Accessibility for Special Populations
Rockwood believes all students can learn and should have the opportunity to be fairly and thoroughly assessed to measure the depth and degree of their learning. The Rockwood School District is accountable for the assessment of all students enrolled in the district including those receiving special education services, regardless of disability type or severity. It is the district's intent that all students be assessed on their academic achievement to the fullest extent of their ability. All individualized testing accommodations will be specified in the student's IEP/504/Support Plan and carried out in accordance with the determined needs of the student. All students will participate in either the MAP assessments designed for specific content areas or the MAP-Alternate Assessment. Modifications to the current achievement test or classroom material will be based upon the perceived needs of the students represented through their IEP/504. Whenever possible, the DESE guidelines for accommodations on the MAP will be followed and applied to support students with disabilities taking District-wide standardized achievement or other standardized ability tests.
The assessment program in Rockwood is designed to account for the progress of all students and to be in compliance with all state and federal laws.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 sets the foundation for including students with disabilities in state assessments by prohibiting their exclusion from and discrimination against federally-assisted programs or activities.
Goal 2000: Educate America Act (Public Law 103-227) encourages the establishment of high standards of learning for all students and the use of better assessments to evaluate student progress toward meeting these standards.
Improving America's Schools Act (IASA) (Public Law 103-382) works with Goals 2000 in encouraging the establishment of high standards of learning by promoting school-wide reform that provides opportunities for all students to achieve at the highest levels of performance. ISA authorizes funding for Title I programs that provide students with extra help with reading and math. IASA money is for all students, including those with disabilities.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Public Law 105-17) provides federal funds to assist states and schools in making a free and appropriate education available to all students identified as having a disability. This act provides clear direction for including students with disabilities in state assessment programs as well as district-wide assessment programs.
In order to comply with federal laws and state mandates, the Rockwood School District has developed the following guidelines for including students with special needs into the state assessment program and district-wide assessment program:
- Decisions regarding participation in state-level testing (MAP GLA and MAP EOC)/District-wide standardized testing and accommodations will be made annually, based on a student's instructional goals, curriculum, current level of functioning, skills, and learning characteristics. Students with special needs will participate in the MAP GLA/MAP EOC/District-wide standardized testing in one of five ways:
- Subject Area Assessments with Universal Tools: Students with disabilities for whom this option is appropriate would participate in the MAP GLA/MAP EOC/District-wide standardized test subject area assessments under the same conditions as other students. These students would have the opportunity to utilize all provided Universal Tools available to the general student population. Any student may utilize Universal Tools when deemed appropriate by a team of educators. This option will allow students that are non-disabled, yet receiving interventions and support through a RtI MTSS team approach, access to these targeted supports. It is important that these students only utilize designated supports that are deemed necessary by a team of educators and have been used by the student throughout the school year. Introducing new supports during a district/state assessment is not best practice; additionally, Universal Tools are not meant to give students an advantage and should not change the nature of what is being tested.
- Subject Area Assessments with Accommodations: Students with disabilities for whom this option is appropriate would participate in the MAP GLA/MAP EOC/District-wide standardized test subject area assessments, but accommodations in testing procedures would be made so that their disabilities do not prohibit obtaining an accurate assessment of their performance. Accommodations are allowed if they are based on the student's need, not benefit. Accommodations are not meant to give students with disabilities an advantage over other students. Accommodations should not change the nature of what is being tested.
- Subject Area Assessments with Modifications: An IEP or 504 Team could determine that a student with disabilities would participate in the MAP GLA or MAP EOC but would require a change in procedures or materials to a marked degree. Modifications to the construct of the assessment will impact the assessment validity and result in the student earning the Lowest Obtainable Scaled Score (LOSS). This option allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in a non-standardized way. Teams should consider all available assessment options before selecting this method to allow the student to demonstrate what he/she knows in a particular subject area.
- Subject Area Assessments through the MAP-Alternate Assessment: A very small number of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities will not be able to participate in the MAP GLA/MAP EOC assessments even with accommodations. These students will participate in the MAP-Alternate Assessment. MAP-Alternate eligibility is determined annually by the student's IEP team using the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education established eligibility criteria:
- The student has been evaluated and found eligible under IDEA.
- The student demonstrates the most significant cognitive disabilities and limited adaptive skills that may be combined with physical or behavioral limitations.
- The most significant cognitive disability impacts the student's access to the curriculum and requires specialized instruction.
- The most significant cognitive disability impacts the student's post-school outcomes.
- The student's inability to participate in the regular assessment is primarily the result of the most significant cognitive disability and NOT excessive absences; visual or auditory disabilities; or social, cultural, language, or economic differences.
- All decisions regarding participation and accommodations must be made by a student's IEP team and documented in the IEP.
- Exempt from testing: A very small number of students with significant disabilities will not be able to participate in the standardized test subject area assessments even with accommodations. If their IEP so states, these students may be exempted from participating in specific District-wide standardized tests.
- Students with disabilities should participate in all subject areas in which they are receiving instruction in the content-oriented Missouri Learning Standards. Decisions about participation should be made based upon the instruction in the content-oriented Missouri Learning Standards. Decisions about participation should never be based on program setting, category of disability, or percentage of time in the regular classroom. A student should be included in any part of the MAP GLA/MAP EOC/District-wide standardized assessment for which that student receives instruction, regardless of where that instruction occurs.
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has authorized a set of universal tools for all students, a set of accommodations, or modification for students with IDEA disabilities that may be implemented in a child's Individualized Educational Plan. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, if necessary, may approve additional accommodations. Any accommodations not on the approved list must receive approval from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Any accommodations used must be those accommodations that are routinely made in the student's instructional and assessment programs. The student's IEP/504 should verify the use of the accommodations for instruction and other assessments. Many of the available accommodations fall into the following general categories:
- Timing or scheduling of the assessment – Give a child more time to take a test or allow the child to take breaks, etc.
- Test directions – Use sign language, read directions several times, or underline key words in the directions, etc.
- Test taking supports – Use paper tests, use large-print tests, use visual magnification or hearing devices, braille, use color overlays, etc.
- Test setting – Have the child take the test in a different place to reduce distractions, use special lighting or furniture, etc.
- Accommodations must be discussed by the IEP/504 team and described in the child's plan. If an IEP team determines the child will not participate in the state MAP assessment, the IEP must include a statement of why the assessment is not appropriate and how the student will be assessed by the MAP-Alternate. Accommodations are allowed if they are based on the student's need, not benefit. Accommodations do not give students with disabilities an advantage over other students and do not change the nature of what is being tested.
Accommodations may be implemented using teachers, teacher aides, student teachers, or volunteers (volunteers can only support classroom formative assessments). All persons who will be implementing accommodations will receive training in test administration and confidentiality procedures. Parents should be notified during team meetings of the support position(s) which may be assigned to implement accommodations during the testing window.
Accommodations in testing are in accordance and consistent with those given during daily instruction. Accommodations are directly related to the student's diagnosed disability and are only intended to compensate for that specific disability to allow more normal learning and instruction to occur.
- It is the responsibility of the District to ensure that the results of assessments are ethical and equitable, and that no single group of the Rockwood student body is disproportionately exempted from testing. Therefore, a basic guideline is to always assume every student, even those with disabilities who may have previously been exempted, will participate in standardized testing.
- In terms of reporting assessment results, the district will report to the public on the progress of students with disabilities with the same frequency and in the same detail as they report on the assessment of non-disabled students. The district will comply with IDEA guidelines in the reporting of state and district-wide test results.
The District-wide assessment program is defined as assessments that are administered district-wide to a particular group of students (i.e. all 2nd grade students, all students enrolled in 6th grade reading classes, all kindergarten students, etc.). Accommodations for voluntary assessments such as ACT, Advanced Placement, PSAT, and etc., are subject to the testing vendor's discretion. See your Building Test Coordinator for receiving accommodations.