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Section 16

ak dept education

special ed handbook
SECTION 16

STATEWIDE AND DISTRICT ASSESSMENTS

Statewide Assessments

Alaska has two types of statewide assessments: criterion-referenced and norm-referenced. Criterion-referenced assessments compare a child's results to an established level of performance; they assess degrees of mastery. Alaska's High School Graduation Qualifying Examination and the Standards Based Assessments in grades 3-10 are examples of criterion-referenced assessments. Norm-referenced assessments compare a child's results with those of other children on the same measure. Examples include the California Achievement Test (CAT-6)/TerraNova currently required in grades 5 and 7.

IDEA 2004 emphasizes the importance of having all children with disabilities participate in statewide assessments, with or without accommodations. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) stated that:

Participation in assessments goes hand in hand with access to the general education curriculum. Including all children in assessment programs can help to ensure a high quality educational experience for each student by creating high education expectations for all children and accountability for the educational results of all students. It is critically important that schools know how successful they are in preparing all students to meet high standards. Parents need to know this as well (OSEP Memo 00-24, 8/00).


The Department disaggregates the performance and the participation rate data for children with disabilities on statewide assessments at the State, District, and school levels.

IEP Teams must ensure that children with disabilities are provided appropriate accommodations for statewide assessments. The Department has developed the Participation Guidelines for Alaska Students in State Assessments to assist teams in making their decisions. This booklet can be found on the page: http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/accommodations.html.

If you are unable to access the Participation Guidelines on the website, the Department will send you a copy. It is important that communication between IEP Teams and District Test Coordinators occur well before the scheduled assessments to ensure that children with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations.

High School Graduation Qualifying Exam

The High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE) is a regular assessment required for all students seeking a diploma and graduation. The HSGQE is intended to measure essential skills in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. High school students are required to begin taking the HSGQE in the spring of their sophomore year. Various options are available for students who have IEP services that reflect the students' individual and unique needs. Each student’s IEP Team must decide which of the choices shown here is appropriate for the student.

HSGQE choices:

  • Participation in the regular HSGQE without accommodations;
  • Participation in the regular HSGQE with accommodations;
  • Participation in the regular HSGQE with modifications (in sophomore year). This test would be invalid and not scored;
  • Participation in the state-approved modified HSGQEor nonstandardized HSGQE (this would require a waiver that must be applied for and approved by the local governing body). This test would be valid and scored.

Note: Participation in the Alternate Assessment does not lead to a diploma.

Retakes and the HSGQE choices (final approach decided by February 1, of the student’s junior year)

  • Participate in the HSGQE retake with or without accommodations;
  • Participate in the modified HSGQE with modifications and accommodations; or
  • Participate in the nonstandardized HSGQE with or without accommodations.

It is acceptable for a student to take the fall modified HSGQE retake and then determine by February 1, of the student’s junior year that the nonstandardized HSGQE is the better and final approach. Accommodations and modifications are defined and noted in the Participation Guidelines available through the Department of Education & Early Development’s website http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/modified.html. Guidance to support IEP/504 Teams when discussing the assessment program with ninth grade parents is available at website http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/modified.html and Appendix D Section 10.

Additionally, a brochure to assist parents has been prepared for distribution at website http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/modified.html, Part XI Section 4, Appendix K Section 3, and Appendix L Section 3.

MODIFIED HSGQE

Students must take the HSGQE at least one time to be eligible to apply for a modified HSGQE. The modified HSGQE is the HSGQE given with allowable modifications—changes to the test situation that normally would not be allowed. Some modifications are permitted here because of the high stakes of the HSGQE and because the significant help they provide to a student outweighs their compromising effect on the validity of the test.

The Department and the IEP or 504 Team have an important role to play in deciding whether a modification should be provided to a student. The IEP or 504 Team will determine whether a particular modification will be helpful to a student on the subtests of the HSGQE on which the student has had difficulty. The IEP or 504 Team will then apply to the Department for approval of the proposed modification. Forms are available online at http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/modified.html and are available in Appendix L Section 4 of this handbook. The Department will determine whether the benefit of the modification outweighs its potentially adverse effect on the validity of the test. If an eligible student receives a proficient score on the modified HSGQE, the student has satisfied state requirements for passing the HSGQE.

NONSTANDARDIZED HSGQE

The nonstandardized HSGQE is available for only a very few students. The nonstandardized HSGQE is limited to students with severe physical or emotional disabilities and who can document that they are unable to demonstrate their proficiency on a standardized assessment.

Most students with disabilities are not eligible for the nonstandardized HSGQE and should continue to take the modified HSGQE even if they have difficulty passing it. Moreover, because the nonstandardized HSGQE is a very rigorous assessment, some students who are eligible for this assessment may find that the modified HSGQE is more advantageous to them.

The nonstandardized HSGQE requires a student to prepare an extensive collection of work that reflects competency in each of the state standards tested on the HSGQE. A jury to ensure that the student has met those standards then scores the work. Eligibility requirements for the nonstandardized HSGQE are detailed in the Participation Guidelines that are available online at the Department of Education & Early Development’s website: http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/nonstandardized.html.

To have a student participate in the nonstandardized HSGQE, an IEP or 504 Team must submit an application for the nonstandardized HSGQE located at the Department's website http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/nonstandardized.html  and is available in Appendix L Section 5. The IEP or 504 Team must confirm that the student meets the eligibility criteria. The application must include evidence to support the student’s eligibility.

If an eligible student receives a proficient score on the nonstandardized HSGQE, the student has satisfied state requirements for passing the HSGQE.

An eligible student may meet state requirements for passing the HSGQE using any combination of testing under standard conditions, testing with the use of accommodations, or passing the modified or nonstandardized HSGQE.

Alternate Assessment

Students with significant cognitive disabilities will have access to, participate in, and make progress in the general education curricula. These students must also participate in statewide assessments administered in all grades 3–10, but they will usually take an Alternate Assessment. The Alternate Assessment is based on Alaska standards but measured against alternate achievement standards, and the Alternate Assessment does not lead to a diploma. Alternate achievement standards are expectations of performance that differ in complexity from grade level achievement standards. It is expected that only a small number (less than two percent) of all students will participate in the Alternate Assessment. District personnel must be trained and certified to access and administer the Alternate Assessment.

Eligibility for the Alaska Alternate Assessment is a decision made by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members. The reason that a student is eligible for the alternate assessment must be documented in the student file. Parents must be informed when their child's achievement will be based on alternate achievement standards, (proficiency scores and performance level descriptors that differ from the general assessments), and their child is not eligible to receive a high school diploma. A parent signature acknowledging notification of the impacts of this decision must be included in the student's file.

Criteria for IEP Teams in determining student eligibility for Alternate Assessment:

Instructions - If any response to the criteria is “No” or “Disagree” the student must participate in regular state assessments with or without accommodations.

Yes/AgreeNo/DisagreeParticipation Criteria
  The student’s cognitive ability and adaptive skill levels prevent completion of the standard academic curricula that lead to a diploma, even with adaptations.
  The student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  The decision for using the alternate assessment is an IEP Team decision, and the decision is not being made for program administration reasons.
  The modifications needed by the student to participate in the regular assessment would compromise the validity of the test.
  Objectives written for the student in the designated content area(s) are less complex than the grade level expectations, making the regular assessment, even with accommodations, inappropriate for this student.
  The student’s cognitive ability and adaptive skill levels prevent completion of the standard academic curricula that lead to a diploma, even with adaptations.
  The student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  The decision for using the alternate assessment is an IEP Team decision, and the decision is not being made for program administration reasons.
  The modifications needed by the student to participate in the regular assessment would compromise the validity of the test.
  Objectives written for the student in the designated content area(s) are less complex than the grade level expectations, making the regular assessment, even with accommodations, inappropriate for this student.
  The student requires extensive, frequent, individualized instruction in multiple settings to acquire, maintain, generalize and demonstrate performance of skills.
  The student demonstrates cognitive ability and adaptive behavior that require substantial adjustments to the general curriculum.
  The decision to participate in the alternate assessment is not based solely on excessive or extended absences.
  The decision to participate in the alternate assessment is not based solely on language, social, cultural, or economic differences.
  The decision to participate in the alternate assessment is not based solely on deafness/blindness, visual, auditory, and/or motor disabilities.
  The decision to participate in the alternate assessment is not primarily based on a specific eligibility determination.
  The decision to administer the state’s alternate assessment is not based on the fact that the student’s instructional reading level is below the grade level of the regular assessment to be administered.
  The decision to administer the alternate assessment is not based solely on the fact that the student is expected to perform poorly on the regular assessment.
  The decision to administer the alternate assessment is not based on the fact that the student is expected to experience duress under testing conditions.
  The decision to administer the alternate assessment is not based on the fact that there is a high probability that the student will demonstrate disruptive behaviors during the regular assessment.
  The decision to administer the alternate assessment is not based primarily on the student’s visual, auditory, physical, or emotional behavioral disabilities.


The above guidance is also available on the Department of Education & Early Development’s Alternate Assessment website: http://www.eed.state.ak.us/tls/assessment/aa.html

District Assessments

Children with disabilities are also expected to participate in all district-wide assessments. If an IEP Team determines that a child with a disability will not participate in the regular assessments, the IEP must state why that assessment is not appropriate for the child and include a statement of how the child will be assessed.

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