Assessments

Assessments provide teachers and families with information about a student’s educational performance as they work to achieve CCRS. Formative assessments are used to gather information on a student’s current progress and inform a teacher’s next steps. Summative assessments occur at the end of a learning cycle and measure what a student learned during that cycle.

Some students with disabilities may require accommodations to ensure that assessments accurately reflect their learning. Explore the resources below for additional information on formative and summative assessments, as well as assessment accommodations.

Summative assessments

Universal design principles improve access to learning and assessments for all students. NCEO has created a number of resources about universally designed assessments. The site also links to additional research on the topic.

Formative assessments & informed decision making

The Reform Support Network (RSN) developed an Assessment Design Toolkit to help educators write and select well-designed assessments. The toolkit features 13 modules that address how to plan, write and select well-designed assessments. The modules include videos, Powerpoint Presentations and other materials you can use in professional development trainings. All materials are available to download, edit and repurpose.

Developed in collaboration with nationally recognized researchers and education experts, the Center’s resources about evidence-based instructional and intervention practices—Modules, Case Study Units, Activities, and others (including a number of Web-based tools)—are specifically created for use in college instruction, professional development activities, and independent learning opportunities for practicing educators. 

The Dynamic Learning Maps™ (DLM®) project offers an innovative way for all students with significant cognitive disabilities to demonstrate their learning throughout the school year via the DLM Alternate Assessment System. Traditional multiple-choice testing does not always allow students with significant cognitive disabilities to fully demonstrate their knowledge. By integrating assessment with instruction during the year and providing a year-end assessment, the DLM system maps student learning aligned with college and career readiness standards in English language arts and mathematics.

Accommodations

Developed in collaboration with nationally recognized researchers and education experts, the Center’s resources about evidence-based instructional and intervention practices—Modules, Case Study Units, Activities, and others (including a number of Web-based tools)—are specifically created for use in college instruction, professional development activities, and independent learning opportunities for practicing educators. 

  • Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities: This Module provides an overview of accommodations for students with disabilities; including a definition of accommodations, understanding how accommodations help students with disabilities gain access to the general education curriculum and assessments, understanding the responsibilities of the IEP team for making accommodation decisions for students with disabilities, and information on accessing resources that support the use of accommodations for students with disabilities. 

This letter was written and distributed to address the use of a calculator as an accommodation or individual modification for the participation of students with disabilities in State and district-wide assessments.

For Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Accommodations are central to issues of access to education for students who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing (SDHH). However, there are often concerns that accommodations might change the difficulty of a test, particularly when those changes involve different language modalities (e.g., ASL or a signed version of a standardized measure). This paper reviewed the current literature, focusing on the factors that are important to keep in mind when considering the use of accommodations for assessment.

NCEO is a national technical assistance center that provides national leadership in designing and building educational assessments and accountability systems that appropriately monitor educational results for all students with disabilities (SWD), including English learners with disabilities.  NCEO works with states and federal agencies to identify important outcomes of education for students with disabilities; examines the participation of SWD in national and state assessments, including the use of accommodations and alternate assessments; evaluates national and state practices in reporting assessment information on SWD; bridges general education, special education, and other systems as they work to increase accountability for results of education for all SWD; and conducts directed research in the area of assessment and accountability.