Making alternative assessment score reports a meaningful tool for parents
Blackwell, William Hollis, III
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While No Child Left Behind assessment policies require student performance on alternate assessments to be reported to parents, there have been no research studies and limited guidance on how this information is best reported. There are two issues resulting from the lack of research and guidance. First, there is no established standard for what information should be reported. It is left to individual states to determine the types of information reported, and there is no provision to ensure that parents have a voice in determining the information that is most helpful to them. Second, there is no guidance on exactly how the information should be presented. This study directly examined these issues within the context of Pennsylvania. The research question was: What are meaningful ways of reporting alternate assessment results to parents? Data were collected through a variety of methods, including interviews with parents, teachers, special education program administrators, and alternate assessment design team members; and through the development and trial testing of sample alternate assessment score reports with parents and teachers. Based on the findings, the answer to the research question is twofold: (a) there are specific design features that can be incorporated into alternate assessment score reports to assist with parents' interpretation and use of the reports, and (b) the definition of "report" has to be expanded beyond a traditional paper report in order to include in-person and video opportunities for presenting information. The findings from this study contribute to special education policy and practice at three levels: (a) the design and reporting of alternate assessment results to parents, (b) the translation of federal and state assessment policies into practices that directly benefit parents and students, and (c) the ways teachers and parents exchange information during the educational planning process.
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