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Validating Assessments for Students With Disabilities

Validating assessments for students with disabilities can be challenging. If test scores derived from those assessments are used for state accountability purposes, threats to validity must be identified and actions taken to remove or reduce those threats. For example, a student with a vision impairment may have trouble reading a complex mathematics problem presented in small print on a single page. The ability of the test to accurately measure this student's performance on the task could be compromised. However, by changing the mode of presentation—for example, using a larger font—the effect of the vision impairment is removed, thus providing the student a fairer opportunity to perform. Appropriate accommodations in the design or administration of a test for students with disabilities may be necessary to improve the validity of the results.

The study of validity is greatly aided by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999). Experts in testing developed the Standards to help sponsors provide the highest quality testing programs possible.

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