Participation in General Assessments

Participation in state and district general assessments of academic content is a critical element of equal opportunity and access to education. This is true for students with disabilities, English learners (ELs), and ELs with disabilities.

When these students do not participate in large-scale assessments of academic content (for example, reading, mathematics, science, and other areas), their programs may be plagued by low expectations. Programs may also lack information needed to make improvements.

Assessments help to measure:

  • How successful schools are in including all students in standards-based reforms
  • How successful instructional strategies are in helping all students achieve at high levels
  • What specific curriculum and instructional areas need improvement for particular groups of students

It is only when all students participate in assessments that educators and policymakers are able to have an accurate picture of school or district strengths and needs. But this does not mean that all students take the same test.

Most students will participate in general assessments of content that have a variety of access tools available to all students, as well as accommodations for those with specific needs. A much smaller number of students will participate in alternate assessments of academic content. All states have an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS).

With these ways to participate, the question becomes not whether students will participate in assessments, but rather how they will participate. For students who receive special education services, the decision about how they participate is made by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. For other students with disabilities and ELs, schools vary in the process used to make this decision.

 

Related Publications

NCEO State Surveys: 2016 Survey of States: State Activities Amid Evolving Educational Policies

Formats: PDF

NCEO Reports: 2014-15 Publicly Reported Assessment Results for Students with Disabilities and ELs with Disabilities (#405)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Data Analytics: State Assessment Participation and Performance of Students with IEPs 2013-2014 (#5)

Formats: Online

CCSSO Accessibility Manual: How To Select, Administer, And Evaluate Use Of Accessibility Supports For Instruction And Assessment Of All Students

Formats: Word

NCEO APR Snapshot Briefs: 2013-2014 APR Snapshot #10: State Assessment Participation and Performance of Students Receiving Special Education Services (#10)

Formats: Online

NCEO Reports: Principios y Características de Sistemas Inclusivos de Evaluación en un Escenario de Evaluación Cambiante (#400 Spanish)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Reports: Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment Systems in a Changing Assessment Landscape (#400)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Reports: 2013-14 Publicly Reported Assessment Results for Students with Disabilities and ELLs with Disabilities (#401)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO State Surveys: 2014 Survey of States: Initiatives, Trends, and Accomplishments

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO APR Snapshot Briefs: 2011-2012 APR Snapshot #7: State Assessment Participation and Performance of Students Receiving Special Education Services (#7)

Formats: Online

NCEO Brief: Participation of ELLs with Disabilities in ELP Assessments (#8)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Policy Directions: Successfully Transitioning from the AA-MAS to the General Assessment (#22)

Formats: Online , PDF

Voices From the Field: Making State Assessment Decisions for English Language Learners With Disabilities

Formats: PDF

NCEO APR Snapshot Briefs: 2010-2011 APR Snapshot #4: State Assessment Participation and Performance of Students Receiving Special Education Services (#4)

Formats: Online

NCEO APR Snapshot Briefs: 2008-2009 APR Snapshot #1: State Assessment Participation and Performance of Special Education Students (#1)

Formats: Online

Moving Your Numbers: Moving Your Numbers: Five Districts Share How They Used Assessment and Accountability to Increase Performance for Students With Disabilities as Part of District-wide Improvement

Formats: PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: 2009 State Policies on Assessment Participation and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (#83)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Brief: Understanding Subgroups in Common State Assessments: Special Education Students and ELLs (#4)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Brief: Participation Guidelines for New Assessments: Thinking Through Their Development (#3)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: Public Reporting of 2007-2008 Assessment Information on Students with Disabilities: Progress on the Gap Front (#57)

Formats: Online , PDF

Meeting the Needs of Special Education Students: Recommendations for the Race-to-the-Top Consortia and States

Formats: PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: Science Assessments for Students with Disabilities in School Year 2006-2007: What We Know about Participation, Performance, and Accommodations (#77)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO State Surveys: 2009 Survey of States - Accomplishments and New Issues at the End of a Decade of Change

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: States Challenged to Meet Special Education Targets for Assessment Indicator (#55)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: State Reports on the Participation and Performance of English Language Learners with Disabilities in 2006-2007 (#54)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: Trends in the Participation and Performance of Students with Disabilities (#50)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO State Surveys: 2007 Survey of States - Activities, Changes, and Challenges for Special Education

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Annual Performance Reports and State Performance Plans: 2004-2005 State Assessment Data

Formats: PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: 2005 State Policies on Assessment Participation and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (#64)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: High Stakes Graduation Exams: The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Minnesota's Basic Standards Tests for Students with Disabilities (#62)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Large-Scale Assessments and English Language Learners with Disabilities - A Case Study of Participation, Performance, and Perceptions: "Walking the Talk!" (#15)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Including English Language Learners with Disabilities in Large-Scale Assessments - A Case Study of Linguistically-Diverse Populations (#14)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: Uneven Transparency: NCLB Tests Take Precedence in Public Assessment Reporting for Students with Disabilities (#43)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: English Language Learners with Disabilities and Large-Scale Assessments - What the Literature Can Tell Us (#6)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Graduation Exam Participation (2000-2001) of English Language Learners with Disabilities (#3)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Including English Language Learners with Disabilities in Statewide Assessments (#9)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: Steady Progress: State Public Reporting Practices for Students with Disabilities After the First Year of NCLB (2002-2003) (#40)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Graduation Exam Participation and Performance (1999-2000) of English Language Learners with Disabilities (#2)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Beyond Subgroup Reporting - English Language Learners with Disabilities in 2002-2003 Online State Assessment Reports (#10)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: A Review of 50 States' Online Large-Scale Assessment Policies - Are English Language Learners with Disabilities Considered? (#5)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: 2000-2001 Participation and Performance of English Language Learners with Disabilities on Minnesota Standards-based Assessments (#4)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: 1999-2000 Participation and Performance of English Language Learners with Disabilities on Minnesota Standards-based Assessments (#1)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: Large-Scale Assessment and Accountability Systems: Positive Consequences for Students with Disabilities (#51)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO State Surveys: 2003 State Special Education Outcomes - Marching On

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Annual Performance Reports and State Performance Plans: Biennial Performance Reports: 2000-2001 State Assessment Data

Formats: PDF

NCEO Limited English Proficiency Projects Reports: 1999-2000 Participation and Performance of English Language Learners Reported in Public State Documents and Web Sites (#3)

Formats: PDF

NCEO Technical Reports: On the Road to Accountability: Reporting Outcomes for Students with Disabilities (#32)

Formats: Online

NCEO Limited English Proficiency Projects Reports: State and District Assessments as an Avenue to Equity and Excellence for English Language Learners with Disabilities (#2)

Formats: Online

NCEO State Surveys: 2001 State Special Education Outcomes - A Report on State Activities at the Beginning of a New Decade

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Minnesota Assessment Project Reports: Minnesota's Comprehensive Assessments: 1998 and 1999 Participation and Performance of Students with Disabilities (#32)

Formats: Online

NCEO State Surveys: 1999 State Special Education Outcomes - A Report on State Activities at the End of the Century

Formats: Online , PDF