Inclusive Practice: Reviewing Common Assessments
The Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Framework is designed to promote educators' professional growth and development while placing improved student learning at the center of every educator's work.
Common Assessments in Inclusive Settings
What kinds of common assessments are appropriate for educators working with diverse groups of students in inclusive settings? When addressing this question, it is important to remember the two guiding principles behind all common assessments in the Educator Evaluation Framework:
Aligning common assessments to curriculum is particularly important when considering the various roles of educators working in inclusive classroom settings. For example, because one goal of inclusion is to give all students access to the general curriculum, general curriculum measures will be appropriate for almost all educators. In some cases, the special educator's role involves providing instruction in unique curricula to students in a general education setting (following a social-emotional curriculum, for example). In those cases, it may be appropriate to use a different measure aligned to that content. For more information about the identification of common assessments for educators in inclusive settings, see DESE's DDM Implementation Brief: Educators of Students with Disabilities.
The following resource tools provide concrete strategies to help educators identify and evaluate appropriate common assessments for use with a diverse group of students in inclusive settings that can inform an educator's impact on student learning. For more information on designing accessible assessments, visit the Assessment Design Toolkit.
Inclusive Practice Tool 7a: Accessibility Review
The Accessibility Review helps educators and evaluators ensure that a common assessment is accessible to a diverse group of students. When reviewing assessment items for accessibility, educators should be mindful of the specific concept being assessed by the item. Educators then should look for potential barriers that might present challenges beyond the intent of the assessment. For example, components of an assessment that might warrant additional review include the following:
In addition to ensuring that all students have appropriate accommodations, assessments should be reviewed for accessibility. It is important to offer students multiple modes of representation and expression when completing common assessments.
Although some assessment items are designed to measure integrated skills (in some cases, for example, the goal of the measure will be to assess students' scientific writing skills), educators will need to be clear about what those skills are. Educators must be cautious that items address all relevant skills without going beyond the intent of the assessment. This review process can help refine the accuracy of assessment data and focus the intent of instructional practice.
- Advanced vocabulary on a social studies assessment item that presents challenges to students beyond the intention of the assessment-for example, procedural words such as interpret or analyze
- Cultural references in a language arts reading comprehension item that present challenges beyond the intent of the assessment, such as idioms on an item not assessing student understanding of idioms
- Writing skills required on a science assessment item that measure skills beyond the intent of the assessment-for example, requiring students to write a paragraph when the concept could be assessed equally effectively by having students label a diagram
- Reading comprehension skills required on a mathematics assessment item that measure skills beyond the intent of the assessment-for example, providing extensive background information or creating a detailed scenario that is not necessary for the concept being assessed
Inclusive Practice Tool 7b: Considering Growth
If a common assessment meets the standard of accessibility, then it can be used as a measure of student growth. The Considering Growth Tool helps to determine differential rates of learning, growth, and achievement by groups of students taking the same common assessment. The concept of a growth measure can be somewhat challenging, so remember the following three guiding principles when discussing growth:
- Growth is contingent on collecting good baseline data.
- All students should have an equal chance to demonstrate high, moderate, and low growth, but not all students need to show the same change in score to do so-a concept that can be developed through a process commonly known as banding. This process allows educators to identify ranges of baseline data in order to set parameters for high, moderate, and low growth that take into account where different students started.
Inclusive Practice Tool 7c: Professional Judgment Guiding Questions
The Professional Judgment Guiding Questions help evaluators take all data and contextual factors into account and come to a determination of educator impact on student learning, growth, and achievement.
Evaluators need to consider the student population, instructional context, and measures themselves. This work is vital to the success of inclusive school communities because educators will need to know that working with students with diverse learning needs will not negatively impact their evaluation ratings.
- Student Population. When considering a measure and how accurately it reflects an educator's impact on student learning, growth, and achievement, evaluators need to be aware of the student population assessed. Although parameters should be set so that all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate growth, student-specific considerations, such as persistent attendance issues, family complications, and medical issues may play a role in their progress on the measure.
- Instructional context. When evaluating an educator's impact on student learning, growth, and achievement, evaluators should consider the specific instructional context. Were there distractions that might have impacted student performance on the measures? Did the educator have sufficient instructional time with the students? Were the duties of the educator well matched to the content of the measures (e.g., did the educator's work responsibilities change significantly over the course of the year)?
- Reviewing measures. After administration, educators may determine that a particular measure contained some items that were not as well designed as they could have been for students. Have measures been reviewed for accessibility, consistency, and their ability to identify differential rates of growth? When considering Student Growth Percentiles as a measure, remember that the median SGP for students with disabilities (SWD) is lower than 50. SWDs still have a range of SGPs and often demonstrate high as well as low growth. However, for a group of students made up entirely of SWDs, evaluators may consider correcting for this bias by adding 5 points. (Thus, the impact of an educator who works exclusively with SWDs and whose students have a median SGP of 31 may be considered moderate, given the context.)
Inclusive Practice Tool 7d: Key Characteristics of Measures of Social-Emotional Learning
There may be cases in which educators are providing a unique set of curricula specific to students' social-emotional learning in inclusive settings. In such cases, a common assessment of those curricula may be the appropriate measure of the educators' impact. Tool 7d describes key characteristics of measures of social-emotional learning and provides criteria that educators can use to create those measures.
Last Updated: June 26, 2017