Yesterday, CEC issued a formal response supporting the U.S. Department of Education’s proposal to rescind the 2007 regulation which established the Alternate Assessment based on Modified Achievement Standards (AA-MAS), known as the “2%” assessment.
The Department’s proposal to phase-out the AA-MAS is timed to coincide with the implementation of newly created assessments – which are designed to accommodate a broad range of learners – in nearly every state throughout the country. Additionally, 42 states have already committed to phasing out the AA-MAS as part of their approved ESEA waiver proposal.
For years, CEC has been calling for the redesign of state assessments so that students with disabilities could demonstrate their knowledge; families could have information about their child’s progress; educators could have meaningful information to drive instruction; and the public could know how the educational system is serving students with disabilities.
CEC is hopeful that the newly designed assessments – aligned to college and career ready standards – will meet these desired goals. CEC strongly urged the Department to use every possible authority to ensure that the newly designed assessments adhere to the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), support maximum accessibility and accommodations, and are appropriate for students with disabilities.
In addition to supporting the phase out of the AA-MAS, CEC urged the Department to provide technical assistance to States and school districts currently using the AA-MAS to ease the transition.
As we reported when the Department’s proposal was unveiled in August, the AA-MAS is dubbed the “2%” assessment because only two percent of students taking this test can be considered “proficient” under NCLB’s accountability system.
Currently, less than 20 states use an AA-MAS approved by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the Advocacy Institute, in the 2010-2011 school year, more than 400,000 students with disabilities were assessed using the AA-MAS, ranging from a high in Oklahoma where 52% of students of students with disabilities were tested by the AA-MAS to a low of 8% in Minnesota.
While the Department had previously stated that the AA-MAS was intended for students with disabilities who were not expected to reach grade-level proficiency, exactly which students with disabilities should take the AA-MAS caused confusion in many schools, leading to the extreme range illustrated by Oklahoma and Minnesota above.
Participation in the assessment system drives a variety of life-altering opportunities, such as accessing the general education curriculum; graduating with a regular high school diploma; and entry into postsecondary education. As such, it is critical that students with disabilities fully participate in an assessment system that is both challenging and broadly accessible.
To clarify, the Department’s proposal does not impact the availability, use, or accountability requirements for the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, also known as the “1%” test.Read CEC's Response to 2% NPRM