Accountability for All Students (SAAS) Offers Preliminary
Findings on State Policy and Student State Test Results
Number 1, June 2003
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Accountability for All Students (SAAS) is a three year national
research project designed to explore the connections between
state policy/practice and the participation and performance of
students with disabilities in the regular statewide assessment
programs. SAAS is also examining the unintended consequences of
including students with disabilities in high-stakes testing
programs. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of
Education, Office of Special Education Programs, operated by the
University of Dayton, and housed in Columbus, Ohio at the School
Study Council of Ohio.
SAAS has enlisted several widely respected partners to provide
the expertise and perspective necessary to address the
complexity of the project's issues and the diversity of its
stakeholders. Project partners include the four U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Partnership
• FAPE (Families and Advocates Partnership for Education)
representing parents and advocates, operated by PACER Center, a
• ASPIRE (Association of Service Providers Implementing IDEA)
representing teachers and service providers, operated by the
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
• ILIAD (IDEA Local Implementation by Local Administrators)
representing district and building administrators, operated by
• PMP (Policymaker Partnership) representing policy-makers,
operated by the National Association of State Directors of
Special Education (NASDSE)
The other major partner is NCEO (National Center on Educational
Outcomes), an organization with a ten year history focused on
large-scale assessment of students with disabilities, operated
by the University of Minnesota.
SAAS is in the very early stages of data analysis, but some
connections between state policy and student results are
beginning to emerge. Preliminary findings indicate that:
• States with high school graduation tests tend to place
students with disabilities in more restrictive settings (see
Data Note 1).
• Increasing allowable accommodations increases students with
disabilities' participation in the regular state reading tests
(see Data Note 2).
SAAS’s Purpose and Goals
SAAS’s purpose is to provide policy makers, practitioners and
parents with evidence-based information regarding the effects of
state policies on the participation and passage rates of
students with disabilities taking the regular state tests.
Through the collection and analysis of state policies and
student results, project SAAS will achieve its goals:
• Identify those policies that encourage students with
disabilities to participate in and pass regular state
• Identify those policies that discourage students with
disabilities from participating in and passing regular state
• Address the unintended consequences of high stakes state
• Disseminate the findings to state and national policymakers,
practitioners and parents.
SAAS’s Major Activities
• Compiling a comprehensive database of state policies and
outcomes for students with disabilities. The policies being
collected include: laws and rules defining, regular and
alternate assessments, rewards and sanctions, alternate
assessment procedures, testing accommodations and reporting.
Data being collected include test participation, test
performance and data pertaining to unintended consequences such
as graduation and dropout rates, discipline and LRE. The
database includes data from organizations such as: OSEP, Westat,
NCEO, CCSSO, NCES, ECS, Lexis-Nexis, NASDSE and the individual
states. The staff uses this database to establish connections
between state policy and results for students with disabilities.
• Establishing an Advisory Committee. In addition to the project
partners the advisory committee includes: National Education
Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America,
Education Commission of the States, Council of Administrators of
Special Education and 100 Black Men of America (for a complete
list, go to
www.ssco.org/saas/ and click on the PowerPoint
• Developing a data collection template. With the help of the
SAAS Advisory Committee, a data template has been developed
representing the key components of the data collection process.
• Monitoring educational reform efforts as reflected in law,
regulations, literature and practice.
• Disseminating information about SAAS’s purpose, activities and
potential. Examples include: creating a web site, developing a
brochure, creating a PowerPoint presentation, attending
conferences, providing a monthly update to SAAS partners and
advisory committee and publishing a quarterly bulletin.
Current Issues Affecting Students with Disabilities and Their
Involvement in Statewide Assessments
States are wrestling with the implications of No Child Left
Behind (NCLB), Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act. No Child Left Behind makes it clear: No Child may
be left behind. States, districts and schools must be
accountable for the academic progress of all students. In
general, that goal is addressed by requiring states to have:
clear and challenging academic standards, curriculum and
instruction designed to prepare students to meet the standards,
high quality tests that measure student achievement and a
unified accountability system that measures whether students,
schools, districts and states are making Adequate Yearly
Progress (AYP). There are sanctions for schools and districts
that do not make AYP.
Specific requirements for including students with disabilities
in the state accountability system are:
• At least 95% must participate in the state tests
• Accommodations must be made for students who need them to be
able to demonstrate what they know and can do
• Alternate assessments must be given to students who cannot
take the regular state tests
• With few exceptions, test scores for students with
disabilities must be counted in determining the AYP for schools
SAAS Can Help You
SAAS can help you by: providing information on an individual
state’s accountability policies and results for students with
disabilities, directing you to useful web sites and running
correlations for you on any factors which are included in our
You Can Help SAAS
You can help SAAS by: telling others about SAAS, sharing this
newsletter, informing the staff of data/literature/other
information which might be helpful to SAAS and directing people
to the SAAS web site or the SAAS staff.
Please visit our web site for additional information on Project
SAAS and its partner organizations or advisory committee. If you
have questions or suggestions, please contact us.
John Herner, Project Director
University of Dayton
4807 Evanswood Drive, Suite 300
Columbus, Ohio 43229
Voice (614) 785-1163
Fax (614) 785-0513
Project web site:
1. Based on 2000-2001 data from Education Week (Graduation Exit
Exams) and OSEP (Least Restrictive Environment).
2. Based on 2000-2001 elementary and middle school data from
NCEO (Biennial Performance Reports and Accommodations Report).
Due to data availability, reflects 18 states at the elementary
level and 17 states at the middle school level.
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