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Education and alternate assessment for students with important cognitive disabilities: Implications for educators

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  1. Introduction
  2. Origin: Mandates for accountability
    1. The new wave of education reform
    2. Declaration of the education laws and legal requirements
    3. Introduction of dual system of accountability
  3. Meaning of alternate assessments
  4. Reasons for assessing
  5. Things to be assessed
  6. Ways to assess and score
    1. Test Standards
  7. Issue on the validity and reliability of the alternate assessment
  8. Challenges faced by teachers administering portfolio assessment
  9. Massachusetts' implementation of an alternate assessment system: One state's response
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

Reform in education has turned to be one of the paramount public policy matters in the nation. As policymakers and educators race to rectify the several perceived shortcomings of an educational system through asking for more accountability, it is increasingly apparent that several reforms have not been taken into consideration with the specific needs of students and with necessary cognitive disabilities. For such students, the appliance to education accountability for alternative approaches is increasing. Consequently, there is bounded guidance from research on the subject how to properly implement alternate assessment in this regard the local educators have bounded preparation in alternate assessment practices. This paper explains some of the methods in which alternate assessment as part of standards-based education reform can affect students with important cognitive disabilities.

The new wave of education reform commencement came from the mid-1980s, when national calls for dramatic change to draw substantial public attention to the quality of schools and the requirement for educational outcomes (National Commission on Education, 1983) for intensified accountability. Ultimately, a movement calling for systemic reform of the nation's schools was inaugurated.

[...] As a result, necessary if efforts are required to develop and refine the processes for assessing students with important disabilities. These efforts should involve both educators and policy-makers at the ground level, as well as the private vendors that design and deliver assessment systems. Equally significant, the research community faces considerable challenges in both assessing the implications of these assessments as well as offering scientifically-based solutions to the challenges linked with alternate assessment. The aims of education reform are substantial and difficult. [...]

[...] Consistent with IDEA '97 requirements, Warlick and Olson's (1998) report evaluates that in all 12 states they surveyed, the IEP teams are called on to make the decisions on whether students will participate in the general education test or the alternate assessment and to document justification for this determination in the IEP. Appropriately, the tasks of specifying the criteria to be used in making these determinations are left up to the states. To date, several states have established participation guidelines. [...]

[...] Moreover, for those students with significant disabilities, IDEA '97 needs that every state grants an alternate assessment for those children that cannot participate in the standard State and district-wide assessment programs. The law also places the responsibility on every state for developing the participation guidelines and provides the IEP team responsibility for making decisions on the participation of every student in state assessment programs on the basis of the state guidelines. Recently, a dual system of accountability is there; one for general education and one for special education (Sebba, Thurlow, & Goertz, 2000). [...]

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