Gandhi, A. G., Ogut, B., Stein, L., Bzura, R., & Danielson, L. (2017). Enhancing accessibility for students with decoding difficulties on large-scale reading assessments . Journal of Learning Disabilities , 51 (6), 540–551.

Journal Article

Gandhi, A. G., Ogut, B., Stein, L., Bzura, R., & Danielson, L. (2017). Enhancing accessibility for students with decoding difficulties on large-scale reading assessments. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51(6), 540–551.


Elementary; Extended time; Learning disabilities; Multiple accommodations; No disability; Oral delivery; Oral delivery, live/in-person; Reading; U.S. context



Different forms of in-person oral delivery were compared to one another and to a non-accommodated administration of assessment items. In most conditions, students first read passages silently to themselves. Then came: (1) no accommodation—the students read and responded to the questions silently; (2) administrators read question stems and answer options aloud, and students responded silently; (3) administrators read question stems, answer options, and proper nouns aloud (for students to respond silently). In a different "full read-aloud" condition, (4) test administrators read the passages, the questions, and the answer options aloud. In all accommodated test conditions, administrators waited for all students in each group to complete their responses before proceeding to each of the subsequent items—inadvertently providing unlimited extended time as well.


Due to attrition and missing data, the final analyses examined performance for a total of 145 students in grade 4: 49 average readers and 96 students with reading difficulties—68 of whom had reading-related disabilities. These students were from as many as 46 schools across 26 districts in Ohio. Comparisons were analyzed for all three groups—average readers, those with reading difficulties as a whole, and the subset of students with reading disabilities.

Dependent Variable

Researchers constructed reading comprehension assessments with 11 released state assessment reading passages, with 5 to 7 multiple choice items each. Each of the four comparable (in difficulty) test versions had two passages and 11 to 14 items. [Note: Because the test used released items, performance data from students who reported familiarity with the test items were excluded.] All participants completed all four versions of the test, participating in all accommodations conditions. For screening purposes, all participants also completed relevant subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson III Diagnostic Reading Battery (Woodcock, Mather, & Schrank, 2004) and the Test of Word Reading Efficiency 2 (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 2012).


Participants with reading difficulties scored significantly higher in two of the three accommodated conditions compared to the unaccommodated reading comprehension assessment: these low-performing readers scored significantly higher with oral delivery of question stems and answer options and with the entire test (including passages) presented aloud. Also, these 96 students with reading difficulties did not score significantly differently on average when comparing performance between these two accommodated test conditions—that is, with the difference of hearing the passages aloud or not. Further, participants who were average readers did not score significantly differently between accommodated and unaccommodated assessments, and also when comparing each of the accommodated versions to one another. Descriptive differences were noted for the average reader group: they scored highest on the unaccommodated test, and lowest on the test version with proper nouns read aloud. Participants with reading disabilities had somewhat more pronounced differences—with larger effect sizes—than the overall poor readers group. The 68 students with disabilities averaged significantly higher scores (compared with no accommodations) when using two of the accommodations conditions: with the questions and proper nouns read to them, and with oral delivery of the entire test. However, these students with reading disabilities did not demonstrate significant benefits from oral delivery of question stems and answer choices alone, in comparison with no accommodations at all. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.