Alternate assessments of modified achievement standards: More accessible and less difficult tests to advance assessment practices?

Stephen N. Elliott, Ryan J. Kettler, Andrew T. Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Amendments to the No Child Left Behind Act allow for a portion of students with disabilities within each state to be tested via an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards, and as a result, the performance of 2% or slightly more of these students can be reported as proficient for purposes of adequate yearly progress. This policy calls for tests composed of easier items in the same content areas as a state's general achievement test and for guidelines for identifying eligible students with disabilities who have persistent academic difficulties. Promising methods for reducing the difficulty of test items without underrepresenting the target construct include simplifying language, removing incorrect answer choices, bolding key words, and making graphics clearer. The policy also allows for distinct performance criteria (proficiency standards) and associated cut scores for interpreting the results of these tests to be established. Consequences for each of these changes are hypothesized within the context of better measurement of student achievement, inclusive assessment practices, and state accountability systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Disability Policy Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Accessibility
  • Alternate assessments
  • Item modifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Law

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