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By GreatSchools Staff
Federal law requires a student's IEP to include a statement of accommodations required for participation in state- and district-wide assessments. Sometimes these assessments carry "high stakes" for students - they help decide important matters, such as whether your child goes on to the next grade level or graduates from high school with a regular diploma. Attaching student stakes to performance on state and district assessments is a state decision and is not a requirement of IDEA or NCLB. However, states are required by IDEA to issue guidelines/policy on appropriate assessment accommodations; and test makers usually provide a list of reasonable accommodations that won't interfere with test validity, so that they can guarantee that the test actually measures what it's supposed to measure.
Some classroom (instructional) accommodations may not be allowed on state or district assessments, because their use would invalidate the score on the test by compromising the measurement of the target skill. For example:
In general, any accommodations listed on the IEP must be delivered consistently - that is, at all times, and under all types of circumstances. However, a student's IEP should differentiate between accommodations for instruction and accommodations for assessment--and parents should understand the different consequences of each for their child.
If a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines that the child can't participate in the regular state or district assessment (even with appropriate accommodations) and, therefore, will participate by taking an alternate assessment, the IEP team must develop a written statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment, and why the team has determined that a particular alternate assessment is appropriate for the child. If your child is receiving special education services you should be aware of the important consequences of the child taking an assessment other than the regular assessment that all students take.
Updated January 2010
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