Sunday, February 3, 2013

Urgent! Call to Action - Comments on Accomodations on Common Core Standards Testing

Most states in the US have joined into the Common Core Curriculum.  At this time two separate groups are working on test materials which will be used to assess student learning and for many teachers determine play a role in how they are evaluated.

Currently one of those consortiums, PARCC, is holding public comment on their proposed positions on testing accomodations.  The survey is designed in a force choice format allowing the surgery taker only to choose yes, yes with edits, or no as to if they agree to the proposed rules around accomodations for special needs students.  In theory these recommendations make sense.  If a test is not specifically measuring reading then text-to-speech or a reader is allowed. Also if the test is not testing basic calculations a calculator will be allowed.  The problem is that the way the rules are written is very confusing, the power to choose accomodations is taken from the TEAMs who know the child best and their is no room for very unique learners who use very unique accomodations or assistive technology.

Sadly one of the people who wrote the white paper for the reading rules recommendations is well known to me. He has said, in a public forum, to hundreds of teachers who work with children who have very severe disabilities that even if they are dying they must be tested, but if they die their portfolios do not need to be submitted. Once he required that I submit an alternative assessment portfolio on a child who had spent seven months in the hospital and had only attended 35 days of school.  So this child's test score reflected an essentially empty binder submitted to the state.  I dare say that fidelity of testing wasn't foremost in this state administrator's mind.

Please go fill out the survey and use the "yes, with edits" response box to share your opinions about who should be deciding what accomodations are needed as well as to share your experiences with learners who need unique technology for access to testing (eye gaze computers with text-to-speech, low tech reading supports, talking calculators, abacus, etc).  Additionally I urge you all to think of what these rules would mean to individuals who are highly capable with accommodations who may not be allowed to use them on the test that determines if they will graduate. 

Thank you.


  1. I work in Wisconsin and Wisconsin, along with 12 other states, lead by the University of Kansas, is implementing the Common Core Essential Elements for our students with severe disabilities. Along with that, these students will be doing the "Dynamic Learning Maps" assessment instead of the Smarter Balance test. I am not sure if this helps you out or not, but it might be worth looking at. This is the site for the Common Core Essential Elements:


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