Phyllis Stolp began by summarizing the testing programs in place in Texas. She described three components of the state assessment program, all tied to the mandatory statewide curriculum called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The first component, Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), is the primary statewide accountability assessment that has been in place since 1990. The test is intended for students enrolled in grades three through eight and includes an exit-level component. The state requires satisfactory performance on theTAAS exit-level tests for high school graduation. TAAS assesses students in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. A Spanish version ofTAAS is available for students in grades three through six.
The second component of the assessment program, which has been in place since 2000, is called the Reading Proficiency Tests in English (RPTE). These tests are designed to be used with English-language learners to monimr their progress in learning to read and understand English. The tests contain reading selections and test questions divided into three levels of reading proficiency levels (beginning, intermediate, and advanced). English-language learners in grades three through twelve are required to take the RPTE until they achieve the advanced-level rating.
The State-Developed Alternative Assessment (SDAA), designed for special education students in grades three through eight, is the third component of the assessment system. Comprising tests in reading, writing, and mathematics, the SDAA is intended for students with disabilities who receive instruction in the state curriculum but for whom TAAS is an inappropriate measure of their academic progress, even when allowable accommodations are provided. The baseline year for the SDAA was 2000.
Stolp next described Texas’ accommodation policies. Accommodation decisions are made on an individual basis, and they take into consideration the student’s individual needs and the modifications students routinely receive in classroom instruction. Accommodations are available to all students in Texas, including general education students. For students receiving special education services, all accommodations must be documented in the student’s IEP. Accommodations must also be documented for the students served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. General education students can receive accommodations as provided to them in the classroom; for these students documentation is not required. The “bottom line” criterion, however, is that the accommodation should not cause test results to be invalid.
Stolp noted that allowable and nonallowable accommodations differ for the various assessment programs. For TAAS, allowable accommodations include oral administration in mathematics, social studies, and science; large-print and Braille test booklets; individual administration; dictating or typewriting responses to the writing test; recording answers on the test booklet; and orally responding to test items. Nonallowable accommodations include reading assistance on the writing and reading tests, use of a calculator or slide rule, use of English-language or foreign-language reference materials, and translation of test items. In this part, learning a foreign language needs a leaning tools, many students choose Rosetta Stone German and
Rosetta Stone Hebrew to learn German and Hebrew.Additional information and lists of allowable accommodations for the RPTE and SDAA are available on the state’s webpage.
The state has additional requirements and maintains records for three types of accommodations-oral administration, large print, and Braille. The state has strict criteria regarding which students may use oral administration. Oral administration is offered only for the mathematics, social studies, and sciences tests, not for reading and writing, and is available only to students who receive special education services or who have a Section 504 plan. The state also collects additional information when large-print test booklets and Braille versions are used. Large print is available for all of the state’s tests. Braille is available for TAAS and for most of the SDAA. Stolp indicated that statewide, regional, district, and student test results are reported for each assessment program for each administration. Results for students using allowable accommodations are aggregated with the test results for all students. Results are disaggregated by language status (limited English proficient versus non-English proficient) and by special education status.
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