1999 State Special Education Outcomes:

A Report on State Activities at the End of the Century


Published by the National Center on Educational Outcomes

December 1999

Prepared by: Sandra Thompson • Martha Thurlow


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

Thompson, S., & Thurlow, M. (1999). 1999 State special education outcomes: A report on state activities at the end of the century. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved [today's date], from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/99StateReport.htm./


Executive Summary

The 1999 National Survey of State Directors of Special Education is the seventh in a series of surveys that have been conducted by NCEO since 1991. This year’s findings include:

These findings highlight the current status of students with disabilities at the end of a century marked by dramatic changes in measuring the outcomes of education for students with disabilities. The findings reinforce the need to continue to survey state directors of special education about the status of state special education outcomes.


The Mission of the National Center on Educational Outcomes

NCEO is a collaborative effort of the University of Minnesota, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Part of NCEO’s mission is to provide national leadership in assisting state and local education agencies in their development of policies and practices that encourage and support the participation of students with disabilities in accountability systems and data collection efforts. NCEO is working toward four goals for students with disabilities:

Goal 1: Students with disabilities will be a part of nationally-initiated educational reforms.

Goal 2: Students with disabilities will be a part of each state’s standards-based educational reform efforts.

Goal 3: Students with disabilities will be included in national educational data collection efforts.

Goal 4: Students with disabilities will be included in national and state level reporting of educational outcomes, with results that can be disaggregated.

Many NCEO activities promote these goals. In addition to its national survey, NCEO is working with its partners to provide needed information and support to state education agencies seeking to include students with disabilities in their efforts to provide better educational outcomes to all students.

The Center is affiliated with the Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. It is supported through a cooperative agreement (#H159C50004) with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions or points of view expressed within this document do not necessarily represent those of the Department or the Offices within it.

 
NCEO
350 Elliott Hall
75 E. River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55455
612/624-8561 • Fax: 612/624-0879 • http://www.coled.umn.edu/nceo
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
 

NCEO Core Staff
John S. Bielinski
Robert H. Bruininks
Jane L. Krentz
Camilla A. Lehr
Michael L. Moore
Rachel F. Quenemoen
Dorene L. Scott
Sandra J. Thompson
James E. Ysseldyke
 
NCEO Director:
Martha Thurlow

Click here for a complete listing of State Directors of Special Education in May 1999 when the data for this report was collected.


Acknowledgments

Many individuals provided input on both the content and format of this 1999 Special Education Outcomes document. NCEO especially expresses its appreciation to the state directors of special education and their staff who volunteered a portion of their valuable time in addressing the survey questions. In addition, special thanks go to:

• David Malouf and Lou Danielson, of the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education;

• Eileen Ahearn, of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education;

• Joshua Davis, on-line survey design and maintenance;

• John Bielinski, data analyst for the National Center on Educational Outcomes; and

• Michael Moore, publications director for the National Center on Educational Outcomes.

State Special Education Outcomes 1999 was prepared by Sandra Thompson and Martha Thurlow, with support from research assistant Stacy Callender.


Overview of 1999 Survey

The National Center on Educational Outcomes has been surveying state directors of special education about efforts to include students with disabilities in education reform since 1991. At that time, most state directors of special education were just beginning to think about how students with disabilities fit into emerging educational reforms. Little did anyone realize the incredible magnitude of education reform efforts that would take place over the next eight years, at local, state, and national levels.

In 1997 the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) sparked educational reform in special education. As a result of changes in the Act, educational results for students receiving special education services now must be as public as they are for other students. This means that states must define performance goals and indicators for themselves, and one of the indicators must be the performance of students with disabilities on state and district assessments. Students with disabilities must be included in state and district assessments, with accommodations as appropriate, or in an alternate assessment when they are not able to participate in the general assessment. Their performance on these measures is to be reported in the same way and with the same frequency as the performance of other students is reported.

IDEA 97 is not an isolated law. Its push for educational accountability is evident in other laws as well. The Improving America’s Schools Act, for example, requires that the performance of students with disabilities be disaggregated so that Title I reforms can be targeted toward the needs of these students as well as toward the needs of other students. Other laws, such as Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the School to Work Opportunities Act also solidify the push to recognize that students with disabilities are part of the educational system and that states and districts must be accountable for their learning as well. All in all, there has been a clear directive that the public needs to know, and has a right to know, about the performance of students receiving special education services.

As we produce this first report since the 1997 reauthorization of IDEA, we look at the key elements contained in IDEA. Yet, we also attempt to understand the pressures and barriers that affect state activities during this period of change. We give states the opportunity to report on the planning, development, and implementation of their accountability systems. And, we once again gather information on technical assistance needs so that states can better move forward in their efforts to meet the mandates of educational reform and at the same time do what is best for the children served by special education programs.

The 1999 Special Education Outcomes survey focuses on the implications of educational reform within the context of the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Results are presented in six sections:

Participants in the 1999 survey included state directors of special education

from all 50 states and 11 unique states that abide by the provisions of IDEA. Responses to the survey were gathered on-line for the first time, or by fax or mail for those without Internet access. Some state directors designated other state officials to complete the survey, and some surveys were completed by multiple respondents, including state assessment personnel. Once compiled, drafts of tables were sent to state directors for verification. Several directors made changes in their responses and faxed them back to NCEO. Overall, responses were obtained from 48 of the 50 states and from the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Eleven Unique States
American Samoa
Bureau of Indian Affairs
(BIA)
Department of Defense
District of Columbia
Guam
Mariana Islands
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
Palau
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands

The Context of Reform

Table 1 displays the number of students with disabilities, ages 6 to 17 years, served under the provisions of IDEA during the 1996-97 school year (see third column). It also shows in the last column what percentages these totals represent when compared to the total estimated resident population of students 6-17 years old (from second column). State special education populations differ in their proportion to the overall student populations because of a variety of factors, including differences among states in their eligibility requirements for receiving special education services.

 

Table 1. Frequency and Percentage of State Student Populations Receiving Special Education Services for the 1996-97 School Year

Name of State

Estimated Resident Population for Children
(Ages 6-17) 1

Number of Children Served Under IDEA (Ages 6-17) 2

Percent of All Children Served Under IDEA
(Ages 6-17) 3

Alabama

719,328

84,406

11.73%

Alaska

123,975

15,056

12.14%

Arizona

738,684

68,403

9.26%

Arkansas

447,838

45,050

10.06%

California

5,548,936

505,936

9.12%

Colorado

671,575

61,146

9.10%

Connecticut

527,690

69,883

13.24%

Delaware

115,806

13,190

11.39%

Florida

2,262,861

293,033

12.51%

Georgia

1,287,524

122,307

9.50%

Hawaii

196,244

14,965

7.63%

Idaho

239,941

21,213

8.84%

Illinois

2,054,925

228,834

11.14%

Indiana

1,005,325

119,308

11.87%

Iowa

499,544

58,943

11.80%

Kansas

470,136

46,744

9.94%

Kentucky

656,613

66,902

10.19%

Louisiana

837,677

78,554

9.38%

Maine

212,162

27,838

13.12%

Maryland

848,851

91,017

10.72%

Massachusetts

945,688

136,577

14.44%

Michigan

1,720,585

165,784

9.64%

Minnesota

863,512

86,191

9.98%

Mississippi

510,179

56,585

11.09%

Missouri

949,395

111,331

11.73%

 

Table 1. Frequency and Percentage of State Student Populations Receiving Special Education Services for the 1996-97 School Year (continued)

Name of State

Estimated Resident Population for Children

(Ages 6-17) 1

Number of Children Served Under IDEA

(Ages 6-17) 2

Percent of All Children Served Under IDEA

(Ages 6-17) 3

Montana

165,074

16,086

9.74%

Nebraska

305,230

35,120

11.51%

Nevada

268,132

25,761

9.61%

New Hampshire

203,891

22,845

11.20%

New Jersey

1,293,988

176,576

13.65%

New Mexico

336,994

42,524

12.62%

New York

2,938,973

339,892

11.56%

North Carolina

1,212,477

132,295

10.91%

North Dakota

118,783

10,967

9.23%

Ohio

1,929,434

195,556

10.14%

Oklahoma

604,777

65,206

10.78%

Oregon

552,251

55,759

10.10%

Pennsylvania

1,969,268

183,471

9.32%

Rhode Island

158,229

22,810

14.42%

South Carolina

628,881

77,098

12.26%

South Dakota

142,091

12,268

8.63%

Tennessee

882,139

109,041

12.36%

Texas

3,552,482

405,491

11.41%

Utah

453,896

46,673

10.28%

Vermont

103,207

10,034

9.72%

Virginia

1,081,618

125,065

11.56%

Washington

969,424

90,630

9.35%

West Virginia

292,704

39,943

13.65%

Wisconsin

934,624

91,385

9.78%

Wyoming

95,323

10,797

11.33%

1 Data taken from Table AF4 published in Twentieth Annual Report to Congress (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).

2 Data taken from Table AA1 published in Twentieth Annual Report to Congress (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).

3 Data taken from Table AA10 published in Twentieth Annual Report to Congress (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).

 

Figure 1 shows changes in populations of students receiving special education services from 1990 to 1997. While there has been an increase in 34 states and a decrease in 16 states, the percentages of change are generally quite small. Thus, special education populations continue to show tremendous variations from one state to another, but changes over time are relatively small.

Figure 1. Change in Percentage of Students Receiving Special Education Services from 1990 to 1997

Figure 1. Change in Percentage of Students Receiving Special Education Services from 1990 to 1997


Participation of Students with Disabilities in Statewide Testing

The extent to which students with disabilities are participating in statewide testing has increased and also become more measurable since NCEO began asking states to provide data on student participation in assessments. Participation data previously were largely inaccessible or unavailable to most state directors of special education. The 1995 NCEO survey noted that few state directors knew whether test scores for students with disabilities could be disaggregated from assessment databases. Even when the data were available, most states had not attempted to disaggregate data on students with disabilities.

This year, NCEO again asked for data on the participation of students with disabilities in state assessments. As in the 1997 report, state directors were asked to indicate whether the following kinds of data are available for one or more of their statewide assessments:

The responses of individual states are presented in Table 2.

 

Table 2. Primary Participation Data Available

Table 2. Primary Participation Data Available

 

A total of 45 states indicated that they have data on the number of students with disabilities tested. This information is required by the 1997 amendments to IDEA. Five regular states and all unique states appeared not to have information on the number of students with disabilities tested. One of these states (Nebraska) does not administer statewide tests, so it would not be expected to have data on the number of students taking the state assessment. The four other regular states without an indication that they had participation data either had not responded to this item (Alaska, Colorado) or they had not responded to the survey (Illinois, Maine).

Several states also collect or receive participation data in other ways than simply the number tested. Approximately equal numbers of states, but not necessarily the same ones, have data on exemptions or exclusions, and percentage information.

Some students are recognized as having disabilities under another federal law—Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Data on 504 students participating in testing and other types of participation data are available somewhat sporadically among the states (see Table 3). For example, data on how many 504 students participate in testing are available in just 18 states, and other kinds of participation data are available in 12 states. These other data include the number of students using testing accommodations.

 

Table 3: Other Participation Data and 504 Participation Data Available

Regular States

 

504 Plans

Other Measures of Participation

 

Description of Other Data

Alabama

n

n

"Other" not defined
Alaska*      
Arizona      
Arkansas      
California      
Colorado*      
Connecticut      
Delaware      
Florida

n

n

"Other" not defined
Georgia

n

   
Hawaii      
Idaho      
Illinois*      
Indiana

n

n

Number of students receiving accommodations
Iowa      
Kansas      
Kentucky

n

n

Types of accommodations, number testing with and without accommodations, number participating in alternate portfolio
Louisiana

n

   
Maine*      
Maryland

n

n

Number of students/types of accommodations, number of students alternately assessed
Massachusetts  

n

Pre-test files, post-test files, results
Michigan

n

   

 

Table 3: Other Participation Data and 504 Participation Data Available (continued)

 

Regular States

 

504 Plans

Other Measures of Participation  

Description of Other Data

Minnesota

n

   
Mississippi      
Missouri

n

   
Montana      
Nebraska      
Nevada

n

   
New Hampshire  

n

Number of students with limited English proficiency
New Jersey

n

   
New Mexico  

n

Number of special education test takers with and without modifications
New York  

n

Disaggregate results for students receiving consultant teacher, resource room, or related services, and results for students receiving special class services
North Carolina*      
North Dakota

n

   
Ohio  

n

Information presented by 4-6-9-10-12 grades and by proficiency area
Oklahoma      
Oregon      
Pennsylvania      
Rhode Island

n

   
South Carolina

n

   
South Dakota

n

n

Number of students participating with accommodations
Tennessee      
Texas  

n

"Other" not defined
Utah      
Vermont

n

   
Virginia      
Washington      
West Virginia      
Wisconsin      
Wyoming

n

   
Unique States*    
American Samoa      
Bureau of Indian Affairs      
Department of Defense      
District of Columbia      
Guam      
Mariana Islands      
Marshall Islands      
Micronesia      
Palau      
Puerto Rico      
U.S. Virgin Islands      
Totals

18

12

 

* No Response

State directors also were asked how participation rates were calculated in their most recent statewide assessment. Of the 31 states whose directors had reported that the state calculated test participation rates for students receiving special education services, 10 indicated that the calculations were completed at the local level by having schools turn in all of their test forms, including those for students who were not tested. Participation is calculated by dividing the number of completed test forms by the total number of test forms (including those that are blank). Most of the remaining states (14 of 21) divide the number of test takers by the state/federal child count that is reported December 1. Other states gave answers that did not indicate which calculation method they used. States have found distinct advantages and disadvantages with each of these models, as shown in Table 4. Interestingly, a few additional states indicated how they would calculate these rates even though they had indicated they did not do so. These states were fairly evenly split between those using local counts and those using state/federal child count data.

 

 

Table 4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Counting Students Locally on Test Day Versus Using the Federal Child Count

 

Count students locally on test day

Use federal child count

Advantages Do not have to worry about inaccuracies resulting from time between enrollment count and test. Numbers are used to determine state and federal funding, so underreporting is unlikely.
Disadvantages Count may be inaccurate due to errors by local test administrators.

Some students are unaccounted for – they are eligible for testing, but are not tested.

Several months may pass between child count and test, leaving room for error due to students entering and leaving school system.

Child count is generally reported by student age, not grade (tests are given by grade, not age).

 

State directors reported encountering a variety of difficulties in the calculation of test participation rates of students receiving special education services. Only two state directors reported having no problems calculating these participation rates. Other states reported four primary challenges:

Each year, NCEO asks states to provide actual participation frequency data for the most recent assessment for which data are available. In the past, most states have been able to provide only estimates of the participation of students with disabilities in state assessments. In 1997, prior to the reauthorization of IDEA, 15 states provided actual participation numbers. In 1999, 23 states provided these data, but the states were not necessarily the same ones. The states providing participation data in 1999 are listed in Table 5, along with those states that provided data in 1997.

 

Table 5. States with Data on the Number of Students with Disabilities Participating in State Assessments

1997

1999

Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Hawaii
Kansas
Louisiana
Maryland
Missouri
New York
North Dakota
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Texas
Wisconsin
Connecticut
Florida
Georgia
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Maryland
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Missouri
Nevada
New York
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

Although the federal requirement is for states to report the number of students with disabilities participating in state and district assessments, percentages are most useful for policymakers evaluating the inclusiveness of assessment programs. Using state-provided numbers of students participating in assessments and child count data, participation rates were calculated for specific administrations of state tests. These estimated rates are contained in Table 6. Rates of participation vary from less than one-fourth of students with disabilities to all students with disabilities.

 

Table 6. Percent of Students Receiving Special Education Services Who Participated in State Assessments*

 
 
State
Assessment/
Subject Area
Elementary Grades
(K-5)
Middle School
Grades (6-8)
High School Grades
(9-12)
Connecticut
CT Mastery Test
(Reading, Math, Writing)
CT Academic Performance Test (Interdisciplinary)
44% (Gr 3)
43% (Gr 6)
43% (Gr 8)
 
27% (Gr 10)
Florida
FL Writing Assessment
FCAT (Reading)
FCAT (Math)
81% (Gr 4)
80% (Gr 4)
81% (Gr 5)
75% (Gr 8)
71% (Gr 8)
72% (Gr 8)
52% (Gr 10)
50% (Gr 10)
50% (Gr 10)
Georgia
GHSGT (Lang Arts, Math, Science, So Studies, Writing)
GKAP (Literacy, Math, Social/Emotional)
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Writing Assessments
 
50% (Kdg)
53% (Gr 3)
60% (Gr 5)
44% (Gr 3)
53% (Gr 5)
 
 
 
62% (Gr 8)
64% (Gr 8)
51% (Gr 11)
 
 
 
 
54% (Gr 11)
Indiana
Statewide Assessment
Math
English/Language Arts
51% (Gr 3)
51% (Gr 3)
76% (Gr 6)
81% (Gr 8)
76% (Gr 6)
81% (Gr 8)
78% (Gr10)
78% (Gr 10)
Kansas
KS Assessment Program – Math
Reading
Writing
65% (Gr 4)
57% (Gr 3)
63% (Gr 5)
69% (Gr 7)
67% (Gr 7)
63% (Gr 7)
59% (Gr 10)
54% (Gr 10)
54% (Gr 10)
Kentucky
Kentucky Core Content Test
100% (Gr 4)
100% (Gr 5)
100% (Gr 7)
100% (Gr 8)
100% (Gr 10)
100% (Gr 11)
100% (Gr 12)
Maryland
Functional Testing Program (Citizenship, Math, Reading, Writing)
MSPAP (Writing, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Language Usage, Math)
 
 
95% (Gr 3)
95% (Gr 5)
95% (Gr 8)
 
95% (Gr 8)
 
Massachusetts
Iowa Test of Basic Skills – Reading
Comprehensive Assessment System
98% (Gr 3)
94% (Gr 4)
 
93% (Gr 8)
 
91% (Gr 10)
Minnesota
Basic Standards Tests (Reading, Math)
Comprehensive Assessments (Reading, Math, Writing)
 
84% (Gr 3)
83% (Gr 5)
89% (Gr 8)
 
Missouri
MMAT (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies)
MAP Math
MAP Communication Arts
MAP Science
60% (Gr 3)
65% (Gr 5)
82% (Gr 4)
60% (Gr 3)
59% (Gr 3)
 
82% (Gr 8)
65% (Gr 7)
64% (Gr 7)
 
65% (Gr 10)
42% (Gr 11)
45% (Gr 10)
Nevada
Terra Nova Complete Battery
83% (Gr 4)
88% (Gr 8)
93% (Gr 10)
New York
PEP Test – Reading
Math
Writing
85% (Gr 3)
88% (Gr 3)
90% (Gr 5)
90% (Gr 6)
90% (Gr 6)
 

 

Table 6. Percent of Students Receiving Special Education Services Who Participated in State Assessments* (continued)

 
 
State
Assessment/
Subject Area
Elementary Grades
(K-5)
Middle School
Grades (6-8)
High School Grades
(9-12)
Ohio
Proficiency Test (Citizenship, Math, Reading, Science, Writing)
62% (Gr 4)
59% (Gr 6)
57% (Gr 9)
34% (Gr 12)
Oklahoma
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Reading, Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, other)
OK Core Curriculum Tests (Math, Science, Reading, Constitution and Government, Geography, Visual Arts and Music)
OK Core Curriculum - Writing
80% (Gr 3)
 
80% (Gr 5)
 
 
78% (Gr 5)
84% (Gr 7)
 
75% (Gr 8)
 
 
75% (Gr 8)
 
 
58% (Gr 11)
 
 
63% (Gr 11)
Pennsylvania
Reading and Math Assessment
48% (Gr 5)
56% (Gr 8)
32% (Gr 11)
Rhode Island
Writing Performance Assessment
Health Performance Assessment
95% (Gr 3)
92% (Gr 5)
92% (Gr 7)
89% (Gr 9)
91% (Gr 10)
South Dakota
Stanford Achievement Test (Language, Math, Reading, Science, Social Science)
53% (Gr 2)
63% (Gr 4)
74% (Gr 8)
67% (Gr 11)
Tennessee
TCAP Writing Assessment
TCAP Achievement
 
TCAP Competency
65% (Gr 4)
79% (Gr 3)
77% (Gr 4)
73% (Gr 5)
66% (Gr 7)
76% (Gr 6)
71% (Gr 7)
76% (Gr 8)
39% (Gr 11)
 
 
76% (Gr 9)
73% (Gr 10)
74% (Gr 11)
64% (Gr 12)
Texas
TAAS – Reading
 
Mathematics
 
Writing
Social Studies
Science
38% (Gr 3)
34% (Gr 4)
36% (Gr 5)
48% (Gr 3)
42% (Gr 4)
41% (Gr 5)
31% (Gr 4)
39% (Gr 6)
42% (Gr 7)
42% (Gr 8)
44% (Gr 6)
44% (Gr 7)
41% (Gr 8)
39% (Gr 8)
45% (Gr 8)
45% (Gr 8)
42% (Gr 10)
 
41% (Gr 10)
 
41% (Gr 10)
 
Vermont
Developmental Reading
Math
English Language Arts
Science
92% (Gr 2)
90% (Gr 4)
88% (Gr 4)
87% (Gr 8)
77% (Gr 9)
91% (Gr 6)
50% (Gr 10)
50% (Gr 10)
Washington
Washington Assessment of Student Learning
92% (Gr 4)
94% (Gr 7)
 
West Virginia
SAT 9 – Language, Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies
89% (Gr 3-11)
 
 
Wisconsin
Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Writing, Language Arts)
23% (Gr 4)
15% (Gr 8)
26% (Gr 10)

*Repeat years of exit tests were not included in this table because of repeated testing opportunities.

 

Twelve states were able to report data on the number of students who used accommodations. These data, also calculated as percentages by NCEO, are provided in Table 7. Rates of use vary from less than one-fourth of students with disabilities to more than three-quarters. The variability in rates may be due, in part, to differences in definition and what kinds of accommodations are counted (e.g., some states count only modifications).

 

Table 7. Percent of Students Receiving Special Education Services Who Used Testing Accommodations

 
 
State
Assessment/
Subject Area
Elementary Grades
(K-5)
Middle School
Grades (6-8)
High School Grades (9-12)
Florida
FL Writing Assessment
FCAT (Reading)
FCAT (Math)
51%(Gr 4)
47% (Gr 4)
50% (Gr 5)
39% (Gr 8)
38% (Gr 8)
38% (Gr 8)
34% (Gr 10)
40% (Gr 10)
39% (Gr 10)
Indiana
Statewide Assessment - Math
English/Language Arts
28% (Gr 3)
29% (Gr 3)
34% (Gr 6)
38% (Gr 8)
34% (Gr 6)
38% (Gr 8)
80% (Gr10)
82% (Gr 10)
Kansas
KS Assessment Program – Math
Reading
Writing
21% (Gr 4)
19% (Gr 3)
23% (Gr 5)
14% (Gr 7)
13% (Gr 7)
17% (Gr 7)
08% (Gr 10)
08% (Gr 10)
09% (Gr 10)
Kentucky
Kentucky Core Content Test
82% (Gr 4)
82% (Gr 5)
72% (Gr 7)
70% (Gr 8)
50% (Gr 10)
57% (Gr 11)
55% (Gr 12)
Massachusetts
Comprehensive Assessment System
61% (Gr 4)
38% (Gr 8)
25% (Gr 10)
Maryland
MSPAP - Reading
Language Usage
Math
53% (Gr 3)
51% (Gr 5)
44% (Gr 3)
41% (Gr 5)
20% (Gr 3)
25% (Gr 8)
16% (Gr 8)
 
Nevada
Terra Nova Complete Battery
51% (Gr 4)
42% (Gr 8)
44% (Gr 10)
New York
PEP Test – Reading
Math
Writing
50% (Gr 3)
31% (Gr 3)
33% (Gr 5)
50% (Gr 6)
32% (Gr 6)
 
Pennsylvania
Reading and Math Assessment
67% (Gr 5)
52% (Gr 8)
45% (Gr 11)
Rhode Island
Writing Performance Assessment
Health Performance Assessment
49% (Gr 3)
39% (Gr 5)
55% (Gr 7)
61% (Gr 9)
60% (Gr 10)
South Dakota
Stanford Achievement Test (Language, Math, Reading, Science, Social Science)
63% (Gr2)
67% (Gr 4)
59% (Gr 8)
46% (Gr 11)
West Virginia
SAT 9 – Language, Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies
64% (Gr 3-11)
 
 

 

There are several factors that state directors of special education believe may work against the full participation of students with disabilities in large-scale assessment programs, especially in states where accountability systems have significant consequences for students or schools (see Figure 2). Most of the factors reported in 1999 inhibit participation to a somewhat lesser degree than they did in 1997. High stakes (i.e., sanctions or rewards) attached to school or district performance remains the greatest source of discouragement. A new item in 1999, focusing on exposure to the curriculum or content included in tests, is perceived to inhibit participation to a high degree and will be important to continue to track in future years. The perception of teachers, parents, and others that large-scale testing is irrelevant to the educational success of students with disabilities also remains a significant barrier. Implementation of participation guidelines varies widely at the school or district level, but less than in 1997. The least inhibiting factor this year is "policies or guidelines overseeing participation of students with disabilities in assessment are absent or vaguely written." The decreases in ratings for both the monitoring and policies/guidelines items reflect substantial changes from 1997.

Figure 2. Factors Discouraging Participation of Students with Disabilities in State Assessment Programs

Figure 2. Factors Discouraging Participation of Students with Disabilities in State Assessment Programs


State Activities in Developing Alternate Assessments

Alternate assessments provide a mechanism for students who cannot participate in state and district-wide assessments, even with accommodations, to be included in state and district accountability systems. In 1997, NCEO began to assess the status of states in the development of alternate assessments using an on-line survey. This provided all states with continuous, up-to-date information on what other states are doing in the development of their alternate assessments. The data reported in Tables 8-10 were compiled from state responses to the Alternate Assessment On-line Survey in October, 1999. At this time, 43 regular states and three unique states had completed the survey. The date is important to note, since states are continually working on their alternate assessments and updating the information in the survey.

Nearly half of the states report using the same standards for alternate assessments as they use in general education assessments, or some variation of them, such as expanded standards (see Table 8). Other states are developing different standards for students participating in alternate assessments, or are still uncertain about what standards they will use.

 

Table 8. Alternate Assessment Standards

Alternate Assessment Standards

Regular States

Unique States
Identical to those applied to general education 6 0
General education standards with some additions 1 0
Subset of those applied to general education 14 2
Independently developed for students needing alternate assessments 8 0
Uncertain at this time 14 1

*Includes the responses of 43 regular states and 3 unique states have responded to the Alternate Assessment Survey, as of October, 1999.

 

Table 9 shows the status of states in various aspects of the development of their alternate assessments. Most states are continuing to work on identifying standards, establishing eligibility guidelines, and creating assessment tools or systems.

 

Table 9. States Engaged in Various Alternate Assessment Activities

State Activity

Regular States

Unique States
Identifying standards 34 0
Establishing eligibility guidelines 36 1
Identifying/creating instrument 32 1
Training on alternate assessment 12 0
Establishing proficiency levels 22 0
Determining reporting procedures 23 0
Determining inclusion in high stakes 18 0

*Includes the responses of 43 regular states and 3 unique states have responded to the Alternate Assessment Survey, as of October, 1999.

 

Several states now have selected the data collection methods that they are using for their alternate assessments (see Table 10). Most states have decided to use observations, portfolios, or performance assessments. However, many states have not yet selected their alternate assessment approach.

 

Table 10. Alternate Assessment Approaches Selected and Considered by States

State Activity

Regular States

Unique States
Observation (direct, video, or other) 8 0
Student portfolio 4 0
Performance assessment 4 0
Survey (mail or other) or Interview 3 0
Review of progress 3 0
Adapted regular state assessment 3 0
Adaptive behavior scale 2 0

*Includes the responses of 43 regular states and 3 unique states have responded to the Alternate Assessment Survey, as of October, 1999.

 

Only 29 state directors were able to give a number when asked to estimate the percent of students in their states whose exposure to the content covered on statewide assessments was so limited that it made little sense to give them the regular assessment for their age or grade level (see Table 11). Some estimated the percentage of students with disabilities while others estimated the percentage of all students. The distinction between the two percentages still seems to be confusing to states. Some states were able to base their estimation on actual participation data, while others were making educated guesses. Eight states reported that they are not able to estimate this percentage yet, but will have better information once their alternate assessments are in place. State provided estimates varied considerably, with as many states estimating more than 4% (and some of these as high as 9%) as estimated one percent or less.

 

Table 11. Estimated Percentages of All Students Whose Exposure to Content is Too Limited for Them to Participate in Regular Assessment

< 1 – 1%

> 1 – 2%

> 2 4%

> 4%

Delaware*
Kansas
Kentucky
Maryland
Minnesota
Nebraska
Vermont
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Indiana
Florida*
Louisiana
Nevada
Oregon
Rhode Island
Virginia
Arkansas*
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Mexico
Utah
Washington
Wisconsin
 
Mississippi
Ohio
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas*
West Virginia

*State provided percentage of students with disabilities was transformed to a percentage of all students using the special education rate.

 

When asked to estimate how many students per grade level are expected to participate in alternate assessments, for both the current school year (1999-2000) during which alternate assessments are not required by law, and the upcoming school year (2000-01), when alternate assessments are required, state directors sometimes responded with percentages of all students rather than just students with disabilities. Most states estimated that percentages would stay the same, but some foresaw decreases and others increases (see Table 12).

 

Table 12. Estimated Changes in Alternate Assessment Participation from 1999-2000 to 2000-2001*

Decrease Same Increase
Florida
Idaho
West Virginia
Wyoming
California
Delaware
Hawaii
Kansas
Kentucky
New Mexico
Texas
Washington
Colorado
Massachusetts
Tennessee

*Only 15 states were able to make projections for both years.

 

Most states are in the process of developing their alternate assessments. Expected participation rates of all students unable to participate in regular assessments varies considerably in the 29 states ready to make predictions, implying that there will also be large variations in alternate assessment participation rates.


Reporting and Using Assessment Results

Performance of students with disabilities on regular assessments now must be disaggregated from the scores of other students and reported in the same way as the performance of other students is reported. In 1999, all directors with statewide assessments indicated that scores of test-takers receiving special education services were disaggregated. In 1997, 22 states did not disaggregate scores. Reasons for disaggregating data are primarily to conduct separate analyses or report the results. Still, 11 states indicated they are removing the scores of students with disabilities from further analyses (see Figure 3). Removing scores was the only reason cited by four states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, and Nebraska).

Figure 3. Reasons for Disaggregating Performance Data

Figure 3. Reasons for Disaggregating Performance Data

 

Table 13 shows the ways in which results are reported in the 41 states that separate scores for analysis or reporting. Most states are publicly reporting on the performance of students with disabilities.

 

Table 13. Ways in Which Results of Separate Analyses of Students with Disabilities are Reported

 
 
 
 
State
 
Internal report for review by SEA personnel
Internal report to local district or school officials
Publicly released report that includes all test takers
Publicly released report that includes only students with disabilities
Alabama
 
 
n
 
Arkansas
 
n
 
n
Arizona
n
n
 
 
California
n
 
 
 
Colorado
 
n
n
 
Delaware
n
n
n
 
Florida
n
n
 
 
Georgia
n
n
n
 
Idaho
n
n
 
 
Indiana
 
 
n
 
Kansas
n
n
 
 
Kentucky
n
n
n
 
Louisiana
n
n
n