It is important for NAEP to assess as many students selected to participate as possible. Assessing representative samples of students, including students with disabilities (SD) and English language learners (ELL), helps to ensure that NAEP results accurately reflect the educational performance of all students in the target population, and can continue to serve as a meaningful measure of U.S. students’ academic achievement over time.
The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, has been exploring ways to ensure that NAEP continues to appropriately include as many students as possible and to do so in a consistent manner for all jurisdictions assessed and reported. In March 2010, the Governing Board adopted a new policy, NAEP Testing and Reporting on Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners (67 KB). This policy was the culmination of work with experts in testing and curriculum, and those who work with exceptional children and students learning to speak English. The policy aims to
The policy defines specific inclusion goals for NAEP samples. At the national, state, and district levels, the goal is to include 95 percent of all students selected for the NAEP samples, and 85 percent of those in the NAEP sample who are identified as SD or ELL.
Students are selected to participate in NAEP based on a sampling procedure designed to yield a sample of students that is representative of students in all schools nationwide and in public schools within each state. First, schools are selected, and then students are sampled from within those schools without regard to disability or English language proficiency. Once students are selected, those previously identified as SD or ELL may be offered accommodations or excluded.
States and jurisdictions vary in their proportions of special-needs students and in their policies on inclusion and the use of accommodations. Despite the increasing identification of SD and ELL students in some states, in particular of ELL students at grade 4, NAEP inclusion rates have generally remained steady or increased since 2003. Only a small number of states included a smaller percentage of students in the 2011 NAEP mathematics assessments than in 2009. Inclusion rates decreased by more than 1 percentage point for 3 of 52 jurisdictions at each grade. This reflects efforts on the part of states and jurisdictions to include all students who can meaningfully participate in the NAEP assessments. The new NAEP inclusion policy is an effort to ensure that this trend continues.
Determining whether each jurisdiction has met the NAEP inclusion goals involves looking at three different inclusion rates—an overall inclusion rate, an inclusion rate for SD students, and an inclusion rate for ELL students. Each inclusion rate is calculated as the percentage of sampled students who were included in the assessment (i.e., were not excluded).
Inclusion rate percentages are estimates because they are based on representative samples of students rather than on the entire population of students. As such, the inclusion rates are associated with a margin of error. The margin of error for each jurisdiction’s inclusion rate was taken into account when comparing it to the corresponding inclusion goal. For example, if the point estimate of a state’s overall inclusion rate was 93 percent and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, the state was considered to have met the 95 percent inclusion goal because the 95 percent goal falls within the margin of error, which ranges from 90 percent to 96 percent. Refer to the Technical Notes for more details about how the margin of error was used in these calculations, and read more about inclusion in the most recent study, Measuring Status and Change in NAEP Inclusion Rates of Students with Disabilities.
See inclusion rates for mathematics and reading, and note that jurisdictions having inclusion rates higher than or not significantly different than the goal of 95% are identified with footnote 1. See the Exclusion Rate section below for more information about exclusion rates for all NAEP subjects over the years.
Although NAEP has always endeavored to assess as high a proportion of sampled students as is possible, prior to 1996 NAEP did not allow accommodations for SD or ELL students. This resulted in exclusion of some students who could not meaningfully participate in the assessment without accommodations.
The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 1997, led states and districts to identify increasing numbers of students as requiring accommodations in assessments in order to fairly and accurately show their abilities. It was important for NAEP to be as consistent as possible with testing practices in most states and districts while maintaining the ability to compare more recent NAEP results to those from 1990, 1992, and 1994.
In 1996, NAEP began efforts to study the effect of assessment accommodations on NAEP results, and initiated a transition in which NAEP official reporting samples would come to include students assessed with accommodations. NAEP national samples in science and mathematics assessments were split between settings in which testing accommodations were not allowed and settings in which they were. This enabled the program to accomplish three key goals: to maintain data trends to the past, to study the effects of providing assessment accommodations, and to begin new trend baselines in which accommodations were allowed. (NAEP's guidelines to schools for determining which students should participate in the assessment were also revised.) The program allowed almost all accommodations that students received in their usual classroom testing.
Before the 2005 assessment (when the selection process was detailed in a series of questions), guidelines were specified by NAEP. A student identified on the Administration Schedule as having a disability (SD), that is, a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or equivalent classification, should be included in the NAEP assessment unless:
A student who was identified as LEP or ELL and who was a native speaker of a language other than English should be included in the NAEP assessment unless:
The phrase "less than 3 school years including the current year" meant 0, 1, or 2 school years. Therefore, the guidelines below were used:
The goal of all these activities was to ensure that NAEP samples would be as representative as possible, and that high percentages of sampled students would and could participate. Provision of accommodations was indeed found to result in higher levels of inclusion, with little effect on scale scores at the national level, but somewhat greater impact on average scores in some states.
In 1998, accommodations were allowed for all students in subjects in which new trend lines were being introduced (writing and civics). In reading, the split-sample design was continued (and expanded to the state NAEP samples) to allow comparability to the past and to ensure that a new trend line was started. Main reports were based on the "trend samples" in which accommodations were not allowed. Two reports reanalyze the 1998 reading data, including students with accommodations.
In the 2000 and 2001 results, data from both samples—that is, those in which accommodations were allowed, and those in which they were not—were reported. These results are in the Report Cards, and also may be seen on this site in the NAEP Data Explorer (NDE) by selecting the sample in which accommodations were not allowed (in addition to the accommodated sample that is selected by default for these years). Geography, mathematics, reading, science, and U.S. history have results with the split-sample design in the NDE.
In addition to the resources linked from the subject pages above (such as accommodations allowed, and percentages of SD and ELL students by state for mathematics and science assessments), the NDE contains average scores for students classified as LEP or ELL by their schools. Note that the results from this sample cannot be generalized to the total population of ELL students. To find the average scores for ELL or LEP students, type "English" into the keyword search window and select the variables of interest.
Beginning with the 2002 assessments, NAEP has offered accommodations to all students who need them to demonstrate their knowledge and ability, and thus no longer has non-accommodated samples.
Accommodations in the testing environment or administration procedures are provided for SD and ELL students. Examples of accommodations permitted by NAEP are extra time, testing in small-group or one-on-one sessions, reading aloud to a student, and scribing a student's responses. Examples of testing accommodations not allowed are giving the reading assessment in a language other than English, or reading the reading passages aloud to the student. View the tables that show the accommodations used for the most recent NAEP assessments.
The links below provide the percentages of SD and LEP or ELL students assessed with the variety of available accommodations. It should be noted that students assessed with accommodations typically received some combination of accommodations. The numbers and percentages presented in the tables reflect only the primary accommodations provided.
Rates of identification of special-needs students and their inclusion or exclusion, for the nation and by state and selected districts in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) for the mathematics, reading, science, and writing assessments. The pages linked below often contain links with additional information on students with disabilities (SD) and those classified as LEP or (beginning in 2005) as ELL.
To ensure that the samples in each state are representative, NAEP has established policies and procedures to maximize the inclusion of all students in the assessment. Every effort is made to ensure that all selected students who are capable of participating meaningfully in the assessment are assessed. While some students with disabilities (SD) and/or English language learners (ELL) students can be assessed without any special procedures, others require accommodations to participate in NAEP. Still other SD and/or ELL students selected by NAEP may not be able to participate. Local school authorities determine whether SD/ELL students require accommodations or shall be excluded because they cannot be assessed. The percentage of SD and/or ELL students who are excluded from NAEP assessments varies from one jurisdiction to another and within a jurisdiction over time. Read more about the relation of exclusion and accommodation rates to results.
In order to study the effects on the assessment, NAEP collects information about accommodations needed for SD and ELL students by asking the school staff most familiar with each student to complete the appropriate SD or ELL questionnaire for each special-needs student selected in the sample. The information gathered in this way has informed research for several years.
Below are listed numerous publications and working papers from this area of research and related areas.
Several statistical scenarios have been proposed, based on different assumptions about how excluded students might have performed. Combined with the actual performance of students who were assessed, these scenarios produce results for the full population (that is, one that includes estimates for excluded students) in each jurisdiction and each assessment year. These techniques provide an indication as to which statements about trend gains or losses might be changed if exclusion rates were zero in both assessment years (and if the assumptions about the performance of missing students are correct).
The results of one of these scenarios are presented here. However, the methods used to construct the scenario are still under development. The results of this special analysis should not be interpreted as official results.
The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results are presented in the following tables. The first column of each of these tables presents the reported score gain (or loss) for each jurisdiction based on the sample of students who were included in the assessment. The second column shows the score gain (or loss) under the full population scenario. The third column reports the difference between the official gain and the gain under this scenario. Statistically significant score changes in columns one and two are marked with an asterisk. A footnote marks jurisdictions that show a trend that is statistically significant in the official results but not significant under the full population scenario or vice versa.
See full population estimates for the 2005 mathematics, reading, and science assessments, and read more details about the method used to compute the full population estimates.