Students with Disabilities

K–12 state-wide assessment programs must be developed and administered in a manner that maximizes participation of students with disabilities and allows for accommodations to the extent reasonable.

Students in special education programs with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and students with disabilities who qualify for special considerations in test administration (covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) may qualify for accommodations. Accommodations increase the validity of test scores by offsetting distortions introduced by a student’s disability.

ETS is committed to producing tests and other products that treat diverse populations respectfully and allow them to perform to their full potential. ETS regularly conducts research and educational forums on topics relating to disability and accessibility, such as:

Examining the Factor Structure of a State Standards-Based Assessment of Science for Students With Learning Disabilities
This study examines the scores on a state standards-based Grade 5 Science assessment obtained by a group of students without learning disabilities who took the standard form of the test and by three groups of students with learning disabilities.

Recommendations for Conducting Differential Item Functioning (DIF) Analyses for Students With Disabilities Based on Previous DIF Studies
The purpose of this study is to help ensure that strategies for differential item functioning (DIF) detection for students with disabilities are appropriate and lead to meaningful results. We surveyed existing DIF studies for students with disabilities and describe them in terms of study design, statistical approach, sample characteristics, and DIF results. Based on descriptive and graphical summaries of previous DIF studies, we make recommendations for future studies of DIF for students with disabilities.

Computer-Adaptive Testing for Students With Disabilities: A Review of the Literature
This paper consists of a literature review focusing on adaptive testing issues for students with disabilities in the K–12 sector.

ETS Research Spotlight: A Summary of Applications That Use Student Academic Growth for K–12 Accountability and Implications for Students with Disabilities
This issue of ETS Research Spotlight features a research synopsis of two recent reports by ETS research scientists that examined the challenges associated with measuring year-to-year growth for students with disabilities.

Examining the Impact of Audio Presentation on Tests of Reading Comprehension
This study examines the impact of a read-aloud accommodation on standardized test scores of reading comprehension at grades 4 and 8.

Design Patterns for Improving Accessibility for Test Takers With Disabilities
This report clarifies issues related to designing accessibility features for individuals with disabilities — such as low-vision and blindness — taking a test of reading.

ETS Policy Notes — Students with Learning Disabilities Transitioning from High School to College
This issue provides highlights from an ETS Achievement Gap Symposium co-sponsored by ETS and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Accommodations on High-stakes Writing Tests for Students With Disabilities
With the addition of a writing component to many high-stakes tests (e.g., college admission tests and high school exit exams), a review of writing accommodations for students with disabilities becomes critical.

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Technology-enhanced Assessments

Technology-enhanced AssessmentsETS works closely with states and the consortia to bring technological innovations to K–12 assessment.


NAEP and ETSETS has assisted the NAEP program in introducing numerous psychometric and assessment design innovations over the years.

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