Including Students with Disabilities in
State Accountability Assessment

(Minnesota Manual on Accommodations – Page s 8 and 9)

Both federal and state laws require that all students with disabilities be administered assessments intended to hold schools accountable for the academic performance of students. Accommodations may be provided to eligible students on each of the assessments in the Minnesota Assessment Program. Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members must actively engage in a planning process that addresses:
• assurance of the provision of accommodations to facilitate student inclusion in grade-level instruction and state assessments, and
• use of alternate assessments to assess the achievement of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

For a current overview of the tests given to students in Minnesota, including accountability assessments (regular and alternate), graduation tests, and tests of English language proficiency (included here for students with disabilities who are also English language learners), please see the Procedures Manual located at: Corner/Policies_Procedures_Guidelines/index.html

Legal Basis

Federal and State Laws Requiring Participation by Students with Disabilities

Several important laws require the participation of students with disabilities in standards-based instruction and assessment initiatives. These include federal laws such as No Child Left Behind 2001 (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA).

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Stronger accountability for results is one of the four basic education reform principles contained in NCLB. This law complements the provisions in providing public accountability at the school, district, and state levels for all students with disabilities.

One of the basic reform principles of NCLB is stronger accountability for results for all students. Through this federal legislation, in addition to other state and local district initiatives, assessments aimed at increasing accountability provide important information with regard to:
• how successful schools are at including all students in standards-based education
• how well students are achieving standards
• what needs to be improved for specific groups of students

There are several critical elements in NCLB that hold schools accountable for educational results:
1. Academic content standards (what students should learn)
2. Academic achievement standards (how well they should learn)

State assessments are the mechanism for checking whether schools have been successful in supporting students in gaining the knowledge and skills defined by the content standards. School, district, and state accountability is based on measuring success in educating all students and determining what needs to be improved for specific groups of students.

State Accommodations Policies:

Maintaining Validity of Assessment

Maintaining Validity and Considering Consequences of Decisions

When selecting accommodations for a student, it is important to keep in mind both the accommodation policies set to maintain the validity of an assessment and to know the consequences of decisions. If the IEP team determines that a student should use a certain accommodation during an assessment but the student refuses to use the accommodation, the validity of the assessment is compromised.

Consideration for longer term consequences is important for IEP teams as well. For example, as students with disabilities begin to make post-secondary choices, these may factor into the nature of accommodation choices and availabilities open to them. The IEP team may want to discuss whether or how this affects decisions about accommodations for assessments.

If there is a need to ask about assistance regarding the use of a specific accommodation on a state assessment not addressed in the procedures manual, contact the Minnesota Department of Education at or by calling 651-582-8200.
Last modified: Wednesday, 18 August 2010, 11:01 AM