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Title:Testing accommodations for students with emotional or behavioral disorders: a national survey of special education teachers
Author(s):Ganguly, Rahul
Director of Research:Shriner, James G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Shriner, James G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Halle, James W.; Richman, David M.; Light Shriner, Cheryl L.; Thurlow, Martha L.
Department / Program:Special Education
Discipline:Special Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):testing accommodations
students with emotional/behavioral disorders
state assessments in reading
state assessments in mathematics
elementary and middle school students
Abstract:Federal legislation mandates all students, including those with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD), to participate in state assessments. For most students with E/BD, testing accommodations are necessary for participating in large scale state assessments. Yet years after the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 and Title 1 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, there is a dearth of literature addressing testing accommodations used by students with E/BD on large scale state assessments. To address this gap, this study examined the testing accommodations used by students with E/BD on standardized assessments in reading and mathematics. The specific objectives of this study were to: (a) describe the personal, academic and behavioral characteristics of the students with E/BD who would most likely participate in state assessments, (b) identify the testing accommodations provided to the students with E/BD on state assessments in reading and mathematics, (c) explore the perceived functions of the testing accommodations for students with E/BD with respect to teachers’ perceptions and decision-making about accommodation use on state assessments, and (d) examine the differences in the number of testing accommodation, if any, as a function of personal, academic and behavioral characteristics of the students with E/BD. Data were collected in two phases. During the first phase, mail surveys were used to gather data from a nationwide sample of 290 elementary/middle school special education teachers. In the second phase of the study, qualitative phone interviews were conducted with a subset of 30 respondents to gather information about the decision making process used for recommending test accommodations. Quantitative as well as qualitative methods were used to analyze the data. The findings indicated that a majority of the students with E/BD who were most likely to participate in state assessments were male, white, and required prescription medicine to manage their emotional problems. Academically, reading and math skills of nearly two thirds of the sample were one or more years below grade level. Behaviorally, most of the students with E/BD in the sample exhibited externalized problem behaviors of moderate to severe intensity. On state assessments in both reading and mathematics, most students with E/BD received sets of accommodations. Testing accommodations included scheduling, setting, and presentation categories which were more often recommended than response and equipment/material categories. The five of the most often used testing accommodations in both reading and mathematics were extended time, small group testing, frequent breaks, read aloud directions, and praise/encouragement to continue. Audio/video equipment and magnification equipment were the least frequently used testing accommodations. On assessments in both reading and mathematics, the number of testing accommodation varied as function of student characteristics including ethnicity, diagnosis, primary educational setting, reading ability, math ability, anticipated student performance, and the severity of students’ behavioral problems. The strength of relationships between the dependent and independent variables ranged from small to large, with the severity of problem behaviors accounting for the largest variance. In this study, most teachers perceived the functions of testing accommodations as social/ behavioral. Follow-up interviews indicated the teachers’ decisions were often based on what the testing accommodations would do for the student: (a) increase access to test materials, or (b) optimize his/her performance during testing. In addition, teacher judgments outweighed data based evidence during the decision making process for selecting testing accommodations. The findings of this study have several implications for policy, research and practice. One of the key implications is to design tests that reduce the influence of negative emotional attributes such as test anxiety and frustration. Another key implication of this study is the need for teachers to undergo training to equip them with skills to not only select and monitor the effectiveness of the testing accommodations, but also to help students with E/BD deal with stress and anxiety on testing situations. A third implication of this study is the immediate need to develop research designs that evaluate the effectiveness of the sets of testing accommodations. The study concludes by discussing the limitations and highlighting areas for the future research on testing accommodations for students with E/BD.
Issue Date:2010-05-14
Rights Information:© 2010 Rahul Ganguly
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-15
Date Deposited:May 2010

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