NCAASE (National Center on Assessment and Accountability for Special Education)

The purpose of the NCAASE (The Center) is to develop and test various approaches for measuring the achievement growth of students with and without disabilities.

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.

To help examine the accountability purposes for which states are using their assessment data, NCAASE partners with measurement and statistics experts, assessment and special education leaders in academia and in state departments of education, lead psychometricians, and a National Advisory Panel. The NCAASE partners are comprised of The University of Oregon, Arizona State University School of Social and Family Dynamics, North Carolina State University, and BRT (Behavioral Research and Teaching) at the University of Oregon).


The Center has two primary goals:
1.) To conduct research that provides evidence about the natural developmental progress in achievement of students with and without disabilities, and
2.) To examine the technical properties of alternative accountability models where student academic growth is used to describe and evaluate school effectiveness in serving students with disabilities. We use the summative statewide tests from four states (i.e., NC, AZ, OR, and PA) to compare outcomes using different analytic procedures, such as: comparing various multi-level growth models to the current and frequently-used models based on status/proficiency and transition matrices, as well as residual gain and value-added models.

The Center’s five-year program of growth modeling research reflects a coordinated series of five coherent studies, each addressing a number of important questions.

We begin with a Cornerstone Study to document the natural developmental progress of students with disabilities and the effects of using various analytical models. We then complete a Multi-State Extension Study, where the growth models examined in the Cornerstone Study are replicated with three additional 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 is 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.

The Center’s team of expert investigators (organizational chart) 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 partnerships with states, universities, and research organizations (University of Oregon, Arizona State University, NC State University, and Behavioral Research and Teaching) the Center’s PIs propose to advance evidence-based practice on the assessment of achievement growth in reading and mathematics for students with disabilities.