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Article of Interest - Alternate Assessment

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Bridges4Kids LogoStudents With Cognitive Impairment Score Well on Alternate Assessments
Michigan Department of Education, June 9, 2005
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*A majority of Michigan students with cognitive impairment "Surpassed" or "Attained" set performance standards on the state's alternate assessment, known as MI-Access.

Now in its fourth year of statewide administration, MI-Access is one way that students with disabilities can participate in the Michigan Educational Assessment System (MEAS). Others ways include the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) with or without assessment accommodations and a locally administered English language proficiency assessment for English Language Learners.

"In the State Board's efforts to ensure that the needs of all students are met, this is a remarkable advancement," said State Board of Education President Kathleen Straus. "These students, their families, their teachers, and their schools now have a more complete set of information with which to evaluate student progress.

"By ensuring that all students have access to meaningful assessment opportunities, we can move the state toward its collective goal of preparing our children*all of them*to function in our advanced, global economy and an increasingly sophisticated society," Straus added.

Having standardized, statewide assessment data for all students is valuable, according to Interim State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jeremy Hughes.

"In the past, we have had considerable gaps in assessment information because assessments like the MEAP aren't suitable for all students with disabilities. While they are excellent assessments, they don't give students with cognitive impairment a chance to fully demonstrate what they know and are able to do. With MI-Access, our performance data are now much more complete."

Results from these assessments are used when calculating district and state participation rates and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

MI-Access currently is comprised of three types of assessments: (1) Participation, which is designed for students who have, or function as if they have, severe cognitive impairment; (2) Supported Independence, which is designed for students who have, or function as if they have, moderate cognitive impairment; and (3) Interim Phase 2 BRIGANCE, an off-the-shelf commercial assessment customized for Michigan students who have, or function as if they have, mild cognitive impairment.

Because of the student population involved, the MI-Access Participation and Supported Independence assessments use an on-demand, structured format. For example, instead of paper and pencil tests, teachers observe students as they carry out a standard set of activities during the course of a typical school day. Then, teachers score them using a standardized scoring guide.

Interim Phase 2 BRIGANCE, however, uses multiple choice and extended response questions to ascertain what students with mild cognitive impairment know and are able to do in the content areas of English language arts and mathematics. The assessments are administered in a way that reflects the instructional strategies and/or accommodations used by the student during instruction.

In winter 2005, 19,043 students with disabilities in grades 4, 7, 8, and 11 participated in MI-Access. Of that number, 1,313 were assessed with MI-Access Participation; 2,704 were assessed with Supported Independence; and 15,026 were assessed with Interim Phase 2 BRIGANCE.

There are three levels of achievement, or performance categories, students can reach: Surpassed, Attained, or Emerging Toward the Performance Standard.

More than 19,000 students with disabilities will receive results of their performance on MI-Access this week. This year, more students Surpassed and Attained the Performance Standard on the assessments than were Emerging Toward the Performance Standard.

For the Participation and Supported Independence assessments, students do not receive one overall score, but instead receive scores for each Performance Expectation (PE) on which they are assessed. The PEs included in the assessment reflect what students with disabilities in a certain grade should know and be able to do.

Students assessed with Interim Phase 2 BRIGANCE receive one overall score for English language arts and one overall score for mathematics.

On this year's BRIGANCE assessment, between 71 to 82 percent of fourth-, seventh-, and eleventh-grade students Surpassed or Attained the Performance Standards for English Language Arts. On the mathematics assessment, between 48 to 62 percent of fourth-, eighth-, and eleventh-grade students Surpassed or Attained the Performance Standards.

"When coupled with data from the MEAP assessments, which showed improvements in English Language Arts, we can clearly see that students in Michigan are making progress," Hughes added. "Because of MI-Access, we now know that to be true, not only of students who take the MEAP assessments, but of all students, including those whose instruction and curriculum is better measured by an alternate assessment."



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