Delivering Alternate Assessment and Student Progress Monitoring in Inclusive Schools

Authored by: Shawnee Y. Wakeman , Claudia Flowers , Diane M. Browder

Handbook of Effective Inclusive Schools

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415626057
eBook ISBN: 9780203102930
Adobe ISBN: 9781136242434


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Alternate assessment based upon alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) serves as one of the most meaningful and influential reforms of the past several decades for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The expectation for states to implement an alternate assessment specifically for students with significant cognitive disabilities within The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA) represented the onset of incredible discussion and change for this population of students. No longer could students with significant cognitive disabilities be exempt for the end-of-year assessment process; rather, they must be included in accountability systems. It became necessary for all states to design assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities that accurately measure what students know and can do. While potentially serendipitous, the implications of other legislative efforts, such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2006), forced educators and parents to consider the content and educational outcomes within instruction and assessment for these students. Wakeman, Browder, and Flowers (2011) identified two specific challenges in setting targets for educational outcomes for this population of students: (a) selecting the content to be assessed, and (b) setting the appropriate performance expectations. Learning targets and priorities for this population of students have changed dramatically since the 1975 federal law (PL 94–142) required the education of all students with disabilities (Browder et al., 2007). As alternate assessment has served as the impetus for change in measuring academic content knowledge, the available research for this student population provides limited information on how students acquire academic knowledge and skills (Browder, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Harris, & Wakeman, 2008; Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Algozzine, 2006) and has provided no evidence for what are reasonable performance expectations for learning.

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