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Differential Item Functioning Comparisons on a Performance-based Alternate Assessment for Students with Severe Cognitive Impairments, Autism and Orthopedic Impairments

Affiliations

  • Educational Testing Service
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Abstract


The purpose of this study was to examine Differential Item Functioning (DIF) by disability groups on an on-demand performance assessment for students with severe cognitive impairments. Researchers examined the presence of DIF for two comparisons. One comparison involved students with severe cognitive impairments who served as the reference group and students with autism and severe cognitive impairments who served as the focal group. The other comparison compared students with severe cognitive impairments (reference group) and students with severe cognitive impairments and orthopedic impairments (focal group). Results indicated a moderate amount of DIF for the autism comparison and a negligible amount of DIF for the orthopedic impairment comparison. In addition researchers coded all test items based on characteristics likely to favor one of the three groups. Although several of the hypothesized coding categories resulted in accurate prediction of DIF, the study was limited to items from one testing program for students in one state. More research is needed to see if these hypotheses can be replicated across testing programs and populations.

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