NCEO Technical Reports: Improving Validity of Large-Scale Tests: Universal Design and Student Performance (#37)


This year 2003 report presents the theoretical background and research results of an experimental study conducted using universally designed assessment features. A sample of 231 sixth graders from underperforming schools participated in two versions of a large scale assessment in randomized order. Students took both the traditionally designed version, and a second version that measured the same constructs as the first but with features of Universal Design elements. Results showed significant increases in performance for students taking the universally designed form of the assessment, and this was confirmed by student perceptions in post-test interviews on their performance and preference for assessment format with the features. Findings have implications for students with disabilities and English Learners.


December 2003 
Number 37
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)


  • Specific life stage
    • Children
    • Adolescents and young adults
  • Educational accountability and assessment
    • English Learners
    • Universal Design