NCEO: Working Nationwide for Students with Disabilities and Educators
As President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act on December 10th, Martha Thurlow was meeting with several states to ensure that students with disabilities who are English learners are appropriately identified and served. It’s this kind of careful, ground-level work that the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been doing for over 25 years with one goal in mind: improve the nation’s ability to educate students with disabilities and help them succeed.
While national education policy and school-level practice have evolved in recent decades, NCEO partners with states, educational associations, federal government, and others to support educational assessments and accountability systems that appropriately monitor educational results for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are English Language Learners (ELLs). As Director Martha Thurlow notes, “NCEO’s work has contributed to dramatic shifts in attention to the educational success of students with disabilities.”
This past year alone, NCEO staff has traveled the country, conducting research, training, consultations, and information-sharing on needs ranging from accommodating test-takers with disabilities to including ELLs with disabilities in assessments. Some of the Center’s activities include:
- Research. NCEO is conducting a half-dozen projects and research studies that collect data on the participation and performance of students with disabilities, ELLs, and ELLs with disabilities in K-12 state and district accountability assessments around the U.S. An example of this is the Alternate English Language Learning Assessment (ALTELLA) project. ALTELLA is a collaboration of five states that will apply lessons learned from the past decade of research on assessing ELLs and students with significant cognitive disabilities to develop an alternate English Language Proficiency assessment for ELLs with significant cognitive disabilities.
- Training and Presentation. NCEO regularly presents its findings – and trains others how to use the results. Last April, for example, Laurene Christensen and Vitaliy Shyyan presented “Choosing Accommodations for Assessments Based on Common Core State Standards” at the Council for Exceptional Children conference in San Diego. This April, Sheryl Lazarus will co-lead a workshop on formative assessment at the Council for Exceptional Children conference in St. Louis.
- Consultation. NCEO has a national network of people who assist states and other agencies as they consider assessment issues. This is important because federal legislation requires that students with disabilities be included on state assessments, but many states struggle to implement this requirement so they seek NCEO’s expertise. For instance, in partnership with the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) consortium, NCEO is collaborating with 10 states and other organizations to ensure that English language proficiency assessments and instructional supports are accessible for all ELLs, including those with disabilities.
- Dissemination. Through its newly-redesigned Web site, NCEO offers over 300 reports and briefs on topics ranging from an online accommodations decision-making curriculum to a new interactive report series titled, Data Analytics.