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ERIC Number: ED512613
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 55
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 52
Computer-Based Testing: Practices and Considerations. Synthesis Report 78
Thurlow, Martha; Lazarus, Sheryl S.; Albus, Debra; Hodgson, Jennifer
National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota
Computer-based testing (CBT) has emerged as one of the recent "innovative" approaches to assessments most pursued by states. CBT is lauded as the answer to having cheaper and speedier test delivery for state and district-wide assessments. It is also seen by some as an avenue toward greater accessibility for students with disabilities. In this report the authors explore the context of CBT, current state computer-based tests, and considerations for students with disabilities, in part as follow-up to a similar exploration that occurred in the early 2000s when just a few states were beginning to develop and implement CBT for their state assessments. Nine considerations for states and districts are presented: (1) Consider the assumptions and beliefs of various stakeholders about computer-based instruction and assessments; (2) Consider the system as a whole, from the computer infrastructure to classroom and instructional experiences with computers before deciding whether and how to use CBT; (3) Consider the computer or online platform first, with input from individuals who know students with disabilities and their accessibility needs; (4) Consider a process for bringing in the needed expertise to delineate the specific accessibility features of CBT, and to determine what specific accommodations may still be needed by students with disabilities, as well as to determine whether a computer-based test may create new accessibility issues; (5) Determine the policies for which accessibility features will be available to all students and which are designated for specific groups of students, such as students with disabilities; (6) Consider how to track the use of accessibility features incorporated into CBT design; (7) Field test the accessibility features of the computer-based test at the same time that the computer-based test is field tested; (8) Examine results from CBT for students with disabilities to determine whether there are any features or characteristics of the assessment that might need reconsideration; and (9) Develop training for teachers and students to ensure that students benefit from accessibility features. Appendices include: (1) Advantages and Challenges of Computer-based Tests (CBTs); (2) Computer-based Tests: Specifications and Details; and (3) Web Sites used in Analysis of States' Computer-based Tests. (Contains 1 figure and 9 tables.)
National Center on Educational Outcomes. University of Minnesota, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Tel: 612-626-1530; Fax: 612-624-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS)
Authoring Institution: National Center on Educational Outcomes