Polkowski, S. M. (2017). An analysis of educator practices: Learning and assessment accommodations for students with special needs (Publication No. 10757827) [Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1994114164
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (New Brunswick–Piscataway, NJ); ProQuest document ID: 1994114164; also available in Rutgers' website database at https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/55081/
The primary focus was on incidence of accommodations use, and alignment of accommodations use across instruction and assessment contexts. Individual accommodations were not reported; however, types of accommodations were described based on the Checklist of Learning and Assessment Adjustments for Students (CLAAS) survey's domains, including motivational, scheduling, setting, directions, equipment/assistive technology, formats, and assistance prior to and during assessments.
Educators in three New Jersey school districts participated by responding to teacher surveys on themselves which also requested them to report deidentified student data. These educators were 25 special education teachers, 15 general education teachers, and 5 paraprofessionals. All survey respondents were responsible for providing accommodations to students with special needs (SWSNs), who included students with disabilities receiving accommodations identified on their IEPs (individualized education programs), students who received services as identified on their Section 504 plans, and English learners with disabilities who received accommodations as identified on their IEPs. Additional information was reported about educator respondents, including demographics such as gender (87% women) and ethnicity (69% of European descent), as well as academic degrees and job experience as measured by number of years in their current job roles. The researcher reported demographic data for the students, including gender and ethnicity, as well as grade level and special needs and their severities. The survey information represented students in all grades from grade 3 through 12, and all disability categories as well as 4 students with Section 504 plans and 2 students who were also English learners.
The Checklist of Learning and Assessment Adjustments for Students (CLAAS) was the survey completed by educator-respondents. The CLAAS is a 67-item checklist developed in Australia; the researcher characterized the current study as a replication of the study in which this survey was developed. Each item represented an accommodation. The purpose of the CLAAS is to "assist educators in selecting, planning, and documenting accommodations during CL [classroom learning] and CA [classroom assessments] in addition to LA [large scale assessments]" (p. 33). The researcher noted that the relevant large scale assessment in New Jersey in 2015–2016 was the PARCC. Each educator-respondent completed the CLAAS on behalf of one student with special needs, listing out all accommodations used during instruction and assessments; part of the function of the CLAAS was to examine alignment of accommodation use across the three contexts. The CLAAS measures 8 domains comprising its own typology of accommodations: motivational, scheduling, setting, directions, equipment/assistive technology, formats, and assistance prior to and during assessments.
Educators reported that 49% of their students received accommodations during classroom learning, 46% received accommodations during classroom assessments, and 26% had accommodations during large-scale assessments. The researcher described the relative prevalences of the accommodation domains/types in the three contexts: during instruction, Motivational Adjustments were used by the highest prevalence of participants (86%) and Equipment or Assistive Technology had the lowest prevalence (26%); during Classroom Assessments, Motivational Adjustments were highest in prevalence (82%) and Equipment or Assistive Technology was lowest (24%); in contrast, during Large scale Assessments, the highest prevalence (54%) received Scheduling Adjustments, and the lowest prevalence (15%) received Equipment and Assistive Technology accommodations. The researcher also contrasted the accommodations domains between conditions, noting that three domains—Setting Adjustments, Assistance prior to Testing, and Equipment/Assistive Technology—demonstrated no significant difference between conditions. Prevalence differences were significant for Motivational Adjustments between instruction and state test with a large effect size, and between classroom learning and classroom assessment, with a large effect size. Similar significant differences in these two condition comparisons for Scheduling Adjustments (with medium effect sizes), Assistance with Directions (with medium effect sizes), and Assistance during Assessment (with medium effect sizes). The Formats domain showed significantly different prevalence in comparison between Classroom Learning and Large-scale Assessment (with a medium effect size). A summative comparison of all domains was also reported, and one comparison showed significant difference: between the instruction and state assessment conditions, with a moderate effect size. However, for all eight domains, no significant differences were reported for the conditions of learning and assessment in the classroom. Alignment analyses yielded similar patterns, with the lowest alignments between Classroom Learning and Large-scale Assessment conditions, and consistently highest (for all domains) between Classroom Learning and Classroom Assessment conditions. The researcher also explained the similarities and distinctions between the results when using prevalence, effect size, and alignment analyses. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.