PARA Accessible Reading Assessment Reports: Developing and Researching an Accessible Reading Assessment for Students with Disabilities

Martha L Thurlow, Deborah R Dillon, Jamal Abedi, Marsha Brauen


A report documenting the Partnership for Accessible Reading Assessment's (PARA) field test to determine the degree to which its accessible reading assessment provided for accessibility, validity, and comparability for students with learning disabilities (LD), speech-language impairments (SLI), intellectual disabilities (ID), and deafness/hard of hearing (D/HH). The PARA field test of its accessible assessment compared to a proxy state assessment was conducted in the spring and fall of 2010 and included over 3,700 students (over 1,500 special education students and over 2,100 non-special education students). The field test included special education students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who were categorized as having LD, SLI, ID, or D/HH.

Four primary research questions are addressed in the report:

  1. Is the PARA accessible reading assessment more accessible than a proxy state reading assessment for students with LD, and for students with disabilities combined (LD, SLI, ID, and D/HH)?
  2. Are scores from the PARA accessible reading assessment more reliable than scores from the proxy state assessment for students with LD, and for students with disabilities combined (LD, SLI, ID, and D/HH)
  3. Is there evidence of the validity of scores from the accessible reading assessment?
  4. Does the PARA accessible reading assessment demonstrate the same characteristics (student performance, reliability, validity) for students in grades 4 and 8?


May 2012 
Partnership for Accessible Reading Assessment (PARA)
National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)
National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
University of California, Davis


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