2018-2019 APR Snapshot #26:
Students in Special Education Assigned Assessment Accommodations

Wu, Y.-C., Liu, K. K., Lazarus, S. S., and Thurlow, M. L.

December, 2021

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Wu, Y.-C., Liu, K. K., Lazarus, S. S., & Thurlow, M. L.  (2021). 2018-2019 APR snapshot #26: Students in special education assigned assessment accommodations. National Center on Educational Outcomes.



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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 Snapshot 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 2018-2019 school year, we present information on accommodations for general 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 https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data.

Calculations for this brief used only data available in Annual Performance Reports (APRs). The APRs are submitted by to the U.S. Department of Education’s, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 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 general math or reading assessment. The numerator was the number of students assigned accommodations for the general 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 general assessment and the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS). The number of enrolled students with disabilities was calculated separately for reading and mathematics assessments for each grade level.

In this APR Snapshot Brief on accommodations, we refer to “assigned” accommodations rather than accommodations “received” or “used.” This clarifies that the data available to us are only 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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Data

The percentage of students assigned accommodations for general reading and mathematics assessments in all grade levels were calculated by type of assessment and type of state (regular state –e.g., Alabama, Wyoming) or unique state –e.g., Guam, Puerto Rico). In the IDEA data set (https://www2.ed.gov/programs/osepidea/618-data/state-level-data-files/part-b-data/assessment/bassessment2018-19.csv), there were four possible data conditions for each state and each content area for the general assessment. These conditions were: (a) data were not available, (b) data were reported, (c) data were reported but were suppressed for data quality concerns, and (d) data were reported but were suppressed because of the small number of students. Regular states were excluded from our analysis if they met one of the following criteria:

  1. The participation or performance data were excluded due to quality concerns or small cell sizes identified by the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. The state’s participation information for the general assessment was not available (meaning that AA-AAAS participation information, even though available, was excluded).
  3. The state’s participation data for either the general assessment or AA-AAAS were not available (meaning that the state’s proficiency data for that assessment were also excluded).

We adjusted these criteria for unique states by eliminating criterion 2. Unique states were included if they provided data for either the general assessment or the AA-AAAS, as well as if they provided data for both.

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Findings

Students Assigned Accommodations for Reading and Mathematics Assessment

Regular States

Figure 1 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in 47 regular states assigned accommodations during statewide grade 8 reading and mathematics assessments in 2018-19. The states are ordered from those that have the highest percentages of students assigned accommodations for the general 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.

Thirteen states reported a difference in accommodation rates between content areas of more than 5 percentage points, and 11 out of 13 states reported smaller percentages of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in reading than in math assessments. The figure also shows that in 15 states, more than 80 percent of students with disabilities were assigned accommodations during both the statewide reading and mathematics assessments; in seven states, 25 percent or fewer students were assigned accommodations during testing in both reading and mathematics (see data available at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/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 2018-2019 Reading and Mathematics General Assessments in Regular States

Figure 1. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading and Mathematics General Assessments in Regular States

Grades 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

Unique States

Figure 2 shows the percentage of 8th grade students with disabilities assigned reading and math accommodations in the unique states in 2018-19. Nine of the ten unique states had data available for both assessments at grade eight. Differences between grade 8 reading and mathematics accommodations for these seven states were between 0.0 percentage points and 4.2 percentage points. Three of the nine states showed no difference between the percentages of students assigned accommodations for reading and for mathematics assessments. Six of the states had more than 80 percent of students assigned accommodations for both reading and mathematics. (See data tables available at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data)

Figure 2. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading and Mathematics Assessments in Unique States

Figure 2. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading and Mathematics Assessments in Unique States

Grades 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

Regular States

Figure 3 shows the percentage of 4th and 8th grade students with disabilities who were assigned accommodations during statewide reading assessments in the 47 regular states with data. 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 25 states with differences greater than 10 percentage points, nine states had higher percentages of students assigned accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. An overall total of 32 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 eight 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 https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data).

Figure 3. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading General Assessments in Regular States

Figure 3. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading General Assessments in Regular States

Slightly different results were found for the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations in grade 4 and grade 8 mathematics assessments in the 48 states with data (see Figure 4). In the 20 states with differences greater than 10 percentage points, four states had higher percentages of students assigned accommodations in grade 4 than in grade 8. An overall total of 35 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 https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data).

Figure 4. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Mathematics General Assessments in Regular States

Figure 4. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Mathematics General Assessments in Regular States

Unique States

Figure 5 shows the percentage of students with disabilities in unique states (n=7) out of a total of 10 who were assigned accommodations during statewide reading assessments in grade 4 and grade 8. It shows that in three out of five states, eighth graders were assigned fewer reading accommodations than fourth graders. Differences in reading assessment accommodation rates in unique states reporting data varied from approximately 3% fewer 8th graders to 4% fewer 8th graders assigned accommodations compared to 4th graders.

Figure 5. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading General Assessments in Unique States

Figure 5. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Reading General Assessments in Unique States

Figure 6 shows the percentage of 4th and 8th grade students with disabilities who were assigned mathematics assessment accommodations in unique states (n=8 of 10). Four unique states reported there were fewer eighth graders assigned mathematics accommodations compared to fourth graders. The size of the difference for mathematics ranged from 1% fewer eighth graders to 87% fewer eighth graders assigned accommodations compared to 4th graders (see data tables available at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data).

Figure 6. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Mathematics General Assessments in Unique States

Figure 6. Percentage of Grade 4 and Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations in 2018-2019 Mathematics General Assessments in Unique States


 

Proficiency Rates of Students Assigned Accommodations

Regular States

Figure 7 shows reading assessment performance (i.e., percent proficient or above) for 8th graders in regular states who were assigned accommodations. Only states that reported information for both performance and assigned accommodations are included in the figure (n=47). Of the three states not included in this figure, one unique state did not report the assessment data, another unique state’s data of general reading assessment with accommodations were suppressed due to data quality issues, and the other unique state’s AA-AAAAS data were suppressed due to data quality issues, so no performance data were not able to be calculated. 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 2018-2019 General Reading Assessments in Regular States

Figure 7. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations and Scoring Proficient or Above in 2018-2019 General Reading Assessments in Regular States

Grades 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

Unique States

Seven out of then unique states had information on both accommodations and reading assessment performance of 8th graders with disabilities (see Figure 8). Assigned accommodations and performance data are available in data tables at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data. Two unique states’ performance data were suppressed due to small cell sizes, while the other states did not report data. The same finding of no apparent relationship between the number of students assigned accommodations and performance was true in unique states. 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 2018-2019 General Reading Assessments in Unique States

Figure 8. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations and Scoring Proficient or Above in 2018-2019 General Reading Assessments in Unique States

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

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Image2209.PNG 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 2018-2019. Considerable variability among states was evident in the percentage of students with disabilities assigned accommodations on grade 8 reading and mathematics statewide assessments. In general, a higher percentage of 4th graders in both the regular and unique states received accommodations in comparison to 8th graders. This was true for both reading and mathematics assessments. Further, in many states more students with disabilities were assigned accommodations for the mathematics assessment than for the reading assessment. 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. (2021). A summary of the research on the effects of K–12 test accommodations: 2018 (NCEO Report 423). National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Rogers, C. M., Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Liu, K. K. (2019). A summary of the research on the effects of test accommodations: 2015-2016 (NCEO Report 412). 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. 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. National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Thurlow, M., & Wu, Y.-C., (2019). 2016-2017 APR snapshot #20: Assessment accommodations use by students receiving special education services. National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Wu, Y.-C., Liu, K. K., Lazarus, S. S., Thurlow, M. L. (2021). 2017-2018 APR snapshot #23: Students in special education assigned assessment accommodations. National Center on Educational Outcomes.