Guidebook to Including Students with Disabilities and English Learners in Assessments

Lesson 7. Think through intended uses of assessment results and approaches to reporting results that meet federal and professional requirements and also serve the needs of stakeholders who receive reports

States are required to prepare several reports of their assessment results. These include reports to the U.S. Department of Education, state-level reports, reports to districts and schools, as well as reports of individual student results to parents and students. The requirements for each of these reports varies, as do considerations about best practice for reporting. Nevertheless, all reports should be tailored for specific audiences by using familiar language and providing recommendations relevant to them (e.g., language appropriate for policy, language appropriate for practice, and language appropriate for parents and students). Specific requirements for reporting on the performance of students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities are included in federal laws (ESSA and IDEA). It is important to know what each of these laws requires, as well as what are recommended best practices for reporting and clarifying intended uses of assessment results.

ESSA and IDEA include specific requirements for reporting assessment results that are important to remember. These reporting requirements are in some cases different from the requirements for inclusion of scores in accountability measures.

Considerations for IDEA Reporting Requirements

For IDEA, there are two basic requirements for reporting of assessment results. The first focuses on public reporting, while the second focuses on reports to the U.S. Department of Education through EdFacts (the U.S. Department of Education’s electronic data submission, analysis, and reporting system), and through states’ Annual Performance Reports.

For public reporting, the state is required to report assessment results for students with disabilities in the same way it does for all other students. Specifically, IDEA states:

(D) REPORTS.—The State educational agency (or, in the case of a districtwide assessment, the local educational agency) makes available to the public, and reports to the public with the same frequency and in the same detail [emphasis added] as it reports on the assessment of nondisabled children, the following:

(i) The number of children with disabilities participating in regular assessments, and the number of those children who were provided accommodations in order to participate in those assessments.

(ii) The number of children with disabilities participating in alternate assessments described in subparagraph (C)(ii)(I).[1]

(iii) The number of children with disabilities participating in alternate assessments described in subparagraph (C)(ii)(II).[2]

(iv) The performance of children with disabilities on regular assessments and on alternate assessments (if the number of children with disabilities participating in those assessments is sufficient to yield statistically reliable information and reporting that information will not reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student), compared with the achievement of all children, including children with disabilities, on those assessments. (Sec 612(16)(D))

Note that IDEA also requires public reporting of the number of students with disabilities who were provided accommodations when participating in regular assessments.

For reporting to the U.S. Department of Education, states are required to report on the participation and performance of students with disabilities (those with IEPs) in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science. For this reporting requirement, states must report on all students with disabilities who were enrolled during the testing window (regardless of whether they were present for a full academic year). Also, to be included in the calculation of participation rates are those students who did not participate in an assessment because of a significant medical emergency. This means that numbers reported to the U.S. Department of Education likely will be different from numbers included in ESSA accountability calculations and might also be different from what is reported publicly.

Considerations for ESSA Reporting Requirements

For ESSA, EdFacts is the program into which all state data are reported. Data collected for IDEA reporting to the U.S. Department of Education are provided through the EdFacts system.

Five sets of data on participation of students with IEPs (for each content area and each grade) are entered into EdFacts:

  • Participation in regular assessment based on grade-level achievement standards without accommodations
  • Participation in regular assessment based on grade-level achievement standards with accommodations
  • Participation in alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards
  • Medical exemption
  • Non-participation

Data on performance are entered for the regular assessment (both with and without accommodations) and the alternate assessment, for each content area and each grade. Only those students who met all of the following criteria are to be included in these reports:

  • Took the assessment
  • Received a valid score
  • Assigned a proficiency level

Reporting is for all students enrolled during the testing window, not just those who were enrolled for a full academic year. If students were exited from special education services prior to the testing window, they are not included in reports for students with disabilities.

ESSA also has specific reporting requirements for English learners and for English learners with disabilities.

For reporting performance, English learners are to be included in reports even if they attended U.S. schools less than 12 months. In addition, former English learners can be included in the English learner subgroup academic achievement reporting for up to four years after exit.

For Title III biennial reporting requirements, in addition to reporting on participation and performance, states are required to report the number and percentage of English learners:

  • Progressing toward achieving English proficiency
  • Exiting English learner status based on attaining English proficiency
  • Meeting academic standards after exit (each of four years)
  • Not attaining English proficiency within five years of initial classification and first enrollment in a local education agency (LEA) that receives Title III funds.

Also, for Title III, those English learners with disabilities who participated in an alternate ELP assessment are to be included in participation counts.

States and LEAs should also disaggregate and report data on English learners with disabilities exited from English learner services. This reporting should clearly note their participation and performance separate from the reporting for English learners without disabilities who have been exited from English learner services.

Lesson 7 Resources

 U.S. Department of Education. EdFacts reporting requirements.

  • FS138 (Title III English language proficiency test)
  • FS175 (Academic achievement in mathematics)
  • FS178 (Academic achievement in reading/language arts)
  • FS179 (Academic achievement in science)
  • FS186 (Assessment participation in mathematics)
  • FS188 (Assessment participation in reading/language arts)
  • FS189 (Assessment participation in science)
  • FS204 (Title III English learners)


[1] Paragraph (C)(ii)(I) refers to alternate assessments based on grade-level academic achievement standards (“…aligned with the State’s challenging academic content standards and challenging student academic achievement standards”).

[2]Paragraph (C)(ii)(II) refers to alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (“…if the State has adopted alternate academic achievement standards permitted under the regulations promulgated to carry out section 1111(b)(1) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, measure of the achievement of children with disabilities against those standards.”). The “alternate achievement” provision in the regulations were included in the reauthorization in 2015 (ESSA).