Collaborate with Testing Officials
Communication and collaboration with district and state testing officials can help promote a clear understanding of accessible and inclusive assessment practices.
Practice: District leaders collaborate with local and state testing coordinators to ensure that special education and assistive technology (AT) professionals are included in decision-making about standardized assessments.
Actions that lead to collaborating with testing officials include:
- Include special educators and AT personnel in assessment leadership activities: The district ensures special education and AT personnel have leadership roles across district activities related to assessment (e.g., committees, task forces, training).
- Communicate with state testing officials: The district communicates with state testing officials about the need for accessibility of state-required assessments, including the use of AT and allowable accommodations.
Learn From Our Partners
- Blog Post: The State of State Assessment, Texthelp
- Publication: Four Key Actions for SEA Teams to Support MTSS, Statewide Implementation and Scaling-Up of Evidence-Based Practices (SISEP)
- Publication: Scaling-up Brief: Creating Meaningful Change in Education: A Cascading Logic Model, Statewide Implementation and Scaling-Up of Evidence-Based Practices (SISEP)
- Webinar: Testing Accommodations: How to Support Students on the State Assessment, Texthelp
- Accommodations Toolkit, National Center on Educational Outcomes
- State Policies, National Center on Educational Outcomes
Massachusetts DESE's Story
Map data: ©2022 Google
Daniel Wiener serves as Administrator of Inclusive Assessment with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MADESE). Wiener oversees the availability of accessibility options and alternate assessments offered for statewide assessments administered in the state’s 400 school districts and communicates this information to the field. He and his staff have seen major shifts in assessment policy and administration over the last 20 years that have resulted in the need for districts to shift their assessment implementation strategies.
Like many other states, MADESE updated Accessibility and Accommodations manual annually to reflect shifts in the assessment landscape, including research and practices in administering assessments, as well as the advent of technology-based solutions. These shifts required Wiener and his team to rethink and retool the guidance, training, and support they provide to districts in Massachusetts. They meet periodically with statewide focus groups comprised of educators, students, and families, and with counterparts in other states, to help inform the necessary updates and changes. From the beginning, Weiner and his team have rejected the notion that accommodations invalidate assessment results, and remain firm in the belief that “not giving an accommodation when it’s needed produces less valid results than providing one.” The recent adoption of computer-based assessments has provided an opportunity to reshape the entire accessibility landscape in the state. For example, the updated policy supports the provision of “universal accessibility features” and “designated accessibility features” for all students rather than only students with disabilities, and it expands the availability of accommodations to English learners
Wiener continues to employ feedback from educators across the state to improve and refine the provision of accommodations and accessibility features. Recently, one urban educator requested that assistive technologies like speech-to-text and word prediction be made available to students for use on the statewide test using a single computer rather than relying on the cumbersome transcription of responses from a second external device. He insisted to Wiener that learners should be allowed to use the tools they use during instruction for the assessment without the need of an additional device. Wiener and his team advocated for the availability of this option by partnering with assessment publishers and assistive technology companies , and together they worked to develop new “web extensions” that allow learners the opportunity to use their routine instructional AT tools during assessments. Through Weiner and his team, the Department continues its commitment to responding to feedback to improve the accessibility of its assessments and their implementation.
Visit the State of State Assessment, by Texthelp, for more information.