Williams, A. D. (2015). Middle school students’ experience of receiving test accommodations (Publication No. 3713969) [Doctoral dissertation, Capella University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1709469936
Capella University (Minneapolis, MN); ProQuest document ID: 1709469936
For this qualitative descriptive study, assessment accommodations for the participants included extended time, oral delivery, individual setting, small group setting, multiple-session testing, and marking in test booklet.
Grade 8 male students with disabilities (n=10) who received assessment accommodations and who participated in special education services within the regular classroom setting in a middle school in North Carolina (U.S.) were interviewed about their experiences. Students' disabilities included learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, and other health impairments. Past state assessment performance was also reported for all students, as was race/ethnicity.
Participants were asked a series of interview questions, including which accommodations they receive when taking large scale assessments, how they feel about receiving the accommodations, what it means to them that they receive accommodations, whether receiving accommodations affects their peer relationships, and how (if at all) the accommodations affect their assessment performance. Students' special education documentation was also reviewed as a data triangulation activity.
Nearly all of the participants (80%) could identify some of the accommodations they received, while only one participant knew all of them and one knew none of them. Nearly half of the participants (40%) each indicated either positive feelings—confidence and comfort—or negative feelings—differentiation from peers and inadequacy—about taking tests with accommodations. When describing their accommodations, more than half of the participants (60%) indicated positive feelings about them, one student had negative feelings, and the remainder made comments unrelated to the question. When relating their feelings about themselves for needing accommodations, half of the participants indicated positive feelings and fewer participants (30%) indicated negative feelings. None of the participants reported sensing an impact on their peer relationships pertaining to receiving accommodations. When asked if accommodations affected their knowledge and skills during testing, most (70%) reported that they did so, and the remainder indicated that they did not. All participants reported that their accommodations affected their assessment performance scores. Half of participants preferred to take tests with accommodations and half preferred to take tests without accommodations. Additional themes reported by the researcher included the decreased distractions and increased comfort when receiving accommodations, and that oral delivery increases comfort level, makes the test easier to comprehend, and improves test results. One distraction that participants noted in the regular classroom testing environment was the sounds of students who finished before them. A contrasting comment by one participant was that he wants to return to the classroom so he has felt rushed when receiving accommodations and so he has scored worse on tests. A few participants elaborated about their perceptions of social stigma when receiving accommodations.