusetts Department of Education

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Dan Wiener Assessment Coordinator for Special Populations Massachusetts Department of Education

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  1. 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

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

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

  4. 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

  5. What Are We Measuring Do assessment results reflect… • 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

  6. 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

  7. 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 • “How will we respond to our critics?”

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

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

  10. 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, • Include special ed faculty in curriculum discussions • Provide materials, resources, access, and opportunities to even the most disabled students

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

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

  13. How Assessment Results Inform State Policy • Assessment results can: • Improve state’s understanding of how accommodations are used for routine instruction • Improve state’s process to guide IEP teams to identify appropriate and necessary accommodations • Lead to expanded use of accommodations

  14. Alternate Assessment • For whom is this intended? • Do state policies “drive” students to take Alt • Are students prevented from taking Alt (disability type) • Does the process guide instruction? • 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? • “Best day-best way”

  15. State Graduation Requirement • Value of a “competency standard” • 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

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

  17. Appeals Process ( • “Cohort Appeal” • Compare GPA with 6+ students who took same courses and passed the test • “Competency Portfolio” • 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

  18. Contact Information MA Department of Education (781-338-3625) • Dan Wiener – • DOE Website –