2021-2022 APR Snapshot #31:
Assessment Participation, Performance, and Assigned Accommodations for Students Receiving Special Education Services

Yi-Chen Wu, Martha L. Thurlow, Kristin K. Liu, and Sheryl S. Lazarus

June 2024

All rights reserved. Any or all portions of this document may be reproduced and distributed without prior permission, provided the source is cited as:

Wu, Y.-C., Thurlow, M. L., Liu, K. K., & Lazarus, S. S. (2024). 2021-2022 APR snapshot #31: State assessment participation, performance, and assigned accommodations for students receiving special education services. National Center on Educational Outcomes.



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Overview

This APR Snapshot provides a picture of the reading/language arts and mathematics state assessment participation and performance of grade 8 students receiving special education services. Participation data are provided for grade 8 statewide general assessments and alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS). For AA-AAAS, participation is also presented for all grades combined.1 Performance data are provided for grade 8 general assessments and AA-AAAS. This Snapshot also summarizes data on the percentage of students assigned accommodations for state general assessments.

Findings are presented for the regular states (e.g., Alabama, Wyoming). Data for other grades, as well as data for unique states that receive special education funds (American Samoa, Bureau of Indian Education, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, District of Columbia, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands), are available at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data.

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Data

This Snapshot uses the 2021-2022 assessment data available in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Annual Performance Reports (APRs) in 2024 and the Ed Data Express resource (Department of Education, 2023). Analyses are based on fewer than 50 states because some states met the criteria for exclusion (i.e., participation or performance data were suppressed by the U.S. Department of Education; state’s participation information for the general assessment or AA-AAAS was not available). Detailed information on the data selection and exclusion criteria, as well as information about variables and the methods used to calculate the variables, is included in an appendix to this Snapshot.

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Participation Findings

Reading Assessments

Participation in Grade 8 Reading Assessments

For 2021-2022, 48 of the 50 regular states had reading assessment participation data that we could analyze. Figure 1 shows grade 8 reading assessment participation data, including the participation percentages for the general assessment and the AA-AAAS for each state. As evident in the figure, overall reading assessment participation rates in grade 8, including both the general assessment and the AA-AAAS, ranged from 73.4% to 99.4% of students with disabilities. The average participation rate across all states was 92.7%.

Figure 1. 2021-2022 Participation Rates for Grade 8 Students with Disabilities in Reading Assessments for Regular States (N = 48)

Figure 1 Columnar Chart

When participation for each grade 8 reading assessment was examined individually, general reading assessment participation rates varied from 66.5% to 92.6% for students with disabilities; the average participation rate was 85.3%. AA-AAAS grade 8 reading assessment participation rates varied from 3.4% to 15.3% of students with disabilities; the average was 7.4%.

Students Assigned Accommodations for General Reading Assessments

Figure 2 shows the percentage of grade 8 students in 48 of the 50 regular states with available data on the number of students with disabilities who were assigned accommodations on the general reading assessment in 2021-2022. As evident in Figure 2, the percentage of students assigned accommodations for general reading assessments in the 48 regular states with available data ranged from 0.3% to 96.4%. The average across states was 56.2%. Slightly fewer than one-half of the states (n = 23) with available data reported that less than 60% of students with disabilities were assigned accommodations on the general reading assessment.

Figure 2. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations on 2021-2022 General Reading Assessments for Regular States (N = 48)

Figure 2 Chart

Reading AA-AAAS Participation Based on Total Tested Students

Figure 3 shows the overall participation rates for reading AA-AAAS across all grades 3-8 and high school. These rates are based on the number of tested students in reading (both general assessment and AA-AAAS). Twenty-eight of the 48 states with data (58.3%) reported a participation rate above 1.0%.2

Figure 3. Participation Rates for Reading AA-AAAS Across Grades for Regular States (N = 48)

Figure 3 Columnar Chart

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Math Assessments

Participation in Grade 8 Mathematics Assessments

For 2021-2022, 47 of the regular 50 states had math assessment participation data available for analysis. Figure 4 shows grade 8 math assessment participation data for the general math assessment and the math AA-AAAS for each state. As shown in Figure 5, overall grade 8 math participation rates ranged from 72.2% to 99.5% for students with disabilities. The average participation rate across all states was 92.4%.

Figure 4. 2021-2022 Participation Rates for Grade 8 Students with Disabilities in Math Assessments for Regular States (N = 47)

Figure 4 Columnar Chart

Looking at participation rates for each test individually, general grade 8 math assessment participation rates varied from 65.2% to 92.7% for students with disabilities; the average was 85.0%. AA-AAAS grade 8 math assessment participation rates varied from 3.3% to 15.2% for students with disabilities; the average was 7.4%.

Students Assigned Accommodations for General Math Assessments

Figure 5 shows the percentage of grade 8 students with disabilities in 47 of the 50 regular states who were assigned accommodations on the general math assessment in 2021-2022. The percentage of students assigned accommodations for general math assessments ranged from 0.4% to 95.7%. The average across the 48 regular states with data was 59.2%. One-half of the states (n = 24) with available data reported that less than 60% of students with disabilities were assigned accommodations on the general math assessment.

Figure 5. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Assigned Accommodations on 2021-2022 General Math Assessments for Regular States (N = 47)

Figure 5 Chart 

Math AA-AAAS Participation Based on Total Tested Students

Figure 6 shows the overall participation rates for math AA-AAAS across grades 3-8 and high school. Twenty-seven of the 47 states with data (57.4%) reported a participation rate above 1.0%.3

Figure 6. Participation Rates for Math AA-AAAS Across Grades for Regular States (N = 47)

Figure 6 Columnar Chart

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Performance Findings

Reading Assessments

Performance on Grade 8 General Reading Assessments

For 2021-2022, 48 of the 50 regular states had available reading assessment performance data. Performance data for grade 8 reading general assessments were analyzed for these regular states. The denominator for these data is the number of students who participated in the grade 8 general reading assessment and the numerator is the number of students participating in the grade 8 general reading assessment who scored proficient or above. As evident in Figure 7, proficiency rates varied from 2.2% to 54.8%, with an average of 11.6% of students with disabilities scoring at or above the proficient level on the grade 8 general reading assessment in 2021-2022.

Figure 7. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Who Scored Proficient or Above on General Reading Assessments in 2021-2022 for Regular States (N = 48)

Figure 7 Columnar Chart

Performance on Grade 8 Reading AA-AAAS

Performance data for grade 8 AA-AAAS reading assessments were analyzed for 46 of the 50 states with available data. These data are shown in Figure 8. Calculation of proficiency rates used the number of students participating in the grade 8 AA-AAAS reading assessment as the denominator and the number of students participating in that assessment who scored proficient or above as the numerator. The rates of students deemed proficient or above ranged from 9.4% to 93.0%. The average AA-AAAS proficiency rate was 37.2%.

Figure 8. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Who Scored Proficient or Above on Reading AA-AAAS in 2021-2022 for Regular States (N = 46)

Figure 8 Columnar Chart

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Math Assessments

Performance on Grade 8 General Math Assessments

Performance data for the grade 8 general math assessments for 47 of the 50 regular states with available data are shown in Figure 9. The denominator for these data is the number of students who participated in the grade 8 general math assessment and the numerator is the number of students participating in the grade 8 general math assessment who scored proficient or above. As evident in this figure, proficiency rates varied from 1.5% to 47.2%, with an average of 8.2% of students with disabilities scoring at or above the proficient level on the general grade 8 math assessment in 2021-2022.

Figure 9. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Who Scored Proficient or Above on General Math Assessments in 2021-2022 for Regular States (N = 47)

Figure 9 Columnar Chart

Performance on Grade 8 Math AA-AAAS

Performance data for the grade 8 AA-AAAS math assessments were analyzed for 46 of the 50 regular states with available data. These data are shown in Figure 10. Calculation of proficiency rates used the number of students participating in the grade 8 AA-AAAS math assessment as the denominator and the number of students participating in that assessment who scored proficient or above as the numerator. The rates of students deemed proficient or above ranged from 2.0% to 95.3%. The average proficiency rate across states was 30.9%.

Figure 10. Percentage of Grade 8 Students with Disabilities Who Scored Proficient or Above on Math AA-AAAS in 2021-2022 for Regular States (N = 46)

Figure 10 Columnar Chart

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Conclusion

Data for participation, assigned accommodations, and performance were available for most regular states, but never for all of them. For grade 8 reading assessments, data were available for 48 states. For grade 8 math assessments, data were available for 47 states. Participation rates for general reading and math assessments had similar patterns, though they ranged from65.2% to 92.7%. The rates of students assigned accommodations also were similar for general reading and math assessments, but there was extreme variability, ranging from less than 1% to 96.4% of students who were assigned accommodations. Rates of participation in the AA-AAAS based on all students with disabilities also were similar for reading and math, with rates varying from 3.3% to 15.3%. In addition, based on total tested students across grades 3-8 and high school, more than half of the states continued to have AA-AAAS participation rates above the federal cap of 1.0% in both reading and math.

Grade 8 performance data for the most part showed differences between the rates of students with disabilities proficient or above on the general assessments and the rates of students with disabilities proficient or above on the AA-AAAS. On average, 11.6% of students with disabilities were proficient on the general reading assessment, 37.2% were proficient or above on AA-AAAS reading. On average, 8.2% of students with disabilities were proficient on the general math assessment, while 30.9% were proficient on AA-AAAS math.

The findings of this analysis found substantive variation across states in assessment participation, performance, and assigned accommodations. This analysis focused on the regular states and Grade 8, but there are similar findings at other grade levels. See the data for all grades (as well as data for the unique states) at https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/data. States may want to examine their data and consider whether there are policy reasons why their data may differ substantively from other states. Also, states with wide variation in proficiency rates between their general assessment and AA-AAAS may want to consider why they differ and whether those differences are justified.

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Endnotes

1 Combining all grades for calculation of participation for the alternate assessment is consistent with how state rates are examined by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that states are meeting the 1% cap on AA-AAAS participation.

2 All rates above 1.0% (e.g., 1.02%) were counted as above the 1.0% cap in this analysis.

3 All rates above 1.0% (e.g., 1.02%) were counted as above the 1.0% cap in this analysis.

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Resources

Wu, Y.-C., Lazarus, S. S., & Liu, K. K. (2024). State assessment participation and performance of students with IEPs, 2020-2021 (Data Analytics #19). National Center on Educational Outcomes.
https://z.umn.edu/NCEO_DA19

Wu, Y.-C., Lazarus, S. S., Liu, K. K., & Thurlow, M. L. (2023). 2020-2021 APR snapshot #30: AA-AAAS participation and performance. National Center on Educational Outcomes.
https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/brief30

Wu, Y.-C., Liu, K. K., Lazarus, S. S., & Thurlow, M. L. (2023). 2020-2021 APR snapshot #29: Students in special education assigned assessment accommodations. National Center on Educational Outcomes. https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/brief29

Wu, Y.-C., Liu, K. K., & Lazarus, S. S. (2023). 2020-2021 APR snapshot #28: State assessment participation and performance of students receiving special education services. National Center on Educational Outcomes. https://nceo.info/Resources/publications/APRsnapshot/brief28

Wu, Y.-C., Lazarus, S. S., & Thurlow, M. L. (2023). Meeting the 1% AA-AAAS participation requirement (NCEO Brief #29). National Center on Educational Outcomes.
https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/NCEOBrief29.pdf

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Appendix

This appendix provides details on the data selection and the variables/calculations used in this Snapshot. It also includes citations for the sources of data.

 

Data Selection

For this Snapshot, we analyzed state data provided by the U.S. Department of Education for the 50 regular states, focusing on the results for grade 8 assessments. Some analyses are based on fewer than 50 states because some states were excluded from the analysis.

Regular states were excluded from our analysis if they met one of the following criteria:

  1. The participation or performance data were suppressed by the U.S. Department of Education because of (a) data quality issues or (b) small numbers of students.
  2. The state’s participation information for the general assessment or AA-AAAS was not available. This means that AA-AAAS participation information, even though available, was excluded it there was missing general assessment data, and that a state’s proficiency data for an assessment were excluded if there was missing participation data for either the general assessment or AA-AAAS.

In addition to these two criteria, for the calculation of AA-AAAS participation based on total tested students, states were excluded from the analysis if they did not have data for all grades (grades 3-8 and high school).

 

Variables/Calculations

Participation. General assessment participation data for each content area (reading and math) are based on the number of enrolled students with disabilities, which was calculated by adding together the number of students with disabilities participating in both the general and alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS), plus any students with medical exemptions and any students who did not participate in an assessment.

Assigned accommodations. Data on accommodations in this Snapshot were available only for the number of students assigned accommodations. Data were not available on whether the students actually received them or used them. To calculate data for assigned accommodations, we used as the denominator the number of students with disabilities tested on the general assessment for each content area.

AA-AAAS Participation Based on Total Tested Students. AA-AAAS participation data for each content area (reading and math) are based on the number of total tested students in each content area across all grade levels, which was calculated based on the number of students participating in AA-AAAS and number of students tested for all students across all grades from the data library on the Ed Data Express website (https://eddataexpress.ed.gov/download/data-library).

Percent Proficient. The denominators for the performance data for each content area (reading and math) general assessment are based on the number of students with disabilities tested in each area. The numerators for general assessments are students with disabilities who took general assessments and scored at or above the proficient level in grade 8 for each content area. The numerators for AA-AAAS are students with disabilities who took AA-AAAS and scored at or above the proficient level at grade 8 for each content area.

 

Data Sources

Office of Special Education Programs. (2024). IDEA Section 618 Data Products: State Level Data Files Part B Assessment2021-2022.https://data.ed.gov/dataset/1deabc43-21f9-46a8-b93d-8fbbb6d89d48/resource/6ef97f41-26ab-4dc6-b638-c4fae2882f51/download/bassessment2021-22.csv

U.S. Department of Education. (2023).Ed Data Express resource: Participation on Statewide Mathematics Assessment 2021-2022. https://eddataexpress.ed.gov/sites/default/files/data_download/EID_12963/SY2122_FS185_DG588_SEA_data_files.zip

U.S. Department of Education. (2023). Ed Data Express resource: Participation on Statewide Reading/Language Arts Assessment 2021-2022. https://eddataexpress.ed.gov/sites/default/files/data_download/EID_12965/SY2122_FS188_DG589_SEA_data_files.zip