Standardized assessments are finally catching up with UDL! The PARCC Draft Accommodations Manual was just released, and although it is “pre-decisional” (p.2), it includes “universally designed” (p.5) supports that will help all students demonstrate their knowledge and skills on the assessment.
The PARRC, a standardized test aligned to the Common Core, includes embedded scaffolds and accessibility features “allowable for all students” (p.20) in addition to accommodations for students with disabilities. Taken together, these supports ensure the test is universally designed for everyone, which leaves no one behind.
Embedded supports include audio amplification, the ability for test directions to be read aloud and repeated as needed (on headphones), nose buffers to minimize distractions, and spell check, among others (p.20-21). Accessibility features are also available to all students and can be turned on by an educator, based on a student’s Personal Needs Profile (PNP), a record created with input from the student. A few of the features are verbal direction clarification, redirection, a line reader tool, and text-to-speech software for math (p.21). All these supports permit more students access to instructional methods that were traditionally thought of as accommodations while simultaneously minimizing the stigma of receiving support.
There are also accommodations for students with disabilities, but with so many scaffolds, accommodations blend into the universal experience. These accommodations include such supports as Braille editions, tactile graphics, frequent breaks, adaptive furniture, special lighting, and text-to-speech through headphones (p.40-50), all of which will help to minimize barriers to success.
It’s about time a standardized test is developed in a non-standard way. All students learn differently, and so it only makes sense that students be allowed to access the same challenging, standards-based assessment in a way that helps them to be successful, regardless of variability. There is no one-size-fits-all kid, so let’s eliminate the one-size-fits-all test.
To download the PARCC Accommodation Draft, click here.