2012 Survey of States: Successes and Challenges During a Time of Change

This report provides results from a survey conducted by the National Center on Educational Outcomes of state directors of special education and state directors of assessment, relating to state policies, and practices for including students with disabilities in assessment systems and other aspects of educational reform. Key findings were that:

  • Fewer than half of the states have defined what college-and-career-readiness means for students with disabilities participating in the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS).
  • Fewer than half of the states offered their current general state assessments on computer-based platforms for math, reading, or science.
  • State technology staff contributed to technology decision making for the AA-AAS being developed by the consortia in eight states, and contributed to technology decision making for the general assessment being developed by the consortia in just over half of the states.
  • More than half of the states indicated a need for technology-related investments for the majority of districts in their state in order to improve the participation of students with disabilities in instructional activities and assessments. The types of investments most frequently cited as needed were additional computers and improved bandwidth for internet connectivity.
  • More than three-quarters of the states considered universal design during test conceptualization and construction.
  • Six states offered end-of-course alternate assessments based on AA-AAS.
  • Fewer than half of the states included data for all students with disabilities in their teacher evaluation system for general education teachers.
  • Twenty states did not disaggregate assessment results for English language learners with disabilities.

States commented on their greatest successes and challenges during this time of change.

Content Comments 

This comprehensive survey conducted of state directors of special education and state directors of assessment, provides information relative to state policies, and practices for including students with disabilities in assessment systems related to educational reform. It is well organized in its presentation of the gathered data, and although lengthy in supporting information, is succinct in reporting key findings. For policy makers and technical assistance providers, it provides useful information relative to the type of supports SEA staff found to be useful. Its utility might be somewhat limited but valuable to policy makers and technical assistance providers working with states on further development of alternative assessment concerns for students with disabilities. The lower score on evidence of effectiveness relates to the lack of data related to this area, and a rating of NA (not applicable) might prove to be a more appropriate response for this category.