Creating Better Tests for Everyone Through Universally Designed Assessments
Universally designed assessments are designed and developed to allow participation of the widest possible range of students, in a way that results in valid inferences about performance on grade-level standards for all students who participate in the assessment. This paper explores the development of universal design and considers its application to large-scale assessments. Building on universal design principles presented by the Center for Universal Design (Center for Universal Design, 1997), seven elements of universally designed assessments are identified and described. These elements were derived from a review of literature on universal design, assessment and instructional design, and research on topics such as assessment accommodations (Thompson, Johnstone,&Thurlow, 2002). The seven elements are:
1. Inclusive assessment population
2. Precisely defined constructs
3. Accessible, non-biased items
4. Amenable to accommodations
5. Simple, clear, and intuitive instructions and procedures
6. Maximum readability and comprehensibility
7. Maximum legibility
Each of the elements is explored in this paper. Numerous resources relevant to each of the elements are identified, with specific suggestions for ways in which assessments can be designed to meet the needs of the widest range of students possible. Challenges and opportunities arising from the application of universally designed assessments are identified.
- AERA, APA, NCME (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education). (1999). Standards for educational and psychological tests. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
- Bielinski, J., & Sheinker, A. (2001). Varied opinions on how to report accommodated test scores: Findings based on CTB/McGraw-Hill’s framework for classifying accommodations. Paper presented at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Large-scale Assessment Conference, Houston, TX.
- Brown, P.J. (1999). Findings of the 1999 plain language field test. University of Delaware, Newark, DE: Delaware Research and Development Center.
- Center for Universal Design. (1997). What is universal design? North Carolina State University. Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web: http://www.design.ncsu.edu.
- Elliott, S.N. (1999). Valid testing accommodations: Fundamental assumptions and methods for collecting validity evidence. Paper presented at CCSSO Conference, Snowbird, UT.
- Elliott, S., Kratochwill, T., & McKevitt, B. (2001). Experimental analysis of the effects of testing accommodations on the scores of students with and without disabilities. Journal of School Psychology, 39, 3-24.
- Gaster, L., & Clark, C. (1995). A guide to providing alternate formats. West Columbia, SC: Center for Rehabilitation Technology Services. (ERIC Document No. ED 405689).
- Hitchcock, C. (2001). Balanced instructional support and challenge in universally designed learning environments. Journal of Special Education Technology, 16 (4). Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web: http://jset.unlv.edu/16.4/hitchcock/first.html
- Kiplinger, V.L., Haug, C.A., & Abedi, J. (2000). Measuring math – not reading – on a math assessment: A language accommodations study of English language learners and other special populations. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000.
- Kopriva, R. (2000). Ensuring accuracy in testing for English language learners. Washington DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.
- Koretz, D., & Hamilton, L. (2000). Assessment of students with disabilities in Kentucky: Inclusion, student performance, and validity. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22 (3), 255-272.
- National Research Council. (1999). High stakes: testing for tracking, promotion, and graduation (J. Heubert & R. Hauser editors, Committee on Appropriate Test Use). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
- Popham, W.J., & Lindheim, E. (1980). The practical side of criterion-referenced test development. NCME Measurement in Education, 10 (4), 1-8.
- Rakow, S.J., & Gee T.C. (1987). Test science, not reading. Science Teacher, 54 (2), 28-31.
- Schriver, K.A. (1997). Dynamics in document design. John Wiley & Sons.
- Thompson, S.J., Blount, A., & Thurlow, M.L. (2002). A summary of research on the effects of test accommodations—1999 through 2001. Minneapolis, MN: National Center on Educational Outcomes.
- Thompson, S. J., Johnstone, C. J., & Thurlow, M. L. (2002). Universal design applied to large scale assessments (Synthesis Report 44). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web:http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Synthesis44.html
- Thompson, S.J., Quenemoen, R.F., Thurlow, M.L., & Ysseldyke, J.E. (2001). Alternate assessments for students with disabilities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Thompson, S., & Thurlow, M., (2002). Universally designed assessments: Better tests for everyone! (Policy Directions No. 14). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Policy14.htm
- Thurlow, M., & Bolt, S. (2001). Empirical support for accommodations most often allowed in state policy. (Synthesis Report 41). Minneapolis, MN: National Center on Educational Outcomes.
- Thurlow, M., Quenemoen, R., Thompson, S., & Lehr, C. (2001). Principles and characteristics of inclusive assessment and accountability systems (Synthesis Report 40). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Synthesis40.html
- Thurlow, M.L., Lazarus, S., Thompson, S., & Robey, J. (2002). 2001 state policies on assessment participation and accommodations (Synthesis Report 46). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved October 2002, from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Synthesis46.html
- Tindal, G., & Fuchs, L.S. (1999). A summary of research on test changes: An empirical basis for defining accommodations. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, Mid-South Regional Center.
- Willingham, W.W., Ragosta, M., Bennett, R.E., Braun, H., Rock, D.A., & Powers, D.E. (1988). Testing handicapped people. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- There are currently no refbacks.