Test Security and Students with Disabilities: An Analysis of States’ 2013-14 Test Security Policies

This report describes how accommodated tests for students with disabilities, alternate assessments, and other related issues were addressed in states’ test security policies in 2013-2014. The researchers asked: (1) What information do states’ test security policies contain about students with disabilities and the assessments they take? and (2) How are accommodations included in states’ test security policies? They analyzed publicly available written documents from all state department of education websites for information about accommodations or issues related to the inclusion of students with disabilities for regular and alternative assessments. The researchers found that some of the test security policies provided relatively little detail about issues related to accommodated tests or the AA-AAS, while other policies may have allowed practices that created unnecessary security risks. The authors conclude that there is a need for states to thoughtfully consider how to balance test security and accessibility, and they offer a series of questions that states may want to consider as they develop or refine test security policies for students with disabilities.

Content Comments 

This report addresses an important topic in which little other research exists. Its credibility and quality are enhanced by the reputation of its authors and their organization, the National Center on Educational Outcomes. The purposes of this report are clearly described and effectively met. Data was retrieved from state department of education websites; however, the report does not indicate that any state education officials were contacted to verify that information or to inform NCEO of other possible directives that either might not appear on state web sites or might have been recently changed or superseded. While this is addressed in the study limitations section, a small sample of states could have been asked to verify their information, thus increasing the accuracy of the information. Communications quality is very high although the report has a number of typographical errors that should be corrected. Utility should be excellent because states could use this report to understand what other states are doing in the assessment of students with disabilities and to revise their own policies if appropriate. The Discussion section should be especially relevant because it asks questions that might lead to more effective state policies and practices, rather than providing a proscribed list of recommendations or requirements. Differences in state policies, without necessarily identifying states, are nicely discussed and serve as a useful guide to improved policies and practices.