NCLB Alternative Assessments
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has published final regulations under the No Child Left Behind Act on assessments of students with disabilities based on modified academic achievement standards that cover grade-level content. Specifically, the final regulations state that up to 2% (approximately 20% of students with disabilities) of the proficient and advanced scores from alternative assessments based on modified academic achievement standards may be included in calculating adequate yearly progress. In its summary of the final rules, ED emphasizes several points. First, only academic achievement standards for students can be modified, not the content standards themselves. In other words, alternative assessments may be less rigorous than the regular assessments but must test the same content. Second, any student with a disability may be eligible for an alternative assessment, regardless of whether he or she is achieving close to grade level. The proposed regulations, summarized at the second link below, had stated that a student must receive direct instruction in grade level content to be eligible for an alternative assessment, leading commenters to conclude that only students achieving close to grade level could be assessed using alternative tests. ED replaced this proposed provision with a requirement that if the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) of students include goals of subject assessments, such goals must be based on grade-level content standards. This new requirement is intended to focus the IEP team and student on grade-level content so as to prepare for the alternative assessment. Third, out-of-level assessments cannot be used as alternative assessments based on modified academic achievement standards, as such tests do not cover the same content as an assessment based on grade-level academic content standards. Finally, the state may develop a new alternative assessment or adapt its general assessment. The final regulations are effective May 9, 2007.
72 Fed. Reg. 17,748 (Apr. 9, 2007)
[ED final regulation]