NCEO Tool 9

Reasons Why Students with Disabilities Should Take State Tests: A Customizable Template for a Flyer for Parents and Families


Kathy Strunk, Virginia A. Ressa, Bill Huennekens, Martha L. Thurlow, and Travis Peterson

The Center is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326G160001) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. The Center is affiliated with the Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. The contents of this report were developed under the Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education, but does not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Project Officer: David Egnor

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

Strunk, K., Ressa, V.A., Huennekens, B., Thurlow, M.L., and Peterson, T. (2020). Reasons why students with disabilities should take state tests: A customizable template for a flyer for parents and families (NCEO Tool #9). National Center on Educational Outcomes.


Federal laws, both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), require that all students participate in state assessments. State assessments of reading/language arts, mathematics, and science are administered each year. They include both general assessments, which are taken by most students with disabilities, and alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

ESSA also stipulates that to meet accountability requirements, at least 95% of all students and 95% of students with disabilities participate in statewide assessments. States incur negative consequences when they are unable to meet the 95% participation rates.

Purpose of Tool

This resource was developed by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) to identify and describe reasons why students with disabilities should take state tests. The purpose of the tool is to provide a concise resource that administrators, teachers, and other educators can use when communicating with parents and families about why it is so important that their children with disabilities participate in state assessments. It also provides strategies to reduce student test anxiety.

This resource provides useful information for parents and families that they can factor into their thinking when making decisions about assessment participation. It is intended to provide a neutral but useful mechanism to guide positive, thoughtful conversations about student assessment participation. For example, this tool could be used during Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meetings or parent-teacher meetings. Students also may find this resource useful. The tool may be customized by a state, district, or school. To access the Word document, see

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