Federal law requires that schools be held accountable for educational results so that each student can meet his/her academic potential. State assessments are to be given to determine whether schools have been successful in teaching students the knowledge and skills for their enrolled grade as defined by the state content standards (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS). In determining which assessment is appropriate the ARD committee should refer to the State and District wide Assessment Framework.
What We Do
Participation in State/District Assessments
Decisions regarding assessments should be made by the ARD Committee and should be based on the instruction the student is receiving and the accommodations/modifications the student requires in order to be successful. Assessment decisions should not be made solely on the disability category or placement.
The IEP must include a statement of any individual appropriate and allowable accommodations in the administration of state-wide assessment instruments or district-wide assessments of student achievement (if the district administers such optional assessments) that are necessary to measure academic achievement and functional performance of the child on the assessments.
OCISD will propose accommodations that are appropriate to the needs of each student and that accurately reflect student achievement.
The ARD Committee should also include in the IEP, if appropriate, documentation regarding a student's current interpersonal skills level and preferred functional communication system/modes (i.e., sign, oral language, picture exchange system, etc.) when considering alternate assessments and accommodations.
If the ARD Committee determines that the student will not participate in a general state-wide assessment or district-wide assessment of student achievement (or part of an assessment), the IEP must include a statement of
- Why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and
- Why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child
In making decisions regarding assessments, the ARD Committee should annually:
- Review the student's current information to determine the student's present level of functioning
- Determine how the student receives TEKS instruction and the student's level of performance on the grade-level curriculum for his/her enrolled grade level
- Determine the appropriate assessment for the student
Document the appropriate assessment and all allowable or approved accommodations that the student will need during testing.
Prior to selecting an assessment instrument, the student's ARD Committee must be knowledgeable regarding all assessment options, including the characteristics of each assessment and the potential implications of each assessment choice.
STAAR™ (paper and online)
The student is accessing the grade-level TEKS curriculum with or without allowable accommodations. Information regarding currently allowable accommodations is available at: http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/accommodations/
STAAR™ Alternate 2
If STAAR™ Alternate 2 is being considered, the student's ARD Committee must review the four criteria below and provide evidence that the student meets each criterion.
- The student's ARD Committee has determined that, based on evaluation information performed by a qualified evaluation team, the student has a significant cognitive disability. The significant cognitive disability must affect the student's intellectual potential and be documented as such in the student's IEP. A student with a significant cognitive disability has limited potential to reach grade-level expectations whereas a student with a learning disability has the potential to reach grade-level expectations, but has difficulty doing so due to his or her disability.
- The student requires specialized supports to access the state-mandated grade-level curriculum and environment. The student needs specialized academic instruction as well as support throughout the day in areas such as expressing his or her needs, getting from place to place, eating lunch, negotiating social situations and/or taking care of personal needs.
- The student requires intensive, individualized instruction in a variety of instructional settings. The student needs specialized academic instruction and techniques over a period of time to ensure that he or she can learn, retain information and transfer skills to other settings.
- The student accesses and participates in the grade-level TEKS through prerequisite skills that are linked to the grade-level curriculum.
If the student's ARD Committee agrees that the student meets the criteria described above, each of the following assurances must be initialed by district personnel in order for the student to participate in STAAR™ Alternate 2.
- The decision to administer the STAAR™ Alternate 2 is based on multiple sources of measurable, objective evidence, including, but not limited to, current IEP PLAAFP statements, goals and/or objectives, report cards, progress reports, work samples, teacher observations, Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) results, standardized achievement test results and classroom, district and statewide assessment results. The decision is not based solely on the student's previous performance on a statewide assessment.
- The decision to administer the STAAR™ Alternate 2 is made by the ARD Committee, not administratively based on federal accountability requirements which limit the number of students taking alternate assessment who can be counted as proficient in Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) performance calculations. Although STAAR™ Alternate 2 is intended for a small number of students, the proficiency cap does not limit the number of students receiving special education services who may take an alternative assessment.
The student's ARD Committee must also provide one of the following assurances.
- For a student in elementary or middle school, the Committee understands that instructional and assessment decisions made now may impact a student's graduation options when he or she is in high school or
- For a student taking end-of-course assessments, the student is enrolled in a course being considered for STAAR™ Alternate 2 that has a PEIMS course number indicating that the coursework is accessed through prerequisite skills.
If the ARD Committee determines that the student will take STAAR™ Alternate 2, the IEP must provide a statement or why the student cannot participate in the general assessment (STAAR™) with or without accommodations and why an alternate assessment is appropriate for the student, including that all of the eligibility criteria are met.
NOTE: High school students are required to participate in all STAAR™ Alternate 2 assessments at some time during high school. The ARD Committee can determine which courses and corresponding assessments will be taken in a given year.
No Authentic Academic Response Eligibility Requirements
If the ARD Committee has previously determined that a student meets the eligibility requirements for STAAR™ Alternate 2 and the student is being considered for a No Authentic Academic Response (NAAR) designation, the ARD Committee must determine that the student meets at least one of the two eligibility criteria below.
- Because of multiple impairments, the student is unable to receive information during instruction and assessment. For example, the student may have a combination of visual, auditory and/or tactile impairments or
- The student is consistently unable to provide an authentic academic response during instruction. The student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics.
- Is unable to demonstrate any observable reaction to a specific stimulus
- Exhibits only startle responses
- Tracks or fixates on objects at random and not for a purpose
- Moves or responds only to internal stimuli
- Vocalizes intermittently regardless of changes in the environment around him/her
If the student's ARD Committee agrees that the student meets at least one of the criteria described above, each of the following assurances must be initialed by district personnel.
- The student is unable to receive information during instruction and assessment and/or the student is unable to provide an authentic academic response.
- The NAAR designation is based on educational records and describes the student in all settings.
The student's ARD Committee must ensure that the NAAR designation is documented in his/her IEP.
Medical Exception Eligibility Requirements
Students qualifying for a medical exception will not be required to participate in the administration of STAAR™ Alternate 2 for any course or subject for which they are enrolled in the current year. A score code of 'M' must be recorded for all tests the student would have taken. The ARD Committee must ensure the medical exception of documented in the student's IEP.
If the ARD Committee has previously determined that a student meets the eligibility requirements for STAAR™ Alternate 2 and the student is being considered for a medical exception designation, the ARD Committee must determine that the student meets at least one of the two eligibility criteria below.
- The student is unable to respond to test questions due to a chronic illness.
- The student is receiving extensive short-term medical treatment due to a medical emergency or serious injury in an accident.
- The student is unable to interact with peers or educators without risk of infection or contamination to himself/herself or others.
- The student is unable to receive sufficient or consistent homebound services due to medial issues.
- If the student's ARD Committee agrees that the student meets at least one of the criteria described above, each of the following assurances must be initialed by district personnel.
- The information used to make the medical exception determination reflects the student's situation just prior to and throughout the testing window.
- The medical incident or condition has been identified and verified in writing by a licensed physician.
For students in grades 5 and 8 who do not perform satisfactorily on STAAR™, the ARD student's Committee will determine the manner in which the student will participate in an accelerated instruction program.
For students receiving special education services, the ARD Committee determines the accelerated instruction plan. When determining the type of accelerated instruction needed, the ARD Committee must compare a student's test results with his or her IEP to make sure areas of weakness identified on the test align with the goals and objectives in the IEP. A continuation of the student's current IEP goals and areas of need may be an appropriate type of accelerated instruction.
NOTE: The AIP must be put in place through the ARD process. An ARD Committee meeting must be convened if the accelerated instruction plan involves a change in placement or decisions regarding retention.
Student Success Initiative (SSI) Grade Advancement Requirements
The Student Success Initiative (SSI) consists of several components, including grade advancement requirements for reading and mathematics for students in grades 5 and 8.
Students who are assessed using STAAR™ are subject to SSI grade advancement requirements. Students assessed through STAAR™ Alternate are not subject to SSI grade advancement requirements because multiple testing opportunities are included in the STAAR-Alt process. LEP - exempt students are not subject to SSI requirements. However, non-exempt English Language Learners taking STAAR™, in English or Spanish are subject to SSI requirements.
Under the SSI grade advancement requirements, a student who takes STAARTM is allowed three testing opportunities to meet the passing standard. If the student does not meet the passing standard, a grade placement committee (GPC) is convened to develop an accelerated instruction plan (AIP) and make promotion decisions for the student.
The student's ARD Committee will serve as the Grade Placement Committee (GPC) for special education students in grades 5 and 8 who are not successful on the first, second or third administration of the STAAR™. The GPC is responsible for (a) determining appropriate accelerated instruction that must be provided to the student before the third test administration, (b) considering parent appeals and other relevant information and (c) developing a plan for the accelerated instruction the student shall receive during the next school year, regardless of whether the student is promoted or retained. Decisions regarding grade placement do not have to be unanimous, but must follow the general rules governing ARD Committee decision-making.
Intensive Program of Instruction
OCISD provides an intensive program of instruction to a student who does not perform satisfactorily on a statewide assessment instrument, including an end-of-course assessment and STAAR™-ALT2.
The student's ARD Committee is responsible for designing a program that enables the student to attain a standard of growth based on his/her IEP and, if applicable, to meet the SSI requirements described below.
Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students Receiving Special Education Services
When a student served through special education is limited English proficient, the student's ARD and Language Proficiency Assessment (LPAC) Committees are required to collaborate to ensure that issues related to both the student's disability and language proficiency are carefully considered.
Depending on the amount of English they have acquired, some LEP students may take the Spanish version of STAAR™. Other LEP students may qualify for a LEP exemption from STAAR™. Students who qualify for a LEP exemption will participate in linguistically accommodated testing (STAAR™-L) in certain grades and subjects. LEP students who are not eligible for a LEP exemption should be assessed using STAAR™ or STAAR™ Alternate2.
Additional information is available at: http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/ell/
The FITNESSGRAM is a state required assessment that measures aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility through the use of criterion - referenced standards specific to a student's age and gender. All students in grades 3-12 who are enrolled in a Physical Education course or an approved Physical Education substitution are required to participate in the FITNESSGRAM.
A student receiving special education services should not be restricted from participating in the physical fitness assessment based solely on the student's eligibility for special education services. Some students with disabilities will require accommodations or modifications to the assessment based on the individual student's disability. These accommodations or modifications should be addressed by the student's ARD Committee.
A student can be completely or partially exempted from the six test items required for assessment with the FITNESSGRAM assessment instrument based on the conditions of their disability.
Only students who meet the following requirements must be restricted from participation:
- Permanent Restriction: A member of the healing arts licensed to practice in Texas must provide the school written documentation concerning the nature of the impairment and the expectations for physical activity for the student.
- Temporary Restriction: A member of the healing arts licensed to practice in Texas must provide written documentation concerning the nature of the temporary impairment and the expected amount of time for recovery.
The healing art includes any system, treatment, operation, diagnosis, prescription or practice to ascertain, cure, relieve, adjust or correct a human disease, injury or unhealthy or abnormal physical or mental condition. A person who uses his/her name on a written professional identification, including a sign, pamphlet, stationery or letterhead or a person who uses his/her signature as a professional identification shall designate the healing art the person is licensed to practice. These designations include a person who is licensed by one of the following entities:
- Texas State Board of Medical Examiners and holds a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathy degree
- State Board of Dental Examiners
- Texas State Board of Chiropractic Examiners
- Texas Optometry Board
- Texas State Board of Podiatric Medicine
Statewide Assessment Accommodations
In determining the most appropriate accommodations for statewide assessments, the student's ARD Committee must determine which of the classroom accommodations currently provided for the student are allowable for use on statewide assessments. The Committee must then determine if the student meets eligibility requirements, if any, for the proposed accommodation. Information is available on the TEA website below.
Resource: Texas Education Agency: Accommodations