This item is only available as the following downloads:
1 ALTERNATE ASSESSMENTS FOR STUDENTS WITH PROFOUND INTELLECTUAL DELAYS: UNDERSTANDING THE ACCOUNTABILITY MOVEMENT FROM A By KRISTINA M GONZALEZ A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE U NIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMEN TS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
2 2014 Kristina M Gonzalez
3 To my amazing husband, Paul, and beautiful chi ldren, Tristan and Angelina, your love and suppor t inspire me each and every day
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to thank every member of my dissertation committee, Dr. Eld r idge, Dr. Smith and Dr. E. Oliv er and to my chair, Dr. B. Oliver, thank you for your guidance and your suggestions. I also want to thank the Directors of Special Education for accepting my research proposal and allowing me to conduct research in your district Thank you to each of the participating teachers who offered their time and hon est opinions. Finally, I want to extend a thank you to my family and friends. Without the love of my family and the friendship I would not have finished my dissertation. I especially want to thank my husband and two children for always believing in me my mother for her ear when I need ed to vent, my father and my in laws for always being there for me, and lastly, to my girls, for helping me to stay grounded and making me laugh.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF DEFINITIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 13 Including All Students in Accountability Measures ................................ .................. 13 Sta tement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 15 A Framework of Advocacy ................................ ................................ ...................... 20 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 21 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 22 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 23 Alternate Assessments ................................ ................................ ........................... 23 History of Special Education Students and Accountability Measures ..................... 23 Types of Alternative Assessments ................................ ................................ .......... 26 Alignment with State Standards and Content Validity ................................ ...... 28 Performance Assessments and the STAAR Alternate ................................ ..... 31 Learner Characteristics ................................ ................................ ........................... 34 Teacher Perceptions and Alternate Assessments ................................ .................. 37 Alternate Assessment Influence on Classroom Instruction ................................ ..... 39 Access to General Education Curriculum ................................ ......................... 40 Academic Versus Functional Curriculum ................................ .......................... 45 Concerns Based Adoption Model ................................ ................................ ........... 47 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 48 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 51 Epistemology: Constructivism ................................ ................................ ................. 52 Methodology: Case Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 52 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 53 Stages of Concern Questionnaire ................................ ................................ .... 53 Semi Structured Interview ................................ ................................ ................ 54 Learner Characteristics Inventory ................................ ................................ ..... 54
6 Lesson Plan Analysis ................................ ................................ ....................... 55 Study Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 56 Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ............................... 58 Teacher Information ................................ ................................ ................................ 59 Case Study Procedures ................................ ................................ .......................... 60 Validity and Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ................... 60 Limitatons ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 61 Resarcher Subjectivity ................................ ................................ ............................ 61 4 DATA ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 64 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 64 District STAAR Alternate Data ................................ ................................ ................ 64 Stages of Concern ................................ ................................ ............................ 66 Analysis of Questions ................................ ................................ ....................... 67 Question 1 How do Special Education teachers, at the secondary level, prepare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? ....... 67 Question 2 What types of guidance do the Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators? ............................. 69 Question 3 How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement? ................................ ................................ .............................. 70 Question 4 What types of student physiological responses do teachers ................................ .............. 72 Question 5 How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam? ................................ .......................... 73 Question 6 How do special educati on teachers feel about the emphasis of academics over functional curriculum? ............................... 75 Question 7 What are teacher concerns regarding the standardization of the STAAR Alternate? ................................ ................................ ........ 78 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 81 Lack of Training ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 82 Time Requirements ................................ ................................ ................................ 83 Academic verses Functional Curricul um ................................ ................................ 84 Standardization of the STAAR Alternate ................................ ................................ 86 Implications and Recommendations for Practice ................................ .................... 88 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ ............ 91 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 92 APPENDIX A THE STAGES OF CONCERN QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................. 94 B CASE STUDY INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ............................... 96 C LEARNER CHARACTERISTICS INVENTORY ................................ ...................... 98
7 D PERMISSION FOR LCI USE ................................ ................................ ................ 103 E LESSON PLAN ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ .................. 104 F E CONSENT FOR STAGES OF CONCERN QUESTIONNAIRE ......................... 106 G INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ ........................ 107 H DATA TABLE FOR EACH TEACHER ................................ ................................ .. 109 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 115 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 120
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Conceptualizatio n of STAAR Alternate Levels and Assessment Requirements (About the Standardized Assessment, 2013). ............................. 17 3 1 Study Participant Demographics ................................ ................................ ........ 59 4 1 Number of Secondary Students Taking STAAR ALT and Number of Students Taking Assessment at Level I Per District ................................ .......................... 65 5 1 First (2000) conceptualization of the amount of individuals w ith intellectual disabilities, detailed by severity of cognitive deficit ................................ ............. 84 5 2 Type of functional skills used as performance indicators in some state alternate assessments ................................ ................................ ........................ 87
9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 ...... 15 4 1 Number of hours spent on academic verses functional skills per teacher .......... 76
10 LIST OF DEFINITIONS A LTERNATE ASSESSMENTS A measure for students with disabilities who cannot participate in the regular standardized state exam, even with app ropriate accommodations (Title I 2004). ESSENCE STATEMENTS Objectives for the STAAR Alternate and are linked to grade level curriculum (STAAR Alt Manual, 2011). FUNCTIONAL VERSUS AC ADEMIC CONTENT Functional academics focus on consumer skills, vocational skills, community skills, and self help skills. Academic content is tied to grade level standards (Ayers, Douglas, Lowrey, & Sievers, 2011). ONE PERCENT CAP The federal government limits the number of advanced or proficient s cores schools and districts include in adequate yearly progress (AYP). Any assessments over the one percent cap are considered nonproficient, no matter the student score. For example, District A tests 120 students. The one percent cap for the district i s 100. Twenty of the assessments are calculated as (Title I, 2004). PERFORMANCE ASSESMEN T complete specific tasks that are aligned to state standards. Tasks are comple (Gong & Marion, 2006). STAAR ALTERNATE The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness Alternate (STAAR Alt) replaced the Texas of Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Alternate (TAKS Alt) (STAAR Alt Ma nual, 2011). TEXAS ASSESSMENT OF KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS ( TAKS ) The former state standardized assessment. TEXAS ESSENTIAL KNOW LEDGE AND SKILLS ( TEKS ) State grade level standards/guidelines. UNIQUE LEARNING Standards based curriculum for students with pro found disabilities. Lessons are devised into thematic units and include three levels of differentiation to accommodate all learners ( https://unique.n2y.com/products/unique/ ).
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for th e Degree of Doctor of Education ALTERNATE ASSESSMENTS FOR STUDENTS WITH PROFOUND INTELLECTUAL DELAYS: UNDERSTANDING THE ACCOUNTABILITY MOVEMENT FROM A By K ristina M Gonzalez M ay 2014 Chair: Bernard Oliver Major: Education al Leadership Assessment and accountability are topics evoking strong emotions in educators, policy makers, and the public. Wanting to determine the current achievement level of students, the federal government enacted legislation equating student achievement with accountability for states, districts, campuses, and teachers. Among those included in state assessments are students with profound intellectual delays. Their performan ces on state assessments are included in district and campus adequate yearly process (AYP) rankings. This study utilizes a multiple case study to determine a) how secondary special education teachers implement the Texas a lternate assessment ; b) what types of guidance Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators; c) h ow much time is required to prepare for each essence statement; d) types of student physiological responses teacher and e ) how do s pecial education teachers academically prepare students for the alt ernative assessment exam? Data was collected from five Special Education teachers in three San Antonio area school district s Data include s information from the Stages of Concern
12 Questi onnaire, interviews adhering to an interview protocol, the Learner Characteristics Inventory and an analysis of a math lesson plan. Findings suggest the current alternate assessment in Texas has impac ted the classroom by forcing teacher s to focus heavil y on academic subjects and eliminate some functional curriculum. Teachers spend large amounts of time preparing for and administering the assessment. Despite the demands of the assessment, little guidance is given by districts on how to administer the tes t and no guidance is offered on how to mesh together the functional needs of the students with academics.
13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Includi ng All Students in Accountability Measures Prior to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, students with severe and profound disabilities were exempted from standardized assessment and accountability measures. Policy makers, who wanted to measure accountability among the disadvantaged population, required s chools to include those students, no matter the severity of the disability, in adequate yearly progress (AYP) calculations (Gordon, 2006). Under the 1997 amendments of IDEA, all children with disabilities must participate in state assessments; furthermore states must create an alternate assessment for students who cannot participate in general assessments (Zatta & Pullin, 2004). Before IDEA 1997, many students with severe and profound disabilities were not exposed to academic content, even basic math an d reading skills. With the promotion of high stakes testing, policy makers hoped educators would raise academic expectations for students with cognitive delays (Pullin, 2005). On January 8, 2004 Congress enacted the Title I Improving the Academic Achievem ent of the Disadvantaged Final Rule, or a system of regulations detailing alternative assessments. Under the ruling, states must hold all students to a high level of academics and students, even those with profound intellectual disabilities, must demonst rate their achievement via standardized assessment. (Title I, 2004). An alternate assessment, as defined by the federal government, is created for students who cannot participate in the standardized assessment s even with modifications and accommodations (Title I, 2004). States are given freedom to design
14 alternate assessments, including : a checklist or observations of students, samples of student work compiled in a portfo lio, or performing tasks on demand (Title I, 2004). No matter what form of assessm ent a state utilizes, the achievement standards must align guidelines when creating alternative assessments: 1) establish clear guidelines for the Individualized Educat cognitive disability justifies his or her participation in an alternative assessment; and 2) ensure the parents of students participating in alternative assessments are aware the assessment is based on alternative academic standards (Title I, 2004). A lternative assessments must comply with reliability and validity standards (Pullin, 2005). Currently, m ost states utilize a portfolio assessment aligned with state content standards. While a po rtfolio system is an acceptable form of an alternative assessment, developing a scoring system that is reliable and valid is difficult. Some port folio because they compile the work into the portfolio (Johnson & Arnold, 2007). Scoring measures often consider if the student can generalize the skill to the real world and how much assistance the student required to complete the task (Pullin, 2005). Creating a valid and relia ble alternative assessment is essential as scores from alternative assessments are included in adequate yearly progress (AYP). The federal government states that only a small amount of students should participate in an alternative assessment while the rem aining students with disabilities should participate in assessments based on grade level standards.
15 Statement of the Problem A single assessment cannot measure all that schools are required to teach students and they poorly represent the education a stude nt is achieving (Stake, 1999). Measuring achievement is not synonymous with measuring educational quality. Assessments simply rank students based on their ability to complete a test; however, this ranking does not translate to how educated students are. As the public and lawmakers become increasingly concerned with the state of education, assessment continues to become the most wide spread indicator of school quality (Stake, 1999). Assessments are utilized to influence the well being of students and for ce educators to teach differently. Figure 1 1 illustrates the emphasis teachers place on assessments Figure 1 1 Non Tested Topics Tested Topics Low Priority High Priority
16 Prior to the Title 1 Final Rule students with profound intellectual disabilities were exempted from the assessment process. After the reauthorization of IDEA 2004, however, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) created one assessment system for all students. Under the new system, students were administered the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills ( TAKS ) TAKS Accommodated (a test with changes in format), TAKS Modified (a test with modified achievement standards), or TAKS Alternative, an assessment for students wi th significant cognitive delays. All TAKS exams were first administered during the 2007 2008 school year. Four years later, TEA created a new statewide assessment with increased rigor and aligned to college readiness standards. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readin ess (STAAR) was first administered during the 2011 2012 school year. Students with profound intellectual delays participate in the STAAR Alternative (STAAR Alt) E ach assessment is based on grade level alternative achievement standards. For each tested ar ea, TEA created categories, or essence statements, and corresponding tasks with varying complexity level : Level I, Level II, and Level III Students must meet specific criteria to be given credit for successfully completing a task (STAAR Alt manual, 2011) Table 1 1 illustrates each level and requirements of the student.
17 Table 1 1 Conceptualization of STAAR Alternate Levels and Assessment Requirements (About the Standardized Assessment, 2013). Level I Beginning Awareness Level II Basic Recall Le vel III Application Least complex Moderately complex Most complex Definition of Level Student is aware of stimuli and tasks performed by teacher but does not make choices. Student recalls or reproduces information immediately after it is presented by teacher. Student must use higher level thinking skills and determine answers independently. Student Performance Expectation Participate in process, react to stimuli, and/or explore materials Student derives answers from at least three choices provided by the teacher. The student demonstrates understanding by sorting, assisting, choosing options, examining, matching, and/or replicating the activity. A wide variety of materials are presented by the teacher. Student is expected to organize information, form ideas, compare materials, make inferences, and/or justify answers. Generalization Not required. Student demonstrates internalization of skill by repeating activity with different materials at a later date/time. Student demonstrates internalizatio n of skill by repeating activity with different materials at a later date/time. Essence Statement Uses Transformational Geometry Uses Transformational Geometry Uses Transformational Geometry Activity Example 1) One coffee cup is placed on a table, the student is shown and another coffee cup 2)Student watches as teacher puts coffee cup next to the cup on the table, handles facing out 3) Coffee cups are placed on different spots on table, student watches as teacher slides one coffee cup next to the other Student is given one symmetrical (a square) and two asymmetrical figures cut from card stock. 1) Student attempts to fold each along its line of symmetry 2) Student identifies symmetrical item 3) Student identifies part of card stock that will make one asymmetrical item symmet rical, demonstrating a reflection 1) Teacher places a glue bottle on the table, student must rotate all glue bottles so they are facing same way 2) Teacher places two glue bottles on a table, stud ent moves one bottle down to align them together 3) Students must determine of activity 1 was a rotation or translation and if activity 2 was a rotation or translation Generalization E xample Not required. Same activities as above but a paper heart is the symmetrical figure and two different asymmetrical pieces of card stock are used Same activities as above but coffee cans are used Note: During the 2012 2013 students tested at a Level I were considered automatic failures.
18 For some students even the lowest level of participation, a Level 1 is too daunting. Students categorized as comatose, diagnosed as medically fragile, or those with severe cognitive deficiencies are required t o participate in the STAAR Alt ernate A (NRO) category exists for students who do not react to stimuli and cannot participate in a meaningful fashion. Teachers submitting NRO responses for a student must collect data, document atte mpts, and submit a NRO form for each subject. Students given a NRO are i ncluded in AYP calculations as participation but their score is not used in calculating performance measures. However, using a NRO is not allowed by most districts, instead teachers m ust test students with limited intellectual abilities utilizing the category Level 1 ( personal communication, January 28, 2013). As indicated by Stake (1999), a singular, standardized assessment is cheaper than several individualized exams; howe ver, utilizing a standardized assessment on students with the most severe intellectual delays is a relatively new policy. A large research body exists regarding the creation of alternative assessments and aligning alternative achievement standards to gra de level content. Flowers, Wakeman, and Browder (2009) illustrate specific steps for aligning alternative assessments to grade level standards. Research also indicates a consensus on the pros and cons of portfolio assessments and on the difficulty of est ablishing reliability and validity with alternative assessments. Pullin (2005) describes scoring criteria for alternative assessments as challenging as it is difficult to determine if a student can generalize his or her performance to settings beyond the regulated testing environment and to what extent the student required staff assistance to complete the tested task.
19 Little research exists; however, for on demand task performance, such as the STAAR Alt assessment. The S TAAR Alt assessment is based on a performance on a specific task related to a content area, such as Algebra. While many students with intellectual delays may have the ability to perform the tasks, another small faction of students have difficulty reacting to presented stimuli ( Towles Reeves, Kearns, Kleinert, & Kleinert, 2009) Furthermore, due to the rigors of the exam, teachers spend time during the school day teaching on grade level academic content (Lowrey, Drasgow, Renzaglia, & Chezan, 2007) Current research suggests pla cing an emphasis on academic standards means sacrificing the functional needs of the student (Bouck, 2012). Functional curriculum prepares students with intellectual delays for as much independence as possible. Forms of functional curriculum include voc ational education, daily living skills, money skills, independent living skills, and social skills (Bouck, 2012). As teachers focus on grade level standards, much of the functional curriculum needed is eliminated from the daily teaching schedule (Lowrey e t al 2007). Qualitative studies demonstrating how teachers should mesh general education curri culum with functional academics or the individual needs of the students were not located while researching for this study Addressing the needs and testing of s tudents with profound intellectual disabilities is rarely discussed or researched. Understanding how teachers of students with profound intellectual delays incorporate the systematic requirements of the alternate assessment into their classrooms and their perceptions of important step s in understanding the alternative assessment process.
20 One tool for measuring teacher concerns is the Concerns Based Adoption Model, a framework that illustrates teacher concerns about an innovatio n and their response to that innovation (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2006). Using the Stages of Concern Questionnaire, researchers can determine the level of awareness and concern a teacher has regarding a specific procedure or change. For this study, t eachers completed the Stages of Concern Questionnaire to determine their level of concern regarding the alternate assessment process and its impact on the classroom. A Framework of Advocacy Research indicates a base of teachers with varying perceptions ab out the importance of the alternate assessment process as well as educators concerned with the decrease in functional curriculum from daily lessons ( Flowers, Ahlgrim Delzell, Browder, & Spooner, 2005 & Ayers, Douglas, Lowrey, & Sievers, 2011 ). Two organiza tions the National Alternate Assessment Center (NAAC) and Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE), offer resources and tools for teachers of students with profound disabilities. NAAC was formed to provide technical assistance to state s and offer resources, including journal articles and evaluation tools. The website includes material developed by leading researchers well versed in alternate assessments and their contact information (NAAC, n.d.) In Texas, TCASE offers advocacy, a leg islative task force, and resources for special educators (TCASE, n.d.). In 2013, the TCASE legislative task force conducted two surveys to highlight the challenges of the STAAR Alternate (STAAR Alternate Survey, 2013). One survey was created for special e ducation directors and a second survey was created for special education teachers. Eighty eight percent of the directors surveyed and 93% of teachers surveyed indicated that STAAR Alternate did not
21 increase student independence or employability (STAAR Alte rnate Survey, 2013). Seventy percent of teachers surveyed stated they spent over six hours per week, outside of the school day, developing the STAAR Alternate (STAAR Alternate Survey, 2013). TCASE offers an avenue for teachers to share their concerns and/o r suggestions regarding the alternate assessment process. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand how secondary Special Education teachers prepare for the implementation of the STAAR Alt ernate in t hree different San Ant onio, Texas area school districts. A Special Ed ucation teacher administering a standardized performance exam that is aligned to academic content is a new phenomenon; thus, understanding what types of guidance Special Education teachers receive from distri ct and campus administrators is important when trying to explore how teachers prepare and assess their students with profound intellectual delays Using a multiple case study procedure, the following questions will be addressed: 1) How do Special Educat ion teachers, at the secondary level, prepare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? 2) What types of guidance do the Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators? 3) How much time is required to prepare fo r each essence statement ? 4) What types of student physiological responses do teachers utilize as a 5) How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam?
22 Significance of the Study The purpose of this study is to understand how Special Education teachers, in Texas, prepare to implement the STAAR Alternative exam in their classrooms. Understanding how teachers prepare their classrooms and students for the assessment is essential as test ing students with severe cognitive delays is still a new requirement B efore the STAAR Alt exam, students were not exposed to rigorous academic topics. In a classroom serving students with intellectual delays academics taught were at a basic level and muc h of the day was spent on functional skills, such as vocations and hygiene ( Ayers et al., 2011 & Lowrey et al., 2007) STAAR Alt, however, measures on grade level academic skills not functional living skills (STAAR Alt Manual, 2011). The rigor of the exam requires teachers to spend more time on test skills and academic content and a limited amount of time is devoted to functional academics (Lowrey et al., 2007) Despite researching ProQuest and the Education Research Information Center (ERIC) qualitative studies exploring the support and guidance teachers receive from the state, district, and/or campus regarding their implementation of an alternate assessment were not located.
23 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Alternate Assessments Alternate assessments and their linkage to grade level standards is a relatively new concept. The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand how Special Education teachers prepare for the implementation of the alternative assessment in San Antonio, Texas school district s The purpose of this review of literature is to present an overview of research related to the topic, including the following: a) a history of special education students and accountability; b) defining specific alternate assessments; c ) a description of s tudents who part icipate in alternate assessment ; d) teacher perception s of alternate assessments; e) a review of how alternate assessments influence classroom instruction including the academic verses functional curriculum debate; and f) a description of the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) and how it documents teacher concerns to change An alternate assessment for students with profound intellectual delays is a new issue with a small research base. L iterature discussed was found using key words suc h as special education assessments, alternate assessments, and functional curriculum in the ProQuest and ERIC databases. Most of the research is from experts in the field including Browder, Flowers, and Towles Reeves. History of Special Education Studen ts and Accountability Measures Including students with severe cognitive delays in assessments and accountability measures became a requirement after the inception of two key pieces of legislation, the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997 and the No Ch ild Left Behind Act of 2001. Reviewing the requirements of both federally mandated laws is essential to
24 fully understanding the purpose and expectations of an alternate assessment. In 1990 it was common to exclude students with moderate to severe disabil ities from standardized assessments. The National Center for Education Outcomes (NCEO) highlighted this phenomenon claiming that students not included in accountability systems were shunned when determining educational achievement (Browder, Ahlgrim Delze ll, Flowers, Karvonen, Spooner, & Algozzine, 2005). In 1997, realizing the importance of including all students in assessments for accountability measures, congress reformed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Retitled the Individuals with Di sabilities Education Act (IDEA), states had to incorporate all students with disabilities into the assessment program or forfeit funding under Part B of IDEA. The specific assessment provisions of IDEA 1997 are detailed below: Children with disabilities m ust participate in state and district assessments with appropriate accommodations and modifications, if needed. S tates must create an alternate assessment for students who cannot participate in the general education assessment, even with accommodations and modifications, by July 1, 2000. States must create detailed reports of assessment results for students with disabilities with the same frequency as reports of nondisabled students. Reports must be made public (IDEA, 1997). Immediately following the p assage of IDEA, only two states had developed an altern ative assessment system. States facing the July 2000 deadline had three years to design and pilot an alternative assessment. With only two models, states scrambled to create measurements for students with severe and profou nd disabilities (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). By 1999, six states developed alternative assessments focusing on functional skills, 20 states created alternative assessments linked to state standards,
25 and 24 states were undecided or h ad developed a different type of alternative assessment system (Browder et al 2005). Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Policy makers and the public wanted to ensure that states, districts, schools, and teachers were using tax dollars to provide quality education. Assessments became the tool for monitoring student progress and holding schools accountable for student achievement on reading, math, and science. Standardized a ssessments are the favored measure for addressing a host of educational issues, including lack of stu dent motivation, low education standards, and ineffective instruction (Kornhaber, 2004) As states and districts wade through the assessment process, NCLB holds a clear deadline: all students are required to score at or above proficient, as defined by their state, by the 2013 2014 school year (Kornhaber, 2004). In 2004 the government created Title 1 Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged further delineating the participation of students with intellectual delays in assessment measures. Under the title, all students should have access to general education classrooms or curriculum. Regardless of where students receive instruction, all stu dents with special needs are included in adequate yearly progress (AYP) measurements (Title 1, 2004). States must impose strict qualification guidelines for students participating in an alternate assessment. When Title 1 was first introduced, the governm ent included a stipulation wherein students must be at least three standard deviations below the intelligence quotient (IQ) mean to participate in an alternate assessment. By December 2003, the guideline, Section 200.1, was revoked. States
26 were given grea ter flexibility in determining which students could participate in an alternate assessment (Title 1, 2004). Wanting to ensure only students with the most severe disabilities participated in an alternate assessment, the Secretary of Education proposed a o ne percent cap on the number of proficient and advanced alternate scores calculated into a school and nt of all students equates to nine percent of all students with disabilities. The cap was created to deter distr icts from placing large amounts of unqualified students on an alternate assessment hoping to positively skew school achievement scores (Title 1, 2004). The government does not limit the number of students a campus or district can place on alternate assess ment. Rather, the one percent cap limits the number of advanced and proficient scores that can be included in AYP calculations. Any student scores above the one percent cap are deemed non proficient. For example, a school has 20 students participate in t he alternate assessment. Six of those students are above the one percent cap. Th ough the six students achieved proficient on the alternate assessment the scores are deemed non proficient in AYP calculations because they exceed the one percent cap (Title 1, 2004). Local education agencies (LEA) and states are allowed to determine which scores will be included in AYP calculations, if the number of students tested with the alternate assessment exceed the one percent cap (Title I, 2004). Types of Alternat ive Assessments Typically, students participating in alternative assessments have individualized, tailored curriculums, participate in f unctional activities, and have intellectual disabilities ranging from moderate to severe (Towles Reeves et al 2009). Title 1 of NCLB clearly states that alternate assessments must be linked to state standards; however, only
27 vague suggestions for the types of measurement are included in the statute. Each state is given latitude to develop their own unique alternate asses sment, though, most follow one of five specific assessment types. Gong and Marion (2006), in a report for the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, define five types of alternative assessments: portfolio, IEP linked, performance assessment, checklist, and traditional. Portfolio assessments are a collection of student work demonstrating specific skills linked to state standards. Work samples are individualized and can include observations, test results, or video and audio recordi ngs of the student completing a task. Items in a portfolio assessment are scored based on a state developed rubric. Similar to portfolios, IEP linked assessments are a collection of work; however, the samples are linked to student IEP goals and measured a gainst a fixed scoring guide. Performance assessments are unlike work collections as they are a direct Often highly structured, these exams require the administrator to give the student specific tasks related to a state standard. The student completes the task on demand with or without assistance. Scores are determined by a state developed rubric that in comple ting the task (Gong & Marion, 2006). Checklists are the only assessments that do not require active student participation. A checklist is a list of skills developed by the state. The teacher reviews each task and determines if the student can complete t he skills and to what level. Scores are determined by the number of skills the student can complete and the setting
28 in which the task was observed. Traditional assessments are paper and pencil exams requiring student s to sele ct one correct answer from a list of choices. The assessment can be completed independently under teacher supervision or in a one on one setting where the teacher records Marion, 2006). Alignment with State Standards and Content Validity Once a state p icks an alternate assessment format, valid construction and technical adequacy become a challenge. For alternate assessments to meet the same content validity as general education assessments, they must be clearly aligned to state standards, allow for acc ess to the general education curriculum, and promote high achievement standards for students with disabilities (NCLB, 2001 & Title 1, 2004). To meet the demands of the mandate, alternative assessments must be constructed with technical adequacy (Browder, Spooner, Wakeman, Trela, & Baker, 2006). NCLB requires assessments in r eading, m ath, and s cience for all students ; however, many alternative assessment performance indicators are not truly reflective of the content. For example, while revie wing perfor mance indicators, a group of (Browder et al., 2005). All statewide assessments are utilized to compare student performance ac ross individual schools and districts. Thus, it is important that alternative assessments aptly measure what is intended (Towles Reeves, Garrett, Burdette, and Burdge, 2006). However, as evidenced by the studies detailed below, not all alternative assessm ents are equal in alignment or scoring procedures. Browder, Flowers, Ahlgrim Delzell, Karvonen, Spooner, and Algozzine (2004) conducted a study to determine the alignment of state math and language arts general
29 education standards and functional domains to alternate assessments. Thirty one states were originally surveyed; 16 used only math and language arts domains, four used only functional skills domains, and 11 states used a combination of both. National experts in math, language arts, and severe dis abilities as well as stakeholders reviewed the selected alternative assessments and participated in focus group sessions. The focus groups identified the following characteristics as evidence of a strong alignment between math standards and performance ta sks: an emphasis on math skills and indicators concisely written. Most curriculum experts and stakeholders identified Colorado and South Dakota math alternate assessment alternate assessment as demonstrating clear alignment b etween the assessment and state standards The performance indicators utilized in Colorado alternative assessments meld functional skills with academic standards (Browder et al., 2004 ). Variations exist among the scoring methods for alterna tive assessment s. Thirty seven states utilize a standardized rubric for scoring ass essments while one state allows IEP teams to create the scale for the scoring rubric. Allowing IEP teams to set the scale seems appropriate; however, it is important to no t e that some IEP teams purposely lower student expectations to encourage mastery and meet AYP goals (Browder et al., 200 5 ). Browder et al (2005) suggests that IEP teams create a baseline of student skills at the beginning of the school year to determine s kills students must develop thereby creating high expectations for each student. When scoring alternate assessments, the most common criteria was student performance of a target skill. Specific scoring indicators are as follows: 71% of states
30 used maste ry of progress as a criteria, 60% required documentation of the level of independence student demonstrated to complete task, and 45% required generalization of the target skill to other settings (Browder et al., 2005). Browder et al. (2005) suggest that the current use of alternative assessments for students with profound intellectual delays is flawed. Based on the study, it appears states are perplexed on how to align state standards and how to appropriately score alternative assessments. L ittle eviden ce exists on how to effectively align curriculum standards or how to create a reliable system for scoring alternative assessments. After studying the varying abilities of students taking alternative assessments, Towles Reeves et al. (2009) believe that b uilding a technically adequate measurement is a challenge. Approximately half of participating students can adequately participate in an alternative assessment; however, a small group of students do not have the basic math or reading abilities required to meaningfully complete performance indicators tied to grade level content. State level policy makers must consider the presymbolic and noncommunicative population of students when devising alternative assessments, as the current alternative assessment sys tem seems to perversely highlight student disabilities (Towles Reeves et al 2009). Towles Reeves et al. (2009) suggest creating two sets of alternative achievement standards for the one percent of students participating in alternative assessments. Con tent deemed challenging for a student with no awareness of words or numbers would be routine for students with the ability to read sight words and perform basic math operations. The parallel set of standards would ensure both groups
31 of students are challe nged to the best of their ability as well as learning skills attuned to their developmental needs. Performance Assessments and the STAAR Alternate Elliott and Roach (2007) state that s ome alternate assessments are favored due to individualization while ot hers are utilized to improve accountability measures Researchers question the validity of portfolio assessments while performance assessments are touted as more aligned to standards and more valid (Elliott & Roach, 2007). States utilizing performance ass essments demonstrate alignment of standards by requiring more tasks and work samples. Risk factors relating to performance assessments are noted. The numerous tasks and work samples often result in an intensive and time consuming assessment process (Elli ott & Roach, 2007). Instabilities in student phy sical health and behaviors can e ffect the completion of performance tasks resulting in negatively skewed results. During the 2007 2008 academic year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) implemented a perform ance based alternate assessment deemed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Alternate (TAKS Alt). The performance based assessment was aligned to grade level state standards. Students participated in assessments in r eading, m ath, s cience, and s oc ial s tudies. In 2012, TEA piloted a new state assessment, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The exam is more rigorous and includes college readiness standards. The STAAR Alternate is a performance based assessment closely align ed to the state academic standards. At the middle school level students take assessments in r eading, m ath, s cience, and s ocial s tudies, depending on their grade level. At the high school level, however, students take STAAR Alt assessments in Algebra, Bio logy, and English I in
32 the ninth grade and English II in the tenth grade. Beginning in the 2012 201 3 school year, eleventh grade students took a STAAR Alt assessment in United States History Each STAAR Alt assessment contains four essence statements wit h three complexity levels. Activities are based on the following complexity levels: Level I beginning awareness, Level II basic recall, and Level III application (S TAAR Alt manual, 2011). Within the complexity level selected, the student must perfor m specific tasks aligned to a state standard (See Table 1 1) Teachers select the assessment tasks from the STAAR Alt website and instruct students on the specific skills during the school year. During the data collection period, teachers observe the stud ent completing the required task (STAAR Alt manual, 2011). Teachers document the activity completed, if the student demonstrated the activity and the level of support provided to the student. Students tested at a Level II or Level III must general ize the skill to other settings Generalization requires the student complete the same task but with different materials. To receive points for generalization, the student must complete the task and not be confused by the new materials. Once data collection is complete, teachers enter the data into an online management system. For each task teachers indicate if the student demonstrated the skill and if the student needed cueing, prompting, or performed the skill independently. The online management system tab ulates studen t scores by giving the student two point s for each skill demonstrated, two points if the skill is demonstrated independently, one point if the student needed cueing and zero points if the student needed prompting. Students tested at a Level II or Level III are given additional points if they genera lize the skills independently (two points) or with some cueing (one point).
33 Students tested at a Level I do not generalize skills and are automatically given no points for this area (S TAAR Alt Manu al, 2011) Level II demonstration of skill scores are given an additional weight of 1.2 points and Level III are given an additional weight score of 1.5, increasing the maximum score for each demonstration of skill from 6 to a possible score of 7.2 or 9 r espectively The essence score is calculated by adding together scor es from each of the three tasks: demonstration of skill score (9 points possible ), level of support score (6 points possible ), and generalization score (6 points possible ). Total points p ossible for each essence statement is 21 points (S TAAR Alt Manual, 2011). The total subject assessment score is calculated by adding together all four essence scores resulting in a score ranging from 0 to 84 (S TAAR Alt Manual, 2011) For the 2012 2013 sc hool year, students who receive d 0 49 points were considered developing and had not sufficiently demonstrated the skills required for each assessment task. Scores of 50 77 demonstrate a satisfactory performance and 79 84 represents an accomplished perfo rmance (STAAR Alt Conversion Chart 2013). For each essence statement, a student tested at a Level I can only receive a maximum of six points for demonstration of skill, a maximum of six points for performing the skill independently, and no points for ge neralization. Students tested at a Level 1 receiving all maximum points for the essence statements earn a total assessment score of 48 points, two points under sufficient (STAAR Alt Conversion Chart, 2013). During the 2012 2013, students tested at a Lev el 1 were considered automatic failures. On June 10, 2013, Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 5 into legislation. The bill dramatically changes two aspects of the STAAR Alternate. S tudents tested at a
34 Level 1 are no longer automatic failures due to r this requirement goes into effect during the 2013 2014 school year Senate Bill 906 states that a student cannot be deemed insufficient if the lowest level of the test abilities as documented in his or her Individualized Education Plan ( T ex Educ Code Ann § 39.023 ). Beginning in the 2014 2015 school year, teachers will not create STAAR Alternate tasks. The Texas Education Agency will create a criterion referenced stand ardized assessment for all students tested with the STAAR Alternate assessment ( T ex Educ Code Ann § 39.023 ). Learner Characteristics Fully understanding characteristics of students participating in an alternate exam is inherent to a study focusing on alte rnative assessments. States have created alternate exams based on federal guidelines; however, researchers caution that due to the extreme heterogeneity of the students, developing an effective standardized measurement of their academic abilities is a cha llenge (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). Students who participate in alternate assessments represent various categories of disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). Students with intellec tual disabilities have intelligence quotient (IQ) scores in the following ranges: mild between 50 55 to 70; moderate 35 40 to 50 55; severe 20 25 to 35 40; and profound below 20 to 25 (First, 2000). Approximately one percent to two percent of peop le with intellectual disabilities are in the profound range. Students with profound intellectual disabilities most often have a neurological condition causing the disability. Severe impairments in sensorimotor functioning are identified in early childhoo d (First, 2000). Students with profound intellectual disabilities need a structured environment with constant supervision (First, 2000). With intensive
35 training, some individuals with profound intellectual disabilities can perform simple tasks with assis tance. Towles Reeves et al. (2009) conducted a study to determine the specific characteristics of students p articipating in alternate assessments. Special Education teachers in three states completed a Learner Characteristics Inventory (LCI), a survey d etailing characteristics, including communication and academic ability, for each of their students participa e assessment. More than 50% of students in each of the three states used verbal or written words, Braille, signs, or as sistive technology to communicate expressively. A small group of students, approximately 17% to 26% in each state, used gestures, symbols, pictures, or objects to understandably communicate. A smaller group, approximately 8% to 11% in each state, cried o r made changes in facial expression or muscle tone to communicate. While participating in the alternative assessments varying levels of engagement were noted. More than 80% of students in each state responded to assessment tasks and sustained the interact ion. A small group of students (7% to 11%) simply alerted to people and (1% to 4%) of students did not react to people or stimuli (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). In responding to academic tasks, 33% to 41% of students required additional cues or prompting to complete one to two step directions. Approximately 10% of students in each state needed physical assistance to complete assessment tasks while 3% of students in each state gave uncertain responses to sensory stimulation. Nearly 50% of students in eac h state could read basic sight words and simple sentences and 14% to 18% of students could not read but were aware of printed letters. One faction of students (3% to 25%) had no awareness of printed words or Braille symbols. A large
36 majority of students ( 38% to 57%) of students could complete basic math problems with a calculator while small percentages of students, could only count from 1 to 10 (19% to 27%), or 1 to 5 (6% to 10%). Finally, approximately 11% to 22% of students had no awareness of numbers (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). M edically fragile individuals are another faction of students participating in alternate assessments Students in this category have physical disabilities often resulting in cognitive deficits. Medically fragile student s are individuals who require ongoing medical treatments such as tracheotomies or feeding tubes and are monitored by trained personnel including nurses These students require medical devices or assistive technology to assist with bodily functions requ ired for daily living ( Instructional Support, 2013 ). In Texas students who are medically fragile including those receiving s pecial education services in homes or nursing homes are not exempted from the STAAR Alternate (S TAAR Alt Manual, 2011). Students with profound intellectual delays and those with extreme medical disabilities leading to cognitive deficits are tested with a Level I STAAR Alt or beginning awareness activities Characteristics of students tested at a Level I include: the use of senses to respond to presented stimuli; cannot make a choice when given two options; and does not communicate verbally or nonverbally (STAAR Alt Manual, 2011). Level I activities require students to show an awareness of a presented stimulus and then to demonstr ate he or she is aware when the stimulus changes; however, students are not required to act on the presented stimulus. Choices in stimuli are not given and all stimuli are presented one at a time. When creating the specific Level I tasks, teachers utiliz e verbs such as acknowledge, respond, experience, or participate
37 (STAAR Alt manual, 2011). During the assessment students do not answer questions but are to acknowledge any statements made by the assessor (STAAR Alt Manual, 2011). Teachers present activ ities utilizing auditory, physical, or visual stimulus. Examples include creating unusual sounds to elicit a student reaction, placing the tracked by the student (STAAR Al t Manual, 2011). The STAAR Alternate Manual details examples of accepted verbal, physical, and visual reactions for students assessed at a Level I For a s tudent required to participate in a n activity, the student must have involvement in the activity a nd demonstrate awareness of the activity. Acceptable student responses demonstrating participation include the student vocalizing during the activity, manipulating presented items, or maintaining eye focus during the activity (STAAR Alt Manual, 2011). Te achers document each activity, if and how the student demonstrated the skill, and the level of support required for student to complete task. Teacher Perceptions and Alternate Assessments While Towles Reeves et al. (2009) highlighted specific characteris tics of students taking alternate assessments, Flowers, Ahlgrim Delzell, Browder, and Spooner (2005) examined how teachers perceive the assessments and its impact on the students. Some individuals oppose participation of students with severe intellectual delays in standardized assessments because of unintended consequences, such as the narrowing of curriculum to focus only on academics. For students with cognitive delays, functional and social skills are an important component of their daily routine (Flow ers et al., 2005). Most curriculum and textbooks developed for students with severe cognitive
38 delays focus on functional and vocational skills with little emphasis on academic content. To understand the impact of alternative assessments on the educationa l programs of students with severe disabilities, Flowers et al (2005) conducted a survey examining teacher perceptions of the assessment. Five states were selected for the study. Three states used a portfolio assessment, one state utilized a performance based assessment, and one state used a checklist. Nine hundred and eighty three surveys were analyzed. Most of the respondents had conducted an average of six alternative assessments over two school years. Seventy two percent of the respondents did no t believe students with severe cognitive delays had greater access to or participated more frequently in the general education curriculum or classroom. Only 22% of respondents believed alternat e assessments prepared students to transition to adult living. Regarding the alternative assessment on the daily classroom, only 36% of teachers had a better understanding of general education curriculum and believed the assessment improved instructional strategies. Fifty eight percent of teachers utilized alternat ive assessment strategies as part of the daily classroom routine and 71% stated the assessment competed with amount of time spent teaching. Finally, 79% of teachers did not believe the alternative ers et al., 2005). While teachers struggle with incorporating functional skills with academics, it is important to note that of 31 state alternative assessments reviewed in a study by Browder et al. (2004) only 11 states blended functional domains with ac ademic tasks The remaining alternate assessments solely tested academic domains.
39 Alternate Assessment Influence on Classroom Instruction Under NCLB, teachers must provide on grade level academics to students with severe cognitive delays; yet, few model s exist on how to prepare students for this endeavor (Browder, Spooner, Algrim Delzell, Flowers, Algozzine, & Karvonen 2003). The push for the academic content in an alternative learning environment is difficult as the functional learning skills, which ar e an important to the future abilities of the students, lose priority in the daily routine. Browder et al. (2003) postulate that there is little research on how to include the necessary components of academic content into the everyday routine of an alterna tive environment setting. Much research exists on how to teach students sight words, but no research demonstrates how to teach students with moderate to severe disabilities how to identify story patterns (Browder et al., 2003). Similarly, research exists on how to teach students basic money skills but little research explains how to teach students with cognitive disabilities to solve linear equations (Browder, Trela, & Jimenez, 2007). Towles Reeves, Burdette, and Burdge (2006) conducted a quantitative s tudy to Three hundred and four teachers who had administered an alternative assessment during the 2001 2002 school year completed a survey detailing how the assessment influenced their instructional practices and IEP construction. six domains: standards, performance, settings, supports, social relationships, and self determination. Academic content areas are threaded in each domain. After analyzing survey data, researchers determined that the alternative assessment influenced the IEP construction and classroom instruction; however, emphasis on instruction was greater
40 than IEP develo pment. It is important to note that 130 teachers stated that the alternative assessment did not influence their teaching practices or IEP construction as the test is not a priority for them. Another group of teachers indicated they had little support to implement the assessment and they did not fully understand how to complete the assessment. Some teachers added extra comments to the surveys, further explaining their answer choices. Many teachers stated that the assessment infringed on class time usuall y reserved for teaching functional and social skills. One group of teachers noted content tied to grade level standards (Towles Reeves et al 2006, p.54). Access to General Education Curriculum Two research studies tested the use of task analytic approaches to teaching students with developmental delays academic content. Systematic processes are often used in teaching students functional skills, such as work tasks. The stu dents are taught sequences and procedures and then are prompted and praised by teachers while completing the task (Browder et al., 2007). Both studies used a task analytic procedure to teach students with moder ate developmental disabilities A lgebra and li teracy skills (Browder et al., 2007 & Jimenez, Browder, and Courtade 2008). Before NCLB, reading instruction focused on emergent literacy skills, including identifying sight words and environmental print. Compliance with the mandate at the secondary le vel is challenging, as textbooks focusing on emergent literacy skills are not aligned with middle or high school reading requirements. Browder et al. (2007) conducted a study to determine if students could gain literacy skills following a task analysis ap proach to learning while utilizing adapted, grade appropriate novels. The
41 novels were adapted by shortening chapters, adding pictures representing key words, and repetition of the main idea or important parts of the story. Adapted novels were printed on sturdy pages and presented in a three ring binder to promote independent turning of pages. Three teachers of students with severe and profound disabilities in a large urban school district were selected for participation. All teachers taught at the midd le school level, were certified in Special Education, and had between 2 and 13 years of teaching experience. Though all three had received some professional development on literacy, only one teacher had formal training at the pre service level. Each teac her selected two students for participation in the study. To be eligible, students had to have an IQ below 55, a demonstrated ability to identify some pictures, and could not comprehend more than 20 sight words. Teachers were trained to follow three comp onents for teaching literacy. First, the teacher used the research developed template that encompassed four activities for emergent readers. Each lesson needed an attention grabber or opening, a word and sound study, a text awareness piece, and comprehen sion questions. Text awareness consisted of the teacher reading aloud and providing appropriate wait time for students to anticipate the next section. Second, each teacher had to incorporate appropriate student prompting during each step. Finally, each teacher had to self monitor to ensure adherence to the literacy template (Browder et al., 2007) The six participating students made gains in early literacy skills, such as identifying the title of the book and making predictions. During baseline data, none of the students could identify the title of the novel. After the intervention all of the students
42 could identify titles at least 35% of the t ime. Before the intervention, three students demonstrated minimal attempts at making correct prediction s A fter implementing the task analysis procedure, all students demonstrated correct predictions more than 50% of the time. Browder et al. (2007) measured teacher satisfaction of the task analysis process by analyzing teacher answers on a modified rating scale Teachers strongly agreed that the literacy training was practical and enhanced their teaching skills. Participating teachers also strongly agreed that all teachers could benefit from such training. One year after studying the task analytic approach for teaching literacy to students with profound intellectual delays, Jimenez, Browder, and Courtade (2008) conducted a study to survey the task analytic approach when teaching algebra to students with developmental disabilities. At the time of publication no studies focused on teaching a lgebra or any abstract concepts to students with cognitive disabilities. According to The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, operations, algebra, geometry, measurements, and probability, are the five major stra nds of general mathematics curriculum. Historically, math instruction for students with developmental disabilities has centered on functional skills, including telling time, money management, and identifying numbers ( Jimenez et al. 2008). Using teacher made materials, three high school students (Jack, Leo, and Cindy) were taught simple linear equations utilizing concrete examples. The three students attended a public high school, had full scale IQ scores ranging from 41 to 49, and could identify numbers from 1 to 9. Students were taught simple linear equations, such as 3 + x = 4, using a 3 step process. First, the students learned to solve the linear equation by
43 employing a poster with the equation, manipulatives (spoons, pencils, etc.) to represent th e equation numbers, objects representing place markers to keep their place, and a number line to count out the solution (Jimenez et al., 2008). Second, the teacher promoted generalization by relating the equation to a functional skill, such as a job tas k. needed if they already had 4 but needed 9. Finally, the students were instructed to use a specific 9 step sequence for analyzing and completing the equation. Students wer e given prompting and feedback when following the sequence (Jimenez et al 2008) At the completion of the Jimenez et al. study (2008), Jack and Leo could independently solve simple linear equations using all 9 steps in the sequence. Despite over 31 ind ividual lessons, Cindy could only independently complete 8 of the 9 steps for solving linear equations. Jack and Leo could generalize equations using a multitude of materials, including spoons, candy, and other concrete items. Generalization was also dem onstrated in an Algebra class with nondisabled peers. Both Jack and Leo could successfully complete simple linear equations at the front of the classroom using their manipulatives. Despite the success of both studies, Browder et al. (2007) and Jimenez e t al. (2008) note several limitations of the ir stud ies In the literacy study, university researchers, following suggestions and protocols made by experts in the field, developed all materials. Teachers would need guidance and training to create appropri ately adapted novels and follow copyright laws. The sample utilized in the Call of the Wild a grade appropriate novel for middle school. However, the study did not focus on literature at the high school level.
44 In the a lgebra study, students relied on the concrete manipulatives, even with mastery of the task analysis sequence. It is unknown if the students would have been able to independently master simple linear equations if the manipulatives were eliminated. Further more, the Jimenez et al. study focused on a basic algebraic equation It is unknown if the same success would be evident with other abstract co ncepts. While students in the a lgebra study were able to generalize skills to another setting and with nondisabl ed peers, students in the literacy study were not exposed to a general education classroom or nondisabled peers. It is unknown if their ability to identify titles, make predictions, and other new found skills would generalize across multiple settings (Bro wder et al., 2007 & Jimenez et al., 2008). Though not discussed by the Jimenez et al. (2008), it is imperative to note that the students participating in the study could identify numbers from 1 to 9 and could acti vely engage in a lgebra lessons. As indic ated by the Towles Reeves et al. (2009) study some students can only identify numbers from 1 to 5 while others have no awareness of numbers. Furthermore, some students simply alert to people and other students do not react to people or stimuli. The stu dents falling into these two categories would not have participated in the study conducted by Jimenez et al. Similarly, students in the Browder et al. (2007) study could identify some sight words and communicate. Though more than 50% of most students can ident ify basic sight words, another small percentage of students have no awareness of printed words or Braille symbols (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). Thus, understanding how to teach challenging literary and algebraic concepts to students with profound int ellectual delays is still enigmatic.
45 Teachers must determine how to teach academic content to their students and how to prepare them for participation in state alternative assessments. Students with severe disabilities are not excluded from alternative assessments; yet, testin g students with severe medical cognitive, and physical disabilities is a relatively new phenomenon with little guidance from stakeholders Teachers need specific examples on how to assess students who do not communicate. Browder et al. (2003) suggest that using to working with students with severe disabilities. Instead of utilizing stimulus reactions, Browder et al. (2003) suggest defining specific and voluntary responses to entry level academic (K 1 standards) while utilizing age appropriate material. While this is a seemingly positive suggestion, current legislation r equires that all students test on grade level academics. Academic V ersus Functional Curriculum Lowrey et al. (2007) indicate that p reparing for an alternate assessment based solely on grade level academics requires teachers to spend hours teaching grade le vel curriculum leaving little time for functional curriculum. Functional skills are meaningful to students with intellectual delays as it increases their independence (Lowrey et al., 2007). Functional academics consist of consumer skills, community skill s, and self help skills. Consumer skills include understanding the value of money, paying for items with cash, using a vending machine, and using a bank card. Ayers et al. (2011) define v ocational skills and accessing public transportation are components of community skills. Self help skills include grooming and hygiene, laundry skills, cleaning, and preparing food (Ayers et al. 2011). Achieving and generalizing functional skills takes
46 time and repetition; however, most classroom time is spent on grade level academics (Ayers et al., 2011). In Texas, the STAAR Alternate only assess grade level content, no functional skills are incorporated into the assessment. W ith the focus on testing and adequate yearly progress, many teachers focus solely on academ ics and eliminate non tested curriculum, such as functional skills (Lowrey et al., 2007). If teachers use the general curriculum standards as a sole basis for their lessons, then instruction is no longer based on the individual needs of the students. Cla ssrooms that once focused on the functional needs of the students are now focused on standards as required by the alternate assessment (Lowrey et al., 2007). Without functional academics students with intellectual delays are in danger of not achieving futu re independence. Ayers et al. (2011) point out that understanding grade level standards does not ensure that students with intellectual disabilities can secure a paying job, find a place to live, or become meaningful members of society. While students with intellectual delays can learn scaled down grade level content in one setting, many cannot generalize that standard to other settings, including the general education classroom (Ayres et al., 2011). When teaching functional academics in the classroom setting, students are given opportunities to generalize their functional skills in a multitude of real world settings via community based instruction (Ee & Soh, 2005). Not only are the students practicing skills they need to promote independence but they are practicing them in real world settings such as grocery stores and restaurants (Ee & Soh, 2005).
47 Lowrey et al. (2007) point out that research describing the lasting effects of focusing on grade level content in lieu of functional curriculum for student s with intellectual delays is not readily available No current research supports shifting the focus from the functional needs of students with intellectual delays to a curriculum based on grade level standards (Lowrey et al., 2007). Lowrey et al. (2007) suggest that instead of allowing alternate assessments drive curriculum, the needs of the individual should guide the curriculum and then the assessment. Concerns Based Adoption Model Education reforms are created by lawmakers and are implemented by edu cation stakeholders and teachers. Understanding how teachers react to educational reforms is paramount to understanding the implementation process (Kwok, 2013). George, Hall and Stiegelbauer developed the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) based on t he works of Fuller (1969) and Fuller and Brown (1975) to predict teacher concerns of new innovations (Kwok, 2013, p.44). Since its creation in the 1970s many studies have used CBAM to gage teacher reactions to new policies or innovations (Kwok, 2013). It is a popular instrument for understanding teacher concerns about innovations (Cheung, Hattie, & Ng, 2001). Change, as described by CBAM, is not a singular event but a process of several at progresses from the individual to the school system (Kwok, 2013). Teacher concerns follow a logical progression through seven stages categorized as self, task, and impact (George et al. 2006). Initially, teachers are in the self stage when they first learn about an innovation but have not implemented it (George et al., 2006 & Kwok, 2013). Once teachers begin implementing the innovation their concerns progress from self to task, or the time and
48 materials needed to appropriately utilize the innovation. Finally, after teachers gain experience with the innovation, their concerns move from task to impact, or how the innovation affects the students (George et al., 2006 & Kwok, 2013). The diagnostic tool of CBAM is the Stages of Concern Questionnaire a 3 5 question inventory that gauges teacher concerns regarding the innovation. Teachers answ er questions on a one to seven L ikert scale. Based on selected answers, teacher concerns are categorized into seven categories and a change profile is developed. Th ough some research details discrepancies in the CBAM tool, it is important to note that reacting to change is a complex process (Kwok, 2013). Teachers can experience varying stages of concern concurrently with varying degrees of intensity (Cheung et al., 2001). Summary Understanding how teachers of students with profound intellectual delays implement the alternate assessment is an integral piece of this study As stat ed by Towles Reeves et al. (2006), a qualitative study investigating the unintended infl uences of the alternative assessment system is needed. Some unintended consequences include, narrowing the curriculum to focus only on topics found on the alternative assessment; eliminating community based instruction; and decreasing the amount of time s pent on functional skills. As indicated by the survey of the literature, there is an insignificant amount of research detailing how teachers of students with severe cognitive delays mesh the requirements of the alternative assessment to the needs of the students. Browder et al (2005) suggests teaching academics while embedding functional skills, as this specific population of students still needs instruction in daily living, independence, and transition.
49 Two specific studies, the algebraic and literat ure study, demonstrate how to utilize functional or emergent skills in collaboration with on grade level standards. However, both studies were small, focusing on less than 10 students, and only the algebra study centered on high school students. Most impo rtantly, neither study surveyed students with profound intellectual delays. Further research is needed to determine how teachers at the high school teach on grade level concepts to students with severe cognitive disabilities. Students with significant c ognitive delays will not learn academic content without systematic and structured instruction (Browder et al 2006). It is important to note that there is a lack of textbooks and resources that challenge students academically. Much for students with severe delays focuses on sight words and basic math skills (Flowers et al 2006). Many teachers of students with severe and profound disabilities are not familiar with the state standards for on grade level reading, math, and science. Browder et al. (2006) notes that it is important for teachers to be knowledgeable of the state standards for Special Education teachers work to develop lessons adhering to state standards, they must collaborate with general education teachers to avoid misunderstanding of the content (Browder et al., 2006). Specifically, teachers in self contained units should plan with general educators to have a more thorough understanding of the curriculum and required skills (Browder et a l., 2006). and implementation of alternate assessment s only a handful of studies found focus ed on the impact of alternate assessments on classroom instruction. Incidentally, studies
50 describing how teachers implement grade level academic s with students with profound cognitive disabili ties w ere not found. Though procedures are suggested for creating access to general education curriculum, studies definitively demonstrating how a teacher merge s academic concepts with the individual needs of the student were not evident in the research A qualitative study focusing on the classroom teacher and how he or she melds academics with functional skills at the secondary level is needed. Further, understanding how teachers implement alternate assessments and balance teaching grade level academic concepts with the needs of students is essential to fully understanding the impact of the alternate assessment on the classroom.
51 C HAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY The overarching question for this study is to determine how teachers of students with profound intellectual delays implement the a lternative assessment process. Understanding how teachers incorporate academic learning with functional curriculum is needed and the learning characteristics of the students is required to fully comprehend the im pact of alternate assessment on teaching The study seeks to answer the following questions: 1) How do Special Education teachers, at the secondary level, pr epare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? 2) What types of guidance do the Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators? 3) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement ? 4) What types of student physiological responses do teachers utilize as a 5) How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam? Qualitative research is the most appropriate form of research to answ er questions regarding the impact of alternate assessments on teaching. This study seeks to understand the opinions and beliefs of special education teachers who implement the STAAR Alternate assessment (Brantlinger, Jimenez, Klingner, Pugach, & Richardso n, 2005). U nderstand ing teacher perceptions of how the alternate assessment influences their classroom, most specifically how they academically prepare students for the assessments is central to this study P ast studies have used personal experiences and perceptions of teachers to understand phenomenon. Speci fic ally, two studies conducted by Flowers et al. (2005) and Roach, Elliott, and Berndt (2007) studied
52 general teacher perceptions of alternate assessments and teacher perceptions and consequential v alidity of alternate assessments, respectively. One study, conducted by Ee and Soh (2005) studied teacher perceptions of what a functional curriculum should be for students with intellectual delays. Epistemology: Constructivism This study follow s a cons tructivist approach for collecting and analyzing data. the world by interpreting meanings other individuals have about their environment. Constructivist researchers understand that their own backgrounds, experiences, and personal values shape their interpretations of meanings. I will consider my own values and experiences when constructing meaning of the impact of alter nate assessments on teachers of students with pro found intellectual disabilities. Methodology: Case Study Yin (2009) states that case studies are appropriate means of data collection when behaviors cannot be manipulated I have chosen the case study method as it will allow me to investigate the phenomenon of alternate assessments from the perspective of teachers of students with profound disabilities. Yin (2009) suggests a multiple case design as it is regarded as more robust and compelling. In each case selected, the same interviews and questionnaires must be duplicated To ensure future study replication, it is imperative to utilize an interview protocol and valid surveys when conducting data collection.
53 Data Collec tion Data was collected during the 2013 2014 school year. During that time, teachers complete d two surveys, participate d in one semi str uctured interview, and submit ted a math lesson plan for analysis. Specific instruments and protocols are detailed belo w Stages of Concern Questionnaire The Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoC Q ) is one instrument in the Concerns Bas ed Adoption Model developed by SEDL Research (George et al., 2006). Use of the questionnaire is public and available after purchasing the m anual, which includes hard copy questionnaires, conversion charts, and access to digital copies of the questionnaire and scoring materials. The original SoCQ was developed, piloted, and tested for validity over a three year period beginning in 1973. Thir ty years later, SEDL researchers revised the SoCQ to include a S tage Zero demonstrating no concern. T he revised instrument was piloted and validated in the summer of 2005. Individuals experience concerns about changes or innovations at varying levels of complexity. The SoCQ utilizes 35 statements on a 0 7 Likert scale with 0 being irrelevant or no concern and 7 being a high concern (Appendix A ) Individual responses regarding specific concerns are scored resulting in a raw score for each of the seven st ages: unconcerned, informational, personal, management, consequence, collaboration, and refocusing (George et al., 2006). Conversion charts are utilized to transform each raw score into a percentile score for interpretation. The conversion charts and per centile scores are based on the pilot of the questionnaire with 830 teachers in 1974 (George et al., 2006) Each participant complete d the SoCQ to determine their level of concern regarding the STAAR alternate. Teachers categorized as u nconcerned have l ittle
54 co ncern about the STAAR alternate and its impact on their classroom. An information ranking indicates the teacher has awareness about the alternate assessment but is still in the learning process. Teachers unsure about the demands of the alternate o r questioning their competence regarding the alternate assessment are categorized as personal Individuals ranked as management are focused on the process of implementing the alternate assessment specifically how to utilize the information and resources ( George et al., 2006). Teachers worried about how the assessment impacts students in their classroom are ranked as consequence. Collaboration indicates the Individuals ranked as refo cusing are exploring ways to benefit from the use of alternate assessments or are trying to find ways to alter or replace the alternate assessment (George et al., 2006). Semi Structured Interview Each teacher participated in a one hour interview, at thei r campus or mutually agreeable location regarding the routine of the ir classroom and perceptions of the STAAR Alternate assessment. To ensure all participants answer ed the same questions, interviews adhere d to the interview protocol The first version of the interview protocol was utilized during a pilot study with three teachers in February 2013. Following suggestions from the pilot study participants, items were clarified and questions added. The final interview proto col is illustrated in Appendix B Learner Characteristics Inventory Participants complete d a Learner Characteristics Inventory (LCI) for each student with profound intellectual disabilities tested during the 201 2 2013 school year (Appendix C ). The LCI was developed by researchers from th e National Alternate Assessment
55 Center (NAAC) in collaboration with experts from occupational therapy, physical therapy, communication disorders, deaf blindness, special education, mathematics, and reading ( Towles Reeves, Kearns, Kleinert, & Kleinert, 2009 ). The inventory was validated by experts across the aforementioned fields and piloted with a group of 25 teachers across all grade levels. Following the pilot study, the LCI was revised and piloted with a second group of 15 teachers. The final instrume nt includes ten questions, nine requiring teachers to acknowledge student abilities based on a continuum of skills and areas and one question inquiring about the use of assistive technology (Towles Reeves et al., 2009). Permission to use the LCI in this s tudy was obtained from Jacqueline Kearns, developer of the LCI and member of NAAC (Appendix D). Lesson Plan Analysis Teachers of students with profound intellectual disabilities create lesson plans for all academic areas taught. To prepare for the STAAR Alternate, teachers are required to select specific tasks/lessons and practice with their students well before administering the assessment. Each participant submitted one math lesson plan focusing on a specific Texas grade level objective. Lesson plan evaluation tools utilized at San Jose State University and Stony Brook University were analyzed for common themes. Lesson plans are analyzed in various domains as: ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective (San Jose State, n.d., & Stony Bro ok, 2011). Each rubric began with an evaluation of the planning and preparation of the complete lesson plan. Specifically, what components and/or elements are included in the lesson plan. Both rubrics address the classroom environment or how the teacher prepared the classroom for the specific lesson. Connection to teaching standards, specific teaching and thinking strategies used,
56 learning objectives and how the specific lesson was implemented are included on both templates. Student engagement and time management are analyzed on both rubrics (San Jose State, n.d., & Stony Brook, 2011). Using components from both lesson plan evaluation tools and the criteria required for the STAAR Alternate, a lesson plan analysis was created to analyze participant lesson plans. In each category, participant lesson plans were rated as: ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective (Appendix E ). Study Setting The qualitative study was conducted in San Antonio, Texas area. Each participating teacher is assigne d to a self contained classroom at the middle or high school level Teachers work within t hree school districts, Arizona Independent School District, Colorado Independent School District and Washington Independent School District. Arizona Independent S chool District covers fourteen square miles on the south side of San Antonio. During the 2011 2012 school year, 14,911 students attended Arizona schools. Approximately 89.2% are economically disadvantaged and 9.2% are categorized as special needs (AEIS, 2 012). Arizona ISD has 22 schools, including two high schools and four middle schools. It is the only district in the study that has a specialized school for students with severe and profound intellectual disabilities (Harlandale ISD, n.d.) The Phoenix C en ter served 21 students ranging from fourth to twelfth grade in the 2011 2012 school year. All students attending The Phoenix Center receive special education services (HISD, n.d.). Colorado Independent School district is located in the north east area of San Antonio, Texas. Once a rural district, it is quickly growing in size. Colorado ISD covers
57 73 square miles and serves two different counties (Schertz Cibolo, n.d.). During the 2011 (A EIS, 2012). Colorado ISD has three intermediate schools, two junior high schools and two comprehensive high schools. Forty five percent of students are categorized as white, 36.9% are Hispanic, and 10.7% are African American (AEIS, 2012). Approximately 3,500 students or 27.6% of Colorado ISD students are economically disadvantaged. In Colorado ISD, 9 % of students are categorized as receiving special education services (AEIS, 2012). Boulder Intermediate School is one of the three schools that serve stu dents in fifth and sixth grade. Approximately 620 students attend Boulder and 8.3% of the students receive special education services. All fifth and sixth Colorado ISD students with severe intellectual del ays attend Boulder Intermediate. Denver Junior H igh is one of two junior high schools in Colorado ISD. It serves appr oximately 1000 students with 10 % of the population categorized as special education Currently, all seventh and eighth grade Colorado ISD students with severe cognitive delays attend De nver Junior High. Washington Independent School District covers 16 square miles on the west side of San Antonio. It is a small urban district with three middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, and two magnet high schools specializing in fine art s and technology (Edgewood, n.d.). In 2011 2012, Washington ISD served 11,822 students. Less than one percent of students were white, 0.9% of students were African American, and 98.4% of students were Hispanic (AEIS, 2012) During the 2011 2012 school ye ar, 96.6% of students were identified as economically disadvantage d and 9.9% of students
58 received special education services ( AEIS, 2012). Approximately 690 sixth to eighth grade students attend Tacoma Middle School. Eleven percent of Tacoma students rece i ve special education services (AEIS, 2012). Participant S election To open a larger participant sample, three districts were selected for the study. Each district required a completed application, copies of the university institutional review board approva l, copies of protocols, and a listing of research questions. Following acceptance of the study, I contacted the Director of Special Education and request ed email information for 10 to 15 teachers of students with profound intellectual disabilities. Poten tial participants m et the following criteria: 1. Taught the previous academic school year in a self contained classroom serving students with profound intellectual disabilities. 2. Will teach in a self contained classroom serving students with profound intellec tual disabilitie s during the 2013 2014 academic year. 3. A dminister ed the STAAR Alternate Assessment during the 2012 2013 academic year. The initial email detail ed the purpose of the study and include d a link to a digital version of the SoCQ. Before beginn ing the digital survey, p otential participants read the E Consent for partici pating in the survey (Appendix F ). Six teachers agreed to participate in the study. Two of the six teachers completed the digital version of the survey. Three teachers completed hard copies of the SoCQ survey after completing the initial interview. During the initial meeting, the purpose and requirements of the study were discussed. The informed consent (Appendix G ) was reviewed and signed. Confidentiality measures were expres sed in detail. After the discussion, one teacher,
59 from Washington ISD, choose to withdraw from the study. At the end of the study, all participants receive d a $50.00 gift card for contributing their time Each school and district were given fictitious nam es in order to promote participant confidentiality. Teacher Information One teacher was selected from Arizona ISD. He is a second year teacher assigned to The Phoenix Center. Three teachers were selected from Colorado ISD two teach at Denver Junior Hi gh and one teaches at Boulder Intermediate Two of the teachers have taught students with severe intellectual delays for seven years and the third has taught for thirteen years but has only taught students with intellectual disabilities for two years. One teacher was selected from Washington ISD, she has taught students with severe intellectual disabilities for four years at Tacoma Middle School Table 3 1 illustrates participant demographical information. Table 3 1. Study Participant Demographics Teache r Age Range Gender Number of Years Teaching students with severe intellectual disabilities Highest Degree Texas Certifications TA 31 40 F 2 EC 12 Special Ed EC 8 Generalist TB 51 60 F 7 EC 12 Special Ed TC 41 50 M 2 EC 12 Special Ed EC 6 Generalist TD 41 50 F 7 EC 12 Special Ed EC 8 Generalist TE 41 50 F 4 EC 12 Special Ed EC 8 Generalist 4 8 English as Second Language Each teacher expressed love for their job and an overwhelming desire to wo rk with students with severe intellectual disabilities. No teachers expressed negative comments regarding their students or their classroom environment. As detailed in the data analysis below, each teacher has concerns about the current STAAR Alternate a nd
60 all are skeptical about the standardized alternate assessment to be released in the 2014 2015 school year. Case Study Procedures Data was collected from August 2013 to December 2013. Each teacher participated in an interview, at their campus or mutuall y agreed upon location regarding the routine of the classroom and perceptions of the STAAR Alternate assessment. I nterviews a dhere d to the interview protocol. The initial interview was audio recorded to assist in transcription. Audio recordings were only used for transcription and will be destroyed following defense of dissertation. At the end of the interview, the participant was given a LCI inventory for each student tested with the STAAR Alternate during the 2012 2013 school year LCIs were returned al ong with one math lesson plan in a self addressed envelope provided by researcher. Remind ers via email and phone were made to remind participants to return all information by the due date. Validity and Trustworthiness Qualitative studies require validit y and trustworthiness to ensure the study is rigorous, or reliable. To establish validity, I utilized respondent validation, or member checking wherein each participant review ed a transcription of the interview. Four teachers accept ed the transcription a s valid One teacher made corrections or clarifying statements to her transcription. Strategies of credi bility, dependability, and confi rmability are created to promote trustworthiness of the study (Yin, 2009) During data collection, I maintained a fiel d journal to ensure credibility and confi rmability of the study. I kept a detailed record of the data collection procedures, including field notes of interviews and a catalog of all data Triangulation of data promotes credibility, dependability, and con firmability of
61 data. Multiple sources of evidence, or data triangulation, is a major strength of a case study (Yin, 2009). I collect ed data via interviews, reliable instruments including the SoCQ and LCI inventories and physical artifacts (the lesson pl an) for data analysis. Transferability is a category of validity and trustworthiness; however, because of the small participant sample and short timeline, transferability will not be evident in this study. Limitatons External validity is unlikely while conducting case studies (Yin, 2009). Threats to internal validity exist as the researcher must make an inference each time an event is not directly observed. Specific tactics for ensuring sound inferences are suggested by Yin (2009), including addressing rival explanations for the inference. Though specific strategies are suggested, determining which tactic will address the internal validity is problematic. Construct validity is another inherent challenge in case studies as much of the data collection process is s ubjective. Yin (2009) suggests using multiple sources of evidence during the data collection process, such as an interview protocol to follow when collecting data. Even with a strict protocol, during an interview, it can be difficult to keep t he individuals on the task. S TAAR Alternative is a new assessment and testing students with profound intellectual delays is a rather new practice. Thus, some districts and teachers were not receptive to discussing the assessment with non district personne l. Resarcher Subjectivity I am a certified Special Educator who taught students with special ne eds at the secondary level for eight years. For the last two years, I work ed at a public university
62 mentoring novice special education teachers, many of who t aught students with profound intellectual delays It is important to note; however, I never taught students with severe cognitive delays in a self contained setting. The teachers I mentored struggled with the alternate assessment process and its requireme nts. I hope studying this topic will add to my understanding of alternate assessments and will add to the emerging research base. Ideally, I hope my study highlights the ambiguity of the alternate assessment process and influences future legislation in T exas. With my knowledge base in special education and my career experience, participants were willing to offer candid comments during interviews. To avoid sampling bias, I solicit ed districts for teacher contact information only. As long as selected tea chers met the criteria, I did not intentionally omit participants. For example, teaching effectiveness and years of experience were irrelevant to my selection criteria. The participant sample is diverse and representative of teachers in special education Case study was specifically chosen as methodology as it most correlates with my research questions. It is important to note; however, that I am familiar with the case study process. In my previous university position, I collect ed observational and in terview data from mentees and submit ted it to the College of Education for analysis I conducted a pilot study to refine the interview protocol with three I mentored. Piloting the interview protocol help ed alleviate ambiguous questions, which can lead to participant misunderstanding of questions. To alleviate question order bias, questions began with gener al demographic information and end ed with open answer questions. A ll questions were written in positive form.
63 Each participant contribute d one to thr ee hours to the study. Ideally, participants would willingly participate; however, an incentive was offered to ensure individuals complete d the entire study. Each case study participant receive d a $50.00 gift card at the completion of the study. To elim inate procedural bias, each participant receive d the exact same gift card at the end of the study My career and educational experience possibly influenced findings as I might have look ed for specific characteristics in the classroom instead of being ope n to all data. It is important that I monitor ed my own bias to ensure I did not disregard data during the data collection process because I believe d it extraneous.
64 CHAPTER 4 DATA ANALYSIS Data Analysis Yin (2009) recommends specific procedures for a nalyzing case study data. It is suggested that analysis begin with a general strategy for organizing the data. Once the data is organized, it can be thoroughly analyzed utilizing a specific technique. Information from interviews, lesson plan analysis and LCI inventory were reviewed and hand coded using highlighters This preliminary process is integral as it forces the researcher to focus on specific data and ignore data irrelevant to the study (Yin, 2009). Cross case synthesis is a recommended analysi s technique for a multiple case study. Each of the five case studies was treated individually, as a separate case study. After transcribing interview data, I read through each transcription color coding statements corresponding with the questions of the study. reco mmendation I create d a table with column headings reflecting my study questions. Under each heading, I digitally copied and paste d parts of the hand coded data that corresponded with each theme (Appendix H). Once this was complete, I review ed left over data to determine if other themes exist or if remaining data is not necessary to the study. Two more themes emerged from the data: functional verses academic curriculum and standardization of the STAAR Alternate. The d at a table w as analyzed to draw cross case conclusions. I review ed the table determining similariti es and/or differences among the cases. District STAAR Alternate Data Before beginning the data collection process, I downloaded the STAAR Alternate informatio n from the Pearson Texas Assessment website. For each district, I
65 determined how many STAAR Alternates were administered at the secondary level and how many of those were categorized as a Level I Table 4 1 illustrates the data. Table 4 1 Number of Sec ondary Students Taking STAAR ALT and Number of Students Taking Assessment at Level I Per District Colorado ISD Arizona ISD Washington ISD Number Tested Level 1 Number Tested Level 1 Number Tested Level 1 6th grade math 11 5 13 7 10 0 6th grade readin g 11 5 13 8 10 0 7th grade math 13 5 20 7 5 0 7th grade reading 13 5 20 7 5 0 7th grade writing 13 5 20 10 5 0 8th grade math 7 2 12 6 8 0 8th grade reading 7 2 12 8 8 0 8th grade science 7 2 12 4 8 0 8th grade social studies 7 2 12 6 8 0 9 th Grade Algebra 2 0 15 1 12 0 9 th Grade English I 2 0 15 1 12 0 9 th Grade Biology 3 0 15 1 12 0 10 th Grade English II 5 1 10 2 5 0 11 th Grade US History 2 0 24 5 3 0 Looking at the number of STAAR Alternate exams administered by each district was an import ant first step in understanding district testing needs and the requirements of the teacher Fewer Level I STAAR Alternate assessments were given at the high school level when compared to the number of Level I tests administered at the junior high level in both Arizona ISD and Colorado ISD No students were administered a Level I STAAR Alternate assessment in Washington ISD During an interview the teacher from Washington ISD was asked if the district prohibited teachers from administering Level I assessm It is important to note that until legislation was signed on June 10, 2013, all students tested with the STAAR Alternate at a Level I were considered
66 automatic failures. T eachers from Colorado ISD had freedom in determining STAAR Alternate levels for each student and were not discouraged from administering a Level I In Arizona ISD, some administrators strongly urged teachers to test all students with at least a Level II o n the STAAR Alternate. K nowing the abilities of his students, the teacher at The Phoenix Center ensured all his s tudents were tested at a Level I He person cannot mand Stages of Concern Each teacher completed the Stages of Concern Questionnaire, two teachers completed the survey electronically and three completed a hard copy version. Each survey was hand scored and analyzed based on the information provided in the Stages of Concern book. Four of the five teachers scored highest at a stage zero or s the teachers have no concern regarding the alternate assessment; however, after further review the authors of the survey state a high score on a stage zero indicates the respondent believes other innovations or 2006, p.48). One possible explanation for an a frustrations with the emphasis on grade level academics and the declining functional curriculum. refocusing suggests the individual might wa nt to change the innovation or replace it with an alternative (George et al., 2006). The teacher who scored high on refocusing gave the most detail, when compared to the other study participants, regarding her ideal alternate assessment.
67 Analysis of Ques tions To answer the following questions, data garnered from interviews, completed LCI inventories and lesson plans were analyzed. Results are listed by question. F inding s are supported by contextual evidence. 1) How do Special Education teachers, at th e secondary level, prepare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? 2) What types of guidance do the Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators? 3) How much time is required to prepare for each essence stat ement ? 4) What types of student physiological responses do teachers utilize as a 5) How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam? During data analysis two more themes emerged. T eachers had strong opinions on the narrowing of curriculum to focus on academics thereby eliminating much of the time needed to wor k with students on functional skills Each teacher also had concerns regarding the future standardization of the STAAR Alter nate. Questions six and seven are a result of the emergent themes. 6) How do special education teachers feel about the emphasis of academics over functional curriculum? 7) What are teacher concerns regarding the standardization of the STAAR Alternate? Qu estion 1 How do Special Education teachers, at the secondary level, prepare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? Three themes emerged from the data regarding the implementation of the STAAR Alternate: training and research; preparing essence statements; and emphasizing academics instead of functional curriculum. Each teacher attended
68 training and conducted research to properly create activities for essence statement s for each student. All teachers stated they attend ed at least one workshop area. Beyond the workshops, teachers spent time perusing the Texas Education Agency website for resources or talked to colleagues and shared ideas about acti vities. Once the teachers decide d on appropriate activities for th e essence statements, they spent hours developing the materials needed for the assessment and practicing assessment tasks with each student. Regarding how much time was spent practicing as The assessment process is tedious and encompasses various parts including creating the activities, practicing with th e student, testing each student individually, documenting observations, and entering results into a software system. One teacher tests students at a Level II or Level III, she described the generalization process as time consuming for both teacher and stu dent. As discussed by the teacher, there are four essence statements for each test; however, to generalize a student will complete eight activities for one test. For all four subjects, an eighth grade student will complete 32 tests. They get tested, the y get beat down on tests. You have your first test and then you have to come back and retest them with a change in materials To ensure students are prepared for the performance assessment, teachers spend hours teaching academic concepts in four core academic areas: math, language arts, science, and social studies. Focusing on grade level academics leaves little time during the day to work on functional curriculum, including hygi ene, toileting, and
69 vocational skills. All teachers try to embed functional activities into academic curriculum, but four of the five teachers want more time to spend on functional curriculum. Question 2 What types of guidance do the Special Education t eachers receive from their school and district administrators? at least one time during the 2012 2013 school year so they could attend Region 20 workshops during the school day. The teacher from Arizona ISD Alternate In, Washington ISD, the teacher attended several after school make and take meetings For the teachers in Arizona ISD and Colorado ISD, district meetings regarding the STAAR Alternate covered more procedural and technical requirements of the assessment. A ll teachers however, indicated the training received from Region 20 was more appropriate and beneficial. Regarding the selection of STAAR Alternate testing levels for student s teachers a Level I It appears teachers followed this direction as no students in Washington IS D were tested with a Level I Teachers in Arizona ISD were asked to consider testing all students with at least a Level II ; however, the teacher at the Phoenix Center disregarded this request and chose the appropriate test based on the needs of his student s. One teacher stated that trainings covered strict rules regarding wording when documenting student progress on the STAAR Alternate learned in training in these make and
70 When asked if districts offered training or guidance regarding how to mesh together functional a nd academic curriculum, each teacher indicated they had never research and talk to o ther teachers to learn how to effectively mesh functional and academic curriculum on their own. Four of the five teachers noted that meshing the functional needs of the students and grade level academic requirements of the state is a difficult endeavor. O ne teacher stated another area where I have difficulty because we are supposed to teach age appropriate for my kids but intellectually, they are not at that age, so very difficult to try to mesh The fifth teacher stated that meshing together fun She has no difficulty teaching academics with embedded functional and social skills. Question 3 How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement? Each teacher estimated how much time they spent putting together activities for each essence statement, including downloading materials from the Texas Education Agency website and preparing testing materials. Teacher time spent on this process ranged from 20 hours to 100 hours depe nding on the number of students tested. Teachers spent more time preparing STAAR Alternate materials for students tested with a Level II or Level III Students tested with a Level II or Level III must be given the opportunity to generalize. In order to generalize, the student is tested on the same concepts but with different materials. In essence, the teacher is preparing two completely different tests covering four essence statements in three to four subject areas.
71 Once the tests are created, teacher s spent anywhere from 100 hours to up to six full weeks practicing the concepts tested with each student. In order to practice, the teacher sit s with the student, one on one, and assists the student with the tested concep t. Due to student disabilities an d lack of sustainment most are tested in small for my low one [student] it was three to four hours, my In January, the testing window opens. Teachers are given three months to test the students. All teachers beg an officially testing once the window opens. I have to start right when that window opens, because some kids, they can day. Each teacher stated that the actual testing of one concept or essence statement takes a nywhere from five minutes to fifteen minutes. However, for each essence statement, the teacher must document the conditions of the testing environment, how many prompts were required, and what type of assistance was given onto an official document. All information on the document is then entered into software provided by the Pearson Assessment system. Teachers stated that entering data into the software is easy but is tedious and can take up to 45 minutes per student. One teacher stated Some of the esse nce statements takes you five minutes to do the whole data collection sheets, plan ning the activity, write down all the observations, go into the system and clicking and typing in notes, because I have to take notes while they are doing it, probably an hour. Due to the sensitive nature of the assessments all materials must remain secure and locked up on the campus. Teachers cannot take documentation or observations
72 home to enter in professionals will Question 4 What types of student physiological responses do teachers utilize as on the STAAR Alt? Communication, sustainment, and academic capabilities are an integral part of the STAAR Alternate. To fully understand the needs of the students tested, each teacher completed Learner Characteristic Inventories for each of the student s they tested during the 2012 2013 school year All together the participating teachers tested 23 students, 48% were tested at a Level II and 52% were tested at a Level I Nineteen of the students were taught in a self contained unit on a regular campu s three were taught at a specialized school for students with intellectual delays and one receives homebound services due to his medical needs Of the students tested, 52% use symbolic language to communicate, they can re quest and respond to questions; 22% use intentional communicat ion but not at a symbolic level; and 26% cry, make facial expressions, and have changes in muscle tone but ha ve no clear communication Regarding engagement, 43% of students tested initiate and sustain social interactions, 3 9% respond to social interaction but do not initiate or sustain interactions, 4% alert to others, and 13% do not alert to others. Academic abilities varied amongst the tested students. Only 4% of students read fluently with understanding of point of view fact and opinion, o r emotional response. Twenty two percent read short passages or paragraphs fluently with a basic understanding of text and 22% read basic s ight words and simple sentence s More than half of the tested students have limited or no rea ding ability, 30% have an awareness of text, they can follow directionalit y and make letter distinctions and 22% have no observable awareness of print or Braille.
73 In math, 17% apply computational procedures to solve real life and/or word problems and 26% perform computational procedures with or without a calculator. Thirteen percent count with 1: 1 correspondence to at least 10 and c an make numbered sets of items. Seventeen percent can count by rote to 5 and 26% have no observable awareness or use of numb ers. Teachers were asked how they test the 26% of students who have no clear ability to communicate. Each teacher used different techniques to test the students, including voice augmentation boxes, eye gazing, color coded matching, facial gestures, head One teacher explained the testing process with students who are nonverbal. Some of the kids, they actually pick up items, touch it to explore, they have to manipulate it in their hands. The kids that can touch and explore it. I also use their vision. You put items in their visual field and wait for an eye gaze. I used voice output devices so they can give a verba l response. It was something that I recorded but they could push the button to give a response. Question 5 How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam? Four of the five teachers submitted lesson plans for a nalysis. One teacher stated that she did not create actual lesson plans. The lesson plans submitted all focused on a tested math objective. Based on the developed rubric, one plan was rated ineffective, one was developing, one was effective, and one was highly effective. Each teacher wrote the actual Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) on the lesson plan. The essential component of the TEK drives the rest of the lesson plan. T wo of four teachers designate how the activity is modified based on a general lower ability level. One teacher specifically modified the lesson for each of her seven students. The fourth
74 teacher did not differentiate or modify the lesson on an individual basis as all of his students are functioning at the lowest academic l evel. Two of the lessons used functional skills to teach a math TEK. One teacher used placing and ordering coins on a number line to teach students how to compare and order rational numbers On the lesson plan, the teacher noted the type of assistance ea ch student would receive. For measurement. The For example, students tested at a Level I III Only one teacher had all components required of an effective lesson plan including detailed verbs, activities modifications, and required student reactions by student. Three of the five teachers use Unique Learning Curriculum to teach academics to their students. Unique Learning is a standards based curriculum designed for students with special needs ( https:/ /unique.n2y.com/products/unique/ ) Lessons are created around a thematic unit and many of the activities are hands on and can be used with a smart board The other two teachers create their own lessons and activities based on grade level curriculum. Each teacher stated that they were required to use grade level I look at the TEK and then I take it down to their grade level. It might be Algebra but all the way down to counting o r just recognizing numbers. All teachers indicated that they learned how to bring the TEK down to their researched and found
75 resources. T hree teachers depended on other teachers to guide t hem until they could complete the process on their own. One teacher indicated, e ven with the lower academic level required, her students need repetition to grasp the TEK. Objectives are repeated leaving little time to cover all grade level TEKS. Students require constant repetition, as illustrated by one teacher. We have to do so much repetition because the time I get to school on we read the story every day for a week), I will only h ave one or two that will remember any details. Question 6 H ow do special education teachers feel about the emphasis of academics over functional curriculum? After examining the data, teacher concerns regarding the emphasis on grade level curriculum and limited time for functional skills became evident. These concerns could account for teacher scores on the Stages of Concern questionnaire. Four of the teachers shared their want for more time to teach functional skills. As mentioned Alternate, can mean the participants view other innovations, such as grade level academics versus functiona l curriculum, as far more important or concerning (George et al., 2006). Four of the five teachers spend more hours on academics instead of functional medical and physical needs are met before teaching academics Af ter spending time on hygiene, including toileting and feeding, he spends approximately one hour on academics. He details a typical classroom day below
76 We change [diapers] twice a day, unless they have accidents in between, that was last week, Wednesday and Thursday, we were having accidents focus on other stuff so I felt like I cheated them out of the academic piece range in age from 11 to 18 but, due to physical disabilities, A third adult monitors the students left in the classroom. The amount of time spent on academics and functional skills as explained by each teacher, is illustrated in F igure 4 1 below. Figure 4 1 Number of hours spent on academic verses functional skills per teacher Three of the five teachers only spend one hour on functional and/or vocational trai ning. Functional activities include washing laundry, folding clothes, cleaning dishes, and cooking. Vocational skills include assisting with campus recycling and working on activities to increase time on task. Four of the five teachers indicated that fi nding time 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 TA TB TC TD TE Number of Hours Teacher Academics Functional
77 The teacher at the Phoenix Center t eaches students who are nonverbal and deemed medically fragile, his students have IQs in the profound range (25 and below) He describes how he teaches on grade level academics to his students. We talked about ecosystems, miniecosystems, I used my aquarium as an example of a mini ecosystem, we talked about ecosystems like the desert, oceans, and those type of things. This coming semester we are going to be doing the polar caps, the Arctic and Antarctic so I am reading them a book on penguins. If we have time we are going to do an experiment on adherence that has to do with ice and a string and putting salt on the ice and talking about why the string will adhere to the ice. Four of the five teachers want to spend more of the day on functional curriculum. Each teacher had strong opinions on the heavy academic focus and lack of functional learning I think we need more functional, they do not need to know what a line of those things tha t are going to make them as independent as possible. Without those functional skills, the academic part is not going to matter as possible, and then we can go on to some of the other stuff, and money is a huge one. All of them have trouble with money, they all have difficulty remembering. Each teacher stressed that t eaching concepts like the value of money or telling time are more appropriate and necessary for their students. I would rath er spend my math time not worried about being able to do an address, count to ten, learn time on the clock or money.
78 One teacher would like to spend more time working with students on basic and fundamental skills, such as toilet training or manipulating their own eating utensils and less time on grade level academics. I would rather spend my day working wi th behaviors, I could spend so much time focusing on behaviors with my kids, like hygiene, living skills as doing that since I have to get them over to do some kind of reading or math activity. To stay on track and ensure the students receive all four academi c subjects, we are rushing through hygiene activities or toileting activities. One teacher had a different viewpoint than her four colleagues, she indicated that if teachers are meshing academics and functional learning together, then spending more time on academics should not be a problem. She stated I mean, academics is school, they should be getting academics, and they should be getting what everybody else is getting. We teac h both academic Question 7 What are teacher concerns regarding the standardization of the STAAR Alternate? At the time of this report, the state of Texas has not released details on the standardization o f the STAAR Alternate. Teachers are speculating and worrying about the future of the asse ssment and the impact on their students Of the participants in the study, only o ne teacher is looking forward to the standardized assessment. I am looking forward t o the new alternate assessment next year because this one have to make the tests, nobody else makes the test for their students. The remaining four teachers expressed concern about the future of the assessment. Right now, teachers write the activities based on the needs of their students. The teachers question how the state can standardize an assessment that is
79 designed for students with varying disabilities and acade mic capabilities. One teacher stated In one breath, I like the idea of not having to sit there and write and come t know what expect. Two of the teachers fear the test will have more paper and pencil based activities and less hands on tasks One teacher stated know what a pencil or crayon is, they are an equivalent of an 8 month old such a disservice to these guys. Another teacher stated I am concerned about what they are going to do, if they go to standard pencil/paper, I really hope they are going to be able to accommodate for those Level I type kid s One teacher wonders if testing students with an alternate assessment is the most appropr iate means to determine student progress. Is it really a test that our kids really require or is there some other way that we can ensure that our special needs kids are getting the attention that they need? I understand, I would not want to go to a place if these were one of my kids, and find out that my kid is doing anything but looking at the wall. Four of the teachers described their ideal alternate assessment. Teacher A wants students tested on functional curriculum, such as knowing color words or appropriately identifying money. Teacher B thinks the current design of the assessment E wants the state to design the tasks but allow teachers to make adaptations based on th e needs of their students. Teacher C stated that he would rather keep data in a
80 binder or jump drive that documents how a student can perform specific activities similar to a portfolio assessment If some one you the videotape, this is what he did worthwhile than a standardized test that we have to create to meet the essence statement, implement, and you only get three chances to implement it and they pass or fail. Until the state releases the new version of the STAAR Alternate, teachers will continue to speculate and worry about the standardized assessments. No district or teacher has concrete answers regarding the new assessment. k ind of nerve wracking and frustrating. This is an individualized program, why are we
81 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to understand how Special Education teache rs, in Texas, implement the STAAR Alternative exam in their classrooms. Understanding how teachers prepare their classrooms and students for the assessment was the integral piece of the research. The study sought to answer the following questions: 1) Ho w do Special Education teachers, at the secondary level, prepare for implementation of the STAAR Alternative exam? 2) What types of guidance do the Special Education teachers receive from their school and district administrators? 3) How much time is req uired to prepare for each essence statement ? 4) What types of student physiological responses do teachers utilize as a 5) How do special education teachers academically prepare students for the alternative exam? At the con clusion of the study, four major themes emerged from the study. All teachers indicated a lack of training and research, the exorbitant amount of time required to administer the STAAR Alternate, a greater amount of time spent on academics in lieu of functi onal curriculum, and the standardization of the alternate assessment. Four of the five participants had similar frustrations and opinions reg arding the STAAR Alternate and its impact on their classroom. O ne teacher seemed to believe assessing students wi th severe cognitive delays had a positive impact on her classroom. The majority of the teachers felt the negative effects of testing students with intellectual delays with grade level academics.
82 Lack of Training As indicated by Browder et al. (2003) the re is little research on how to include academic content into the everyday routine of an alternative environment setting. Not only is their little research, but based on the ex periences of the teachers in this study, there are no trainings or workshops of fered on how to mesh together academic content and functional curriculum. Without guidance, teachers are left to figure out their own method for ensuring students receive grade level academics and some functional skills. Four of the five teachers studied indicated that finding a system to meld together functional and academic curricu lum was a difficult endeavor requiring hours of research during their first year of teaching. Not one teacher received training or guidance from the district, on how to acco mplish this task. Each teacher spent their own time researching and talking to others to determine how to teach grade level academics to their students while including some functional skills. When it came to the STAAR Alternate, each teacher had attended at least one workshop covering the basics of the assessment and how to create the tested activities. Each district offered some guidance on the assessment but all teachers felt they received more assistance, including concrete examples, from the Region 2 0 service center. District trainings did not offer concrete examples but focused on the technicalities and requirements of the test administration. Flowers et al. (2005) suggest staff development that provides teachers with methods for integrating altern ate assessment requirements into the daily routine of the classroom. Further, districts should offer training on how to teach academic concepts while continuing to provide functional and social curriculum to students. Without proper
83 training and guidance, teachers are skeptical about their students meeting state and federal academic expectations (Flowers et al., 2005). Time Requirements As indicated by Elliott and Roach (2007) tasks and work samples required of performance based assessments, such as the S TAAR Alternate, are intensive and time consuming. Roach, Elliott, and Berndt (2007) confirmed that teachers are concerned about the time required to conduct an alternate assessment and the instructional efficacy and appropriateness of the alternate assess ment process. All five teachers agreed the necessary components of the current STAAR Alternate are time consuming resulting in hours of lost personal and classroom time. To meet the demands of the assessment each teacher must download testing mater ials and documentation sheets f r om the Texas Education Agency website, create activities for each essence statement, practice the activity with the student, formally test the student, document observations during the formal testing, and enter testing information, including observations, into the Pearson testing software. Depending on the number of students tested and the tested level of the students, each teacher spent anywhere from 2 0 to 100 hours testing students during the 2012 2013 academic year. The process description of the requirements for a valid performance based assessment. Teachers complete a task. Perfor mance assessments require copious documentation detailing justification for scores (Elliott & Roach, 2007). As discussed earlier, students tested with a Level II or Level III must generalize skills. Generalization requires repeated sampling of a task usi ng different materials or conditions (Elliott and Roach, 2007). The
84 generalization faction of the test requires more time to create extra materials or conditions, more time to actually test, and more documentation to enter into the software system. Each teacher in the study agreed the time required to fully implement the STAAR Alternate was overwhelming and tedious. Flowers et al. (2005) indicated that teachers surveyed reported challenges in documenting evidence and the time required to fully implement the alternate assessment. Teachers in the Flowers et al. (2005) study indicated that the alternate assessment has created vast amount of paperwork competing with teaching and personal time. finding was reiterated in this study as each tea cher described the amount of teaching and personal time lost to fully implement the alternate assessment. While some may consider loss of time a flaw of the teacher or an inability to organize, Flowers et al. (2005) suggest the paperwork burden may be due 90). Academic verses Functional Curriculum Approximately three percent of the general population is intellectually delayed (First, 2000). Table 5 1 details the percentage of individ uals within varying levels of intellectual disabilities. Table 5 1 First (2000) conceptualization of the amount of individuals with intellectual disabilities, detailed by severity of cognitive deficit Form of Intellectual Delay IQ Score Percent of Indiv iduals with Intellectual Delays Mild 50 55 to 70 85% Moderate 35 40 to 50 55 10% Severe 20 25 to 35 40 3% to 4% Profound 0 to 20 25 1% to 2%
85 Students with intellectual delays have significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning as illustrated in Table 4 2 (First, 2000). Along with low IQ scores, students also have limitations in adaptive functioning in at least two of the following areas: communication, home living, social skills, self care, community resources, functional academi c skills, vocational skills recreation/ leisure, health, and safety (First, 2000). Before the requirements of NCLB, teachers of students with intellectual delays spent the day teaching students tasks in the aforementioned adaptive areas. Since the incept ion of alternate assessments linked to grade level academics, teachers spend little time on functional curriculum and more time on grade level academics. Though academics are heavily stressed, f unctional and social skills are an important component of th e daily routine of students with intellectual delays (Flowers et al., 2005). A n unintended consequence of alternate assessments is the narrowing of curriculum to focus only on grade level academics (Flowers et al., 2005). As suggested by Flowers et al. (2 005) the teachers in this study spend more time on grade level curriculum and a limited amount of time on functional curriculum. Browder et al. (2005) further confirmed this phenomenon by stating that functional skills, which are important to the daily lif e of students with intellectual delays, are slipping in priority to state standards in academic subjects. Agran, Aler, and Wehmeyer (as cited in Flowers et al., 2005) indicated that teachers ranked functional and social skills as more important when compa red to grade level academics. In this study, f our of the five teachers want more time to spend with their students on hygiene, toileting, and independence skills but they rush through much
86 of the functional curriculum to ensure academic subjects are taught All teachers in the study understand the need and importance of academics but four of the teachers would rather spend time on academic skills relevant to the needs of the students, for example identifying and und erstanding the value of money. Browder et al (2005) suggests teaching academics whi le embedding functional skills. Students with cognitive delays need instruction in daily living, independence, and transition. Many teachers try to maintain a balance between academic requirements and functional Kettler, Elliot, Stephen, Beddow, Compton, McGrath, Kaase, Bruen, Ford, & Hinton, (2010), p.472). Unfortunately, many grade level objectives are difficult to tie in or balance with functional curriculum. As indicated by the data, each teacher spends little time on functional skills and more time on grade level academic requirements. Each teacher in the study is a ble to include some functional curriculum into the daily routine but four of the five teachers would rather spend the bulk of the day teaching functional curriculum. Four of the five teachers believe their students are not given enough time to practice hy giene, independent living, and vocational skills. Standardization of the STAAR Alternate I n a study conducted by Flowers et al. (2005) 79% of teachers surveyed did not believe the alternative assessment t ruly reflected their students. Browde r et al. (20 05) suggest that current alternat e assessment s for students with severe intellectual delays are flawed. Confirming both Flowers et al. (2005) and Browder et al. (2005) f our of the five teachers in this study do not like the current alternate assessment a nd are worried about the future standardized STAAR Alternate. Each teacher in the study wants their
87 students to be tested to determine progress; however, t hree of the teachers would rather the assessment focused on functional skills or academics that refl ect the In Texas, the STAAR alternate tests academic concepts, functional curriculum is not tested (STAAR Alternate Manual, 2011) Some states, however, do include functional skills as part of their alternate assessment. In a study conducted by Browder et al. (2005), 33% of states include vocational or career indicators in their alternate assessment. The most prevalent functional skills included in alternate assessments are vocational and communication (Browder et al., 2005). Other functional skills are included in some state alternate assessments. Table 5 2 illustrates types of performance indicators included in state alternate assessments. Table 5 2 Type of functional skills used as performance indicators in some state alternat e assessments Functional Performance Indicator Number of States Vocational Career 14 Communication 10 Social/Emotional 8 Personal/Home management 7 Health 6 Recreation/Leisure 6 Community 5 Motor 5 Independent Living 3 Self determination 3 Ket tler et al. (2010) state that many teachers believe an ideal assessment reflects the balance of academic concepts with functional domains, as listed in Table 5 2 Currently, teachers in Texas have flexibility in the methods used to assess the student, fle xibility in the administration of the assessment, and flexibility in the scoring (Gong & Marion, 2006). During the 2014 2015 school year, the state will release a
88 criterion referenced standardized test wherein the teachers are provided with all tasks and a ctivities. All teachers are fearful of the new assessment and wonder how the new assessment will assess students who are currently tested at a Level I. Teachers also fear how as the new STAAR Alternate will be a criterion referenced and standardized assessment One teacher summed up the uncertainties As mentioned by three of the t eachers in the study, they worry about assessment requirements for students with no awareness of letters, numbers, or communication When r evising the STAAR Alternate, Texas stakeholders must consider the presymbolic and noncommunicative population of stu dents ( Towles Reeves et al 2009). Currently, students at a Level I must react to stimuli or make meaningful changes in voice (such as squealing) or make facial changes. Instead of reacting to stimuli or making changes in voice and/or muscle tone, Brow der et al. (2003) suggest defining specific voluntary responses the student can learn to make as a reflection of understanding. Using this process, a student can actively participate and demonstrate mastery instead of passively reacting to stimuli (Browde r et al., 2003). Implications and Recommendations for Practice Assessing students with severe intellectual delays is a requirement under the law. Finding ways to meet the demands of the assessment and the needs of student s with intellectual delays is a c oncern of teachers, including those in this study. Roach, Elliott, and Berndt (2007) and Roach and Elliott (2006) stress the importance of training special education teachers to increase their understanding of the assessment and appropriate instructional strategies. Districts should consider creating and offering
89 workshops and trainings that detail how to mesh together functional and academic skills and how to streamline the alternate assessment process or create templates for data collection (Flowers et al., 2005). With little research in specific trainings districts can select teachers, such as the teachers in this study, who successfully teach students with intellectual delays. Workshops should include how to incorporate functional and vocational sk ills into the daily routine of the classroom and how to take grade level academics and bring them rainings, teachers should be given the opportunity to see examples and make actual activities that can be used in their classroom. Browder et al. (2006) confirm that teachers need examples of how to appropriately teach middle and high school academic stan dards to students with intellectual delays. Another suggestion is encouraging novice teachers to observe veteran teachers who have mastered teaching academics while embedding functional skills. Beyond training, districts should consider tools to assist t eachers in meshing functional and academic curriculum. Three of the five teachers use Unique Learning as a way to facilitate academics while teaching functional skills, such as cooking. Districts should consider programs such as Unique Learning as an ave nue to help teachers create meaningful and appropriate activities for their students. Three of the five teachers also used a smart board to facilitate learning. Each teacher indicated the technology was loved by their students and helped in teaching abst ract academic
90 subjects. Installing such technology in classrooms with students with intellectual delays may benefit the teacher and the students. In this study, teachers indicated time requirements are a negative effect of the STAAR Alternate. For teach ers to ensure assessments are met, teachers lose valuable in class teaching time and their own personal and family time. Unlike general education assessments, the STAAR Alternate is not administered on one day during the school year. Teachers carve out t ime during the day to individually test their students, leaving the other students to be supervised by paraprofessionals. Due to the disabilities of the students, they are only tested in 15 to 20 minute increment s. Once testing is complete, the teacher sp ends time outside the school day entering data into the computer. Flowers et al. (2005) state that few teachers had sufficient resources needed to appropriately assess students. It is imperative that d istricts consider finding necessary resources and cr eative strategies to assist teachers in testing students (Flowers et al., 2005 ) For example, provide a substitute to facilitate learning while the teacher spends the day testing students and entering data into the testing software. In this study, each te acher indicated their district paid for substitutes to allow them to attend trainings during the school day. In the STAAR Alternate Survey conducted by TCASE, 42% of special education directors indicated they hired substitute teachers to assist in the STA AR Alternate process. Of the 42% who hired substitutes, 72% stated they hired substitutes from three to five days to support the teacher (STAAR Alternate Survey, 2013). Ideally, lawmakers and stakeholders will develop a curriculum that allows for a balan ce between academic content, individualization based on student needs, and
91 functional skills (Ayers et al., 2011). Without access to functional skills, parents must pursue outside resources to prepare students for independence. In lieu of a separate func tional curriculum, Lowrey et al. (2007) suggest establishing a guideline that allows teachers to integrate the state standards with the individualized functional needs of the students. Browder et al. (2004) suggest that alternate assessments include perfo rmance indicators representing general education standards and functional curriculum. Including functional academics on alternate assessments ensures teachers include functional skills into daily learning (Browder et al., 2004). At the completion of thi s study, the apparent need for advocacy emerged. Four of the five teachers expressed frustration with the STAAR alternate process and a desire to express their concerns. One organization, TCASE, offers its members access to professional development, blog s, yearly conferences, and other resources (TCASE, n.d). As members of TCASE, teachers have access to the advocacy page that includes (TCASE, n.d). Through the organizati on, teachers also have access to a legal team and liability insurance (TCASE, n.d). TCASE is an avenue for teachers of students with profound intellectual delays to express their concerns with the current alternate assessment process. Implications for Fu ture Research This study confirmed the need for further research on the use of alternate assessments and students with severe intellectual delays. As suggested by Browder et al. (2005), this study illustrated the unintended consequence of focusing on grad e level
92 academic teaching thereby eliminating much of the functional and vocational curriculum needed in the classroom. Some areas for further research include: Research into the potential effects of the grade level academic curriculum in lieu of functio nal curriculum is needed. Students with intellectual delays need functional, social, and vocational skills to develop independence skills. With limited time spent on functional skills, are students developing as much as independence as possible? What a re the future outcomes of students with intellectual delays who spent little time on functional curriculum (Ayers et al., 2011)? Is testing students with intellectual delays solely on grade level academic concepts an accurate measure of the abilities of th e students? Currently, legislation requires an alternate assessment to determine student progress; however, states have latitude in developing their assessment. Further research is needed to determine appropriate types of assessments for students with c ognitive disabilities. Can assessments focus on f unctional and vocation skills in conjunction with academics? Some states utilize functional indicators in their performance assessment, this seems an appropriate avenue to explore in Texas. Browder et al. (2004) suggest an alternate assessment that focuses on academic standards and functional curriculum is appropriate for students with intellectual delays. Towles Reeves et al. (2009) suggest creating two sets of alternative achievement standards A parall el set of standards would ensure all students with intellectual delays are challenged and are developing skills based on their academic abilities. Further research into parallel standards for students tested with alternate assessments is needed to determin e if creating two sets of standards will facilitate more applicable alternate assessments for students as well as more meaningful learning opportunities. Conclusions Alternate assessments are a requirement under NCLB, but fully understanding how to create an assessment that meets the requirements of the law and the needs of the students it serves is a perplexing issue. In Texas, the STAAR Alternate requires students take assessments in reading, math, science, and social studies, depending on their grade. T o prepare students for the performance based assessment, teachers spend hours preparing activities for the grade level essence statements and practicing
93 tested skills with their students. As suggested by Browder et al. (2005), a consequence of the alterna te assessment requirement is the loss of valuable time spent on functional curriculum. In this study, each teacher spent less than two hours a day on functional, social, and vocational skills, which are needed for students with intellectual delays to tran sition into society. Finding time to work on functional skills is difficult and only adds to the stress of the teacher. Teachers in this study were not averse to testing their students rather they want an alternate assessment that is meaningful to the ne eds of students with profound intellectual disabilities. Stakeholders and policy makers in Texas need to look at the current alternate assessment and determine how to balance functional skills with academic concepts. If a balance in functional skills and grade level curriculum is not created, then teaching functional curriculum may continue to slip in priority.
94 APPENDIX A THE STAGES OF CONCERN QUESTIONNAIRE 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Irrelevant Not true of me now Somewhat true of me now Ver y true of me now Copyright SEDL innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. I now know of some other approaches that might work better. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. I am more concerned ab out another innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. I am concerned about not having enough time to organize myself each day. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. I would like to help other faculty in their use of the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6. I have a very limited knowledge of the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 7. I would like to know the effect of reorganization on my professional status. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. I am concerned about conflict between my inte rests and my responsibilities. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9. I am concerned about revising my use of the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10. I would like to develop working relationships with both our faculty and outside faculty using this innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11. I am concerned about how the innovation affects students. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12. I am not concerned about the innovation at this time. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13. I would like to know who will make the decisions in the new system. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 14. I would like to discuss the possibility of using the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15. I would like to know what resources are available if we decide to adopt the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 16. I am concerned about my inability to manage all that the innovation requires. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 17. I would like to know how my teaching or administration is supposed to change. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 18. I would like to familiarize other departments or persons with the progress of this new approach. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
95 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Irrelevant Not true of me now Somewhat true of me now Very true of me n ow Copyright SEDL 19. I am concerned about evaluating my impact on students. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 21. I am preoccupied with things other than the innovati on. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 22. I would like to modify our use of the innovation based on the experiences of our students. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 23. I spend little time thinking about the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 24. I would like to excite my students about their part in this approach. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 25. I am concerned about time spent working with nonacademic problems related to the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 26. I would like to know what the use of the innovation will require in the immediate future. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 27. I would like to coordinate my efforts with others to 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 28. I would like to have more information on time and energy commitments required by the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 29. I would like to know what other faculty are doing in this area. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 30. Currently, other priorities prevent me from focus ing my attention on the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 31. I would like to determine how to supplement, enhance, or replace the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 32. I would like to use feedback from students to change the program. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 33. I would like to know how my role will change when I am using the innovation. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 34. Coordination of tasks and people is taking too much of my time. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 35. I would like to know how the innovation is better than what we have now. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
96 APPENDIX B CASE STUDY INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Demographic Information: Name: _________________________________ School: ________________ ___ What is your age r ange? 20 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 50 51 to 60 60 or above What is your certification area? _________________________________________________________ How many years have you taught? ________________ How many years have you taught in an ALE/Lifeskills unit? _________________________ Study Related Information: 1. How many students did you test using an alternate assessment last school year? _______________ 2. Approximately how many students will you test, using an alternate assessment this school year? ___________________ 3. About how many hours did you spend, either last school year or this school year, creating the activities for each essence statement? ___________________ 4. About how many hours did you spend, per student, practicing test like activities (combined total for all subjects tested and essence statements)? ____________________ 5. About how many hours did you spend, per student, administering the assessment (combined total for all subjects tested and essence statements)? _________ ___________ on the STAAR exam?
97 7. Did you receive any guidance (workshops, booklets, meetings, sample activities, etc.) on how to create activities for each essenc e statement? 8. How many hours per day do you spend on teaching functional curriculum? Please describe types of activities. 9. How much time do you spend each day teaching academics? Please describe some activities. 10. Describe the gui general education curriculum with functional curriculum. 11. Are you comfortable with teaching academic subjects, such as Algebra, World Geography, and Biology? Why or why not? 12. As a teacher of students with severe intellectual disabilities, what is your opinion on teaching academic subjects such as Algebra, in lieu of functional curriculum, such as hygiene? 13. Is there anything I did not ask that you feel is important to t his study?
98 APPENDIX C LEARNER CHARACTERISTICS INVENTORY Citation: Towles Reeves, E., Kearns, J., Kl einert, H., & Kleinert, J. (2006 ). Learner characteristics inventory. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, National Alternate Assessment Center. Purpose: This inventory will assist in describing the population of students who take the STAAR Alternate assessment. More specifically, the inventory will create a picture of the disabilities and needs of each of the students tested in your classroo m. o Intellectual Disability (Includes Mild, Moderate, and Profound) o Multiple Disabilities o Autism o Speech/Language Impairment o Visual Impairment o Traumatic Brain Injury o Emotional Disability o Deaf/Blind o Other Health Impairment o Orthopedic o Other o Yes o No language spoken in the
99 o Special school o Homebound, receives services from the district at home. o Regular school, self contained special education classroom some special inclusion (art, music, PE) but return to their special education class for most of school day. o Regular school, primarily self contained special education classroom, some academic inclusion, students go to some general education ac ademic classes (reading, math, science, in addition to specials) but are in general education classes less than 40% of the school day. o Regular school, resource room/general education class students receive resource room services, but are in general educ ation classes 40% or more of the school day. o Regular school, general education class inclusive/collaborative (students based in general education classes, special education services are primarily delivered in the general education classes) at least 80% of the school day is spent in general education classes. 7. Expressive Communication (check the best description) o Uses symbolic language to communicate: Student uses verbal or written words, signs, Braille, or language based augmentative systems to r equest, initiate, and respond to questions, describe things or events, and express refusal. o Uses intentional communication, but not at a symbolic language level: Student uses understandable communication through such modes as gestures, pictures, objects/t extures, points, etc., to clearly express a variety of intentions. o Student communicates primarily through cries, facial expressions, change in muscle tone, etc., but no clear use of objects/textures, regularized gestures, pictures, signs, etc., to communi cate.
100 8. Does your student use an augmentative communication system in addition to or in place of oral speech? o Yes o No 9. Receptive language (check the best description) o Independently follows 1 2 step directions presented through words (e.g. w ords may be spoken, signed, printed, or any combination) and does NOT need additional cues. o Requires additional cues (e.g., gestures, pictures, objects, or demonstrations/models) to follow 1 2 step directions. o Alerts to sensory input from another person (auditory, visual, touch, movement) BUT requires actual physical assistance to follow simple directions. o Uncertain response to sensory stimuli (e.g., sound/voice; sight/gesture; touch; movement; smell). 10. Vision (check the best description) o Visio n within normal limits o Corrected vision within normal limits o Low vision; uses vision for some activities of daily living o No functional use of vision for activities of daily living, or unable to dete rmine functional use of vision 11. Hearing (check the be st description) o Hearing within normal limits o Corrected hearing loss within normal limits o Hearing loss aided, but still with significant loss o Profound loss, even with aids. o Unable to determine functional use of hearing
101 12. Motor (check the best desc ription) o No significant motor dysfunction that requires adaptations o Requires adaptations to support motor functioning (e.g., walker, adapted utensils, and/or keyboard) o Uses wheelchair, positioning equipment, and/or assistive devices for most activities o Ne eds personal assistance for most/all motor activities 13. Engagement (check the best description) o Initiates and sustains social interactions o Responds with social interaction, but does not initiate or sustain social interactions o Alerts to others o Does n ot alert to others 14. Health Issues/Attendance (check the best description) o Attends at least 90% of school days o Attends approximately 75% of school days; absences primarily due to health issues o Attends approximately 50% or less of school days; absences primarily due to health issues o Receives Homebound instruction due to health issues o Highly irregular attendance or homebound instruction due to issues other than health 15. Reading (check the best description) o Reads fluently with critical understanding in print or Braille (e.g., to differentiate fact/opinion, point of view, emotional response, etc.) o Reads fluently with basic (literal) understanding from paragraphs/short passages with narrative/informational texts in print or Braille. o Reads basic sight words, simple sentences, directions, bullets, and/or lists in print or Braille o Aware of text/Braille, follows directionality, makes letter distinctions, or tells a story from the pictures that is not linked to the text. o No observable awareness of print or Braille.
102 16. Mathematics (check the best description) o Applies computational procedures to solve real life or routine word problems from a variety of contexts. o Does computational procedures with or without a calculator. o Counts with 1:1 corresponden ce to at least 10, and/or makes numbered sets of items. o Counts by rote to 5. o No observable awareness or use of numbers.
103 APPENDIX D PERMISSION FOR LCI USE
104 APPENDIX E LESSON PLAN ANALYSIS
105 Ineffective Developing Effective Highly Effective Overa ll Lesson Plan Missing one of elements below Contains all elements below Contains all elements below, with some elaboration Contains all elements below, with some elaboration & creativity Student Expectation & Use of Knowledge What is student expected to do? Level 1 student shows awareness Level 2 student makes choices Missing connection to standard Limited connection to standard Connection to standard Clear connection to standard and other ideas/concepts Typical Materials & Presentation of Material s Level 1 completed graphs/organizers presented one at a time. Level 2 partially completed graphs/organizers given choices Materials not appropriate for Level Materials offered but cannot discern for what level Materials sufficiently used and delin eated for Level Materials sufficiently used and delineated for each student Typical Verbs Level 1 Acknowledge, participate, respond, experience Level 2 identify, assist, match Not evident needs Appropriate use of verbs by Lev el Detailed and explanatory use of verbs, by student Use of Tools Level 1 student uses tool Level 2 student chooses appropriate tool from 3 choices Tools not identified One tool listed but not specified by Level Tools listed and how will be used in ac tivity, by level Detailed description of tools and how they will be used in activity for each student Questions Level 1 Not applicable Level 2 basic recall No questions Listed One question listed More than one question listed Questions detailed In vestigations Level 1 participate via reaction to stimulus Level 2 can perform action No reaction or action listed A basic reaction or action is listed for all students Reaction/action is listed based on STAAR Alt level Reaction/action listed per each s tudent Generalization Level 1 Not applicable Level 2 yes, if given opportunity No generalization described Generalization considered A generalization scenario is listed Detailed generalization, including use of other tools is described
106 APPENDIX F E CONSENT FOR STAGES OF CONCERN QUESTIONNAIRE Online Survey Consent Form for Stages of Concern Questionnaire You are requested to participate in research that will be supervised by Principal Investigator, Kristina Gonzalez, on the impact of alternate asse ssments on teachers of students with severe cognitive impairments. This survey should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Participation is voluntary; you can withdraw at any time without penalty. Survey responses will be kept anonymous. However, whene ver one works with email/the internet there is always the risk of compromising privacy, confidentiality, and/or anonymity. Despite this possibility, the risks to your physical, emotional, social, professional, or financial well being are considered to be m inimal. There are no direct benefits associated with your participation. You have the option to not respond to any questions that you choose. Submission of the completed survey will be interpreted as your informed consent to participate and that you affir m that you are at least 18 years of age. If you have any questions about the research, please contact Kristina Gonzalez via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Bernard Oliver, Dissertation Chair/Supervisor, at email@example.com. If you have questions about the treatment of human subjects, contact the University of Flo rida IRB Office at 352 392 043
107 APPENDIX G INFORMED CONSENT Title: The Impact of Alternate Assessments on Teachers of Students with Severe Cognitive Impairments Purpose of the research study: T he purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the impact of an alternate assessment on the structure of the classroom and preparation of students. Data collected will be utilized for a doctoral dissertation. What you will do in the study: 1. Initi ally, you will sit in a one to one interview with the Principal Investigator. The interview will follow an interview protocol and will be recorded to ensure validity; the audio recording will be for Principal Investigator transcription only and will be de stroyed at the completion of the study. 2. Following the interview, you will complete a Learner Characteristics Inventory (LCI) for each student you tested with the STAAR Alternate during the 2012 2013 school year. 3. Each participant will submit one lesson math plan detailing how one specific math objective was taught to prepare students for the STAAR Alternate. 4. A follow up interview may be necessary to clarify information from LCIs and/or lesson plan. Time Required: 3 Hours over a 4 month period Risks a nd Benefits: Benefits include contributing to a young body of research regarding the use of alternate assessments with students with severe cognitive delays. There are not direct benefits to you for participating in this study. No risks are noted. Compe nsation: You will receive a $50.00 Visa or MasterCard gift card at the completion of the study. Confidentiality: You identity will be kept confidential as allowed under the law. All data related to you and your classroom will receive a code number. Only the researcher will have the list of connected code numbers and names. In the narration of this study, you will receive a fictitious code name. The LCI does not require specific information regarding the identify of your students. Your name, students, s chool, and school district will receive pseudonyms in the final report of the study. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You will not be penalized for non participation.
108 Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw your consent to participate in this study at any time without penalty. Whom to contact if you have questions regarding this study: Kristina Gonzalez (Principal Investigator) kvgonza@uf l.edu 210 262 3156 Bernard Oliver, Ed.D (Dissertation Chair) 343B Norman Hall PO Box 117053 Gainesville FL 32611 352 273 4358 firstname.lastname@example.org Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant: IRB02 Office Box 112250 University of F lorida Gainesville, FL 32611 2250 Agreement I have read the informed consent protocol above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the study as described and I have received a copy of this description. __________________________ ______ _______________ ______ ____ Participant Date _______________________________ _______________________ ___ Principal Investigator Date
109 APPENDIX H DATA TABLE FOR EACH TEACHER Teacher A What types of guidance received from their school/district (STAAR & Curriculum) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement What types of student physiological responses are "responses" District meetings with other LID teachers; two Region 20 workshops (the district paid a for a sub to attend one) 40 hours to prepare activities; 3 to 4 hours over time (10 to 15 minute chunks) to practice with each student; about 3 hours to administer, including documentation Following eye gazing, lis tening to noises like "squealing", color coded matching (students can match but cannot make decisions on their own) No district guidance touched on at meetings but received no examples, had to figure out on own time, researching and talking to others How do they prepare students academically Functional vs academic curriculum ("meshing") Standardization of ALT Use Unique Curriculum News to You. Read a book, then do individualized activities. Spend 3 hours a day on academics (all subjects) Spen d about 2 hours a day, cook 3 days a week, fold clothes and recycle. We have to carve out time for potty training and feeding. I'm very scared about that. Most of them can't write, don't even know what a pencil or crayon is. Not real happy about it, spen t hours testing a Level 1 and found he was an "automatic failure", I could have spent those hours potty training him. Teach prerequisite skills had to learn to bring TEKS down to the needs of the students conducted her own research and talked to othe r teachers for guidance (cognitive ability of 6 months to 2 year old) Would rather focus on functional curriculum: writing their address, count to 10, learning to tell time, or money skills. Has 2 centers, one sensory a nd one vocational fewer behaviors when students focus on functional skills Would like to be tested on functional curriculum, do they know color words? Do they know how much a quarter is or what a quarter is?
110 Teacher B What types of guidance received from their school/district (STAAR & C urriculum) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement What types of student physiological responses are "responses" Went to Region 20, district paid for sub About 80 hours: developing, writing down, documenting, and inputting into Pea rson Use of manipulatives and augmentative devices, student reached out and touched How do they prepare students academically Functional vs academic curriculum ("meshing") Standardization of ALT 4 periods of academics each day Lesson Plan : does not cre ate lesson plans. 1 period a day on vocational skills Thinks it will be harder. Right now teachers have leeway when writing assessments, how will the state know what kids need? Uses pre requisite skills, did not find this difficult due to the number of resources out there Would rather spend majority of the day on vocational skills or functional curriculum: time, money, The test is "okay" but there should be fewer essence statements. A 2/3 student takes 32 tests all together.
111 Teacher C What types of guidance received from their school/district (STAAR & Curriculum) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement What types of student physiological responses are "responses" One district training that only covered rules of STAAR Alt & how to enter data into Pearson; Region 20 make and takes District was supportive of attending training "if you need to go to that training, go". Politics with words, cannot call it "hand over hand" but can say "assist". Were asked to reco nsider testing at a Level 1, but were not discouraged from using it. About 3 hours for one statement, includes getting all the materials together, figuring out what to do, printing up documents, looking through resources, etc. spent a lot of weekends thin king about how to design them so it met the needs of my student; Practice with students every other day, but there are days where activities cannot be practiced due to student medical issues Eye gazes, facial gestures, hand movements, even head movement. Does not focus on vocalization b/c students can not do that when requested, it is sporadic. Turning their head or eyes is easier for them to accomplish. No, had to figure it out on his own, talking to other teachers
112 How do they prepare student s academically Functional vs academic curriculum ("meshing") Standardization of ALT Spend an hour on academics each day. Has a smartboard and activ ely uses it to teach academics. From an hour to 2 1/2 hours per day. Some days we spend the whole day changi ng because of accidents. Likes not having to write the activities, spent hours last year creating them. How will they write tests for students they don't know? I just don't know how the test will be designed so it meets the needs of the students, their abi lities. Has to create lesson plans that are grade appropriate for students in 5th grade, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade but they have cognitive ability of 12 month to 2 year old. Would rather spend time on functional skills "for my kids it is more approp riate". I want to focus on behaviors with my kids, like hygiene, living skills as far as being able to, how to sit at the table. I would rather have a little binder and jump drive that documents how the student completed an activity. Teacher D What types of guidance received from their school/district (STAAR & Curriculum) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement What types of student physiological responses are "responses" One workshop in the district & a ttended a workshop at Region 20. Not from the district "it's common sense". Figured out on own time, researched/read articles Just writing activities, about 20 hours, that doesn't include getting materials ready; took about 6 weeks practicing each subject with students; adm inistering the test took about 30 minut es, for all subjects per student Some of the kids pick up items to "experience", they have to manipulate it in their hands. Kids that don't have hand movement, I actually place it in their hand so they can touch & exp lore it. I follow eye gaze by putting the object in their visual field and wait for them to gaze at it. I record answers and put into voice output devices.
113 How do they prepare students academically Functional vs academic curriculum ("meshing") Standard ization of ALT Spend more time teaching academics than functional "we have to". Used Unique Learning News to You. Teach on and off through out the whole day, but specifically about an hour. We do cooking once a week. There is a lifeskills station whe re the students spend 15 minutes a day starting the laundry, folding clothes, or doing the dishwasher. I'm looking forward to the standard because this one is too subjective. The teacher makes the test, which isn't fair, nobody else makes the state test fo r their students. The only thing I do like about it, is that it opens your eyes to activities you should be doing and the way the tests are set up. I look at the TEK and then I take it down to their grade level, it might be Algebra but its all the way do wn to counting or recognizing numbers. Can do this easily, it's "common sense" I think if you're meshing it together, then it shouldn't be a problem. "academics is school, they should be given academics, and they should be getting what everybody else i s getting". I like where they send us the tasks already made, but then letting us put in the adaptations our kids need. Teacher E What types of guidance received from their school/district (STAAR & Curriculum) How much time is required to prepare for each essence statement What types of student physiological responses are "responses" Teachers discouraged from using Level 1. Attended workshops at Region 20, the district paid for her to attend 1x this school year. More training last school year th an this year. Probably 80 to 100 hours; practicing with students is about 100 hours b/c we practice everyday; takes about 3 hours to administer (broken into small chunks) and another hour to input into the computer system One nonverbal student who is ca pable of moving items, he does a lot of matching and grouping. He cannot write in any way, he can just scribble. One workshop where they talked about some of that
114 How do they prepare students academically Functional vs academic curriculum ("mesh ing") Standardization of ALT Spends about 4 hours a day on academics reads a story then they go through and identify vocabulary. Covers all four subjects with hands on activities. Uses Unique Learning & has a smartboard. Spend about 30 minutes a day on activities, with cooking about an hour. Brush teeth everyday after breakfast, cook twice a week. Do laundry, service the campus when students need clothes washed due to accidents. I am concerned about what they are going to do, if they go to paper/pen cil, I really hope they are going to be able to accommodate for Level 1 students. Right now, for a five minute activity, I'll spend from developing, printing, the whole thing, about an hour. Bringing the TEKS down is "a bit of a process", but don't do a ll the TEKS, cover only a 1/4 of them, "we do so much" repetition We need more functional. I prefer topics like money, cooking, and things that are going to make them as independent as possible. Without those functional skills, the academic part is not go ing to matter.
115 REFERENCES Ayers, K., Douglas, K., Lowrey, K., & Sievers, C., (2011). I can identify Saturn but I with severe disabilities shifts. Education and Training i n Autism and developmental Disabilties 46(1), pp. 11 21. Bouck, E., (20 12 ). Secondary students with moderate/severe intellectual disability: Considerations of curriculum and post school outcomes from the national longitudinal transition study 2. Jour nal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56(12), pp. 1175 1186. Brantlinger, E., Jimenez, R., Klingner, J., Pugach, M., Richardson, V., (2005). Qualitative studies in special education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), pp. 195 207. Browder, D., Algrim Delz ell, L., Flowers, C., Karvonen, M., Spooner, F., & Algozzine, R., (2005). How states implement alternate assessments for students with disabilities: Recommendations for national policy. Journal of Disability and Policy Studies, 15(4), pp. 209 220. Browder D., Flowers, C., Ahlgrim Delzell, L., Karvonen, M., Spooner, F., & Algozzine, F. (2004). The alignment of alternate assessment content with academic and functional curricula. The Journal of Special Education, 37(4), pp. 211 223. Browder, D., Spooner, F., Algrim Delzell, L., Flowers, C., Algozzine, B., & Karvonen, M. (2003). A content analysis of the curricular phi alternative assessment performance indicators. R esearch & Practice for Persons with Disabilities, 28(4), pp.1 65 181. Browder, D., Spooner, F., Wakeman, S., Trela, K., & Bakder, J. (2006). Aligning instruction with academic content standards: Finding the link. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disablities, 31(4), pp. 309 321. Browder, D., Trela, K., & Jimenez, B. (2007). Training teachers to follow a task analysis to engage middle school students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities in grade appropriate literature. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22(4), pp. 206 219. Cheung, D., Hattie, J., Ng, D., (2001). Reexamining the stages of concern questionnaire: A test of alternative models. The Journal of Educational Research, 94(4), pp. 226 236. Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixe d methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Edgewood ISD. (n.d.). About us. http://www.eisd.net/domain/59
116 Ee, J. & Soh, K. (2005). Teacher perceptions on what a functional curriculum should be for children with special needs. Internationa l Journal of Special Education, 20(2), pp. 6 18. Elliot, S.N., & Roach, A.T. (2007). Alternate assessments of students with significant disabilities: Alternative approaches, common technical challenges. Applied Measurement in Education, 20(3), pp. 301 33 3. First, M., (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of m ental d isorders (4th Ed) Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from: http://online.statref.com/document.aspx?fxid=37&docid=17. 4/24/2013 1:40:53 PM CDT (UTC 05:00). Flowers, C., Ahlgrim of alternate assessments. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 30(2), pp. 81 92. Flowers, C., Browder, D., Ahlgrim Delzell, L. (2006). An analysis of thre alignment between language arts and mathematics standards and alternate assessments. Exceptional Children, 72(2), pp. 201 215. Flowers, C., Wakeman, S., & Browder, D.M., (2009). Links for academic learning (LAL): A conceptual model for invest igating alignment of alternative assessments based on alternative achievement standards. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 28(1), p. 25 37. Retrieved from: http://www.naacpartners.org /publications.aspx George, A.A., Hall, G.E., & Stiegelbauer, S.M. (2006). Measuring implementation in schools: The stages of concern questionnaire. Austin, TX: SEDL Gong, B., & Marion, S. (2006). Dealing with flexibility in assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities (Synthesis Report 60) Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center for Educational Outcomes. Gordon, S. (2006). Making sense of the inclusion debate under IDEA. Brigham Young University Education and Law Jo urnal, 189. Harlandale ISD. (n.d.) About us. http://www.harlandale.net/?PN=AboutUs Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004). Jimenez, B., Browder, D., & Courtade, G. (2008) Teaching an algebraic equation to high school students with moderate developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 43(2), pp. 266 274. Johnson, E.S., & Arnold, N. (2007). Examining an alternate assessment: What are we testing? Journal of Disability Policy Studies 18(23), p. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 PL 105 17
117 Kettler, R., Elliot, S., Stephen, N., Beddow, P., Compton, E., McGrath, D., Kaase, K., Bruen, C., Ford, L., & Hinton, K. (2 010). What do alternate assessments of alternate academic achievement standards measure? A multitrait multimethod analysis. Exceptional Children, 76(4), pp. 457 474. Kornhaber, M.L. (2004). Appropriate and inappropriate forms of testing, assessment And acc ountability. Educational Policy, 18, pp. 45 70. an innovative curriculum. Teaching and Teacher Education, 38, pp. 44 55. Lowrey, K., Renzaglia, A., Chezan, L. (2007). I mpact of alternate assessment on curricula for students with severe disabilities: Purpose driven or process driven? Assessment for Effective Intervention, 32(4), pp. 244 253. National Alternate Assessment Center (n.d). Tools for alternate assessment Retri eved from: http://www.naacpartners.org/ No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107 110, § 115, Stat. 1425 (2002). Pearson Texas Assessment https://www.pearsonaccess.com/cs/Satellite?pagename=Pearson/QuickLink/tx Pullin, D. (2005). When one s ize does not fit all: The special challenges of accountability testing for students with disabilities. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 104(2), p.199 222. Region 11 (n.d.) Instructional support: medically fragile Retrieved f rom http://www.esc11.net/Page/1247 Roach, A. & Elliott, S., (2006). The influence of access to general education curriculum on alternate assessment performance of students with significant cognitive disabiliti es. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28(2), pp. 181 194. Roach, A., Elliott, S., & Berndt, S. (2007). Teacher perceptions and the consequential validity of an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Journal of Disabilitity Policy Studies, 18(3), pp. 168 175. San Jose State University (n.d.) Lesson Plan Evaluation Template. Retrieved from: http://www.cob.sjsu.edu/splane_m/meira/LPEval.htm Schertz Cibolo Universal City Independent School District (n.d) About us. http://www.scuc.txed.net/aboutus.cfm Stake, R. (1999). The goods on American education. Phi Delta Kappan. 80(9).
118 Stony Brook University (2011). Lesson Evaluation Form Rubric Retrieved fr om http://www.stonybrook.edu/pep/docs/August152001LEFRubricforWebsite.pdf Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (2013). STAAR alternate survey results e xecutive summary. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.tcase.org/resource/resmgr/docs/alt_survey_execut ive_summary.pdf TEX Educ CODE ANN. § 39.023 (2013) Texas Education Agency (2013). About the Standardized Assessment Tasks for STAAR Alternate. R etrieved from http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/special ed/staaralt/tasks/ Texas Education Agency (2012). Academic Excellence Indicator System: Edgewood ISD. Retrieved from http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2012/district.srch.html Texas Education Agency (2012). Academic Excellence Indicator System: Harlandale ISD. Retrieved from http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2012/district.srch.htm l Texas Education Agency (2012). Academic Excellence Indicator System: SCUCISD. Retrieved from http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2012/district.srch.html Texas Education Agency. (2011). State of texas assessments of academic readiness alterna te (STAAR alternate) manual for test administrators (teachers). Austin, Texas. Texas Education Agency. (2013). STAAR alternate conversion table Retrieved from: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/special ed/staaralt/convtables/ Title I Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Final Rule 34 CFR Part 200 Towles Reeves, E., Kearns, J., Kleinert, H., & Kleinert, J. (2006). Learner chara cteristics inventory. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, National Alternate Assessment Center Towles Reeves, E., Garrett, B., Burdette, P., & Burdge, M. (2006). Validation of large scale alternate assessment systems and their influence on instruction What are the consequences? Assessment for Effective Intervention, 31(3), pp. 45 57. Towles Reeves, E., Kearns, J., Kleinert, H., & Kleinert, J. (2009). An analysys of the learning characteristics of students taking alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. The Journal of Special Education, 42(4), pp. 241 254.
119 Unique Learning System. https://unique.n2y.com/products/unique/ Yin, R.K., (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Zatta, M., & Pullin, D., (2004). Education and alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities: Implications for educators. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12 (16). Retrieved [May 15, 2012] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v12n16/
120 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Kristina Gonzalez was born in Dallas, Texas in 1977. In 1983, Kristina and her University, a small Catholic University in San Antonio, Texas wherein sh e earned a Bachelor of Arts in s ociology in 1999 After spending some time working in nonprofit agencies, Kristina began a dual teacher certification and m of the Lake Univers ity, a small Catholic University in San Antonio. In 2003, she began teaching special education students in Northside Independent School District. Kristina earned a Master of Education with a concentration in s pecial e ducation in 2005. She spent the next few years working as a special edu cation teacher in Northside ISD and Northeast Independent School District and eventually became a department head at a large urban high school. Between 2011 2013, Kristina worked at the University of Texas at San Antonio ( UTSA) mentoring probationary certified special education teachers. In August 2013, Kristina left UTSA to work for the Department of Special Education in Schertz Cibolo Universal City Independent School District. Dr. Kristina Gonzalez earned a D octor of E ducation in educational leadership from the University of Florida in 2014. Research interests include effective co teaching and alternate assessments and their impact on students with profound intellectual disabilities.