4.5 Next Generation Assessment and Learner Variability
Universally Designed Assessment
By applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning and leveraging the flexibility of technology, online assessments provide access for the widest possible number of students to demonstrate understanding and allow educators to maintain high expectations for testing accuracy and fidelity. "Universally designed assessments are based on the premise that each child in school is a part of the population to be tested, and that testing results must not be affected by disability, gender, race, or English language ability." - Thurlow, et al.
Building in flexible technology supports and considering accommodations for a diverse range of learners from the start is a part of the Universal Design for Learning and Assessment framework.
Educators play a significant role in ensuring that students are successful when using assessment accessibility features. Below are some guidelines for preparing students for online assessments:
Expect all students, including students with disabilities, to achieve Common Core State Standards at the appropriate grade level.
Familiar with Accessibility Features
Know what features are built into the assessments your students use and provide opportunities for students to try out the accessibility features BEFORE the assessment day. Ask students to tell you what features work for them and which don't.
Pay particular attention to how different accommodations will look when presented online. Learn about the ways technology can be used to provide additional support to students with learning needs.
Build it into Instruction
Make sure that students with accommodations listed on their IEPs are using them as a part of regular classroom instruction and assessment. .
Try it out
Provide lots and lots of opportunities for students to PRACTICE online tools BEFORE the assessment day. If a student needs to use assistive technology that is NOT embedded in the assessment, be sure to try it out with assessment practice items and the student BEFORE the assessment day.
Get help if you need it
You are part of a school-based team that includes special educators, administrators, and parents. Enlist their help and support when you need it.
For more information about Next Generation Assessments and Diverse Learners, see Module 3.
You are now ready to move on to: 4.6 Diverse Learner's Capstone Activity