State-Level Accountability for the Performance of Students With Disabilities: Five Years of Change?

Elliott, Judy L.; Eriekson, Ron N.; Thurlow, Martha L.; Shriner, Jim G.
March 2000
Journal of Special Education;Spring2000, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p39
Academic Journal
Along with the dramatic expansion of assessment activities during this decade, there has been increased use of state-level assessments as accountability tools. The extent to which students with disabilities have been included in state-level accountability, however, is questionable. This study examined changes that have taken place over 5 years in four aspects of state accountability practices involving students with disabilities: (a) the number of states using data on students with disabilities for state-level accountability and the nature of their accountability systems, (b) the existence of state policies on allowable accommodations and adaptations in assessments, (c) information on the rates of participation of students with disabilities in state-level assessments, and (d) the availability of data on students with disabilities in state-level accountability systems. Information was collected from all 50 states, plus the 9 educational units whose special education students were supported by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (e.g., Bureau of Indian Affairs, District of Columbia, Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico) in both 1991 and 1995. The results indicated that there have been dramatic increases in the number of states that indicate they use data from students with disabilities on school participation, exit, and achievement in their state accountability systems and in the number of states with written guidelines on the use of accommodations in state assessments. In contrast, states seem to have changed little in their specific knowledge about the participation rates of students with disabilities in assessments, although it appears that, when students are included in assessments, their data now are more likely to be accessible than 5 years ago. The implications of these findings for future efforts to include students with disabilities in state accountability systems are explored.


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