2016-2017 APR Snapshot #20:

Students in Special Education Assigned Assessment Accommodations

Martha Thurlow and Yi-Chen Wu

July, 2019

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Thurlow, M. L , & Wu, Y.-C.. (2019). 2016-2017 APR snapshot #20: Students in special education assigned assessment accommodations. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


Table of Contents


Background

Assessment accommodations are changes in testing materials or procedures that allow students to show their knowledge and skills rather than the effects of their disabilities. This brief provides information on the number of students with disabilities assigned accommodations and the performance of these students on the general statewide assessment used for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) accountability. Using federally submitted data from the 2016-2017 school year, we present information on accommodations for reading and mathematics statewide assessments administered to grade 8 students (and grade 4 to show a comparison to grade 8 data). Figures displaying statewide accommodations data for other grades are provided in this report via links following each figure. Data tables for all grade levels are available from NCEO at http://nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data.

Calculations for this brief used only data available through state-submitted Annual Performance Reports (APRs). Two types of percentages are included in this brief: percentage of students assigned accommodations and proficiency rates. The denominator for calculating the percentage of students assigned accommodations was the number of students tested in the regular math or reading assessment. The numerator was the number of students assigned accommodations for the regular math or reading assessment.

The denominator for calculating proficiency rates was the number of enrolled students with disabilities. The number of enrolled students was calculated by adding together the number of students with disabilities participating in each of a state’s assessments, plus any students with medical exemptions and any students who did not participate in an assessment. Typically, the state assessments included the regular assessment and the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS). In some states other assessments were also available, most notably an alternate assessment based on grade-level achievement standards (AA-GLAS). The number of enrolled students with disabilities was calculated separately for reading and mathematics assessments for each grade level.

Starting with this APR Snapshot Brief on accommodations, we refer to “assigned” accommodations rather than accommodations “received” or “used.” This change clarifies that the data available to us are actually the numbers of students who were assigned accommodations. These data do not indicate whether those students actually received or used the assigned accommodations. This distinction is important to make as states begin to gather and report data on whether assigned accommodations were actually received or used.

Throughout this report, we use the term “students with disabilities” to refer to students receiving special education services. Thus, students on 504 accommodation plans are not included in these analyses.

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Findings

Students Assigned Accommodations for Reading and Mathematics Assessment

Figure 1 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in regular states assigned accommodations during statewide reading and mathematics assessments in grade 8. The states are ordered from those that have the highest percentages of students assigned accommodations for the regular mathematics assessment to those that have the lowest percentages of students assigned accommodations for this assessment. The figure indicates that visible differences were evident between the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations for mathematics and reading assessments in more than 20 states.

Seventeen states reported a difference in accommodation rates between content areas of more than 5 percentage points, and 10 out of 17 states reported smaller percentages of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in reading than in math assessments. The figure also shows that in 11 states, more than 80 percent of students with disabilities were assigned accommodations during both the statewide reading and mathematics assessments; in four states, 25 percent or fewer students were assigned accommodations during testing in both reading and mathematics (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). The percentages of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in mathematics was likely to be equal to or higher than the percentage of students assigned accommodations in reading assessments across all the grades.

Figure 1. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Reading and Mathematics Assessments in Regular States

Figure 1 Grade 8

Grade 3-7 and High School. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS

Figure 2 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in the unique states assigned accommodations during statewide reading and mathematics assessments in grade 8. Differences between reading and mathematics accommodations among the unique states that reported both in grade 8 (n = 8) was between 0.0 percentage points and 1.4 percentage points. Three of these states showed no difference between the percentages of students assigned accommodations for reading and for mathematics assessments. Six unique states had more than 80 percent of students assigned accommodations for both reading and mathematics. (See data tables available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data.)

Figure 2. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Reading and Mathematics Assessments in Unique States

Figure 2 Grade 8

Grade 3-7 and High School. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS

 

Students Assigned Accommodations in Grades 4 and 8

Figure 3 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in regular states who were assigned accommodations during statewide reading assessments in grade 4 and grade 8. The figure shows states ordered by their grade 4 rates of students assigned accommodations for the regular reading assessment. The figure indicates visible differences between the percentages of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in the two grade levels. In the 27 states with differences greater than 10 percentage points, nine states had higher percentages of students assigned accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. A total of 31 regular states had lower percentages of students with disabilities assigned reading accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. The figure also shows that in seven states had more than 75 percent of students with disabilities who were assigned accommodations during the statewide reading assessment in both grade 4 and grade 8 (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data).

Slightly different results were found for the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in grade 4 and grade 8 mathematics assessments (see Figure 4). In the 15 states with differences greater than 10 percentage points, four states had higher percentages of students assigned accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. A total of 32 regular states had lower percentages of students with disabilities assigned math accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. The figure also shows that 11 states had more than 75 percent of students with disabilities assigned accommodations during the statewide math assessment in both grade 4 and grade 8 (see data available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data).

Figure 3. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Reading Assessments in Regular States

Figure 3 Grade 4 and Grade 8

Figure 4. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Mathematics Assessments in Regular States

Figure 4 Grade 4 and Grade 8

Figure 5 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in unique states (n = 6) who were assigned accommodations during statewide reading assessments in grade 4 and grade 8. Seven unique states reported data on the percentages of students assigned mathematics accommodations for both grades 4 and 8 (see Figure 6). Differences in accommodation rates in unique states that reported data were as much as 15.0 percentage points in reading and 22.8 percentage points in mathematics between grade 4 and grade 8 data (see data tables available at http://nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data). All six unique states with reading accommodations data for both grade 4 and grade 8 showed a percentage that was higher in grade 4 than in grade 8. Similar results were found in mathematics assessments (see Figure 6).

Figure 5. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Reading Assessments in Unique States

Figure 5 Grade 4 and Grade 8

Figure 6. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2016-2017 Mathematics Assessments in Unique States

Figure 6 Grade 4 and Grade 8

 

Proficiency Rates of Students Assigned Accommodations

Figure 7 shows performance of students with disabilities who were assigned accommodations on grade 8 statewide reading regular assessments (in terms of the percentage of students performing at proficient or above) along with the percentage of students assigned accommodations in regular states. Only states that reported information for both performance and number of students assigned accommodations are included in Figure 7 (n=49). One state’s data were excluded from this figure because its performance data were suppressed due to quality issues. This figure indicates that there was no evident relationship between the percentage of students assigned accommodations and their performance on the reading assessment. This conclusion should be interpreted with caution because it refers only to overall relationships. It does not speak to the performance of individual students who were assigned accommodations.

Figure 7. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations and Scoring Proficient or Above in 2016-2017 Regular Reading Assessments in Regular States

Figure 7 Grade 8

Grade 3 - 7 and High School Reading. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS

Grades 3 - High School Math. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade HS

Only four unique states had valid information on both accommodations and performance (see Figure 8). The same finding of no apparent relationship between the number of students assigned accommodations and performance was true in unique states  State data for unique states (n = 9) are available in data tables available at www.nceo.info/APRsnapshot/data, with one unique state not reporting the number of students assigned accommodations on the regular assessment and four unique states’ performance data being suppressed due to small cell sizes. The proficiency rates in unique states’ regular reading assessments for 8th graders ranged from as low as 2.9 percent to as high as 82.8 percent while accommodation rates varied (in five unique states the number of students who were proficient was suppressed due to small cell sizes). The unique state with the lowest reading proficiency rate did not have the highest rate of students with disabilities assigned accommodations on regular reading assessments across grade levels.

Figure 8. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations and Scoring Proficient or Above in 2016-2017 Regular Reading Assessments in Unique States

Figure 8 Grade 8

Grade 3 - 7 and High School Reading. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade HS

Grades 3 - High School Math. Click the below images to enlarge.

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade HS
Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade HS

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Conclusions

The information presented in this report summarizes the accommodations data submitted by states to the U.S. Department of Education for the year 2016-2017. Considerable variability among states was evident in the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations on grade 8 reading and mathematics statewide assessments. Further, in many states more students with disabilities were assigned accommodations for the mathematics assessment than were assigned them for the reading assessment. Also evident were differences in many states between the percentages of students assigned accommodations in grade 8 compared to grade 4, with a slight trend toward a higher percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations at the grade 8 level for the regular states; the unique states showed the opposite trend. Finally, there appeared to be no relation between the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations and the percentage proficient on the grade 8 regular reading and mathematics assessments.

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Resources

Rogers, C. M., Lazarus, S. S., & Thurlow, M. L. (2016). A summary of the research on the effects of test accommodations: 2013-2014 (NCEO Report 402). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Vang, M., & Thurlow, M. (2016). 2011-2012 APR snapshot #8: Assessment accommodations use by students receiving special education services. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Wu, Y.-C., & Thurlow, M. (2016). 2013-2014 APR snapshot #11: Assessment accommodations use by students receiving special education services. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Thurlow, M., & Wu, Y.-C., (2017). 2014-2015 APR snapshot #14: Assessment accommodations use by students receiving special education services. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Wu, Y.-C., & Thurlow, M. (2018). 2015-2016 APR snapshot #17: Assessment accommodations use by students receiving special education services. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.