Tennessee’s approach to assessment is rooted in the core belief that all students are capable of making progress toward grade-level expectations.
Federal and state laws require students who attend public schools, including students with disabilities, to participate in annual testing in specific academic areas and grades. This requirement helps ensure that schools, districts, and states are held accountable for the achievement of all students. These laws also require students with disabilities (those individuals covered under an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504) to be provided with appropriate accommodations necessary to participate in these tests.
Typically, students should use the same or similar accommodations during state or districts tests as they would during classroom instruction and classroom tests. However, it is important to note that some accommodations are only for instruction and cannot be used on state or district assessments. All IEP/504 team members need to be familiar with state policies and guidelines regarding the use of accommodations on state assessments. Please see the Accommodations Guidebook for more information.
For guidance regarding alternate assessments for students with the most serve cognitive disabilities (represents about one percent of the public school student population), please visit the Alternate Assessment for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities webpage.
What is an accommodation?
Accommodations are provided to "level the playing field" in order to allow a student with a disability the same access to the material as a student without a disability. For example, many people wear contacts or eyeglasses to correct their vision. Eyeglasses and contacts are an accommodation that allows people with imperfect vision to accomplish many everyday activities. Simply because an individual wears eyeglasses or contacts doesn’t mean that he or she will perform perfectly on any given task. However, wearing eyeglasses or contacts provides an individual with imperfect vision the same access to everyday tasks as those with perfect vision. Once the accommodations are in place for those who need it, we can assess how well a person does on the task (how proficient they are).
Accommodations do not change or modify the skill that is being tested. For example, using a calculator on items designed to measure math fluency would not be permitted for state or district testing because it would not result in a true measure of the student’s math fluency. The use of accommodations that invalidate the intended measurement does not give an accurate measure of the student’s skills and could result in an invalidation of test scores, which would count the student as non-proficient.
Accommodations are available only to students with a disability served under an Individual Education Program (IEP), 504 Plan, or students classified as EL and only when the student requires the accommodation(s) to participate in the assessment meaningfully and appropriately. Accommodations are also available for students who have had a physical injury (e.g., broken hand or arm) that impairs their ability to independently respond
Administering TCAP Assessments with Testing Accommodations
Prior to the test, test administrators must know what accommodations each student will be using and how to administer them properly. Testing accommodations provided for one student may not impede or impact other students in the testing room. It is the responsibility of the test administrator to see that each student who qualifies for testing accommodations receive them while also ensuring that other students who do not receive accommodations are not affected.