NCEO Synthesis Reports: Large-Scale Assessment and Accountability Systems: Positive Consequences for Students with Disabilities (#51)

Part of the NCEO Synthesis Reports series.
James E Ysseldyke, Amanda Dennison, J Ruth Nelson


This 2004 report examines both empirical and anecdotal evidence for positive consequences of large-scale high-stakes assessments for students with disabilities. The analysis uses multiple methodologies to gather data on positive consequences: a qualitative media survey, an environmental scan of State Special Education Directors, a focus group, and a national survey on state assessment practices. Primary findings show these positive consequences for students with disabilities found consistently across all methodologies: increased participation of students with disabilities in testing programs, higher expectations and standards, improved instruction, and improved performance. Secondary findings found in fewer sources are as follows: improved assessments, improved diploma options, decreased dropout rates, and increased collaboration and communication between parents and special education and general education teachers. The authors discuss the limitations of the study, and address it as a starting point for further research. Overall, the findings suggest that large-scale high stakes assessments can have intended and unintended positive consequences for students with disabilities.


May 2004 
Number 51
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)


  • Specific life stage
    • Children
    • Adolescents and young adults
  • Educational accountability and assessment
    • Accessibility & Accommodations
    • Assessment Participation
    • Students with Disabilities