As part of the New York State Testing Program (NYSTP), students in the 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade, as well as High School, must be assessed using standardized assessments. This regulation applies not only to students who participate in the general education curriculum, but also applies to students who receive special education services. For students who receive special education services in New York State, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) makes the determination as to whether a particular student meets the eligibility criteria to participate in the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) instead of participating in the State’s general assessments (Office of State Assessments, 2016).
The NYSAA measures the progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities in achieving the NYS common core p-12 learning standards in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, and Social Studies. For the 2015-2016 school year, New York joined the consortium of states that have contracted with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation to deliver Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments for ELA and Math (http://www.dynamiclearningmaps.com/newyork). This means that for the 2015-2016 school year, teachers had to complete traditional assessments for Science and Social Studies, but the ELA and Math assessments are to be administered via a computer based platform (KITE Suite), starting in the Spring of 2016. The purpose of the NYSAA is to ensure the expectation that students with disabilities continue to progress from year to year. The NYSAA aims to test the progress of students with disabilities in relation to the NYS common core standards.
What does this all mean for us at the QSAC Day School? All of our students at the QSAC Day School participate in the New York State Alternate Assessments as mandated by each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Due to the changes made to the NYSAA starting with the 2015-2016 school year, the preparation and administration process for the NYSAA is different from previous years. During the month of December, the students that were to be assessed were identified and the relevant materials were reviewed. During the month of January, teachers diligently worked on selecting the appropriate Alternate Grade Level Indicators (AGLIs) in Science and Social Studies for their students, creating activities to assess the AGLIs, and planning the evidence to be included for each standard. Teachers then met several times to review and provide feedback to each other regarding the activities and tasks selected and created for each of their students. Once the review was completed, the teachers conducted baseline administrations. After baseline data were collected, the teachers taught the target tasks to the students using their typical teaching methods, and then conducted the final administration between 2/2/16-2/5/16 to determine whether learning occurred. After the final administration was completed, teachers compiled all of the documents for each student into a portfolio which the NYSAA refers to as a datafolio. Teachers then participated in several collegial reviews to review each other’s datafolios to ensure the accuracy of their scoring.
Although at times the AGLIs and the assessment tasks provided by the state are not necessarily appropriate for our students, through being persistent, working diligently, individualizing, and differentiating instructional tasks, our teachers at the Day School were able to successfully administer the Science and Social Studies assessments to their students. In the upcoming months, teachers will start preparing to administer the Math and ELA alternate assessments to their students via KITE Suite. Following the completion of these assessments, we then wait to receive our assessment results!
Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed., SBL, ABA Coordinator, QSAC Day School has been with QSAC since 2007. She started out as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years. Cynthia has been at her current position as an ABA Coordinator since 2013. Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Special Education from The City College of New York and a Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from Touro College.
New York State Office of State Assessments. (2016). New York State Alternate Assessment
(NYSAA). Retrieved from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nysaa/