RFA: Special Education Research and Development Center Program (CFDA# 84.324C)

Topic Two: Special Education R & D Center on Assessment and Accountability, Gerald Tindal (UO), Project Director & Co-PI, Ann Schulte (NCSU), Co-PI, Stephen N. Elliott (ASU), Co-PI, Joseph Stevens (UO), Co-PI

In this application, we propose a National Research and Development Center on Assessment and Accountability for Special Education to develop and test various approaches for measuring the achievement growth of students with and without disabilities. We reference these outcomes to multiple accountability purposes for which states are using their data and focus on both convergent and divergent patterns across the models and data sets from our partner states.

The Center’s Focused Program of Research on reading and mathematics achievement growth is based on existing sets of longitudinal achievement data for students with and without disabilities from North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. We use these summative statewide tests to compare outcomes using different analytic procedures (comparing various multi-level growth models to the current and frequently used models based on status/proficiency models, transition matrix, as well as residual gain and value-added models). Growth analyses for extant datasets are systematically replicated as the database expands with an additional four years of achievement test results. We extend the descriptive comparisons of growth to a Supplemental Study, where we pursue more causal explanations of growth, adding achievement information prior to the end-of-year state test by including in our models interim assessments: Measures of Academic Progress (Northwest Evaluation Association), progress monitoring outcomes with instructional interventions (University of Oregon’s easyCBM), and engagement in the curriculum content, amount of time, and cognitive demand (MyiLOGS from Vanderbilt University as a measure of opportunity to learn).

We describe another Supplemental Study where we use different growth models with each partner state’s Alternate Assessment used for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The Center’s 5-year program of growth modeling research with these 10 existing and 1 created data set reflects a coordinated series of five coherent studies, each with a number of important questions. We begin with a Cornerstone Study with the NC summative dataset to document the natural developmental progress of students with disabilities and the effects from using various analytical models. We then complete a Multi-State Extension Study, where the growth models examined in NC are replicated with the AZ, OR, and PA statewide summative datasets. We use an Interim Assessment Study to document natural developmental progress when the measurement occurs more frequently than once at the end of the year. We also complete a Multiple Measures Validation Study where growth modeling used with the state datasets are analyzed concurrent with covariate measures that provide teachers other information about students’ knowledge and skills that may be useful in changing the trajectory of growth.

Finally, we propose an Alternate Assessment Study to examine the achievement growth of students with significant cognitive disabilities using partner states’ performance measures. Collectively, this series of five studies can contribute meaningful evidence to the ultimate objective of the Center, which is the development of assessment methods that can answer questions such as: (1) How much growth can be expected in one year for students with and without disabilities and how do various models compare with each other in documenting growth? (2) How can results from other measures of students’ achievement and engagement meaningfully contribute to a model of academic growth? and (3) How do models compare when quantifying growth on general achievement tests and on alternate assessments? The Center’s team of expert investigators is supported by a national advisory panel of leaders in measurement, testing, accountability, and special education as well as partnerships with several professional organizations dedicated to advancing assessment and accountability practices for all students. With our state and national partnerships, Center’s PIs propose to advance evidence-based practice on the assessment of achievement growth in reading and mathematics for students with disabilities.  NCAASE Website