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Researcher's work helps improve measurement of lower end performers

A recent report investigating the feasibility of creating an “accessible block alternative” for the 4th and 8th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math assessments was published by the American Institutes for Research, one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research organizations. Co-authored by UMass Donahue Institute research manager Jeremiah Johnson, the report describes one of the first efforts to improve measurement precision at the lower end of the NAEP performance distribution, a segment that includes many students with disabilities and English language learners.

The project served as a proof of concept study in two important ways, illustrating that it is possible to develop standard procedures for creating less difficult assessment items while still adhering to established content frameworks, and also demonstrating that accessible blocks which are scaled with the main NAEP assessment can improve measurement precision at the lower end of the NAEP performance continuum.

The Item Modification Guidelines and Item Modification Procedures developed as a part of this study have been adopted by NAEP and are now routinely used in NAEP item development to improve the quality of all items, not only those included in accessible blocks. In addition, the accessible block study in mathematics served as the impetus to conduct additional ongoing research on improving measurement precision at the lower part of the NAEP performance distribution, including an accessible block study in reading (currently being conducted on behalf of the NAEP Validity Studies Panel [NVS Panel]) and the Knowledge and Skills Assessment (KaSA), an ongoing special study that has administered accessible blocks to students who would otherwise be excluded from NAEP.

The full report can be accessed here.

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