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ERIC Number: ED512615
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Pages: 61
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 15
Science Assessments for Students with Disabilities in School Year 2006-2007: What We Know about Participation, Performance, and Accommodations. Synthesis Report 77
Thurlow, Martha; Rogers, Christopher; Christensen, Laurene
National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota
The success of all students, including students with disabilities, on statewide assessments in mathematics and reading/English language arts has been examined closely. This is due, in part, to the role of these content areas in school accountability for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) known as "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB). States also were expected to establish science content standards by 2005-2006, and to develop assessments in science by 2007-2008. The purpose of this report is to document the inclusion of students with disabilities in science assessments in 2006-2007, during the period just before the required implementation of statewide science assessments. The authors examined the status of science assessments for students with disabilities in the 50 regular states during 2006-2007 by reviewing publicly-available documents describing three aspects of existing science assessments: (a) the general nature of science assessments, including the content assessed, test and item specifications, and response formats; (b) accommodations policies, including which states had policies; and (c) the participation and performance of students with disabilities on science assessments, based on public reports of these data. Three primary fields of scientific study were covered by most states at all three school levels (elementary, middle, and high school): Earth science, life science, and physical science. States varied in the degree of detail provided about the content of their science assessments, from simply general scientific field categories, to subcategories of material within a field, to actual knowledge and skills statements. The formats for students to give responses to the test items included selected responses, constructed responses, and performance-based responses. Across the three school levels, the most common response format configuration on tests required both selected and constructed responses. However, many states' assessments required only selected responses, commonly multiple choice. Relatively few states' science tests required a combination of selected, constructed, and performance responses. Accommodations policies for science tests were similar. Nearly all states allowed for their science assessments accommodations such as large print, braille, reading aloud of questions, magnification equipment, amplification equipment, proctor/scribe, taking breaks during the assessment, and taking the assessment individually or in small groups. Accommodations that very few states allowed for their science assessments included: presenting instructions and test questions via overhead projector; paraphrasing stimulus material, test items, or answer choices; audiotape/CD recording of items; and use of a thesaurus. Data on the participation and performance of students with disabilities on science assessments varied considerably in detail. Fewer than 10 states reported participation rates at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. They showed participation rates that were, on average, above 95% of students with disabilities, but less often so at the high school level. Performance also varied considerably, partly as a function of grade. A majority of the scores of students with disabilities did not reach the proficient level. The number of states in which most students with disabilities reached proficiency was largest at the elementary level and smallest at the high school level. Appendices include: (1) Content Information; (2) Accommodations Information; and (3) Science Assessment Participation and Performance Data. (Contains 20 tables and 8 figures.)
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 - Research
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