Effects and Perceived Consequences of Using Read-Aloud and Teacher-Recommended Testing Accommodations on a Reading Achievement Test

Article excerpt

Abstract. This investigation examined the effects and consequences of using testing accommodations, including reading aloud test content, with a group of eighth-grade students (N = 79) on a standardized reading test. Research questions pertaining to the effects of accommodations on reading test scores and consequences of testing on teacher and student attitudes were addressed using a repeated measures experimental design and postassessment questionnaires. Results demonstrated that individualized packages of accommodations with or without a read-aloud accommodation had minimal benefit for groups of students with and without disabilities and did not differentially benefit one group of students over another. Accommodations did, however, positively affect many individuals' test scores within groups of students with and without disabilities. Furthermore, teachers and students expressed mixed feelings about accommodations and testing in general. Overall, this study added evidence to support the popular view that reading aloud a reading test may have an invalidating effect on test scores. Implications of these findings on testing accommodation practices and future research are discussed, with particular attention to validity issues when using a read-aloud accommodation.

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Testing accommodations frequently are used with students with disabilities to facilitate their participation in various types of assessments. "Testing accommodations are changes in the way a test is administered or responded to by a student. Testing accommodations are intended to offset distortions in test scores caused by a disability without invalidating or changing what the test measures" (Elliott, Kratochwill, & Schulte, 1999, p. 2). Educators and policy makers have long recognized the importance of knowing the academic progress of students with disabilities and now require they participate in large-scale accountability assessments. Despite the increasing use of testing accommodations in assessments, educators and researchers continue to ask questions about their use and the validity of testing accommodations (Elliott, Braden, & White, 2001; Langenfeld, Thurlow, & Scott, 1997).

Reading is a test content area in which educators seem to have many questions about the appropriate use of testing accommodations (Bielinski, Ysseldyke, Bolt, Friedebach, & Friedebach, in press). For example, many educators and testing experts consider reading aloud the test content (i.e., a read-aloud accommodation) of a reading comprehension test to be an invalid accommodation because the test is intended to measure reading skills, including word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. Yet, read-aloud accommodations are currently allowed with no restrictions in at least nine states (Thurlow, Seyfarth, Scott, & Ysseldyke, 1997). To date, there have been few published studies that have examined the effects of a read-aloud accommodation on scores of a reading test, nor has there been a study comparing the effect of a read-aloud accommodation to accommodations that are less questionable (e.g., extra time, quiet room) for use on a reading test.

Documenting student performance in reading has always been important, but with the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; Pub. L. No. 105-17) and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, accurately documenting all students' performance on reading has become an essential element of school accountability (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). If read-aloud accommodations invalidate reading test scores as popular opinion hypothesizes, then it is important to understand their effects and consequences on students' test performance. The purpose of this study was to add to the growing body of accommodations research by providing data-based evidence about the effects and consequences of using testing accommodations on a reading achievement test for students with and without disabilities. …