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Assessment of Students with Disabilities: Review of Literature

September 1, 2002 |

Accountability Tests and Assessment of Students with Disabilities: High-Stakes Are for Tomatoes! A Review of Literature

by Paul J. Gerber (September 2002)

Since the landmark work A Nation at Risk (1998), a report that warned about “the rising tide of mediocrity in American public education”, school systems in the United States have been evolving by way of myriad of reform efforts, particularly with regard to the “standards movement.” There has been much scrutiny of student achievement by variety of constituencies – policymakers, school boards, and unions; school administrators, teachers, and parents. Each has viewed the metamorphosis of the K-12 system through its own lens. Moreover, each group has been most interested in the “bottom line” of educational efforts. That is, the outcomes of standards-based education, performance as measured by accountability and assessment systems. Currently, 47 states have some kind of statewide assessment program. The generally-stated purpose of the state assessment programs are 1) to provide information about individual student achievement, and 2) to gauge the success of schools and school systems, particularly holding educators accountable for student assessment of educational outcomes (landau, Vohs, and Romano, 1998). Quenemoen, Lehr, Thurlow & Massanari (2001) have observed:

“Generally, the theory of standards-based reform is that, if states set high standards for student performance, develop assessments that measure student performance against standards, give schools the flexibility they need to change curriculum, instruction, and school organization to enable their students to meet the standards, and hold schools strictly accountable for meeting performance standards, then student achievement will rise” (p.3). Most important, they will rise for all students, including students with disabilities. This issue is a very complicated one that states and school divisions struggle with even to this day.

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