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10/19/2012

Common Adaptive Tests to Address Special Needs

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The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities recently drew up a policy statement on computer-adaptive testing and emphasized that students should be tested on the full range of grade-level content regardless of their proficiency levels entering the test. Michelle R. Davis at edweek.org reports. 

Computer-adaptive testing, in theory, should allow educators to pinpoint more accurately the achievement levels of students with disabilities, to focus on areas where those students need help.

Designed to provide each student with an individualized test, computer-adaptive testing gives students with disabilities more questions they can get right, preventing frustration, and can provide support to aid students as they take the exams, assessment experts say.

Advocates for such students say they are excited about the potential of adaptive tests to both engage students and measure their learning more accurately. But those advocates are also watching to make sure that the designers of computer-adaptive tests—which are being created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to assess performance on the Common Core State Standards—understand that just because students may lag in one area, that doesn’t preclude them from being on grade level or advanced in another area.

Computer-adaptive tests are structured to provide test questions based on previous student answers; for example, if a student answers a question correctly, he or she will then be presented with a more difficult question. Advocates worry that students who score low in one area, though, may never be presented with harder questions in other areas.

This article is reproduced with permission from edweek.org. To read the full article, please visit their website.

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