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the school's scores on the Maryland Student Performance Assessment Program.
Permitted accommodations include: scheduling accommodations, such as periodic breaks; setting accommodations, such as special seating or seating in small groups; equipment/technology accommodations, such as large print, Braille, or mechanical spellers or other electronic devices; presentation accommodations, such as repetition of directions, sign-language interpreters, or access to close-caption or video materials; and response accommodations, such as pointing, student tape responses, or dictation. If an accommodation alters the skill being tested—such as allowing a student to dictate answers on a writing test—the student will not receive a score on that portion of the test.
In Alabama, where the state requires students to pass an exit examination in order to earn a regular high school diploma, the state has developed guidelines to enable all students—including students with disabilities—to take the exam and earn the diploma. Under the guidelines, if an IEP team determines from test data, teacher evaluations, and other sources that the student will work toward the Alabama high school diploma, the student must receive instruction in the content on the exit examination. The IEP team also determines the accommodations the student will require in order to take the exam.
The state permits accommodations in scheduling, setting, format and equipment, and recording. The guidelines note that “an accommodation cannot be provided if it changes the nature, content, or integrity of the test. In addition, they state that students of special populations must be given practice in taking tests similar in content and format to those of the state test prior to participating in an assessment.
In all, more than 2,100 tenth graders in special education took the pregraduation examination in 1999, about 5 percent of the total who took the test that year.
Assessing English Language Learners
The requirement in the 1994 Title I statute to include “all students” in assessments and accountability provisions also refers to students for whom English is a second language. In order to “provide for the participation of all students in the grades being assessed,” the law called for states to assess English language learners “to the extent practicable, in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and reliable information on what these students know and can do to determine the students' mastery of skills in subjects other than English.”
As with students with disabilities, this provision represents a substantial departure from conventional practice for English-language learners. According