To visit 60 states to make sure tests are fair

Research at NCEO advises states on standards testing

Fair testing practices have never been more important. After more than 15 years, the new Every Student Succeeds Act replaces No Child Left Behind legislation, returning much flexibility — and responsibility — to individual states. Meanwhile, policymakers are using state tests to ensure the funds spent on education produce positive outcomes. These assessments of English language arts, mathematics, science, and other topics are administered to individual students.

Photo of Marth Thurlow Martha Thurlow

NCEO Director

Every educator wants to see all students succeed, including students with disabilities, who take these assessments too. In order to demonstrate what they know, students with disabilities need well-designed assessments as well as appropriate accommodations.

Disability categories graphic
Disability categories of students with disabilities ages 6-21. Specific learning disability 40.1 percent. Speech or language impairments 18.2 percent. Other health impairments 13.2 percent. Autism 7.6 percent. Intellectual disabilities 7.3 percent. Emotional disturbance 6.2 percent. Other disabilities 7.3 percent. Note: Data derived from all 50 states and U.S. territories in fall 2013. Source: U.S. Department of Education (2014). 36th annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2014. Washington DC: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

All fifty states receive federal funds for special education services. In addition, U.S. territories like American Samoa, Bureau of Indian Education, and the Federated States of Micronesia to name a few, also receive funds from the U.S. to support special education services.

“We want to see all students succeed.”
Photo of Martha Thurlow presenting
Photo of Martha Thurlow presenting at a work meeting.

Thurlow has traveled to many of these states, working with departments of education, teachers, and parents to make sure tests are fair for all students. Today, she is the director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the University of Minnesota. Thurlow’s expertise is one of the reasons she and her team are the go-to experts helping states create universally designed assessments, ones appropriate for all students. Thurlow encourages states to think about all students during test development, proving that she is a champion for all students to learn.

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