Guidebook to Including Students with Disabilities and English Learners in Assessments
Lesson 3. Examine laws, professional standards, principles, and policies on including students with disabilities and English learners in assessments
There are many laws, regulations, professional standards, and principles that provide a rationale and guidelines for including students with disabilities and English learners (including English learners with disabilities) in assessments. It is important to know what these are and when to refer to them.
At a minimum, know where to find information about:
- Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2015 as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- Regulations for ESEA and IDEA
- American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Psychological Association (APA), and National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) (2014) Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing
- S. Department of Education A State’s Guide to the U.S. Department of Education’s Assessment Peer Review Process
- Your state’s laws or regulations about assessment
The laws that govern the inclusion of students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities in K-12 assessments are the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The 2016 ESSA Assessment Regulations provide important additional details, as does the Assessment Peer Review Guide (U.S. Department of Education, 2018).
The 2014 edition of the AERA, APA, NCME Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing is unique in its inclusion of a chapter on Fairness as one of three foundational chapters (with Validity and Reliability as the two other foundational chapters). Familiarity with the requirements of the Fairness chapter is important for ensuring the inclusion of students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities. The overarching standard (3.0) for the Fairness chapter is:
All steps in the testing process, including test design, validation, development, administration, and scoring procedures, should be designed in such a manner as to minimize construct-irrelevant variance and to promote valid score interpretations for the intended uses for all examinees in the intended population. (p. 63)
The Standards in this chapter are particularly relevant to assessments of students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities. The chapter includes 20 standards in four clusters (see Appendix B for a list of the clusters and standards).
Other resources that are highly recommended include:
- CCSSO (2019). States’ Commitment to High-Quality Assessments Aligned to College- and Career-Readiness. https://ccsso.org/resource-library/states-commitment-high-quality-assessments-aligned-college-and-career-readiness
- NCEO (2016). Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment Systems in a Changing Assessment Landscape. https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/Report400/NCEOReport400.pdf
- Improving the Validity of Assessment Results for English Language Learners with Disabilities (IVARED) (2013). Assessment Principles and Guidelines for ELLs with Disabilities. https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/ivared/IVAREDPrinciplesReport.pdf
CCSSO (2019) proposed four principles for high-quality English language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-readiness. The fourth principle addresses accessibility for all students. This principle and how it is to be achieved is included in Appendix C.
NCEO has provided two sets of principles for inclusive assessments. IVARED (2013) addresses principles and guidelines for English learners with disabilities (see Appendix D) and NCEO (2016) addresses general principles and guidelines for inclusive assessment systems (see Appendix E).
Because states’ assessments are reviewed by their peers through a process set up by the U.S. Department of Education, the Guide that the Department has provided for peer reviewers is especially important to have on hand (U.S. Department of Education, 2018c). The six critical elements are described in detail in the Guide, with examples of evidence provided. Although all of the critical elements are relevant for including students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities, the critical elements in Section 5 may be the most relevant (see Appendix F).
Several organizations address the new assessment requirements that emerged in ESSA. Nevertheless, it is important to remember the requirements included in IDEA when focusing on the ESSA requirements (e.g., requirements for public reporting).
Links to the resources noted here, as well as others, are included in the Lesson 3 Resources.
Lesson 3 Resources
CCSSO (2019). States’ Commitment to High-Quality Assessments Aligned to College- and Career-Readiness. https://ccsso.org/resource-library/states-commitment-high-quality-assessments-aligned-college-and-career-readiness
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (2015). https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/Elementary%20And%20Secondary%20Education%20Act%20Of%201965.pdf
ESSA Assessment Regulations (2016). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2016-12-08/pdf/2016-29128.pdf
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004). https://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/law.htm
IVARED (2013). Assessment Principles and Guidelines for ELLs with Disabilities. https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/ivared/IVAREDPrinciplesReport.pdf
NCEO (2016). Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment Systems in a Changing Assessment Landscape. https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/Report400/NCEOReport400.pdf (Spanish version. https://nceo.umn.edu/docs/OnlinePubs/Report400Spanish/NCEOReport400Spanish.pdf )
U.S. Department of Education (2018, September). A State’s Guide to the U.S. Department of Education’s Assessment Peer Review Process. https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/saa/assessmentpeerreview.pdf